UPDATE: The luau and pig roast with Sauce Odyssey has been moved to June 29 because of the forecast of rain this weekend.
ORIGINAL STORY: There is probably nothing more refreshing than a glass of rosé on a steamy Texas summer afternoon. But these days, wine isn't your only option. Brewers and cider makers have been producing their own takes on rosé, and now, another alcoholic beverage is getting the rosy red treatment, too.
This weekend, Meridian Hive Meadery unveils a new mead that will join the brand's colorful can lineup — the Ruby Red Rosé. Austinites have a couple opportunities to get their first taste of it. On Saturday, Meridian Hive is teaming up with East Austin food truck Sauce Odyssey to host a luau and pig roast. And on Sunday, the Ruby Red Rosé debuts in the meadery tasting room.
Like many beers and ciders that serve as rosé variations, the mead doesn't have any rosé grapes to speak of; rather, the ingredients included in the mead recreate that refreshing profile.
Meridian Hive had noticed "literally every brewery and cidery creating their own take on rosé," Meridian Hive CEO Cayce Rivers said. Because Austin's only meadery specializes in making light, easy-drinking meads that come in cans, a rosé of its own seemed appropriate, and the mead makers began researching how to craft it. Rivers said the Meridian Hive team tasted about 15 rosé wines and several rosé ciders to formulate a recipe.
They discovered that, like mead itself, rosé is versatile and can have a range of flavor characteristics. The only requirement? Rosé's distinctive hue.
"We found the flavor profiles were all over the map," Rivers said. "Old World rosé is typically bone-dry with hints of strawberry, cherry and citrus, where New World ones are more off-dry to semi-sweet. We discovered most rosé ciders lean toward the sweet side. The one (mostly) common denominator is the color needs to be pink."
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With no set direction to take the Ruby Red Rosé, Meridian Hive decided to make it with ruby red grapefruit, orange blossom honey, dark sweet cherry and hibiscus. The end result is a lighter alternative to traditional rosé, Rivers said.
"We knew we wanted to showcase Texas in our rosé so we opted for a ruby red grapefruit version," he said. "The main taste goal was to avoid a smack-you-in-the-face grapefruit punch, but rather use the naturally tart citrus as the base. To start bringing out the fruity profile, we opted for a mild sweet cherry addition."
But there was a problem. Though the flavor combination was just right, the color wasn't yet resembling a proper rosé. Hibiscus, a popular ingredient in rosé variations including Austin Eastciders' newest year-round flavor of canned cider, turned out to be the solution in more ways than one: "Not only did the color really pop, but the additional lemony-tart and berry richness were an added bonus," he said.
The Ruby Red Rosé is available first on draft, including at a handful of bars this week, but four-pack cans of the mead will hit retailers starting May 13. Celebrate the release at Sauce Odyssey's luau-themed pig roast from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday at 1403 E. Seventh St. or at Meridian Hive's launch party from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at 8120 Exchange Dr.
RELATED: A tour through Sauce Odyssey's try-before-you-buy sauce bar and rotisserie chicken food truck