Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published March 17th 2016
How doth the little busy bee get drunk?
Mead is almost certainly the oldest alcoholic drink ever made. Pottery vessels containing the residue of a mixture of honey, rice and fruits along with organic compounds of fermentation dating back to 6500-7000 BCE were found in Northern China.
The oldest recipe for mead can be found in Columella's De re rustica, about 60 CE.
The welcome at the front counter at House of Honey (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Take rainwater kept for several years, and mix a sextarius of this water with a pound of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for forty days, and then left on a shelf near the fire. If you have no rain water, then boil spring water.'
Nothing in there you'll notice about fermentation. Which isn't surprising as it really wasn't understood for another fifteen hundred years or so.
The House of Honey know all about fermentation, fortunately, which makes them able to produce the most sublime mead in a small but expanding range of delicious beverages.
The House of Honey meads (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Mead was fantastically popular as a drink until overtaken by the cheaper grape-based wine. And House of Honey's mead explains why this was so. Currently there are four labels:
Classic Mead ($25 a bottle) This is delicious, with an elusive, delicate nose, with very little overt traces of honey. It is in the melomel style (Meli means honey' in Greek) of a mixture of honey and fruit juice - in this case, grape juice.
This drink would be perfect on its own or with a spicy meal - curry or Thai, for example.
A small part of the range of honey (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Spiced Mead ($28 a bottle) This is absolutely outstanding - again delicate, balanced and lightly spiced and herbed. There are four ingredients - I guessed three of them - ginger, cinnamon and cloves, but couldn't for the life of me pick the fourth. You may do better.
It's an outstanding drink, far richer and more complex than one might expect and the spices give a memory of Christmas and joyeousness that's hard to beat.
Both of these have substantial amounts of honey, but are not in any sense 'sweet drinks'.
And on to the two stickies, named after the two kinds of honey used - Banksia and Parrot Bush. I have written elsewhere of the huge, enormous, difference that occurs in honey depending on the flowers they draw their nectar from.
This is then translated into the two meads ($35 a bottle) Each shows a distinctive complexity quite unique and different one from the other.
The honey ice creams at House of Honey (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The Parrot Bush is rather darker and has had three months on French Oak, which lays a further overlay of complexity to the nose and taste.
Both of these are genuine after-dinner drinks and would go wonderfully over crushed ice with cheese or dried or fresh fruit.
The House of Honey is open for tastings and if you love wine, honey or your stomach I'd strongly recommend you drop by for a sample.
And while you're there I'd stay and have their famous scones with honey, too.
Very Highly Recommended.
The House of Honey (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)