Saturday, November 27, 2010
My oldest son’s girlfriend’s dad has a very interesting hobby. He keeps bees. Living up on a grassy hill outside of Moscow, Idaho, John has the perfect environment for his hives. The little buggers seem to love it out there because they make some of the most delicious honey I’ve ever eaten in my life. Nearly white in color, the first-run honey from his hives is so pure and sweet that it tastes like sweet cream.
The only problem is that not all honey is super high quality. As the seasons change, and as the hive gets more mature, the honey darkens and becomes much more amber. It also picks up flavors from the wildflowers that the bees are also trying to pollinate from the area.
This is where it becomes my problem. My son, knowing that I’m the expert on all things alcoholic, delivered a bunch of amber honey to me a few weeks ago. His expectation was that I was going to brew up some Mead in my basement.
Now, I may be a great writer, and certainly a pleasant drunk. I may even know the general processes around making beer and wine. However, I don’t make alcoholic beverages. I just drink them.
Being the adventurous guy that I am, and never wanting to let my admiring son down, I have gotten to work on making my first batch of Mead. (Have you noticed it gets harder to impress kids in their 20s than it was when they were four or five?)
Luckily, there are hundreds of resources out there on making Mead. The internet is full of recipes. I also have a friend who lives close to me that is into the Medieval thing. (He is a king or something.) He teaches classes on how to make Mead which I fully intend on attending.
Did you know that Mead is possibly the oldest known alcoholic beverage? Its quaffing history goes back centuries to ancient Greece. It is mentioned in Hindu writings as far back as 1700 BC. Mead has been given credit in ancient times for making warriors fearless and strong in battle.
Mead also was given credit for what we now call a young couple’s “honeymoon”. Apparently a newlywed couple drank Mead for the first 30 days of their marriage so they could increase stamina and fertility in the bedroom. Liquid Viagra!
Part of my research has included a little Mead tasting as well. Commercially made Mead is available in Europe, and there are distributors who import through different wine and beer distributors worldwide. However, the only Mead that I know to be of commercial supply in this region is made by Honeywood Winery in Salem, Oregon.
Opened in 1933, Honeywood is Oregon’s oldest winery. Their specialty in the beginning was to produce brandies and liqueurs, however they have been producing wines for many years. Their fruit wines are super popular in the region for being super sweet and flavorful.
Honeywood offers two types of Mead. The traditional style, which has won many awards over the years, and a new Blackberry Mead, which I have not yet had. The traditional style Mead from Honeywood is made from clover honey. It has aromas of summer flowers. The flavors are super-sweet with a floral sense and a mouthfeel that is full and creamy.
You can get Honeywood Mead at several places in the region. Bellinger’s in Hermiston has the largest selection of Honeywood flavors. I suggest you slide in and try them.