Taliesin’s ancient foaming mead is famous. And, it’s impossible to think about the idea of local fare — “farm to fork,” “acre to table” — without sooner or later considering mead. It’s a venerable drink. Essentially, it’s “honey wine,” made by combining water, honey, and yeast. An even more unique character comes from local spices, herbs, and additives. Pottery from China dated around 7000 BCE attests to the antiquity of mead.
Shapeshifter, poet, sage
Taliesin was the early (550 AD) Welsh (“Brythonic” — an alternative spelling or Brittanic) poet and fabled hero worthy of Gandalf. He wrote the Kanu y med, the “Song of Mead,” a short poem in a much larger work. Chaucer talked about mead it in the famously witty and lustful “The Miller’s Tale” chapter of The Canterbury Tales. “Her mouth was sweet as honeyed ale or mead.” J.R.R. Tolkien made mead the traditional drink of the men of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings.
Staying local, staying wise
It’s all about location. This was not appreciated even 50 years ago, but that has changed. (See our short article on why location is important to whisky.) And mead is EASY. Online you can find articles on making mead the right way, like a Viking, like a Greek, like the ancient Chinese, like the Welsh and Irish and Scots; or like the Finnish, the Estonians and the Russians. Recipes are everywhere — there must be 50 basic types of mead, and countless enhancements. The alcohol content is between 8 and 25 percent.
Incidentally, mead is generally not meant to be “foaming.” Taliesin’s ancient foaming mead evokes mead that is not quite finished. It is still fermenting, and it can indeed be “foamy.” Converting sugars to alcohol is an exciting voyage, and it is a lot easier than someone might think. But it does take a bit of time.