In our case study about basswood trees we talked about a great natural sweetener called honey, which is not only used in culinary but also in production of alcoholic beverages for centuries. Building on that, we went on to interview Vitalii Mead who makes a honey alcoholic beverage called, surprise surprise, mead.
What made you fall in love with mead?
My grandfather made mead. Memories about him brings me good emotions and helps me understand the connection with my ancestors and traditions. I love nature and bees. Credit for good mead goes to bees. I just help the mead to appear.
How long have you been making mead?
I started to produce mead and melomel about 15 years ago for myself and friends, which become so popular, that I created my own brand.
Can you share with us how to make a mead?
The process of making mead similar to the production of beer or wine and can be divided into several stages.
First, you mix together water and honey, you can add fruits, spices, hops and herbs to the mixture and let it ferment between 4 – 8 weeks. The alcohol content ranges between 8 – 20% of ABV. It can be still, carbonated or naturally sparkling, dry, semi-sweet or sweet.
What is the difference between still and sparkling style of mead? Which one do you prefer?
It depends on style of mead and method of carbonization. I do not have a preference between still and sparkling mead. It must be tasty and produced with love.
What ingredients do you use?
I’m based in Eastern Slovakia, where wonderful nature, good ecology and kind people help to make great drinks. I use different kinds of natural honey, fresh local red and black currants, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, plums, pears, apples, cherries, mulberries and hops. I do not use sulfates as a stabilizer as it can cause allergic reactions to people who have sulfite allergies..
Is barrel aging common practice for mead?
Yes, I use oak barrels for aging. I bought some old barrels from Tokay wineries to add more flavor to my mead wine.
Is mead-making on the rise or is it a loners’ hobby?
It’s mead renaissance right now as many new manufacturers have appeared recently. Most of all new “meaderies” are in the US. There are a few dozen big manufacturers and a few hundred small ones.
What are the biggest markets for mead?
US market is the biggest right now. Poland is the largest market and producer in Europe. Interest in mead is growing in Scandinavia, Britain, Australia, Canada, Brazil. I hope the market of Singapore and Hong Kong will grow too.
Are there mead producers in Asia?
Yes, I know manufacturers across China, Taiwan, Korea and Nepal. There is new meadery about to open in Thailand soon. Kyrgyzstan has a good potential as well.
Is mead good for mixing drinks?
Yes, the mead is great cocktail ingredient and can be used as a main ingredients with flavoured liqueurs. I am working on several signature cocktail recipes.
What are your plans?
I would like to help rural communities in Asian and South American countries collect honey. Having received the technology and simple equipment, they could receive additional income by making mead. I know of such examples in Mesquique. I hope I can bring this project to life soon.
Thank you Vitalii for your time! For you readers, if you’re interested in learning more you can contact Vitalii Mead by clicking here.