Mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man, and at Lyme Bay we have always strived to take traditional recipes forward with modern production techniques.
Have you noticed a growing demand in mead since Lyme Bay released its first variety?
Yes, demand has grown steadily since we released our first Traditional, West Country & Christmas Meads. In 2010, we decided to enrich the offering by developing a Garden Mead (our Mead blended with notes of garden mint) and a Tournament Mead (our finest mead incorporating the heat of ginger). These have been wonderfully received by our customers. Mead remains our best-selling product, and we have seen a huge revival in popularity in recent years alongside our accolades.
How would you describe mead to somebody who has never tasted it?
Full-flavoured and deliciously sweet. Made from a unique blend of honey, water, yeast and sugar- our simplistic ingredients enable the beautiful natural characteristics honey provides to come through to the final taste. Alternatively our ‘Yore’ sparkling mead is a lighter, dryer mead at 4% ABV,
aimed at offering a truly unique alternative to cider and lager.
How have customers taken to Yore? What has the feedback been like?
Surprise at just how drinkable it is. We continue to work to educate consumers about what they can expect from mead, and we often find that the lack of understanding of the category is where we need to work most. Once it is tried however, we have found that the product speaks for itself!
What would you describe as the key differences between Yore and non-sparkling meads?
It’s lighter, dryer and has a light carbonation. Essentially we’re passionate about Mead and keeping the traditions alive, and we therefore wanted to create something truly innovative which can be drunk by the bottle. For honey lovers, mead will always be something special but ultimately, consumers aware of meads expect something relatively sweet, and often of a punchy alcohol level. Yore mead is our gift to those consumers who are looking for something less challenging, yet still with integrity and heritage behind it.
Which is your best-selling mead? Why do you think this is?
Our best-selling mead is our 14.5% Traditional Mead. It’s sweet, pungent, and deliciously full-flavoured and is a wonderful accompaniment to strong cheeses. It’s won many industry awards over the years, including a 1 Star Gold Award at the 2016 Great Taste Awards. Judges commented that it was “a very lovely honey vibrancy on the nose, the balance of sweetness and acidity is well judged.”
Where do you source the ingredients from to make the meads?
We source a bespoke blend of honey from an apiary in Derbyshire. It’s a blend of Mexican, Chinese and English honey to combine honey foraged from the most aromatic of indigenous flower species.
What does the process of producing mead involve?
Our honey blends are diluted with water and fermented using selected yeast strains to maximise character and produce a reliable end product. Honey contains a high proportion of fructose which standard yeasts struggle to metabolise as well as glucose, and therefore choosing the right strain is
important. We have a state of the art laboratory testing everything from sugar levels (and down to individual sugar components), acidity, turbidity, alcohol, free and total SO2 levels, pH and of course, a willing group of tasters to sign off on every batch.
We ferment our meads in stainless steel vats prior to blending to produce the desired characteristics of each of our meads. We are also toying with creating a very special, in-bottle fermented variant (in
the same way that our award-winning English sparkling wines are made). There is no hard and fast rule to container type, ageing period and even the source of the honey, so we have a lot of fun experimenting and creating the very best products. Finally, all of our meads are sterile filtered rather than pasteurised at bottling, to preserve the characteristic aromas of each blend.