Have You Tried Mead Before?

The buzz on this hive of industry.

The last few years have seen mead become yet another liquid expression of our local area, with producers popping up across the region quicker than we can say “sting operation.” So if your only connotations of the stuff involve Renaissance fairs and turkey legs, it’s time to rethink things: Refreshing, herbaceous, and possessing a quality that marries beer and white wine, it could just be the perfect drink for warmer days. Think it’s all sweet-talk? We asked mead makers Kurt Swanson and Bob Klein, who own Mysto Mead in Carmel, what’s up:

According to Swanson, mead is one of the oldest fermented drinks in existence, and has been called “the nectar of the gods.” “In its simplest form,” explains Klein, “it is honey, water, and yeast, and contains 7-20 percent alcohol.” It gets aged like wine to become an extremely versatile beverage that “can be sparkling or still, [consumed] as a stand-alone cocktail, an aperitif, digestif, [with] food, even as a liqueur,” Klein tells. And though it’s often infused with other natural flavorings, Swanson assures, “there is always that underlying taste of honey.”

Mead may be made from honey, but that’s not the only reason to consider this craft sip sweet: According to Klein, this libation is relatively healthful, too. “Raw honey is very good for you,” he says, “as are the herbs and fruits [that are often infused into the drink] and even, in moderation, the alcohol.”

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Klein also notes the minimal manipulation involved. “It is the world’s most sustainable alcoholic beverage, because beehives require almost no room and no resources,” he tells. (Not to mention how much honeybees contribute to overall environmental health.) On top of that, the waste generated from the production process is also very minimal. As Klein continues, “Little water is needed to produce mead, sanitation is much more simple because honey is antimicrobial, and there is no heat involved.”

Ready to find out what all the buzz is about? Try this recipe, provided by Mysto Mead co-owner Kurt Swanson, to discover a choice cocktail for the warmer weather ahead:

In a cocktail glass, mull some cucumber and a sprig of mint. Then add 3-4 oz. Mysto Mead Basil-Mint with a splash or two of club soda or seltzer. Stir, and serve over ice. (“It’s also nice to garnish with a slice of cucumber on the rim of the glass,” says Swanson.)

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