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Show me the honey: Americans are going mad for mead

The growing thirst for mead in the US has seen the number of mead makers soar in America, with a new meadery opening every three days on average in the US.

A 2017 industry report compiled by the American Mead Makers Association found that the number of meaderies in the US has risen form just 30 in 2003 to 300 in early 2016.

The majority of American meaderies – 67% – have been open for less than five years, and that a growing number are making lower abv ‘session’ meads at under 7%, while just under a quarter also make cider.

The report found that a new meadery opens once a week around the world and that the mead category is one of the fastest growing alcohol sectors in the US.

A new meadery opens every three days on average in the US

As for styles, fruit meads (known as melomels) are the most popular in the US, but are closely followed by traditional meads made by fermenting honey and water. Encouragingly, 81% of the meaderies in the US source their honey locally.

Devon-based mead producer Lyme Bay Winery believes the mead momentum in the US will take hold in the UK, predicting that a craft-beer-like mead movement will soon hit Britain.

Londoners can get their mead fix at Gosnell’s in Peckham, the first meadery to open in the capital, while in New York you’ll find mead at Honey’s bar in Brooklyn made by Enlightenment Wines.

The drink’s appearance in popular TV show Game of Thrones has helped to boost its image and introduce honey wine to a younger audience.

Mead is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world, with evidence suggesting that it was made in China as far back a 7,000 BC, while the writings of Greek philosopher Aristotle and Pliny the Elder of Rome include references to mead.

The word ‘mead’ has the same roots as many of the Slavic and Romance languages words for honey – ‘med’ in Russian and ‘miel’ in French.

In addition to traditional and fruit meads, craft meaderies are experimenting with sparkling meads, spiced meads and meads made with grapes as well as honey.

Ethopia has a long mead making tradition, where it is known as ‘tej’, and is one of the most popular drinks in the country enjoyed at tej houses.

The Vikings also have an association with mead, which was thought to turn the drinker into a seer with supernatural insight.

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