Laurel Highlands Meadery sweetens production with expansion in South Greensburg
What began as a home hobby about 15 years ago has grown into an expanding business for Matt Falenski, with the recent opening of a second Laurel Highlands Meadery location.
Falenski and his wife, Mandy, began manufacturing at their previous homes in Herminie and South Greensburg around 2010, selling their product to area breweries, bars and restaurants.
“A lot of people would email or text and we would deliver,” Falenski says. “We are actually the second oldest meadery in Pennsylvania.”
An eastern Pennsylvania meadery has them beat by six months, according to Falenski.
The couple opened their first shop, with a tasting and sales room only, in early 2016 at 106 4th St., Irwin.
After a lengthy search, Falenski says, they found a larger site for production and tasting at 1400 Broad St. in South Greensburg.
Both locations are open from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Our Greensburg location is now open! 1400 Broad Street in South Greensburg, PA 15601. Thursday & Friday 5-8 PM, and Saturday 12-7 PM.
— LaurelHighlands Mead (@LHMeadery) October 8, 2019
What is mead?
“We always tell people mead is the oldest fermented beverage no one has ever heard of. People ask, ‘Is it wine?’ ‘Is it beer?’” Falenski says. “It’s kind of its own category.”
Mead begins with three basic ingredients — honey, water and yeast. From there, one can flavor it with chocolate, fruit, spices, hot pepper, Falenski says.
“It can be super sweet to super dry. … A lot of people have the misconception that’s it’s a thick, heavy, alcohol drink, and that is not always the case,” he says.
“We have what is considered a honey wine that is 13% alcohol. The carbonated mead drinks more like a beer and might be fruity, with 7.5% alcohol,” he adds. “We use different honeys to give different flavors, or age it in oak or bourbon barrels to import different flavors.”
Intriguing flavors include traditional, maple, blueberry, ginger hibiscus, hopped chocolate cherry and peanut butter and jelly.
Seasonal products tend to come in heavier, stronger flavors in the fall and winter, with lighter and fruitier options in the spring and summer.
Among the most popular are the cinnamon-vanilla and the pyment, a blend of honey and Chambourcin grapes.
There is, of course, a pumpkin spice sparkling mead available as well. The shops sell mead by the glass and the bottle, and the product has been introduced at area farmers’ markets and festivals.
Tours of the South Greensburg site are likely to be offered in the future.
“Mead has been kind of a passion of mine for 15 years. I love sharing it with people. People will bring in their own, and they may be proud of it or they may ask ‘What’s wrong with it?’” he says.
“We get a lot of people who come in and say, ‘A friend of mine made mead in college, I don’t want to try that,’” Falenski says.
Sometimes a sample can change their minds, he says.
Details: 724-249-6323 or laurelhighlandsmeadery.com
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .