Honey, water and a whole lot of skill are all that goes into these beautiful bottles
The Black Death. Witch hunting. Bread and barley for breakfast/lunch/dinner. The medieval years weren't the best of times to be alive, to put it lightly.
But one thing they had nailed? Drinks. With water carrying so much disease, it was generally deemed safer to quench one's thirst with ale, wine, and of course, mead.
The latter is just honey and water. A sweetly simple concoction brewed, fermented and pasteurised to perfection, but it lost favour centuries ago. Now Tom Gosnell, a 28-year-old consultant-turned-mead-maker (not to mention winner in the booze category of the Young British Foodie Awards 2015) is bringing it back.
"It's a beautiful drink," he says. "Our mead is lighter and drier than the traditional version, and is only 5.5 % ABV. It's also slightly fizzy, for that refreshing feel."
For Gosnell, his mead is an exciting alternative to a craft beer or cider. "We use Spanish orange blossom honey – so called because the bees eat the flowers – which gives our bottles a wonderful flavour."
So how did this mead revival come about? For Gosnell, it was a road trip through the USA that showed him how great the honeyed drink could be.
"I tried mead in the east coast and couldn't believe how delicious it was," he says. "The versions I had tasted before were very sweet, very strong – but this was a gorgeous artisan product. I've always been into home brewing, and played around with cider and perry so I decided to give it a go." This was around five years ago.
"It's pretty straightforward," he says of the process. "Unlike beer, you don't need a lot of kit. Just boiling water, yeast and honey."
After discovering that he could make a good product that went down a treat with friends, Gosnell decided it was time to quit the day job and set up shop.
First, he moved into a commercial brewery in Walthamstow, before opening his own place in Peckham. Now, the meadery opens from 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, if you fancy a quiet pint in the charming bar.
And, with the public's penchant for all things craft (The latest Food Standards Agency strategy Report showed that 30% of us are on the hunt for "authentic" products) there's little chance of the pace slowing down. "People want something made properly, locally and with love," Gosnell says.
Luckily for him, the naturally golden, sweetly scented mead that bears his name is blessed with all three.
Visit Gosnells mead at Unit 2, Chadwick Road, London, SE15 4PU, gosnells.co.uk
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