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Castle Rock meadery adding taproom in downtown Littleton

DJ Mike

Michael Fagan and DJ Kurtz founded Honibrook Meadery. (Courtesy of Honibrook)

Colorado’s drinking scene has an old drink on the rise – mead.

While the Centennial State is known for its craft beer scene, Michael Fagan only has eyes for the honey-derived beverage. He founded Honnibrook Meadery in Castle Rock five years ago with DJ Kurtz when there were only about 10 meaderies in the state.

“It’s definitely a fast-growing industry and it’s a lot of fun right now,” Fagan said. “That’s what beer was like in the ’80s. There is a lot of white space.”

honnibrook website

Medery now has about 90 mead recipes, the most popular being peach habanero mead. (Courtesy of Honibrook)

The number of meaderies is now up to 23. And Fagan and Kurtz are also growing their business. Honnibrook is adding a second bar, this time in downtown Littleton at 5757 S. Rapp St., in a building Fagan calls “the cottage.”

Fagan said Honnibrook has become a destination place where people can learn about “the oldest drink known to man” and he wanted a second location that would reach more people than the Castle Rock warehouse space.

“This property in Littleton came up and we saw that we could do something really special with it, like a cottage garden,” he said.

They signed a lease last week for the picturesque 1,000-square-foot space and anticipate investing more than $150,000 in upgrading the 114-year-old building. Fagan said he is financing the construction from Honnibrook’s profits and personal financing. The meadery did $420,000 in sales last year.

Before Honnibrook, Fagan and Kurtz planned to open a brewery. But while taking business classes, Fagan said, they began experimenting with mead and, after receiving good feedback from classmates, changed course.

“It was light bulbs,” Fagan said. “Do you want to be one of the 800 breweries in Colorado or, at the time… 10 meaderies in the state? We want to be one in 10 instead of 800.”

Hydrol, which is made by fermenting honey, water and yeast, is usually made like wine, resulting in a very sweet drink with a high alcohol content. But with a background in home brewing, Fagan said he approaches mead fermentation like brewing beer.

Fagan described Honnibrook’s mead as heavier than craft beer but lighter than wine. The result is a less sweet mead with an alcohol content of 6.2%. Medery now has about 90 mead recipes, the most popular being peach habanero mead.

After perfecting their methods, Fagan and Kurtz opened Honnibrook in a 1,000-square-foot warehouse facility at 2276 Manatt Court. Since then they have been on a growth spurt. Fagan said they added three more units to the original space and now have 4,500 square feet.

Castle Rock Brewery, which is split between a production facility and a taproom, produced nearly 8,000 gallons of mead last year and is set to top that this year.

“I think the thing that surprises a lot of people is that it’s the most sustainable drink known to man,” he said. “Honey just happens, you don’t have to grow it, you don’t have to water it. It is a by-product of agriculture.”

Honnibrook sources its honey from Lockhart Honey Farms in Colorado Springs and distributes it to 22 artisan tasting rooms in Colorado. Also sold at Bevy’s Liquor Store.

With the industry growing in Colorado, Fagan said his goal is to add more Honnibrook bars throughout the state to educate people about mead.

“We’re kind of trying to create an experience,” Fagan said. “It’s not just about drinking and having fun. “I think that’s why we were super popular in Castle Rock. I hope we can do the same thing in Littleton and get the word out that mead isn’t this scary weird drink, it’s actually nice and sustainable.”