Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadians Revelling in Resurgence of Ancient Alcoholic Beverage, Mead

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadians Revelling in Resurgence of Ancient Alcoholic Beverage, Mead

Article excerpt

Ancient alcoholic beverage making a comeback

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HALIFAX - It's a drink that has been shared among Greek gods, Vikings, mythical dwarves and magical wizards.

Made using honey, water and yeast, the origins of mead have been traced back nearly 10,000 years, predating wine and beer. Its popularity has ebbed and flowed through time and throughout the world, popping up in places like ancient Greece, northern China and Ethiopia.

Now, Canadians are buzzing about mead -- one of the world's oldest alcoholic beverages. The so-called nectar of the gods has made a resurgence in Canada over the past decade, with meaderies multiplying across the country.

Vicky Rowe, owner of the U.S.-based Internet mead hub Gotmead.com, said she counted about four meaderies in Canada in the mid-2000s. That number has since grown to more than 30 meaderies from coast-to-coast.

"We started seeing more and more Canadian meaderies cropping up. I mean, just all over the place, like they were growing on trees," said Rowe, who's operated her website for about 20 years.

Its North American comeback began south of the border in the mid-20th century at Renaissance festivals until the 1980s, when people began producing it commercially, said Rowe. Much like its accelerated growth in Canada, the number of meaderies skyrocketed in the 1990s in the U.S., where there are now more than 200.

Rowe believes that the spike in popularity can in part be explained through an age-old idiom: "Everything old is new again."

"It's unique, it's different, it's trendy," said Rowe in an interview from her home in Youngsville, N.C. "We've got a young generation that's coming up and looking for new and exciting beverages."

It's also easy to make and easily adaptable, said Rowe. Things like fruit, nuts, spices, hot peppers and chocolate can be added to create distinct flavours that tickles both the taste buds and a mead maker's creative juices, she said.

"Because we don't have a 400-year-old set of rules that is built up around what constitutes a merlot, people feel like they can get out there and they're free to express their creativity in the making of it," said Rowe. "There's always that yearning for something new and interesting. …

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