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THE MEAD MAKERS

MountainMead3
MountainMead

These are busy time for bees, British mead makers and pagans from Bolton.

Lancastrian Druid David Baron, who makes his honey wine in an old knitting shed , is a world champion mead maker. He  lifted the inaugural “Mead Madness Cup” for England (and Great Britain”)  when his “Baldur Mead” won big in the dry section at the second Mead Makers’ Conference held in Posnan, Poland.

Wyemead2
Wyemead

The event, organised by the Newcastle-based “Kings of Meads”, attracted honey wines from  twenty different countries.  The US has its Mazer Cup, named after the traditional quaffing vessel.

The “Lancashire Mead Company” also offers  “Aegir’s” (Norse for sea) “Odin’s” (  “All Father “ and god of battle and wisdom) , “ “Thor’s” ( God thunder), an elderflower mead, “Freya” ( Norse for lady  and goddess of love and beauty ) , “skadi” ( after the goddess of bow hunting)  ’“Thor’s” and “Sleipnir” , named after Odin’s eight- legged horse and containing treacle. Mead has long been considered the nectar of the gods. Baldur was the second son of Odin and Frigg,

baldurs-mead
baldurs-mead

Gordon discovered mead when he went – as a Cromwellian soldier- to a fancy dress party. His Horwich meadery now provides bottles to pagan wedding ceremonies, or ‘handfastings’. He made a special mead to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015.

Thanks to “The Game of Thrones”, “Poldark” and the boom in hand-crafted beers, spirits and liqueurs, honey wine is making a comeback. Especially in Wales.

Buy-Mead-Sparkling-Mead
Buy-Mead-Sparkling-Mead

Tree surgeon Jacob Milner and electrician, Mike Cooke run “Mountain Mead” in north Wales. Their meads are named after birds of the RSPB endangered list – Telor Y Coed (wood warbler) , Gylfiner (curlew) and Melyn Yr Eithin (yellowhammer). Grugiar Ddu spiced mead uses Spanish orange blossom honey.

Mead is also called “metheglin” from the Welsh “meddyglyn”, or physician. Mead was reputed to have medicinal powers. Caudle was a punch made from honey, ale and ground oatmeal. King Howel the Great laid down rules for making spiced mead in the tenth century. From the early 16th century -when the Tudors introduced elements of Welsh culture into England – mead became more popular. A medieval Welsh poem mentions “mead, gold and sweet, ensnaring.”

Gosnells_006_7643
Gosnells

The Cooper family’s “Avon Mel” in New Quay Farm, Llandysul , west Wales uses five different types of raw honey in their meads. They also recommend a cocktail – the “Cymraeg 75” made from heather mead, half a ripe plum. lemon juice , “Moon Session” mead and blorgeat.

Says Maggie Cooper : “ Sam : “ We spoil our bees. Every August we take them – 100 hives – to the Berwyn mountains in North Wales for the heather loom.”

Lanc-Mead2
Lanc-Mead

With brother Kit, Matt Newell launched Wye Valley Meadery after gaining mentoring and advice from the Prince’s Trust Cymru, which supports young people in business. He won the Trust’s NatWest Enterprise Award. He now runs a mead making school.  He makes a honey and rhubarb mead. You can also pre-order a queen bee from me for £28.50.

Mead is also called “metheglin” from the Welsh “meddyglyn”, or physician. Mead was reputed to have medicinal powers. Caudle was a punch made from honey, ale and ground oatmeal. King Howel the Great laid down rules for making spiced mead in the tenth century. From the early 16th century -when the Tudors introduced elements of Welsh culture into England – mead became more popular.

Mead-Madness
Mead-Madness

The best mead comes from the best honey which comes from the best and healthiest bees. Quality honey wine has a minimum of 18 months to two years production time.  Your mead is only as good as your honey.

“The Northumberland Honey Co”. employs 150 bee colonies. It produces the UK’s first methode traditionelle sparkling mead.

Mike Carrington of “King of Cups”in Colchester, Essex   makes a range of artisan meads including Chilli Mead ( “Dragon’s Breath”). “I learnt  from my grandfather.I’ve been making mead and country wines. Four years ago, I left my job as a manager for Tesco, applied for an excise licence and started producing commercially. I still work part time as a fork lift truck driver.”

MountainMead1
MountainMead

Mead has gone hipster. London has “Gosnells” in Peckham. Tom Gosnell first discovered mead in Maine. His company now exports to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Norway, Italy and Germany. It has just released its canned  Wildflower Mead.

The Cornish Mead Co makes strawberry,blackberry, cherry and elderflower meads. Also in Cornwall is “Ninemaidens”.

Mead is a versatile drink. It can be drunk warm or cold, neat or with soda, tonic, lemonade, mixed with Cava or Prosecco or mixed with spritzers and martinis. It pairs well with fish, chocolate and cheese.

MountainMead4
MountainMead

The UK’s first meadery was Manchester’s “Zygmurgorium” , named after the science of brewing and emporium. Says founder Aaron Drake : “ My craft mead started at uni when I had a friend who couldn’t drink cider because he was pectin intolerant. So I thought I’d make something to quench his thirst!”

“Essentially, craft meads are like craft beer. We use different honey types as different hops and malts are used to make beer.”

Rose-mead
Rose-mead

Says Christopher Mullin of  the one-man hobby- turned-business “The Rookery”  in Enochdu , Perthshire : “.  Mead has been made in Scotland for at least 4,500 years.  I developed an interest in mead while studying Gaelic Studies at Aberdeen University. I made mead in the Army.

“There are products being sold as mead which bear no resemblance to actual mead. Some use “ahem” industrial methods! There’s no legislation defining what may or may not be sold as mead.

“Mead is made by fermenting honey.  All, or effectively all the alcohol must come from honey.  Given increased interest in mead, and therefore money being spent, a number of products are made either by fermenting honey and sugar. Or adding honey to wine. I’ve found no evidence of mead being made from plant sugars (cane sugar, stevia, etc) until the twentieth century.”

spiced-apple-mead
spiced-apple-mead