Mead is the new cider

By
Posted: February 25, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Some people have said cider is the new beer. Certainly, cider’s sales are up dramaticaly – from 9.4 million gallons in 2011 to 32 million gallons just two years later, in 2013. There’s even a new restaurant/bar that hoped to open March 8  in Chicago — the Northman (4337 N. Lincoln Ave.), that focuses on hard cider, which opened recently.

Cider Info

Courtesy HackCollege.com via Creative Commons

But this isn’t really about cider.

If, as some say, cider is the new beer, then mead is the new cider. Mead sales rose 130% from 2012 to 2013.

However, no one can accuse mead of being new. It may be the oldest fermented beverage on the planet. According to http://www.skyriverbrewing.com/Mead/mead-history.html, mead is thought to be the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man. It may have been discovered quite by accident, when some thirsty hunter-gathers discovered an upturned beehive filled with rainwater. They drank the sweet water completely unaware of what fermentation and alcohol were and experienced the first intoxication. Likely it was in a quest to replicate this experience the art of mead-making was begun.

In medieval days, mead was given to newlyweds, to help them relax and encourage “procreative activity” (aka sex). Mead is made from honey. Hence, the term “honeymoon.” (There are other interpretations of where the term “honeymoon” came from, but for purposes of this post, I’m sticking with the mead explanation.)

I’ve had people ask me what mead is. The usual description is that it’s “honey wine,” but that’s not technically accurate. The definitions of fermented beverages that I’ve always heard is “If it’s made from a grain, it’s a beer. If it’s made from a fruit, it’s wine.” (So, sake isn’t a rice wine, as it’s often described, it’s actually a rice beer. And cider is technically a wine.) But mead is neither of those. It has its own category. So there are at least three categories of fermented beverages — beer, wine and mead. (There may be more, but I’m too lazy to do the research.) There are plenty of sub-classifications of mead, with somewhat strange names like pyment, cyser, melomel, braggot, metheglin, hippocras. This isn’t meant to be an encyclopedic article … look them up for yourself if you’re really intrigued.

In Chicago, which now has so many breweries, there’s only one commercial meadery (or mazer, as mead makers are known, just as beer makers are known as brewers, and wine makers are known as vintners.)

That’s Wild Blossom, at 10033 S Western. For over a decade they’ve been making mead, somewhat under the radar, in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. They’re associated with Bev-Art, the homebrew store next door.

They have their own beehives scattered around the city, and collect their own raw honey. And raw honey is important.

Unlike much of the honey you’ll find at your local grocery store, raw honey isn’t pasteurized or filtered. It’s not quite as pretty or clean-looking as what you’ll find at the supermarket, but it contains probiotic and antimicrobial components that aren’t filtered out or compromised by heating. There’s an interesting article about the health benefits of mead made from raw honey here. Or, if you’re of the generation that prefers not to read, and watch a video instead, basically the same information is here.

You can visit Wild Blossom and sample their many meads, but you can’t buy a bottle there. They’re on the east side of Western Avenue, which is dry. But they’ll willingly point you to a liquor store about a block away, across the street (which is “wet”), where you can buy as many bottles of Wild Blossom meads as you like. But that may be changing. Wild Blossom is planning on expanding, including creating the first mead hall in the Chicage area, and possibly the first one in the Midwest Stay tuned – we’ll try to keep you updated.

As you might have guessed by this point, I like mead. Mead is easier to make than, say, beer … in that, for beer, you start with grains, and have to go through a few steps to convert their starches to sugars, which yeast can eat. Honey already contains the sugars,  so it’s almost ready to go (it needs a little yeast nutrient to keep the yeast happy). But I’m not going to write about it any more today. I’ve assembled my ingredients, so I need to get out of the office and make some more mead.

Previous examples of this tomfoolery can be found here.

