Meads De-mystified



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Meads De-mystified

Meads De-mystified

Author: Ken Bracke/Thursday, March 29, 2018/Categories: Tasting Notes, Wine

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Mead – Demystified

March 20, 2018

The Meads

  1. Fallen Timber Meadery Hopped Mead, Water Valley, Alberta, 7.5% abv. $10.49 500 ml

    Back in 1969, Blake Ryan started the family business when he purchased the family farm and established his first hives.  For a time, the only mead produced was a homebrew, but the window of opportunity presented itself, and the hobby got “carried away” .Fallentimber Meadery is a member of the cottage winery industry in Alberta. Their doors officially opened to the public in the fall of 2010. Great mead starts with great honey, and honey is something that the Ryan family knows very well. Their honey is collected from hives placed along a narrow band at the eastern edge of the foothills.  This gives their bees access to a wide variety of wildflowers and clover that cover the hills, but limits their exposure to the expansive croplands to the east.  In addition to careful hive placement, the honey is meticulously handled, and never pasteurized, to ensure that it retains a natural, fresh from the comb flavour. The result is a honey that is among the best in the business. Mead Maker’s Notes:  This session mead has been slightly bittered and flavoured with Chinook and Cascade hops. For honey we have used 75% our beautiful light colored Ryan's Honey, produced mainly from clover, alfalfa and wildflower. The other 25% is carmelized honey which adds a light golden color and body to the finished product.


  2. Chinook Arch King Arthur’s Dry Mead, Okotoks, Alberta, $21.99 750 ml

    At Chinook Arch Meadery, which sits on a honey farm 50 kilometres south of Calgary, Art and Cherie Andrews take a traditional approach. “We try and stick a little closer to the European style,” Cherie says. “The North American style in general is a bit dryer, but some of the best meads in the world are Polish or Eastern European, where there’s never been a grape grown.” Chinook Honey Company started as a beekeeping hobby in 1995 with just two hives on a small acreage south of Calgary, Alberta. For Art Andrews the bees not only pollinated his garden but also provided stress relief from his full time job as an airline pilot. Assisted by his wife Cherie, the tiny apiary quickly expanded. Their Alberta Multi-floral Honey is made from the nectar of the abundant alfalfa and clover fields, as well as native wildflowers, which keep the bees well fed. It has a rich, candy-like flavour and is ideal with tea, or when cooking to enhance but not dominate overall flavour. Mead Maker`s Notes: A modern style of mead derived from an alfalfa and clover honey blend. Its taste is crisp and dry with a hint of honey. Pairs well with poultry, red meat and gouda.  


  3. Grey Owl Meadery Spring Mead 2017, Alder Flats, Alberta, 12% abv. $24.99 750 ml.

    Grey Owl Meadery is nestled on the edge of the foothills and boreal forests of West Central Alberta: a family business that started with a dream of owning and running a small winery.  The winery was built from ground up on the family farm.  The goal was to create meads that paired well with food and competed with mainstream wine. The land at Grey Owl Meadery is primarily pasture and small hay fields surrounded by large areas of natural woodland. Mead Maker’s Notes: Our new 2017 Spring is a traditional style mead.   It is made from our spring harvested honey from dandelions, willow and native wild flowers.



  4. Chinook Arch Meadery Guinevere’s Elixir Okotoks, Alberta, 12.5% abv. $23.99 750 ml.

    Mead Maker’s Notes: This traditional mead is similar to John Cameron Classic as it is a blend of honey varietals. Similar to blended grape wines, lovely complex flavours are achieved as a result.  This mead has a bold citrus nose with silky, floral notes and an off-dry finish. Pairs well with fish, poultry, or pork.


  5. Fallentimber Meadery Traditional Mead, Water Valley, Alberta, 14% abv. $24.99 750 ml.

    While there are several different types of mead, a traditional mead consists of the basic ingredients, honey and water. A traditional mead offers a flavour that is somewhat reminiscent of aromatic grape varieties and can range from sweet to dry. Mead Maker’s Notes: This Traditional Mead has a floral aroma, mildly sweet character and a well-rounded finish. It has a clean and simple taste. This mead recipe forms the backbone of many of our other spiced and seasonal batches.


