Mead is having a moment. Here are eight Ontario-born bottles and cans to try this fall

Mead is having a moment. Here are eight Ontario-born bottles and cans to try this fall

Mead doesn’t have its own section at the LCBO—the fermented honey beverage can be found stacked next to beers, ciders and wines. It’s not the Liquor Board’s fault, though: mead can be confusing. The ancient beverage has a huge scope of flavour profiles. There are straight-up meads that taste like a syrupy potion—the type of stuff vikings wrote epics about. There are meads that are drier than a crisp chardonnay. And then there are a whole whack of mead blends. But one thing is for sure: craft mead is on the cusp of booming in Ontario. Here’s a look at a few locally made meads.

Royal Canadian Mead’s Feels Like Friday

This summer, Royal Canadian Mead launched a line of sessionable meads, including one called Feels Like Friday, which marries honey with hopped buckwheat. The easy-sipping thirst quencher is aimed to woo craft beer and cider drinkers away from their preferred craft cans. Brewed out of Collective Arts (using soft Burlington water and a blend of wildflower and buckwheat honey from Bath, Ontario), the upstart mead company is hoping to grow big enough to open their own meadery. (That would require getting a property set up with a minimum of 100 on-site hives up and buzzing.) Until then, the Royal Canadian Mead guys are having fun collaborating with the Collective Arts cider maker Matthew Howell on crushable cans. $3.75.

Royal Canadian Mead’s All Day Croquet

Although you can’t find Royal Canadian Mead’s sophomore effort, All Day Croquet, at the LCBO just yet, it’s at a dozen bars around town including Pharmacy, Poor Romeo, Antler and Ronnie’s. Civil Liberties is even creating on-the-fly cocktails with this sparkling mead. Although All Day Croquet is a blend of Oregon peaches and wildflower honey, the stone fruit is subtle and the sugar is kept in check. The crisp drink hits the nostrils with a bouquet of clover and peach. Drink this when you want taste summer.$6-$8.

All or Nothing’s Mind Over Matter Mead Braggot

Not to reinforce stereotypes, but this barley-brewed beverage was born at a renaissance festival. A decade and a handful of tweaks latter, Oshawa’s All or Nothing brewery has moved their mead away from the sweet stuff they thought cosplaying knights wanted. The bubbly braggot (that’s a honey-fermented beverage brewed like a beer with barley malt) is refreshing with a nose of wildflowers, citrus and biscuits. $3.75. @allornothinbh

Rosewood Estate Winery’s Mead Blanc

What happens when a third generation beekeeper becomes a winemaker? You get Niagara’s Rosewood, which produces top wines, meads, and pyments (wine-mead mashups). The sprawling Beamsville Bench property houses only a fifth of Rosewood’s bees. Their 300 hives are spread across eight sites, which means the bees feed on a mix of Niagara fruit trees and wild flowers such as milkweed, clover, black-eyed Susans, goldenrod, and dandelion. Rosewood’s most popular pyment blends honey and gewürz grapes into a bottle that’s sweet, but far from cloying, and perfect for pairing with Thai and Indian curries. $25.

Rosewood Estate Winery’s Mead Royale

Head winemaker Ryan Corrigan has more experience with grapes than bees, but he’s been becoming more comfortable with honey since arriving at Rosewood. Recently he began experimenting with aging meads in different types barrels. “I’m taking meads to the dryer side—some end up sharing more of an identity with spirits, than wine,” he says. The Mead Royale—Rosewood’s most classic mead—ferments in stainless steel tanks before being moved to French oak barrels for six months. The resulting nectar—just a mix of estate honey, water and time—is sweet, but not syrupy, and at just shy of 50 grams of sugar per liter, it’s actually less sweet than most ciders. $19.95.

Windswept Cider’s Kyoto Rose Kombucha

Although this honey-brewed kombucha doesn’t quite fit into the mead category, for teetotallers looking to get in on the effervescent bee-sweetened action, this sub-0.5% ABV drink—made from dried rose petals and organic green tea—fits the bill. Windswept Orchard also makes a cyzer (a mead-cider hybrid), and this stuff actually tastes more like a lightly sweet cider than your run-of-the-mill vinegary kombucha. The Georgian Bay-based cider makers don’t always bring everything they produce down to Toronto when they pop down to peddle their bottles at local farmer’s markets, but much their online store has very reasonable shipping rates. $12.

Munro Honey’s Sweet Mead

Although this Alviston apiary has been collecting wildflower honey from their hives since 1914, it wasn’t until 2000 that third generation beekeeper John Bryans began selling mead. He started out as a home brewer (it was easy enough to siphon off a few buckets of honey to experiment with—he produces about 500,000 pounds of the sweet stuff annually). Today, he has the distinction of being Ontario’s first official meadery. Bryant is a big fan of honey-forward classic meads like this straw-coloured Sweet Mead, which is as advertised (sweet), and is best paired with strong cheeses. $15.86.

Munro Honey’s Black Currant Melomel

Munro Honey’s blend of honey and Ontario black currants has a tart nip to each sip. Although this melomel tastes slightly less sugary than Munro’s straight-up Sweet Mead, this actually packs more alcoholic punch. But, at 12.3 per cent, it’s no worse than a white wine. $17.46.