At Groennfell Meadery, we often find ourselves shocked and appalled to find that there are human beings who have never heard of mead. In a recent blog post we discussed some of the ways we try to get the concept of our product across: It's alcoholic, made from honey, more like cider than wine, blah blah blah...
This doesn't make these people feel adequately bad about themselves, however. To do that, you need to rattle off a list of the who's who of mead drinkers that they should have heard of.
Thor - Whether you read Norse Mythology, Comic Books, watched Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, or went to the blockbuster films, everyone should know that Thor drinks the heck out of mead.
The movie Thor earned half a billion dollars, not to mention his appearance in other Marvel pictures. You have definitely heard of Thor.
Sorry, no picture of Chris Hemsworth...
Beowulf - We are constantly being told here at Groennfell, "Oh, I didn't have to read Beowulf in school."
Baloney. Everyone had to read Beowulf in school.
Mead is mentioned approximately every fifth word.
Beorn - Maybe Tolkien's affable and terrifying character Beorn isn't well known to everyone just yet, but wait until December 13th when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is released in theaters.
For now, it's the mead ignorant Tolkien geeks who should be ashamed.
Rubeus Hagrid - Sure, people can say all day long that they've never read Beowulf, but who hasn't read Harry Potter?
Hagrid orders five pints of mead when at the Three Broomsticks Pub in Hogsmeade. Mulled mead, to be precise.
And, on that note...
Harry Freakin' Potter - That's right, everyone at 4 Privet Drive is given a glass of mead while discussing the contents of Sirius Black's will.
Ron Weasley is poisoned with the a glass of doctored mead...
Everyone has read or at least heard of Harry Potter. Mead occurs on three or four other occasions in the books.
Maybe you got through school without reading Beowulf. Maybe you don't go in for that Norse Mythology junk. Maybe you've never heard of Marvel Comic Books.
But you have heard of Harry Freakin' Potter.
Learn a cool bar trick for opening a bottle of mead.
Last week’s post about Mead Elevator Speeches generated a lot of discussion.
Some individuals wrote rather lascivious descriptions that can’t really be repeated in the context of this blog. Y’know, the kind of descriptions that make you wonder whether you should try mead or consult a priest first.
Many people, however, seem to go for the whole “mead is wine, but it’s made from honey instead of grapes” thing. This is not usually what we do at Groennfell, but it gets the point across quickly and raises an interesting question: Since the varietal nature of wine comes from the growing region and the chosen varietal of the grape, does this mean that the same is true for the honey selected for mead?
The short answer: Absolutely 100%!
The National Honey Board lists over 300 recognized varietals of honey in the United States. To connect you with this plethora of saccharine goodness, the NHB has recently developed an online Honey Locator. You can search by country, region, apiary, nectar source, and a bunch of other metrics. It is – and I’m really really really sorry to say it – the bee’s knees.
The problem with using store brand honey to make mead is that it's often little more than vaguely honey-flavored yellow goo. Most of the honey will be coming from many sources, has the pollen removed, has undergone filtration, and has been heat-treated to a point that many of the volatile flavors have been driven off. In other words, making mead from the honey from your local grocery store is like making wine from Welch’s Grape Juice.
Many meaderies have, in fact, really taken this varietal concept to heart and have lines of varietal beverages with the nectar source and location right on the bottle. Other meaderies pair specific honey sources with fruit to get the perfectly balanced melomel, a common example of this is the use of orchard honey for a cyser.
If you’re lucky enough to live near an apiary with varietal honeys available (and more and more of them do), try making side-by-side batches. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to taste the graininess of buckwheat mead when tasted next to wildflower mead, or how sipping an orange flower varietal can taste like biting right into a Valencia.
If you don’t have a local apiary, use the new Honey Locator. A whole new world of mead making opens up when you move away from the honey flavored syrup in the little plastic bear.
On Saturday, we asked what piece of equipment was in the photo to the left. We had many responses. Most were wrong, several were humorous, and a few were actually correct!
Congratulations to our winners: Mike, Roseann, Diana, and Pg.
The correct answer was, it's a transfer pump! See the full image below.
Honorable mention goes to:
Duanelle, who answered, "Thingamajig for the whatchamacallit." You were so close with that guess!
Ali, who said, "Pretty sure that's a flux capacitor." Unfortunately we don't have a way to generate 1.21 jigawatts of power, so a flux capacitor would be useless in our facility!
So, you’re in an elevator with a guy in a nice-looking, blue-gray suit. Or, is it gray-blue? Is that what they call “steel blue” these days? Technically, the color is known as class color “livid,” sub-color “cadet-grey” hex-triplet #91A3B0. But we digress…
You’re on an elevator with this dapper man, and you have precisely sixteen floors to tell him about mead. (You would have had eighteen, but you have been obsessing over his suit.) How do you do it?
Recently, Groennfell Meadery received a visit from Mark, the Head Meadmaker at Artesano Meadery. We spent some time discussing our respective elevator speeches and it seems that we go for equally valid, but very different tacks.
There is the perennial issue of “mead” sounding dangerously like “meat.” Thus, the common response to “I work at a meadery” is “A meatery? Isn’t that just called a butcher’s shop?”
To deal with the Mead-Meat problem, Mark says, “I make mead, which is wine made from honey instead of grapes.” Beautiful in its simplicity! At Groennfell, we have taken to saying, “Actually, I brew mead,” hoping that the word “brew” gives people a clue that we are not fermenting lambs. Also, since our mead is definitely not wine-like, we try to eschew that particular term when referring to our product.
Another common tool is to reference the age of the beverage, hoping that this triggers some memory: “Mead is, in fact, the oldest fermented beverage.” We tend to stay away from this since it doesn’t actually give any new information about what we produce. We have also given up saying in an exasperated voice, “Seriously, you never read Beowulf? You know nothing about the Vikings?? You don’t even watch Game of Thrones???”
After much rehearsing at parties, with relatives, and even with the occasional bloke in a lift, we have a working speech that we feel gets across everything we want people to know about what we do.
Our speech in its entirety is as follows. When asked what he does professionally, our Head Meadmaker Ricky responds:
“Actually, I brew mead for a living. ‘What’s mead,’ I hear you ask. Well, if it starts with grain it comes out as beer, if it starts with grapes it comes out as wine, and if it starts with honey, you have mead. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of it; I thought all students were required to read Beowulf and Canterbury Tales. Oh well! Here’s my floor! Tonkity tonks!”
At this point, Ricky will remove himself from the elevator whether it is his floor or not. In fact, the man has been known to ride up and down elevators all day just talking to random people about mead or any subject that comes to mind. No joke.
Do you have a good elevator speech? Post in the comments!
This week we're having a contest!
Show your skill by identifying the piece of equipment in the picture below.
The first five people to answer correctly will win a Groennfell bumper sticker!
To enter, simply fill out the form below the photo by 5:00 PM EDT on Monday, June 10, 2013.
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.