Mead, drink of vikings, comes out of the Dark Ages
By ALLEN G. BREED
AP National Writer
PITTSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Mead, that drink of viking saga and medieval verse, is making a comeback. But this ain't your ancestors' honey wine.
"It's not just for the Renaissance fair anymore," says Becky Starr, co-owner of Starrlight Mead, which recently opened in an old woven label mill in this little North Carolina town.
In fact, this most ancient of alcoholic libations hasn't been this hot since Beowulf slew Grendel's dam and Geoffrey Chaucer fell in with the Canterbury pilgrims at the Tabard.
In the past decade, the number of "meaderies" in the United States has tripled to around 150, says Vicky Rowe, owner of Gotmead.com, which describes itself as "the Internet's premier resource for everything to do with mead.
"I literally get new notifications of meaderies at least every couple of weeks," says Rowe, who runs the website from her home in the woods north of Raleigh. "So they're just popping up all over. And a lot of those are wineries that have decided to add mead to their mainstream product lines, which is just incredible."Traditional mead is made with three ingredients – honey, water and yeast. The biggest hurdle has been overcoming that centuries-old misconception that something made from honey HAS to be sweet.
But, as Rowe is quick to point out, grapes can be pretty sweet, too.
"And just like wine, mead can be as dry as a bone or it can be so sweet it makes your fillings hurt," she says. "And it depends on how it's made."
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