Mississippi doesn't have much in common with Norway. The weather is better and the days are longer and the people are more outgoing. Until recently, there were few reasons to think of them sharing anything.
This changed when Mississippi produced its own homegrown version of the classic viking beverage mead.
Mead is honey wine. It is made by fermenting large amounts of honey and water, throwing some yeast into the mix and waiting. The results make for a delicious concoction that contains as much flavor and complexity of traditional wines with a character very much its own. Mead has been made around the world for as long as man could make it. Some say the birth of culture came with the production of mead. It gave us a reason to stay put, to keep farming. It was made in ancient Norway, China and Ethiopia. It has been made in pots of clay and bronze and even holes in the ground. What it boils down to is, if man could make mead, he did.
The world of mead isn't limited to a shiny gold liquid, nor is it limited to Scandinavia and South Mississippi.
There are more than 200 breweries and meaderies producing across the county and the level of experimentation between these creators can be astounding. They add fruit juice, grape juice, hops and molasses.
Brewers in the Middle Ages would add tree sap to the mix, anything to add something more, something special to the flavor. There are margarita-flavored meads made in Michigan. They make English-style mead in California and Key lime meads in Florida. There is some much to try and find in the world of mead.
Which brings us to Mississippi Nectar. Lazy Magnolia in Kiln is the first commercial brewery in the state to produce mead and they do so entirely on a local level. The honey is cultivated from beehives in Ellisville. The bees gathered the pollen from regional Dewberry plants. The honey is then mixed with water and the magic begins.
The result is a strong and dry mead with an alcohol percentage of 11 percent. The mead smells of wildflowers with an earthy grape odor. The flavor starts with honeysuckle and other floral notes. There is also pear and a strong tannin flavor that rounds out the body of this local-sourced libation.
As the mead warms, it gains some sweet flavor from the honey. The mead also picks up some flavors we more often smell than taste - faint hints of grass and hay.
If you're really interested in trying some mead, contact your nearest wine retailer and ask if they have any. Most should have at least one variety available.
Lazy Magnolia's Mississippi Nectar can be bought director from the brewery by the bottle or by the case.