Ron and Lorraine Poston have a passion for good mead, passion that flavors every bottle they make together at the Amber Dragon Meadery. Mead, also called honey wine, is an ancient form of alcohol, most often associated with vikings or Nordic culture. The most basic version is fermented water and honey, but any mixture of fruits and herbs can be added to form flavors for every season.
The Poston’s make their mead with water run through their own filtration system to remove any additives or impurities. They try to keep all their ingredients as natural as possible, from the honey, to the fruits, lavender, oak, spruce and more. They spent years perfecting recipes, but every batch is still different, depending on each unique season of nature.
“I know in spring the fruit’s going to have this flavor,” Ron said. “Honey is different too. In winter time it’s going to be thick, in summer it’s gonna be thin, and the sugar content is always different.”
The recipes are a combination of Ron’s farming background and tinkering skills, and Lorraine’s scientific background working in chemical labs. Wanting to share their creations with others, they set out to start a shop and buy an affordable property – an old warehouse on 717 Butternut Street that was good for their budget, but needed a lot of renovation work. Much of the renovation work involved revitalizing old things, much in the manner of vikings of old.
“The vikings had their longhouses and they’d either flip one over and build a base on it or make one into furniture,” Ron said. Just as they were getting ready to open, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Ron was furloughed from his job, but that gave him time to work on the building. He could often be seen by neighbors riding down the street to the shop on his electric scooter….wearing a viking helmet.
Their business model proved perfect for the pandemic restrictions, since they mostly sell bottle drinks to-go rather than serving a full bar of drinks. Customers can come in for tastings and sample the drinks which the Postons serve in the perfect order for the palette – moving from bitter to sweet flavors.
Customers don’t just come for the drinks, they come to enter a world of history and fantasy. Ron placed a quest marker above the front door to remind guests of the Skyrim medieval video game. Along the walls hang shields painted by local artists. One wall of shields features the Seven Realms from Nordic mythology. Another wall is lined with swords and other medieval weapons. And in keeping with the shop’s namesake animal, many of the art displays images of dragons.
“Dragons are in every culture around the world,” Ron said. “I have some Egyptian, some Nordic, some Greek, some fantasy, some fairies.”
Despite busy schedules with Ron’s full time job and three children, the couple has to work continually to keep up with demand for their mead. The drink is now available at several local breweries as well as Big Johnson Liquor and Beer. It’s one of only 13 or 14 meaderies in all of Texas, so demand is likely to remain high.
Abilenians can schedule tastings for big groups, or pop in on Wednesday and Friday evenings after 5:30, all day Saturdays, or any time the viking flag flies from the store front to signal the shop is open. The Poston’s are also planning a big celebration called “Valhalloween” in October.
Address: 717 Butternut St, Abilene, TX 79602 | Phone: (325) 518-5517
By Haley Laurence
Photography by Haley and Will Laurence