In the wide-striding Vishnu’s highest footstep,
There is a spring of mead.
– The Rig Veda
I was not a fan of mead until quite recently. The ones I had in the past were thick, syrupy and, to be honest, a little flat – certainly not something you would rush out and buy again, much less drink all evening, as some of our ancestors did.
But lo and behold, dear reader, have I got an inside scoop for you. Mead is coming to Squamish. Julie Malcolm is joining the ranks of craft beverage producers in town, and with her application already in with the province and location picked out, mead will be ready by winter solstice. And this mead is a whole world unto itself. Among the culturally historic meads we know, this is leaning toward the style of a Roman mead: sparkling, fresh and dry.
Mead is the oldest alcoholic drink known to humankind, made by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruit, spices, grains or hops. The alcoholic content of mead may range from about eight per cent alcohol to more than 20 per cent.
Archaeological evidence hailing from China suggests that mead was being produced 7,000 years before the Common Era. Because honey ferments so easily, various forms were produced in Africa – where’s it’s called Tej, still found in Ethiopia – as well as eastern and western Europe. It was considered the drink of the gods. Honey, however, was not easy to come by, so it was consumed mostly by kings, queens, priests and priestesses who were thought to represent the deities here on earth.
Deeply symbolic, it was said to be the elixir of communication, inspiration and immortality. As the tale goes, Zeus overthrew his father Chronus with honey. The Picts were known to make mead with heather, a sacred beverage to the druids called Fog. The mead by all accounts was slightly hallucinogenic due to the wild yeast that settles on heather. It was known as The Mead of Inspiration.
Malcolm’s new meadery will be called Meadb. Not only is that another spelling for mead, but it is pronounced “Maeve,” like the Celt Queen whose name means intoxicating. These meads are expected to include rose meads like the Romans would produce, ginger meads like those from Asia and lavender of Europe.
Malcolm first came to Squamish in 1995 and raised her young children in Brackendale. She learned how to produce mead in Nashville.
Her honey, for the sake of consistency, is from Elias honey out of Prince George, but she is very much looking forward to working with different varieties of local honey including that of Farmaggedon.
Mead is a wonderfully celebratory beverage, perfect for long summer days outdoors, mingling with the plant devas and fairies. The drink is beautiful sipped on its own but pairs exquisitely with food, particularly salads and light desserts.