Sorry about all the Massachusetts facts, it’s just that we spent 4 years waiting to be able to distribute outside of Vermont, so we’re pretty stoked…
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!
There's an oft repeated myth that honey is the only food which lasts forever. After this proclamation, some genius almost always feels morally obligated to make a "Twinkies" joke.
But is the myth true? Is honey really the only food which lasts forever?
This is actually two questions in one:
1) Does honey stay edible forever?
2) Are there other foods which stay edible forever?
The answer to the first question seems to be an unequivocal "yes." Thanks to a combination of hygroscopy, pH, and naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide, honey really never spoils.
As for the second question, it depends a little more on how you define "food" and "edible." A pile of salt never spoils, but it does not, in-and-of-itself, constitute food. Dry rice and beans will also keep for centuries, but they require substantial preparation to make them edible again.
What's more, honey is both eternal and edible with very little human preparation involved. Basically, the recipe could read: "Extract honey and put it in a jar."
With just a little more effort, there are a small handful of other substances which could plausibly hold the title of immortal food, molasses being one.
But why quibble? Honey is amazing and you can learn so much more about the magic of its eternal existence at Smithsonian.com; they have an excellent summary of what makes honey immortal.
 "Thank you, Dan, for really moving the ball down the court on this conversation..."
 At least for relatively small values of "forever."
 Despite Ricky's claims.
Is Mead Vegan? No. No it is not.
Mead is made from honey. Honey comes from bees. Although tiny, bees are, in fact, animals. So, no, mead is not vegan.
Well. That was a short blog post.
If you are not, yourself, vegan nor do you desire to become one, nor do you find that you know any, nor do you profess any interest in veganism or other restrictive dietary practices, then that really could be the whole story. Good bye! See you next Tuesday!
For those of you who do not fall into the above category of disinterested carnivore (or mere vegetarian), then this can actually be a very interesting question. Can something that comes from animals fulfill enough of the tenets of an animal-product-free diet, to pass muster?
The question is further complicated by foundational principals of any one individual’s veganism and the implications for the wider food system.
You see, without cows there is no milk and there are no steaks. Time was, that without cows there were no potatoes either. Having bovine assistants on the farm was not merely a luxury, it was a necessity. No plow oxen, no plow, no food. 
With the industrial revolution we have had an explosion of technologies which sequestered animals within the farm or removed them entirely. Our bovine friends were exclusively for more nutritive uses, and our equine companions found greener pastures; hogs were no longer required as four-legged disposals. Thanks to large tractors and devoted pioneers, Iowa could become the 56,272 square-mile corn maze that we know and love today.
But what if your tastes wax more nutritious and less... ethanol scam? What about oranges, apples, almonds, broccoli, avocados, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, cauliflower, and all of the rest of the things your doctor says you should be eating? After approximately 12,000 years of technological advances in agriculture, y’know what we still can’t do without? Pollinators.
“No Bees, No Food.” It’s practically the mantra of the 21st century.  We can get away to some extent with wild pollinators, but crisis after crisis crossed with general human meddling means it’s getting harder to grow fruits and vegetables without the intentional help of our friends the honey bee. Honey bees who, in the natural course of making it possible for humans to eat almost anything at all, also produce scads of that golden sticky stuff.
Now, extracting honey presents a small risk to the bees, but a very slight one. It is possible to extract honey with almost no casualties and, as far as we can tell, very little discomfort to the denizens of the hive. This can also be done without negatively affecting the fecundity of the hive or its ongoing health.
There are many online who take a hardline stance on the subject of “enslaving bees,” and as mentioned before, the varying definitions and motivations of individual vegans complicates the matter enormously. If you are of the mindset of the author cited above who resists domestication in all of its forms and believes that bees are upset when a member of their hive dies, then there really is no wiggle room for vegans consuming mead. It also means allowing extremely large portions of the human population to die of starvation, possibly a near extinction. This is not included to be snarky or dismissive. There are many people who feel this strongly about their lifestyle and food choices, and we have included the hyperlink above to give a rebuttal to our position.
Furthermore, there are other things that can render a mead unfit for vegan consumption such as isinglass, a fining (clarifying agent) made from swim bladders of fish. It is rarely used in meadmaking, but is an allowable ingredient. It is also possible that other ingredients in a particular mead may come from non-plant sources. If you are concerned about these things, it’s just one more reason to reach out to your friendly neighborhood Meadmaker.
So what is our official position? We don’t have one. No one on our staff is a vegan who drinks mead, but several of our customers are. We have reached out to a few of them before writing this article and found that their general sense is that they desire to do no harm, or as little as humanly possible. They tend to see no negative impact whatsoever on the bees, and we pride ourselves on the quality of our sourcing.
In fact, one of the reasons we only use wildflower honey is that the transportation of hives for pollination can have an enormous impact on the health of a hive.
We all struggle to be good members of the interconnected web of which we are all a part. We genuinely appreciate the moral fortitude of vegans who forgo so many foods and beverages that the world has to offer.
Summing it up then: Is Mead Vegan? No. Can you be a vegan who drinks mead? Absolutely.
 This article will assume that you cannot feed large populations with hunter/gatherer techniques. For a fuller exploration of this question: Think about it for a little while.
 Or maybe it’s “No Farmers, No Food,” or maybe it’s “Hold on, I need to Facebook this” as if Facebook is even a verb. Wait, maybe it is, I’m going to Google it real quick.
 We use only vegan ingredients at Groennfell Meadery besides the honey (see entire article above), except for this one time that Ricky made a pizza mead and garnished the glasses with pepperoni.
Several weeks ago, in an episode of Ask the Meadmaker, Ricky's word of the week was "Grayanotoxin."
A grayanotoxin is a naturally occurring toxin produced by plants from the family Ericaceae which, periodically, finds its way into honey via nectar from rhododendrons. This honey can, in rare cases, cause death in humans and other animals. Yet the risk of poisoning has not stopped many peoples throughout history from harvesting this honey and intentionally ingesting it for its hallucinogenic and intoxicating effects.
Well, obviously (retroactively) inspired by Episode 43 of Ask the Meadmaker, a documentary was produced several years ago about a tribe in Nepal which risks life and limb to collect this psychotropic honey in Himalayan Mountains. It's a fascinating little piece.
Check it out, then make sure to swing by the Meadery to see an alternative technique for making honey intoxicating. Warning: Video not suitable for acrophobes.
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.