Back in the days of yore — and in this case, "yore" means about 4,000 years ago — people needed their alcohol. There wasn't much to do except hunt, farm, build stuff, and, you know, create the foundation of human civilization. So at the end of a long day, our ancestors needed a drink, and sometimes an alcoholic beverage called mead would be that drink.
All alcoholic beverages need yeast and a sugar to get that fermentation process going and make alcohol, which makes a drink a drink. With meads, the sugar used for fermentation is honey. Because of this, the word "nectar" is in a lot of mead names. Meads could be considered the other nectar of the gods.
Fortunately, to take a swig of the ancient brew, traveling in time isn't necessary. Neither is a trip to the Renaissance Faire. Many meaderies are pumping out the product for others to enjoy. In DC, there are a few main meaderies that pop up time and time again. One is B. Nektar Meadery outside of Detroit in suburban Ferndale. Another is Blue Dog based in Eugene, Oregon. And with Blue Dog, expect mead names that are canine puns. There is also New Hampshire's Sap House and Colorado's Redstone.
In DC, there are a few places in the area for mead imbibing. If in Capitol Hill, Hank's Oyster Bar is in the mead game. The restaurant has Blue Dog on its menu for $9. And for those in the know, Blue Dog is considered a "Mikey Likey" selection at Hank's.
On 14th Street's restaurant row, Doi Moi has B. Nektar Necromangocon (gotta love that name) for $15 and Millstone's Hopbrosia for $49 a bottle. Estadio has Sap House's Ossipioja for $12 a glass. The Ossipioja has "Spanish grape juice" and is fitting for Estadio's Spanish dishes.
"People sometimes think that meads aren't clean enough, like it's a medieval or something. But mead has a versatility because it could be used for dessert and with savory dishes," explains Max Kuller, Doi Moi's wine director. "Mead's sweeter qualities make it pair well with spicy cuisine, such as Doi Moi's Jungle Curry. And to introduce customers to mead, I use existing reference points, such as familiarity with white wines, to help them find something different but not too unfamiliar."
Beer emporium Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights has B. Nektar Evil Genius on its menu. This mead kicks it IPA-style, so for those looking for a bite to the brew, this may be the one. A 16 oz can will set a beer lover back $20.
Bloomingdale's Red Hen also has the B. Nektar Evil Genius ready to roll for $7 a glass and other B. Nektar Seasonals. The restaurant's sommelier Sebastian Zutant became familiar with meads when a salesperson pitched the product. "For me, it's another avenue and something that I really haven't explored too much yet. There's a lot of creativity in the mead world. There's really a lot of development in the mead world. So we'll be seeing lots of different things come out of it. And meads have gotten a really good reception from our customers."
For those not in DC, fear not. If on the other side of the Potomac, Clarendon's Liberty Tavern has mead on the menu. For $19, patrons can order half a liter of B. Nektar Meadery Zombie Killer. And if in Baltimore, Woodberry Kitchen uses meads for its cocktails, such as the Cavalcade ($12) that brings a kick with chili pepper mead.
And for those looking to take some mead home and keep it in the fridge for a rainy day, there are some options around DC. Here's a mead hunting tip: look for them near the cider section of the beer aisles. DCanter on Barracks Row has Green Collar Mead from Oregon's Blue Dog Meadery. A 4-pack costs $12. And at Whole Foods, the beer aisle has Blue Dog's Green and Yellow Collars 4-packs for $11 and Redstone's Sunshine Nectar for $12 for a 16.9 oz can.
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