 

 


One Comment



The Local Calendar 2/12/16 Urban Livestock Expo, Cider Summit 2/27, 61st Market and Logan Square

By
Posted: February 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm

UrbanAgCider_Summit_Chicago3_web Radish

Tis the season to make kimchi, the winter markets have an abundance of radishes. It may be February but there it is plenty to keep you busy like the Advocates for Urban Agriculture 4th Annual Urban Livestock Expo at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Saturday Feb. 27th or you can learn about and taste artisanal ciders at the Cider Summit Chicago at Navy Pier the same day. The Peterson Garden Project continues to offer a wide range of classes to give you the tools and tips for a backyard garden and then cooking classes on how to get the most out of your produce. Their 7th Annual Seed Swap is March 6th.  Family Farmed is back with the Good Food Festival and Conference March 24-26. 

New!!! 3/5 Chicago Community Gardeners Association 4th Annual Conference South Shore Cultural Center 71st & South Shore Drive  3/6 Battle of the (meat) Balls Formentos 3/8 Hands-On Whole Hog Butchering Class at Sauce and Bread Kitchen 3/14 Between Bites 3/17 Nica Nights Stew Supper Club  4/10 Cheesetopia

Newsflash, Vicky Westerhoff of Genesis Growers is trying to raise funds to buy more land, help her here!! Bunny The Micro Bakery and Wunder-Pop the place for all things hyper-local, foraged and preserved, have all sorts of classes, bread making, pasta and dinner pop-ups on their calendar, check it all out here.

The 61st Street Winter Market has a big lineup of farmers and food vendors, Faith In Place has a market in Arlington Heights and the Evanston Ecology Center as well as Immanuel Lutheran Church have winter markets tomorrow. Stay warm and look it only 2 months until ramp season and 3 months until the outdoor markets open. Here is the month ahead:

The Local Month Ahead

February 13

FMArlington Heights - Faith In Place Winter Farmers Market – Our Savior’s Lutheran Church

FM - Chicago (Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - Experimental Station Indoor Farmers Market (3/12, 4/9)- 9am – 2pm 6100 S. Blackstone

FM - Evanston Evanston Ecology Center Winter Farmers Market (Through 4/30/16) -  2024 McCormick Blvd 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

FM - Evanston - Immanuel Lutheran Church Winter Market (2/27, 3/12, 3/19, 4/9, 4/23) 9am – 1pm 616 Lake Street

February 14

Happy Valentines!!!

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Winter Farmers Market (Through 3/20/16) – 10am -3pm 2755 N. Milwaukee

February 15

President’s Day

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Blue Plate Special Night at Local Foods Chef Abra Behrens food is delicious to begin with and the special Monday night changes every week and many of the staff throw in their ideas.

Chicago (Wicker Park) - $20 Family Meal at The Trenchermen - This is not only one of the best deals in town (3 courses $20) but the food is delicious and they source from many of the local farmers.

February 17

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Soup and Bread at The Hideout- 5:30pm  Soup & Bread is a community meal project that raises money for Chicago food pantries and other hunger relief organizations. Soup & Bread 2015 starts January 7 and runs Wednesdays through April 1, 5:30 to 8 pm; kids are welcome with parent or guardian.

February 19

ChicagoTickled Pink for Bright Pink Chicago – Morgan Manufacturing Proceeds benefit Bright Pink

February 20

Chicago (Bridgeport) - Uppers & Downers Festival of Coffee Beers brought to you by Good Beer Hunting at Thalia Hall

New!!! FM – Chicago (Jefferson Park) – Farmers Market at the Congregational Church 10am – 2pm 5320 W. Giddings St.

New!!! Chicago (Lincoln Park) – Chicken Breakdown Class Local Foods 2-3:30pm

FM - Chicago (Lincoln Park) -  Green City Market  ( 3/5, 3/19, 4/2, 4/16, 4/30)The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 8am – 1pm

FM - Evanston Evanston Ecology Center Winter Farmers Market (Through 4/30/16) -  2024 McCormick Blvd 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

February 21

ChicagoWingfest at Bailey Auditorium 1340 West Washington

Chicago(Bucktown/Wicker Park) - Poutine Fest IV 1st Ward events at Chop Shop

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Winter Farmers Market (Through 3/20/16) – 10am -3pm 2755 N. Milwaukee

FMJefferson Park - Faith In Place Winter Farmers Market – Congregational Church of Jefferson Park

February 22

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Blue Plate Special Night at Local Foods Chef Abra Behrens’ food is delicious to begin with and the special Monday night changes every week and many of the staff throw in their ideas.

