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  1. #1
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    Cool A Taste of Honey

    A Taste of Honey
    Is mead poised for a comeback?
    By Nicholas Day
    Posted Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, at 7:02 AM ET



    Judging by the prominence of honey these days, you'd think there's a run
    on sugar. Local, flavored honeys are now in restaurant kitchens. Foodies
    are mail-ordering artisanal raw varieties. At my local farmers market in
    Connecticut, the area beekeeper shows up with a table's worth of options
    and a glassed-in buzzing hive. This resurgence is in spite of the recent
    colony collapse disorder
    <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_Collapse_Disorder> , which
    decimated many beehives. But even more unexpected is the rise of honey
    for an ancient use: alcohol, in a drink known as mead.

    You might know mead from Beowulf—it's what the characters got soused on.
    Mead is so old-school that its advocates claim it as the world's first
    alcoholic beverage. (Their line of thinking goes like this: Rain-diluted
    honey attracted wild yeasts. The fermented liquid then attracted a
    human, who drank it and felt less unhappy.) But the recent interest in
    fermented honey has morphed it from an esoteric item that only a few
    bearded Dungeons & Dragons players indulged in to a small yet legitimate
    commercial enterprise. There are now more than 100 meaderies in the
    United States, like Rabbit's Foot Meadery
    <http://www.rabbitsfootmeadery.com/> and Mountain Meadows Mead
    <http://www.mountainmeadowsmead.com/> . For the ambitious, there are DIY
    mead-making books, complete with archaic spellings (see The Compleat
    Meadmaker
    <http://www.amazon.com/Compleat-Meadm...-winning-Varia
    tions/dp/0937381802/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202503762&sr= 8-
    1> ). Is mead, last popular around King Arthur's table, poised for a
    comeback?

    The home-brewing community is largely responsible for putting mead on
    the map. Mead-making culture is a direct descendant of beer geekdom, in
    part because Charles Papazian, whose The Complete Joy of Homebrewing
    <http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Homeb...source-Book/dp
    /0060531053/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202503785&sr= 1-1> is
    the book that launched a thousand brewpub loans, is also a mead
    evangelist. In fact, the home-brewing community can be credited with
    many significant changes to the American drinking landscape. Without the
    nerdy obsessiveness of early hobbyists, we'd all still be crushing
    corn-fed lagers against our foreheads. Instead, we're drinking double
    IPAs and imperial stouts. The many new mead-makers in America are almost
    all lapsed home brewers who smelled the honey.

    In some ways, it's not surprising to see mead taking off like this: The
    last few decades have given rise to many small-scale, artisan food
    products. In the alcoholic arena alone, there are now craft spirits
    <http://www.northshoredistillery.com/> , craft sake
    <http://www.jotosake.com/index.html> , and craft bitters
    <http://www.seriouseats.com/required_...bitter-bitter-
    world.html> . Anyone at a farmers market has seen that antique varieties
    of melons or apples are in vogue; many small farmers now raise and sell
    almost-extinct animal breeds, like Tamworth pigs and Narragansett
    turkeys.

    For farmers market foodies, mead, as an alcoholic libation, has a
    conceptual advantage over beer: Mead possesses what winemakers call
    terroir, the French term for how something—wine, cheese, honey—conjures
    up the landscape around it. That's because an artisanal mead is still,
    at least in part, an agricultural product. With its floral and herbal
    aromas, a good mead vividly communicates a sense of place—think a field
    of orange blossoms or rosemary bushes—in a way that's impossible for
    beer. Wine writer Matt Kramer calls this feeling "somewhereness" and, in
    the new hyper-local-food America, it is an attractive selling point.
    Don't just "eat your view
    <http://pollan.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/05/17/eat-your-view/> "; get
    blitzed off it.

    Mead-maker David Myers of Colorado's Redstone Meadery
    <http://www.redstonemeadery.com/> said, "Mead is something that comes
    around like clockwork
    <http://www.redstonemeadery.com/store...e-Masses-sp-65.
    html> every 2,000 to 3,000 years." But despite its seemingly sudden
    upswing, mead isn't likely to reattain its crazy medieval popularity.
    Unlike once-forgotten, now-prized goods like heirloom tomatoes, mead
    won't even make the foodie mainstream. That's partly because it has a
    horrible image problem—currency with the Society for Creative
    Anachronism <http://www.sca.org/> is not exactly a signifier of great
    commercial promise. Got Mead <http://www.gotmead.com/> 's blogger goes
    by the nickname Meadwench
    <http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_jd-wp&Itemid=190> , and the
    topics covered on the blog include questions from readers trying to
    figure out what the historically correct drinking cup is. Fans like
    these won't boost mead into the 21st century. Even mead-makers complain
    about Renaissance fairs, where the drink is treated, inevitably, as an
    anachronism.

