Last Updated on September 2, 2021
An introduction to Mead at Gosnells Meadery – Peckham
What do you know about Mead? On my bookshelves, there’s an authentic drinking horn. A present from my brother and sister in law when they got married, it was used as part of the ceremony. We all stood in the grounds of Duart Castle on Mull, close to the water’s edge while Calum and Angie exchanged swords and rings, before drinking mead as part of a Pagan wedding. Of course, it was a beautiful event…but I have to confess the drink it contained, mead, was really not to my taste. Perhaps it was spoilt by something in the horn, perhaps it had just been standing for too long. Ever since that date I’ve avoided mead – despite Gosnell’s Meadery being within walking distance of home. There’s something about the vibrant packaging and eclectic approach of Gosnell’s though that has just made me want to try again. So, one Saturday afternoon I hiked along to Peckham, past the reliant robin that starred in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ to a small industrial estate with a large car park. At the far end a rainbow of brightly coloured parasols, tables and planters, overflowing with sunflowers and other bee-friendly plants marked Gosnells Mead Garden where we were heading.
If you live in South London and fancy learning a bit more about mead, it’s really worth a trip there. If not, then there’s a self-guided mead tasting kit you can order, which comes with samples and an online course!
Head Brewer Will Grubelnik who we were meeting told us that at its most basic, mead is just honey mixed with water and yeast. But, like all simple products, that means the quality of the raw ingredients is key. Will himself grew up in Victoria, one of Australia’s wine territories and by the age of 14 was making his own wine. If you like, he grew up with an understanding of terroir and fermentation. And, those skills are readily transferrable into making mead that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to serve at a dinner party.
The basic product is pasteurised and canned at 4%ABV. There are a few variations all of which I enjoyed though some were surprising. Saison is a term I’ve only heard applied to beer. It’s actually a kind of beer I like – light, dry and frothy. Actually, Saison mead is similar and the kind of drink that would be perfect for a picnic. I don’t really like sweet drinks and I’d been concerned that I’d find the meads too sickly. But, what Gosnells produces is anything but – and their sour is a really refreshing drink that I’d pair with pork dishes.
We really loved the sloe mead too, which is higher in alcohol and would be beautiful paired with a chocolate dessert.
The standard Gosnalls London Mead is sold in 750ml bottles and has a 5.5% ABV. Pasteurised to retain sugar and carbonated, it’s like a very good sparkling cider.
But, it was the vintage meads that were real eye-openers. Made from 100% London honey, they are stronger – the first one we tasted was 12% – and quite unique. It’s the sort of thing you might serve to friends and then ask them if they knew what they were drinking. A really soft petillant drink, my guess is that people would first suggest a natural wine. But, it’s not – it’s a very delicious and easy to drink mead.
The team produces a whole range of limited edition meads with single flower variety honey, limited terroir and individual beekeepers. Then, they play with yeasts – adding different wild yeasts to change the flavour profile. And, they adjust the fermentation just as a winemaker would. Some of the meads are fermented until they are bone dry and aged so that you might be drinking a fino sherry.
There’s a sense of excitement about it all – it’s an experiment in making something new and special based on one of the world’s oldest alcohols. And, I’m rather excited too, to be in on the secret. Mead cocktails are a real thing – and although we didn’t try any as part of our tasting, we have been experimenting with some of Gosnells recipes. This Mead ginger is a favourite of mine
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh lime
- 25 ml Rum
- Topped with mead.
- Lime wedge
Build in glass,
Muddle fresh ginger and lime,
Top off with Gosnells London Mead
Garnish with a lime wedge
Unit 2, Print Village,
London SE15 4PUFor more about mead and another mead cocktail check out our earlier feature