Clarksville, Tennessee is located 50 miles northwest of Nashville and just a couple of miles from the Kentucky border. It’s here that you’ll find Trazo Meadery, the first mead in the state of Tennessee. Being the first, the owners had to educate not only the public but also the state regulatory commission on what mead is and how it is produced.
Located in downtown Clarksville on Franklin Street, Trazo Meadery has become a popular spot in the short time it’s been open. In a state where Tennessee whiskey and craft breweries are the norm, Trazo Meadery is making a name for itself and gaining a loyal following.
The story of Mead and Trazo Meadery
Mead, often known as honey wine, has been around for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of mead dates to around 7000 BC. C., where archaeological evidence of pottery found in northern China shows evidence of a beverage fermented with honey, fruit, and rice, making it the oldest known alcoholic beverage. Mead, a fermented drink made from honey, water, and botanicals, became popular in Europe during the Bronze Age, but with the invention of beer, mead took a backseat.
Trazo Meadery wants to change that. It is a family business with David, Becky and their son Travis Powell at the helm. Trazo got its start when Travis was around 8 or 9 years old, and his grandfather decided to start keeping bees. After being stung several times, he quickly decided that bees were not in his future; however, young Travis decided to take over the hives and learned all about beekeeping. Always wanting to make a business out of his hobby of beekeeping, after college Travis and his parents began experimenting with mead making.
His first mead was from one of Travis’s friends from the Czech Republic. The family mead recipe has been used since the 18th century. After much trial and error, they learned how to produce an exceptional mead.
David Powell is the driving force behind the actual production, while mother Becky is the financial director. All mead is produced on the family farm in Adams, Tennessee, using yeast from Travis’ grandmother’s sourdough bread recipe. Trazo Mead sources its honey from around the world only, using the best ingredients.
Each honey imparts a different flavor depending on where it was produced. Since honey is made from the nectar of flowers, different flowers produce different flavors and colors.
Since its opening, Trazo has been approached by beekeepers from all over the world, wanting them to taste and use their honey. Some of the honey makes the grade and some doesn’t. There is also some honey that David wants to get his hands on, but shipping costs or supply issues have proven difficult.
Trazo’s Special Mead (and the way to make mead in Tennessee)
Trazo Meadery specializes in what is called “Show Mead”, the simplest mead to make, consisting of honey, water and yeast. Getting licensed to produce mead required a bit of education from the Tennessee regulatory authority.
Being the first mead in the state, no one really knew how to classify the license. Was it a brewery, distillery, or winery? After some back and forth and looking at the mead production process, it was decided that it looked very much like a winery and the Trazo license was issued. In 2016, Trazo Meadery was officially in business.
At first, Trazo distributed mead to businesses both in and out of state, but after a while, the family decided it wasn’t worth going to a distributor and not being able to educate and present their mead to the customer. In May 2020, the tasting room opened in Clarksville and they haven’t looked back since.
From the beginning, Trazo Meadery made it their mission to produce the best mead possible and offer their customers a stellar experience when they visit the tasting room.
What to Expect When You Visit Trazo Meadery
When you walk into the mead, the first thing you notice is how clean it is. Not only clean without mess, but clean without a lot of unnecessary things hanging on the walls or cluttering the place. There is a beautiful wooden bar with mead behind the bar along with tables lined up along the wall. Since most people don’t know what mead is, Travis loves to introduce it to newbies.
Trazo Meadery wants to give customers a superior experience, which is why everything is served elegantly with elegant food. The food, in a word, is fantastic. You can order:
- Grilled Gouda Cheese Bacon
- Charcuterie boards with imported meats and cheeses
- smoked salmon toast
- Black Cherry Skillet Corn Cake
All of these options are delicious. From time to time, Travis serves sourdough bread made from his grandmother’s recipe. Her grandmother never let anyone pay for bread, so in honor of her, bread is given away to customers.
Trazo’s mission is to provide exceptional mead, food and service at a reasonable price. As Travis said: “It’s our passion and we want to share it.” They strive to provide a stellar customer experience, and it shows.
Trazo sells many flights with a variety of different meads, giving you the opportunity to try different ones produced with honey from different sources. Not only can you experience mead, but Trazo also produces cider. Due to the law in Tennessee, Trazo can also sell bottles to go. They even sell a box containing six 2-ounce samples of various meads.
Pro Tip: Still wondering what mead tastes like? The closest comparison I can make for someone who has never tasted mead is that it is like a sweet dessert wine that tastes like honey.
Why you need to visit Trazo
A visit to Trazo Meadery is perfect for meeting friends for lunch or a fancy night out. And since it’s in the center of town, it’s conveniently next to many things Clarksville has to offer. Trazo Meadery is a perfect destination on that weekend trip from Nashville when you want to do something different and have a good time.
One thing I discovered in Trazo is his willingness and enthusiasm to share his passion. Any time business owners are excited to share what they love to do, it makes for a great experience.
Pro Tip: While visiting Trazo Meadery, take some time to view the various murals, statues, and sculptures that dot the downtown Clarksville area.