    While it's theoretically possible for mead to escape its poor company,
    it has a more fundamental problem. Although there seems to be a mead
    flavor for every palate—orange blossom, buckwheat honey, blended with
    berry purees, infused with juniper berries, champagne-carbonated,
    still—they all suffer from the same structural problem: Honey has little
    natural acidity. That may sound appealing, but acidity—the spine of a
    good wine—is what keeps flavors bright and focused, and what marries
    wine with food. Mead-makers recognize this flaw, so to give it an acidic
    boost, they add citric acid. That helps, but it's not enough. Most meads
    still sit somewhat awkwardly alongside dinner. Unlike the best beer and
    wine pairings, they neither sharply highlight foods nor blend with them
    into something equally interesting. Ultimately, they make for reluctant
    partners at the table.

    Strange enough to be intriguing, but too strange to be at home on the
    dinner table, mead is a stubborn paradox. I like mead conceptually—the
    lore, the eccentricities. I even occasionally like a bottle. But no mead
    has ever earned its way into my alcoholic rotation. The other night, I
    had a glass of Redstone's Mountain Honey Mead, a widely distributed
    brand, and its initial burst of flavor went flat all too soon. It was an
    odd fit with what I'd planned for dinner (your basic roast chicken) and
    dessert (a black-and-white custard). Of course, the rapturous aroma was
    intoxicating, and I spent a few moments inhaling it. But the taste that
    followed was neither more nor less than limpid, liquid honey. If
    Winnie-the-Pooh ever took to the bottle, this is exactly what he'd want.

    Nicholas Day is a freelance writer who covers food and the environment.

    Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2184361/

    Copyright 2008 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Dude is stepping on my funk, dissing bearded D&D players .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Newberg, OR USA
    Posts
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    I must agree with this article. I live in what is supposed to be the next "napa valley" wine region in OR. (not that it matters but I have a captive audience already at my disposal)
    In all the meads I have made or those I have tasted, there is something missing. (Compared to a wine at least. )
    NOT to say they are not out there. I just have not come across them or as of yet figured how to make them. TRUST me I'm trying.

    I also agree it is time to bring mead to a new level. If you want it to be more in the main stream. Or least taken seriously. REALLY drop the whole mid-evil thing. People laugh at that and will never take is seriously. I do believe it has it's place next to wine's. BUT it needs to be brought to a new level. I don't think it will ever be a huge market. BUT it could be much better then it is.

    Next question, has anyone made a pyment using GRAPES from the vine. Gave it a go last year with some locally grown organic grapes (pinot noir) up the road. (this winery is established for quality wine) so the grapes where top of there game. Not a fan of adding "juice" and calling it a pyment.

    Used two methods,
    1. yeast that was on the grapes (has a nail polish remover odor) doesn't taste bad, but not great either. I am told the nose may clean up over time.
    2. commercial yeast, has a GREAT nose, but not enough ummmmfffff

    used around 16 pound of grapes in both batchs, with about 9 lbs of honey.

    It is clear, that is not near enough grapes.

    This year alot more grapes, will also use the gammay grapes. In hopes of coming up with something "better"


    Anyone else been here and could offer some advise?


    !!!Really folks it is time to bring a quality mead up in the ranks!!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Personally with the obvious exception of pyment I think that evaluating meads as wines will usually leave them wanting. It's like those veggie burgers that advertised themselves as tasting like meat. Duh, no one is EVER going to mistake one for a beef patty. But they actually can be really good grilled in a sandwich if you take them on their own merits and get over the meat thing.

    I agree, get mead out of the shadow of wine. But where I've been going is braggots, totally the opposite direction (having complex nonfermentable sugars, rather than tannins and acids). It's just because I'm a beer guy. The mead that finally breaks through for any of us will depend on our taste.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Hays, Kansas, USA
    Posts
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    Ben,

    Those veggie burgers really aren't too bad with a handful of bacon strips and a slice of cheese on them! Seriosuly, my younger daughter is (more or less) a vegan and when she vistis I have to watch them closely on the grill beacuse they do burn real easily.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    We actually make them with bacon too. Actually there isn't much that bacon doesn't improve. Maybe mead .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

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