Talking Mead and Honey With Moonshine Meadery | Stay Tipsy
If I remember correctly, the last time I heard the word mead was in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince when Professor Slughorn accidentally poisons Ron Weasley with an Oak Mead meant to take down Dumbledore (Harry Potter Nerd Alert!). Apart from assuming that it was some kind of alcoholic beverage that wizards drink, I wasn’t sure what mead exactly was, until I had some from Moonshine Meadery (turns out muggles can have it, too!).
I recently attended a honey and mead tasting session organised by the lovely people of Moonshine Meadery at The Little Easy, in Bandra. They are Asia’s first and currently India’s only meadery.
So, with nearly no understanding about what I was about to get into, we began our tasting session at The Little Easy, hosted by Rahul Chawla of Moonshine Meadery. He explained that mead is an alcoholic beverage made from brewing honey, the result of which is a mildly sweet brew somewhere in the middle of beer and white wine, and its alcohol content can be anything from 6% to 21%.
Originated from the Sanskrit word madh for honey, comes mead. Across countries and cultures, mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages and has been drunk for centuries. Through history, the narrative surrounding this honey based beverage has always been of a religious nature. The Greek Gods drank ambrosia; in Norse mythology, the Vikings drank mead to reach Valhalla; mead has been described in the Rig Veda, and the Egyptians stored mead with mummies so that they could carry it with them to the afterlife. Mead is so old, some say it existed before agriculture was discovered, because the materials required were easily available, and the process was simple.
After a seamless introduction into the world of mead, Rohan took us through the five kinds of honey they use to brew their mead. The flavour of honey is determined by which flowers the bees are collecting the honey from. The first one was a multi-floral honey, which is the standard kind and used most commonly. The second was called a sido, sourced from acacia flowers. Next was an ajwain flavoured honey, where bees collected honey from ajwain flowers. Then, was a rosewood, and lastly, the honey we tried was of a smoked variety, that added a divine bacon-like flavour to the sweet honey.
All the honey that they source for their mead is a 100% pure. Moonshine takes pride in the fact that they use honey of the highest quality and get it from trustworthy resources. While doing their research before starting the company, one of the founders even did a course in beekeeping to be able to truly understand their product and where it comes from. In the process, they have become very aware about bees being endangered, and are looking at a future where they can sell fully natural Moonshine Honey to encourage its demand. Founder Nitin Vishwas told us a trick to identify fully natural honey: if it’s really natural and without preservatives and artificial sweeteners, it will start crystalizing almost immediately. Honey crystallizing isn’t an indicator of it turning bad, but is actually a sign of really good quality honey.
Tasting a spoonful of each of these honeys was like a preparation to understand what it becomes after getting fermented. When we did try the mead, I was able to pick up notes and flavours in it that I would have probably missed if I hadn’t been able to understand where it came from.
We tried the Apple Cider Mead and the Coffee Mead, both flavours which are currently available on sale. We tried an Apple Oak Bourbon flavoured mead which is going to be out for sale soon, and special one called the Bocher which is in the process of being aged for two years before it comes out. The Apple Cider one was a great introduction to mead, but my personal favourite was the Coffee Mead. Apple Oak Bourbon had the lightness of the Apple Cider, but a certain density to it. The Bocher was the strongest of the lot, and the honey flavour was the most prominent in it. Tasting all these different kinds really gave me an insight into the world mead.
I spoke to one of the founders of the company, Nitin Vishwas, who gave me an insight into Moonshine. I was bubbling with questions, and he was happy to answer.
What made you open up a mead market in India and start Moonshine Meadery?
I read about mead making a comeback in the 21st century on an in-flight magazine, and that a lot of European and American brewers had started manufacturing it. I wondered what it was, and the description sounded amazing. Mead isn’t unknown to India, it’s been around throughout history, so my partner, Rohan Rehai and I figured that this could be the next go-to social drink. It’s light, fizzy, sweet: everything the Indian beverage market asks for. We tried brewing a batch at home with literally no reference. Once we realised that this is something people actually want to drink, we officially set up Moonshine Meadery in 2016.
What has been the response like?
Incredible! We doubled our manufacturing in the last three months and are planning on tripling it by the end of the year. It’s really catching on! In a few months, we will be ready to conduct tours of the brewery in Pune where visitors can even brew a batch of their own, experiment with flavours and make what they like.
What mead is your personal favourite and which one do you recommend to someone who has never tried mead before?
There’s so much you can do with mead, we’re constantly trying different flavours. We even tried a fish flavoured mead! That was a fail, but the point is, you can go really wild and creative with it. We’re soon going to be putting out a Spiced Guava Mead which just takes me straight back to my childhood, eating peru with masala on it. For someone who’s never had mead before, the Apple Cinnamon flavour is an easy introduction.
Our Curated Mead Tastings are where you get to try things that make you go Mm! With current and experimental meads on the tasting menu, you can also sample different varieties of honey while chatting with us about the rich history and culture of meads through the ages. All this while pairing the meads in your glass with some really tasty bites of food! You’ll hear about the next one right here! . . . #meadup #glutenfree #craft #mumbai #craftbrew #honey #craftnotcrap #pune #cider #bees #mumbaidiaries #puneinstagrammers #mumbaifoodie #madeinindia #mumbaiblogger #puneblogger #mead #puneigers #nectarofthegods #punefoodie #meadinindia #curated #tasting #tastingtable #foodpairing #history #culture
Trying Moonshine’s mead, and listening to the founders talk so earnestly about their product has really encouraged me to explore the world of meads more, and it’s what I’m going to be ordering the next time I’m at a party. Moonshine Meadery is available in select restaurants, bars, and wine shops and at Godrej Nature’s Basket. To find out where you can grab a bottle of mead closest to you, you can reach out to them on their Instagram, and on their website which will be live soon.