When you hear “mead”, your mind probably wanders to Viking lore, ancient monks and Renaissance fairs. This “drink of the gods” has been produced and consumed as a beverage for over 10,000 years, and is arguably the oldest fermented beverage in the world (yes - older than wine!). Nowadays, mead is making a different kind of “renaissance” in the craft drinks industry in Alberta—and we’re here to give you the scoop of how this ancient beverage is making a comeback.
What is mead?
At its simplest, mead is honey fermented with water. Sometimes, it is additionally fermented with fruits, spices, grains or hops. It can also be made with different levels of carbonation. Made in a similar process as wine (and often labelled as honey wine(, it can be fermented to varying levels of dryness, from bone dry to sweet.
High quality honey
Honey, similar to wine grapes, is also able to convey a sense of place, its terroir. Grapes grown in different places have different flavour characteristics and honey is the same. Neighbouring plants provide quality nectar to bees, and these plants, such as clover, canola and alfalfa, impart certain flavour characteristics to the honey, and eventually to the mead.
Canada is a leading producer of world-class honey, and Alberta’s honey is some of the best in the game. Though our winters are cold, our long summer days and lots of sunshine make for happy bees that produce good honey.
Alberta’s mead producers
With such high quality honey available, producing mead here was a natural progression. Plus, the changes in Alberta liquor laws in 2013 that allowed for the boom of craft breweries also created space in the market for small mead producers.
Mead is made in Alberta by the following producers:
Most of these meaderies, located largely in rural Alberta, have tasting rooms and offer tours.
Mead at City Cellars
We carry locally crafted mead from FallenTimber Meadery in Water Valley, Alberta. We have cans of their Hopped Mead and Mr. Pink in stock, both of which make for a cool sipper to drink on a hot day.
The Hopped Mead combines honey with Chinook and Cascade hops, making it the perfect introduction to mead for the craft beer lover. Mr. Pink is fruitier, combining honey with apple and raspberry for a delightfully crisp brew. Both are gluten free and sure to please!