Friday, February 24, 2012

Firewater Friday - Drink of the Gods

This week is vacation week . . . unfortunately for everyone else, as well.  So much for a peaceful week in the White Mountains glutting on micro-brews and majestic snow covered mountain peaks.   Don’t get me wrong . . . we are still imbibing quite ubiquitously on liquid bread but it’s not so quiet with all the invasive rugrats crunching crumbs and whatnot.  

It amazes me how many parents drag their kids into bars and pubs when there are plenty of kid friendly places to be visit.

Not to be deterred, we will not sequester ourselves in our small but cozy room with our faces glued to our laptops and noses stuffed into a book . . . or Kindle, as it were . . . although we will make plenty of time for that as well.

The other day we ventured out to a local meadery owned and operated by a couple of young men in Center Ossipee, New Hampshire . . . the Sap House Meadery.  Center Ossipee is by no means a bustling metropolis . . . it a quaint little town that is quiet in the winter time and teeming in the summer due to the plethora of lakes in the area. The Sap House is a small establishment located in what was once a local grocery.  
Owners Ash Fischbein and Matt Trahan (from left) 

Owners Ash Fischbein and Matt Trahan (from left) 
As we walked in the door we were greeted warmly by a pleasant relaxed atmosphere and one of the proprietors, Ash Fishbein, who was offering up samples of his wares.  We also met co-owner Matt Trahan and Mom.

At the time of our visit, the business has been in operation for just over a year.  And, by the looks of things they are off to a great start.  The presentation of their product is tasteful as are the contents they contain.

Like many of the businesses in this area, they make every effort to support the regional economy by using only locally produced ingredients for their meads.  And, when that is not possible, they make sure that the ingredients are fair trade certified.

We did a sampling of their four main offerings and one seasonal.  We were not disappointed.  They were all quite different and delicious . . . not typical of the meads I’ve had in the past, the Sap House meads are less sweet and on the drer side.

Ash, mazer (slang for mead maker) extraordinaire and our bartender for the sampling . . . besides plying us with the lovingly made luscious liquid . . . regaled us with the history of mead and its primary ingredient honey.

If you’ve never had mead it’s very different from wine or beer.  It is, in fact, a honey wine that is millennia old . . . archeological discoveries as far back as 8,000 to 12,000 B.C.  At its simplest mead can be described as an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water.  Of course, modern mead makers have expanded the basic recipe.  At the Sap House Meadery, they offer up a rich Vanilla Bean, smooth Sugar Maple, citrusy Hopped Blueberry and dry-ish pyment (which is made with a red wine grape juice) called Ossipioja .  All in all . . . YUM!

Honey . . . the main ingredient in mead . . . has been forever used for food and medicinal purposes.  As Ash describes it . . . the honeymoon has long been a wedding tradition.  The honey in honeymoon comes from an old northern European custom in which newlyweds would, for a month, consume a daily cup of mead.  It is thought that the honey would increase the chances of a boy child being conceived.    If nothing else the intoxicating effects of the mead would surely encourage  . . . uhm . . . sexy time.

Not surprisingly, mead was the preferred drink during the Meditteranean “Age of Gold” . . . however, interestingly enough, the word for drunk in classical Greek translates to "intoxicated with honey".

We walked out of the store feeling the pleasant effects of the mead and four bottles of the heavenly nectar.  We were in no way dissatisfied. . . in fact, we were extremely impressed.  Cheers guys!!  We will be back.  

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