Chicago (Wicker Park) - $20 Family Meal at The Trenchermen - This is not only one of the best deals in town (3 courses $20) but the food is delicious and they source from many of the local farmers.

February 24

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Soup and Bread at The Hideout- 5:30pm  Soup & Bread is a community meal project that raises money for Chicago food pantries and other hunger relief organizations. Soup & Bread 2015 starts January 7 and runs Wednesdays through April 1, 5:30 to 8 pm; kids are welcome with parent or guardian.

February 25

Chicago (Lincoln Park)Read It & Eat It Dinner Series: New Prairie Kitchen at Stock Cafe Local Foods

February 27

Chicago - Cider Summit Chicago at Navy Pier Fourth Annual Cider Summit Chicago Region’s Largest Cider Tasting Returns to Navy Pier Grand Ballroom SBS Imports and the Seattle Beer Collective are pleased to announce the return of their successful Cider Summit festival to Chicago, IL.  This year’s event will take place in two sessions - 11am-3pm and 4pm-8pm in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Cider Summit Chicago is presented by Binny’s Beverage Depotand will once again benefit Heartland Alliance and The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association. The owners and cidermakers will be on hand to inform and guide guests through the samplings which will be available in 4-ounce portions.  Cider Summit will feature over 140 ciders including regional favorites and international classics from countries such as England, Scotland, France, and Spain.  The event will also feature specially selected food pairings, a new Cider Cocktail Lounge hosted by The Northman and  Woodford Reserve, and an event store featuring Cider Summit t-shirts and other merchandise.

Chicago - Advocates for Urban Agriculture Winter Gathering The Livestock Expo Workshops on bees, ducks, goats, chickens and quail. Takes place at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences 3857 West 111th St.

FM - Evanston - Immanuel Church Winter Market ( 3/12, 3/19, 4/9, 4/23) 9am – 1pm 616 Lake Street

FM - Evanston Evanston Ecology Center Winter Farmers Market (Through 4/30/16) -  2024 McCormick Blvd 9 a.m. to 1 p.m

February 28

FMChicago (Lakeview)Faith In Place Winter Markets – Temple Sholom of Chicago

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Winter Farmers Market  (Through 3/20/16) – 10am -3pm 2755 N. Milwaukee

February 29

Leap Day!!!!

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Blue Plate Special Night at Local Foods Homestyle Cooking Chinese Chef Abra Behrens food is delicious to begin with and the special Monday night changes every week and many of the staff throw in their ideas.

Chicago (Wicker Park) - $20 Family Meal at The Trenchermen - This is not only one of the best deals in town (3 courses $20) but the food is delicious and they source from many of the local farmers.

March 2

New!!! Chicago (Lincoln Park) – Pickling Class at Local Foods 

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Soup and Bread at The Hideout- 5:30pm  Soup & Bread is a community meal project that raises money for Chicago food pantries and other hunger relief organizations. Soup & Bread 2015 starts January 7 and runs Wednesdays through April 1, 5:30 to 8 pm; kids are welcome with parent or guardian.

March 4-6

Chicagoland (Check schedule for location) The 5th Annual One Earth Film Festival

March 5-6

Brown County, Indiana - National Maple Syrup Festival - Maple Syrup Season is one of the first signs of spring, as the cold winter months slowly slip away and the forest floor comes to life. Celebrate the coming of spring, in Indiana’s beautiful Brown County, at the only National Maple Syrup Festival in America.

