It's easy to picture the Renaissance as a bunch of white men in Italy drinking pewter cups of mead, sculpting away like their Hellenistic ancestors, and discovering new worlds willy nilly thanks to their fantastic and fantastical notions of the earth's sphericality.
Alas, history is always more complicated and sordid than we would like.
No one really thought the world was flat, much of the Renaissance is a rehashing of long-held Islamic knowledge, not only did Vikings beat the murdering rapist Columbus by centuries (admittedly murdering rapists themselves), but beer was the go-to drink of the Renaissance and Asia was the continent that really figured out what to do with New World ingredients.
Who can picture Thailand without peanut sauce? Who would want vindaloo with tomatoes? Who could picture szechuan sauce without peppers?
Unfortunately, the one good story everyone knows about Asian influence on the European diet is false. Marco Polo did not, in fact, bring noodles to Italy.
To do our part to pay homage to the many cultures that get left out of the history books, we're hosting a special feast on Saturday, June 16th, Asian Influence: A Traditional Renaissance Feast to explore the impact of Asian food and ingredients on European Cuisine.
Join the Mead Hall team and the mastermind behind Hot Thai Guy Food for one night only to get psyched for a slightly cerebral, absolutely delicious, and positively unique look at the Renaissance before Vermont's one and only Ren Faire on June 23rd and 24th!
In which Ricky the Meadmaker answers questions about vinegar smells, pitching lots of yeast, when to add fruit for a melomel, alternatives to yeast nutrient, getting a job in the brewing industry, and more!
Last week we talked about how strenuously we research for our articles and why historical accuracy means so much to us.
If you haven’t read it, you should check out Vikings Weren’t Horny (and Why We Care), but the TL;DR is this: Honesty and accuracy matter, whether it’s a fact, a story, an ingredient, or a claim.
As we mentioned in the article, we try to buy local for many of our ingredients, but there are some things which we either can’t or - and this matters - choose not to get locally. There are many things that are so inefficient to grow or produce in our climate here in chilly Vermont that the ethical and practical choice is to source an item, ingredient, or product “from away,” as we’d say up here in New England
Up until now, we’ve sourced almost all of our honey from a single apiary outside Ottawa with some additional honey coming from another apiary about 200 miles away. Now in our fourth year, we’ve grown to an annual volume that’s making it difficult to coordinate and track all of the honey we use.
To date, guaranteeing honey provenance was extremely simple since the honey got on a truck at a farm and got off the same truck at the meadery. With tens of thousands of pounds of honey coming in, the equation has gotten a little more complicated.
The staff met and agreed that the best decision to make would be to move towards working exclusively with True Source Certified honey.
True Source Certified honey can often be a little more expensive than honey from blenders and apiaries who forego the certification, but knowing that our entire supply chain is being monitored to eliminate the risk of counterfeit honey means a lot to us, and - more importantly - means a lot to our customers.
If you want to learn the details about the monitoring process and the history of counterfeit honey, True Source has a very accessible website which gives an incredible overview. You should check it out here.
We’ve already switched a few of our products, and the reviews from our customers have been excellent.
So, effective immediately, we are proud to announce that all of our meads are being made with 100% True Source Certified honey!
Swing by for a pint and toast to the wonders of antiquity and again to the wonders of modern agriculture!
Celebrate today at the Mead Hall with $3 pints and $6 bottomless bowls of soup!
Viking helmets did not have horns.
On top of that, "honeymoon" has nothing to do with drinking mead after you were married. The word "medicine" is not derived from a type of mead. Vikings did not drink out of skulls. Oh, and mead might be the oldest fermented beverage, but we have no evidence of that.
Have you ever wondered why we relentlessly seek to debunk "facts" which could help us sell and promote our product? Almost any meadery in America will spout several of the above fallacies as part of their "tour." We do not.
Also, let us state for the record: we don't think that misinformed people are jerks or liars. Some people actually know the truth, but eschew the facts for a better story. We don't have a problem with them either.
So, again, why are we so obsessed with debunking the "facts" that everyone knows about mead and the Vikings?
The answer is that we are staffed almost exclusively by scientists, mathematicians, and epistemology-focused philosophy majors. In other words, we believe that facts can build on facts, but a system of knowledge built on falsehoods is doomed to crumble.
For example, we source almost all of the food for our mead hall locally, but sometimes we need to buy things from Costco, Webstaurant, or a mill in the Midwest. If we wrote a story about ourselves in which everything was local, we would be tempted (most of the staff is human after all) to lie to you about the provenance of our ingredients. Instead, we tell you honestly that we do the best we can to get things locally if we think it's in the best interest of our community, but sometimes we just can't. The story isn't as compelling, but at least it's honest.
If we told people that mead was the oldest beverage on earth, what would that achieve? Sure, you're drinking a piece of history, but the same is true when you drink any beverage. When you drink beer, you're part of a lineage which built the pyramids! That's amazing!
The Greeks, Vikings, Celts, and the Zogwe Dynasty all celebrated with mead, but it's only one part of the amazing story of human civilization. Beer, mead, and wine are all kin in the lives of humanity, they have all been life-sustaining and ritually bound. Mead's amazing, but so is Scotch.
Next week, we'll tell you why all of this matters, but for now, suffice it to say that Vikings were horny in only one sense of the word, and our passion for historically accurate garb is only a pretext for a much more important discussion.
In which Ricky the Meadmaker answers questions about what beers make good braggots, finding Fenberry, drinking in Norway, his hobbies, adding liquor to mead, and more!
We're thrilled to announce that our full line of craft mead is going to be available in Connecticut starting this summer!
We've been working behind the scenes for months to get everything ready, from increasing production on our end to sourcing new honey suppliers to filling out mountains of paperwork, but it's all been worth it!
Although we won't start wide distribution until summer, we have a bunch of events lined up to celebrate our invasion of the state.
The very first place you'll be able to get our mead in Connecticut is Seaport After Seven: Viking Beer Garden! Is that perfect or what?
More details coming soon!
Groennfell Meadery is Vermont’s premier craft meadery. Inspired by Old Norse legends, brewed with extraordinary ingredients, Groennfell’s meads are unlike anything you’ve had before. Crisp, clean, and astoundingly drinkable, the only way to explain any one of Groennfell’s meads is to try one yourself.