On Tuesday, I attended another class at Tria Fermentation School. I know you’ll be shocked, but this class wasn’t devoted to either beer or cheese. Mead, the fermented honey beverage, was the feature! You may remember (but, really, why would you?) that Tria served a delicious mead at two of the beer–tastings I attended. After the second time I tasted that brew, I said I’d like to try several different meads, but I doubted “there’d be enough interest to justify an entire class” devoted to the topic.
Happily enough, though, the good people at Tria were impressed by that same mead, Makana‘s ¡Qhilika African Herbal Blossom Mead, and it inspired them to schedule a class. And there really were a classroom full of people interested of mead, too. They were a little edgier and tattooed and Renaissance Faire-going than Tria’s typical students, I’d say, but I definitely had a good time.
The class was led by Matthias Neidhart, the owner of B. United International, an importer. He brought along eight meads from three countries—Denmark, South Africa, and the U.K. (Actually, he apparently brought along nine meads, but Tria’s classroom didn’t have enough glassware to serve the ninth!) My favorite of the eight was the Makana African Herbal Blossom Mead, the mead that grabbed me originally. That stuff is irresistible. As always, it was spicy and sweet and delicious—featuring cinnamon, licorice, apple, hibiscus, and, particularly noticeable to me this time, rosehips flavors.
Also memorable were two other Makana meads—the ¡Qhilika Dry Mead and the ¡Qhilika African Birds Eye Chili Mead. The Dry Mead offered an incredible honey smell, probably the best smell of the evening, which contrasted nicely with the citrus-y, cider-y taste. This mead smelled sweet but wasn’t. I’d definitely have it again. The African Birds Eye Chili Mead really was made with the aid of chili peppers, and it was spicy-hot. Probably too hot. If there’s such a thing as extreme mead, this would be it. By the time we had this, I was feeling the alcohol more than a little, and my notes are, um, a bit difficult to decipher. Apparently, though, I couldn’t “imagine” wanting to have more than “a tablespoon or two.” Either that, or I was humming some John Lennon and thinking about shopping for the kitchen…. I did write that the chili mead might pair nicely with a sweet cheese, and my friendly seatmate thought it could be served with a mole (er, not of the whack-a-mole variety). I doubt I’m going to find out.
My favorite non-Makana mead of the evening was Dansk Mjød A/S‘s Viking Blod. Made with hops and hibiscus, the Viking Blod offered a sweet taste and a beautiful dark, brandy-like color. Given the hops in the recipe, which—by the way—dates to the 1700s, this mead would probably appeal to many beer-drinkers. And, hey, it’s organic, too.
I was really impressed by the range of flavors at the tasting. I was a little bit worried I’d sit down to a half dozen cloying, syrupy meads. That wasn’t the case at all. In fact, at times, I longed for some stronger honey flavors. Irony.
Like I said, by the end of the evening, I was definitely feeling the alcohol. Some of the meads were over 20% alcohol. And when I got home, I was past it. Within 30 minutes, I was asleep, probably already drooling. If you Google “mead hangover,” you’ll see that the drink has long been thought to have some extra-severe morning-after consequences…. I suffered no hangover, happily, but I definitely didn’t feel “right” the next day.
But, as you know, I ain’t right, anyway.