Gosnell London Mead

Mead.

Taste the word. Weigh it carefully with your tongue, tell me its worth. I can promise you that your analysis will bring you nowhere close to Gosnell Mead.
And maybe that’s a good thing? Hailing from Scandinavia I guess I (aside from the Phrygians who may well be the first people who can be proven to have used honey as a primary source in their brewing, albeit in a mixed beverage) should be expected to have a clear and precise opinion as to what mead is and how it should taste. We are known throughout the world as the descendants of barbaric warriors with a penchant for mead are we not?

But the custom of mead has waned since the 16th century, and today we are but nations of beer drinkers and aspiring sommeliers, consigning our barbaric intermezzos to struggles for the newest edition of Decanter and BeerDigest. So how do I define mead? My professional self would say I hardly do. My spontaneous self would say sweet, strong, waxy, cloying… and make one of those faces like a dried up old prune.

But enough prose. Gosnell Mead is a young company, started in London in 2013 by Tom Gosnell, who comes from a background as a home brewer and bored management consultant. What Gosnell does different than the companies that have formed my unfair conception of mead is keep the alcohol, viscosity and mouth feel of his product light, refreshing and thirst cleansing.

Located in Peckham outside of London they import Spanish orange blossom honey, mix it with water, heat it and add pilsner yeast. Rigourous temperature control is applied and pasteurization is not omitted, but basically what you are looking at (if you happen to have a bottle in front of you) is honey, water, yeast and a ten day fermentation process that later continues in bottle.

The pilsner yeast was chosen after a great deal of experimentation. It offers a crisp finish and an easy way to control and stabilize fermentation. Experiments have also been made with barrel-aged mead fermented with sherry yeast, as well as batches with local honey in both spring and fall season.

And the product? Gosnell London Mead has distinct aromas of dried grass, chalk and lavender. It’s floral and elegant, with an aftertaste of elderberries and peach yoghurt and a quite dry finish for all its sugar. Surprisingly refreshing, it’s usefulness in cocktails, in food pairings and for those who forgoe beer should not be underestimated.

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