From the Gilroy Dispatch….
If you’ve never been to a meadery, you only have to travel as far as San Martin to try the potent libation sometimes referred to as honey-wine.
Alderin’s Meadery, a Lightheart Cellars brand, is the brainchild of Mead Master Noah James, who is quick to converse on mead making, its storied history and its resurgence in popularity.
When you hear the word “mead,” it may conjure up images of the fictional half-giant Hagrid enjoying mulled mead at the Three Broomsticks pub of “Harry Potter” fame. Or the legend of Beowulf, in which King Hrothgar’s mead hall was attacked by the man-eating demon Grendel. Or the fabled Camelot, where King Arthur’s knights drank mead in celebration of their victories.
But mead is more than the stuff – or drink – of legends and myth.
In reality, references to mead can be found in archaeological evidence dating back to the seventh millennium B.C. in China; in India’s oldest Sanskrit text, Rigveda (circa 1700 to 1100 B.C.); and in the writings of Greek philosopher Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. The use of mead for ceremonial and everyday purposes can be linked to various civilizations. For Mayan kings, Egyptian pharaohs, Australian Aboriginal tribes, Northern Europe’s Viking warriors and early American settlers, mead was part of everyday life.
Noah James explains that while mead is sometimes referred to as honey-wine, grapes actually have nothing to do with it, so much as the humble honeybee.
The brewing process entails mixing honey with hot water, then adding yeast. This mixture is allowed to ferment in a sealed carboy (a glass or plastic fermentation container) until the yeast has converted the natural honey sugars into alcohol, which produces a traditional mead. Meads may be still, carbonated or naturally sparkling, and range from dry to semi-sweet or sweet.
James, 39, is an IT professional and East Coast native who settled in the South Bay five years ago. He is the son of Jane Haynie, who with her husband Sheldon own and operate Lightheart Cellars on Roosevelt Avenue west of U.S. 101 in San Martin.