Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Mind and Musings of...Mead?

A lot of people these days have become "experts" in beers and whiskeys, expounding to no end using all kinds of jargon that elevates drinking alcohol to a different level. If you ask me, it's just an excuse for people to make themselves feel more important. The theory goes, if you can give a narrow subject enough impenetrable nomenclature, then it separates the conversation from those who aren't familiar with the special vocabulary. It's selective and unnecessarily elitist.

In that spirit, I decided to try something new, an alcohol that I've never had before, and try to explain the experience to my readers without any knowledge of the special words reserved for discussing these things. My drink of choice: mead.

Yes, mead. Fermented honey water, the favourite of vikings and fantasy novels for many years. In fact, according to Wikipedia, fermenting honey has its roots back to 9000 BC, so it certainly has been around a while. I like water, I like honey, so what's not to like?

I admit that I chose the neatest bottle when I went to the store, something that evoked meadhouses from fantasy novels I've read. I chose Intermiel Médiéval Réserve, a local product made about an hour's drive northwest of where I am currently writing this post. In fact, it even won a gold medal at the 2012 Coupe des nations Québec. Two workers at the SAQ independently told me that this was a pretty good one, but very sweet when compared to other meads. They even said it's a good way to sweeten (and spike, I suppose) coffee. I like sweet, so I bought it.

This particular mead is 16% alcohol, so forget those images of medieval knights swigging copious amounts of golden mead by the steinful. If they did, then damn, they're some kind of heavyweights, they are. Instead, I saw that people online said to try it out of a brandy glass so I picked some up (thanks, Dollarama!) and away we go. 

The brandy glass really does concentrate the smell at the narrowing top and boy does it smell like honey. I really didn't think the odour would be that apparent but it is. The colour is a deep amber, like mahogany or something. The all-important first taste...was unexpected. Pretty potent stuff. After that first sip, I wasn't sure if I'd like it enough to keep going. But keep going I did. In fact, the more I drank and longer I kept it in my mouth, the tastier it became. As advertised, it's alcoholic honey booze. Yummy. They were right about the sweetness, though. Obviously, I have no other meads to compare it to, but on an absolute scale, it's pretty damned sweet. Good thing I like sugary stuff but if you don't have the sweet tooth I do, you might want to give a milder kind a go.

So that's it for my first impressions of mead. The main thing to take away is this: Did I momentarily feel like a viking? Yes, yes I did, and that's worth the price of admission.

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