Mead is decidedly having a moment.
In fact, a new meadery opens in the U.S. every three weeks. There are now five in Arizona. The Valley’s most recent is Scale & Feather, a medieval-themed meadery that set up shop in Avondale in May.
For the uninitiated, mead is wine made from fermented honey. Scale & Feather’s mead is made in giant, egg-shaped tanks that co-founder Ben Chaney affectionately refers to as “the dragon eggs.” He started brewing mead at home in 2011.
“My very first batch was terrible,” he admits. “But I knew there was good mead and I knew it could be done… it kind of became a quest, if you will, to make it better.”
Chaney and one of the other founders, Matt Cross, took a class at UC Davis to learn more about the honey wine. Their first foray into the mead business was making it for friends’ weddings.
“It was really well-received and it kind of became, ‘Let’s open up a meadery,’” Chaney says.
The other owners are Tamara Chaney and Amber DeGiso.
The meadery’s name “is a little tip of the hat to Vikings,” Chaney says. “Mead has been in all sorts of cultures all throughout history. In fact, there’s a cave painting from about 9,000 years ago which depicts ancient man making mead.”
Chaney explains that the raven is the Norse god Odin’s animal and according to Viking mythology, Beowulf fought a gold dragon. “We were like, ‘Let’s do a golden scale and make it look a little bit like a honeycomb,’” he says.
Decorated like an ancient mead hall complete with a flickering chandelier, the tasting room’s theme is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Chaney says a highlight of the space is a dragon head with glowing eyes that’s poised above the bar. Scale & Feather is also located next to a Nintendo-themed brewery called 8-Bit Aleworks.
“We’re basically a nerd haven,” Chaney says.
Chaney and his co-owners want customers to feel like they walk back in time when they walk into Scale & Feather. “We have these really nice red curtains that cover the windows, so that you disappear when you come in,” he says. They encourage patrons to play roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons in the tasting room.
“We have tables in rows… they’re easy to separate if needed but the bigger part is that people can bring their games in, board games, roleplaying games, whatever it is and they can sit there in a really neat environment and play games and drink mead,” he says.
Scale & Feather has 11 meads on tap, ranging from sweet to dry. Those with a sweet tooth will love Charm Person, which Chaney says tastes like a melted chocolate bar. Pumpkin spice devotees will devour the Basic Barbarian, which resembles a refreshing pumpkin spice latte, or the pumpkin pie-flavored Great Gathering. Scale & Feather’s flagship mead is called Second Edition, which Chaney says was brought over from his homebrewing days. Chaney and his team are currently brewing an elderberry mead and a wintery cranberry-mint mead that can be served hot or cold. Patrons also have the option of buying bottles to go.
The meadery also offers nosh boards featuring meat, cheese, fruit, crackers and local honey to pair with the mead. All of Scale & Father’s offerings are gluten-free.
Chaney is excited about the future of the fermented beverage. “It’s nice that it’s on the rise now,” he says.
Scale & Feather Meadery
1050 N Fairway Dr., Ste. 112, Avondale