The Grinder’s own Nicholas Day unpacks the growing minicraze for mead in a thoughtful piece in Slate.

Lots of people know someone who home-brews mead, an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey. It’s usually a guy who sports a longish beard, indulges in weed, and enjoys the novels of J. R. R. Tolkien. And therein lies the problem. Mead, according to Day, will never rival beer for popularity: “That’s partly because it has a horrible image problem—currency with the Society for Creative Anachronism is not exactly a signifier of great commercial promise.”

Still, despite the looming problem of Colony Collapse Disorder, our boundless appetite for artisanal food and drink has brought mead a lot of new fans. Its aroma of honey, herbs, and flowers has, as Day notes, a sense of terroir that beer just can’t match. And small producers are starting to pop up around the country.

Still, the one thing that could sink mead is its basic food-unfriendliness. It lacks the acidity of a good wine or the bracing bitterness of beer; mead’s own sweetness may be what’s holding it back.

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