Mead is crafted by mixing honey, water, and yeast, allowing the mixture to ferment. The type of honey, its origin, and the additional ingredients used can significantly affect the mead's flavour profile. From sweet to dry, still to sparkling, and light to full-bodied, mead's diversity rivals that of grape wines.
Alberta, with its pristine landscapes, is home to numerous apiaries. The province's environment and diverse flora result in high-quality honey, which in turn, lays the foundation for exceptional mead.
Mead's history spans thousands of years, with evidence of its consumption found in ancient cultures across Asia, Africa, and Europe. It's often associated with medieval Europe, where it was celebrated in tales and consumed in feasts.
In Alberta, the tradition of mead-making is relatively young compared to its ancient origins. However, with the rise of craft beverage industries and an increased interest in locally-sourced products, Alberta has seen a surge in meaderies over the past few decades. These establishments often combine age-old methods with modern techniques, crafting meads that are both traditional and contemporary.
While mead is delightful on its own, its versatile nature allows it to be a star in various culinary applications. It pairs beautifully with cheeses, especially those with robust flavours like blue cheese. Mead can also be reduced into syrup and drizzled over desserts or used as a glaze for meats, lending a sweet, complex flavour.
Cocktails are another avenue where mead shines; mixed with spices, fruits, or other spirits, it can transform a drink into something truly special.
Alberta's local meaderies offer a range of meads, from the classic to the experimental, making it an exciting ingredient for chefs and mixologists in the province.