Mead has long sat, perhaps uncomfortably, at a rather obscure intersection of wine and beer. The honey-fermented drink is often enjoyed as a novelty rather than a go-to tipple, and any recognition it has gained from the popularity of Game of Thrones hasn’t much managed to move beyond a superficial level in the UK.
A new generation of mead producers is trying to change that – and while Lyme Bay Winery, brewer of seven styles of mead in the UK, sees cocktails as a vehicle for mead’s comeback, Peckham-based mead producer Gosnells is branching out in a different direction.
Gosnells has decided to restyle its liquid after wine, revamping its packaging with a larger 75cl bottle with shiny new branding, created in partnership with the illustrator Greg Coulton and agency February. The result? A design that looks more Australian Sav Blanc than Aspall, and one that just might get people thinking differently about mead. Now bar staff have the option of offering guests a bottle of mead to share, instead of a bottle of prosecco or wine.
Matters get a bit more complicated when you consider that Gosnells is also taking a lower abv approach to its mead. While many meads fall within the same abv range as wine, Gosnells sits at 5.5%. This could potentially turn off customers looking for the same buzz that wine provides.
But founder Tom Gosnell has a more optimistic perspective. ‘People are increasingly searching for low abv options,’ he said. ‘They are looking for new things that fit in with current styles of drinking, to be able to share a bottle with friends and still be able to drive home.’
As well as looking to encroach on wine-drinking territory, Gosnell is excited about the incorporation of mead in cocktails.
‘Mead pairs well with a range of spirits,’ he explained. ‘It’s excellent with dark rum, muddled ginger and lime – a bit like a Dark and Stormy – and in a classic Gin Fizz.’
In an effort to raise the profile of the drink, Gosnells has been working with outlets to design occasions to showcase it, holding tastings and educating more members of the trade on mead. Above all, Gosnell said, he wants people to know about ‘the purity of our product, and how much care goes into it’. In that way, it seems his mead has more in common with your favourite wine than you may think.