The Return of Mead

A new life for an old beverage.

For many, the word mead brings up visions of King Arthur and Beowulf, sipping nectar of the gods. For others, their automatic response is: “Mead? What’s that?”

There are many deprived souls who have not yet sampled mead’s sweet taste. And sweet it is: Mead is a beverage made from fermented honey. Predating written history, it’s arguably the world’s very first alcoholic beverage.

Recently, mead’s popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. According to Sergio Moutela, owner of Melovino Meadery in Vauxhall, NJ, and member of the Board of Directors for the American Mead Makers Association, there were 280 meaderies in the US in 2016 and 520 in 2017. Many wineries have also jumped on the bandwagon, including mead in their catalog.

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As Jan Palaggi, owner/CEO of Palaia Winery in Highland Mills, NY, explains: “Even if people love a deep, dry red wine, they’ll still buy a mead to drink with friends.” Palaggi currently has two meads available: sweet traditional mead, named Magical Mead, and a semisweet strawberry flavor, aptly called Smead.

In nearby Washingtonville, Brotherhood Winery has been in the mead-making business for 15 years. Sheba’s Tej Honey Wine is semidry, sulfite-free Ethiopian mead, using organic honey. Carroll’s Mead is the official sweet mead of the New York Renaissance Faire. “People are growing more interested in products made locally,” says VP Philip Dunsmore, “and we want to satisfy them.” And they do. Brotherhood makes approximately 6,000 cases of mead a year.

In homebrewing circles, mead-making is also popular. Every club boasts a few amateur mazers. In the Society for Creative Anachronism or SCA (a historically accurate Renaissance Group), which has approximately 600 active members in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, mead is intrinsically valuable and often used for bartering.

Are you ready to give mead a taste? Select bars, wine shops, and restaurants throughout Westchester County have it on the menu. You can also purchase it at Half Time Beverage in Mamaroneck and DeCicco & Sons supermarkets.

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