  6. Spirit Hills Honey Winery Dande Dandelion Mead, Millarville, Alberta, 13.5% abv. $25.99 750 ml.

    Spirit Hills is a family owned and operated winery in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Calgary, Alberta. Spirit Hills integrates ancient honey wine fermentation techniques with local fruits and flowers to create food friendly wines. Spirit Hills is owned and operated by the Bonjean family, whose lineage includes generations of French winemakers with vineyards in the Auvergne, France.  Spirit Hills' bees are sustainably managed and make their honey from the wild flowers of the pristine the Rocky Mountain foothills. These areas are abundant with wild flowers and free of any chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and GMOs.

    Mead Maker’s Notes: It is a medium-dry wine, best served chilled.  It smells of pastures full of wildflowers, the fresh morning dew, and the delicate texture of its golden flower petals.  It arrives on your tongue, fresh like the awakening foothills, warms you up like the sunshine and leaves you with an earthy sensation of embrace.   


  7. Chinook Arch Meadery Black & Blue Melomel, Okotoks, Alberta, 12.8% abv. $26.49 750 ml.

    Melomels are meads made using honey and fruit. In Medieval times, fruits were added to honeywines, probably  for several reasons: to preserve the fruit harvest, to add fermentables to the mead thus increasing the alcohol (honey was a luxury in those days), to flavor the mead or possibly, in a number of  cases, to hide fermentation problems which most certainly occurred back then. Mead Maker’s Notes:  This flavorful melomel mead provides the punch of black currants married to soft and sweet blueberries. Use this mead as a before dinner sipper, dessert finisher or patio partner. It makes a terrific sangria and pairs nicely with fruit and pastries.


  8. Grey Owl Meadery Oak Aged Bochet, Alder Flats, Alberta, 13.5% abv. $25.49 750 ml.

    Bochet is ‘burnt-honey’ mead, a mead made by caramelizing the honey before fermentation. The first step in this process: boiling and (constantly) stirring soft honey until the bubbles from the boil give off a black-ish steam. One of the earliest sources for Bochet is the "1393 Mead Recipe", supposedly a translation from The Goodman of Paris, a book written in 1392-1394 by a Parisian merchant. In the short text, Bochet is listed as a "beverage for the sick". It is true that boiling the honey will off some of the more fragile aromatics and flavors, and can ruin any other style; not Bochet. Some delicate characteristics boil off, but they are replaced by wonderful toffee, burnt marshmallow, and caramel notes against a sweet backbone. Mead Maker’s Notes: An off-dry mead made with a blend of caramelized and raw honey.  Inspired by a French recipe from 1393.  Notes of French oak, caramel, vanilla and peaches.





  9. Chinook Arch Meadery Ginger Bochet, Okotoks, Alberta, 12% abv. $26.99 375 ml.

    Mead Maker’s Notes: This Bochet is made from a 14th century recipe using toasted honey and spices. This beautiful and unique mead tastes of roasted marshmallows and caramel with a ginger finish. It is an after- dinner treat to enjoy with dessert, in the company of good friends.


  10. Maxwell’s Spiced Mead, McLaren Vale, Australia, 12.5% abv.

    Maxwell Mead is Australia's famous and favourite honey wine. It is made in simple terms by fermenting pure South Australian honey, creating a beverage brimming with uniquely rich flavours and aromas. Mead Maker’s Notes: This spiced mead is a favourite, ideally served hot (not boiling). It has a bouquet of honey and citrus, but with the added zest of cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg. These spicy characters are carried through to the palate where they fill the mouth with a complex and satisfying array of flavours.



    List Of Sources

    CBC News, Alberta's Fallentimber Meadery Cashing In On Medieval Trend, May 13, 2015

    Fawcett, Matt, Mead and the Modern Drinker: Why The World’s Oldest Fermented Beverage Is Finding New Life — and New Fans, Avenue Calgary, October 16, 2014

    Khabiri, Layla,  An Introduction to Mead, the Drink of the Gods,, Mar 6, 2015

    Lostbord 999, How to Make Mead (Honey Wine),

    Marsteller, Amanda, 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mead,, Feb 19, 2015


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