Owner: Murphy Evans
Why Bellingham? “When Mark [my law partner] suggested moving to Bellingham, it seemed like Shangri-La. It sounded perfect. My wife and I came to Bellingham and fell in love with it. The challenge is as it is with most people, is finding work, and I was fortunate enough to find it. The profile was perfect. When we arrived, my wife was seven months pregnant, and It’s been a perfect place to raise children.”
Favorite shop downtown? Why? “[Among many others] Pepper Sisters, La Fiamma and Old World Deli. The food’s delicious and I have friends in all of them!”
More than a decade ago, Murphy Evans found his love for brewing right at home, pressing apples into cider and plums into wine as a hobby. Today, Murphy’s pastime has evolved into a successful distributor and tasting room known as Honeymoon Mead & Cider. Apt to its name, Honeymoon is a cozy, hidden gem tucked into the alley behind North State Street that offers live music nightly in a warm ambience, welcoming all to a sweet escape.
As a former practicing attorney, Murphy spent most of his life’s work in law and moved to Seattle from Virginia in 1995 to work at a firm downtown. After his partner convinced him to move to Bellingham, Murphy connected with Robert Arzoo of North Corner Brewing Supply and took his hobby to the commercial level. Though they started with red wine, the competition amongst wineries steered their business in a more unique direction.
At the time in 2005, there was only other one meadery in the state. Known also as honey wine, mead is a beverage made by fermenting honey with water. It is an ancient practice that has been produced for over 8,000 years, now growing faster than the craft beer industry. Murphy found potential in growing the business on this front and focused his work on it. The process has challenged him with both the sustainable sourcing of honey and up to 10-month-long fermentation process (or three years for their reserve mead), as opposed to the two weeks it takes to ferment beer.
“Everyone who doesn’t know what mead is think it’s beer-like, but it’s more wine-like,” Murphy said. “It’s really treated like a white wine, in terms of the yeast used and the barrels.”
Adhering to the “farm-to-table” motto that many local Bellingham businesses embrace, Honeymoon just finished their second year of processing their Bellingham Extra cider, a “local-er” product that’s sourced from apples in nearby yards, parks and trails that are leftover from the season and otherwise going to waste.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Murphy said. "
Sometimes they received a grocery bag full, and other times they had 100 apple trees’ worth brought in. Last year they collected over 150 gallons, and surpassed it exponentially this year with over 1,000 gallons.
“When you add juice from a variety of different trees, it makes for a more complex flavor profile,” Murphy said. “This cider is an expression of this year, this climate.”
When asked who has made his business thrive, Murphy said they have benefited from serving a community of predominantly millennials and young semi-professionals.
“Those people who have been steeped in the wine culture have certain expectations about what wine tastes like,” Murphy said. “Mead is much more delicate than a red wine, has a little bit of acid but not much. We’ve chosen to finish it so it’s semi-sweet. Those people who have grown up indoctrinated in the wine world are surprised by what mead tastes like. The young demographic here has been perfect for that.”
As the mead and cider market expands, Murphy and his Honeymoon team have enjoyed the fruits of their labor. While they supply Bellingham and the greater community with great, locally-sourced products, they also provide a space for local musicians to play in a comfortable atmosphere, often times for those without entertainment experience.
“It’s a very important moment for them, because it’s the first time they’re performing outside their home,” Murphy said. “It’s great to witness that.
Amongst their achievements, Murphy takes the most pride in coming in at night and seeing people relaxing and having a good time. "It makes me really happy that those people want to be here, and it makes me happy that my efforts have created a space that people want to come and enjoy themselves," he said.
Visit 1053 North State Street in the alley behind State Street Thrift to try out their great selection of craft ciders and meads!
Today's post was written by marketing intern Ashley Conradi.