Mead – 9,000 years old – has made an unlikely comeback, and looks to be craft-brewing’s next big thing. Sudi Pigott makes a beeline for the new varieties (including mixers)
by Sudi Pigott
It is 9,000 years old, give or take a few sips, made purely from fermented honey, yeast and water, but it tastes new. Mead is making an unlikely comeback and is poised to become the next craft obsession among hipster drinkers from Shoreditch to Brooklyn. Last month, Tom Gosnell, London’s first dedicated mazer, or mead producer, won the “booze hound” category at the Young British Foodies awards, held at Tate Britain. Impressively, the Tate, alongside a number of cool restaurants and bars nationwide, including The Clove Club, Dabbous, Tredwell’s in London and Timberyard in Edinburgh already stock his brew.
Meanwhile, mead cocktails are creating a buzz, and mead is even being poured with tasting menus. Not bad for a tipple that was, until recently, associated with Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and medieval reenactment groups – though it dates back even further, to Ancient China and Greece, long before the cultivation of barley and hops.
Like many a revival, it started in the United States. The mead market there is now growing faster than that for craft beer, with close to 300 independent meaderies across the US. According to a study by the American Mead Makers Association, the mead business has expanded by 130 per cent since 2011, making it the fastest growing drinks category in the US. New York even has an Annual Mead Week, highlighting the most fashionable bars in which to enjoy mead and mead mixology. No doubt a London mead week will soon follow.