March 5

FMBeverlyFaith In Place Winter Farmers Market – Beverly Unitarian Church

New!!! Chicago - Chicago Community Gardeners Association 4th Annual Conference South Shore Cultural Center 71st & South Shore Drive

FM - Chicago (Back of the Yards) - The Plant Indoor Market (every 1st Saturday) 11am – 2pm 1400 W. 46th St. Pleasant House will be there (Winter Seed Sowing Workshop) (Aquaponics Workshop) 

FM - Chicago (Lincoln Park) -  Green City Market  (3/19, 4/2, 4/16, 4/30)The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 8am – 1pm

FM - Evanston Evanston Ecology Center Winter Farmers Market (Through 4/30/16) -  2024 McCormick Blvd 9 a.m. to 1 p.m

March 6

Chicago(Edgewater) - Peterson Garden Project 7th Annual Seed Swap

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Winter Farmers Market (Through 3/20/16) – 10am -3pm 2755 N. Milwaukee

New!!! Chicago (West Loop) - Battle of the (Meat) Balls - Formentos 

March 8

New!!! Chicago (Edgewater) - Whole Hog Butchering Class at Sauce and Bread Kitchen

March 9

Madison – The fabulous cheese blog The Cheese Underground was the one who brought this to our attention – Cheese Champion an evening of world cheese tasting, the world’s largest technical cheese tasting with over 50 international cheeses included.

Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Soup and Bread at The Hideout- 5:30pm  Soup & Bread is a community meal project that raises money for Chicago food pantries and other hunger relief organizations. Soup & Bread 2015 starts January 7 and runs Wednesdays through April 1, 5:30 to 8 pm; kids are welcome with parent or guardian.

March 12

FMBolingbrookFaith In Place Winter Farmers Markets – Church of St Benedict

FM - Chicago (Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - Experimental Station Indoor Farmers Market (4/9)- 9am – 2pm 6100 S. Blackstone

FM - Evanston Evanston Ecology Center Winter Farmers Market (Through 4/30/16) -  2024 McCormick Blvd 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

FM - Evanston - Immanuel Church Winter Market ( 3/19, 4/9, 4/23) 9am – 1pm 616 Lake Street

March 13

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Winter Farmers Market (Through 3/20/16) – 10am -3pm 2755 N. Milwaukee

FMPalatineFaith In Place Winter Farmers Markets – Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist

March 14

New!!! Chicago – Between Bites –  Green River Chicago 6:30pm Between Bites connects communities and supports charitable causes through food-inspired storytelling. We created an ongoing philanthropic event series that celebrates meaningful and memorable food stories. Each event features six local personalities whose lives intersect with food, from writers to chefs to mixologists to restaurateurs.

March 17

Happy Saint Patricks Day!!!!

New!!! Chicago (Edgewater) – Nica Nights Stew Supper Club at Sauce and Bread Kitchen 7pm

March 19

FM - Chicago (Lincoln Park) -  Green City Market  ( 4/2, 4/16, 4/30)The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 8am – 1pm

FM - Evanston Evanston Ecology Center Winter Farmers Market (Through 4/30/16) -  2024 McCormick Blvd 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

FM - Evanston - Immanuel Church Winter Market ( 4/9, 4/23) 9am – 1pm 616 Lake Street

FMOak ParkFaith In Place Winter Markets – Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church

March 20

FM - Chicago (Logan Square) - Logan Square Winter Farmers Market (Last day week Winter market)- 10am -3pm 2755 N. Milwaukee

March 22

New!!! Chicago (Edgewater)Whole Hog Butchering Class at Sauce and Bread Kitchen

March 24-26

Chicago - The GOOD FOOD FESTIVAL and CONFERENCE at UIC  3/24 Good Food Festival Financing and Innovation Conference 3/25 Good Food Industry Conference 3/26 Good Food Festival

March 26

FM - Evanston Evanston Ecology Center Winter Farmers Market (Through 4/30/16) -  2024 McCormick Blvd 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

April 10

New!!! Chicago (Bridgeport) - Cheesetopia at the The Bridgeport Arts Center brought to you by Wisconsin Cheese Originals

April 22

Earth Day

Chicago (Garfield Park ) – Earth Day event with Wild Belle at Garfield Park Conservatory organized by Land and Sea.

April 24

ChicagoCOCHON 555