Alberta's Fallentimber Meadery cashing in on medieval trend

A growing number of Canadians are looking to toast their weekly viewing of Game of Thrones with a horn of medieval mead — and an Alberta meadery is cashing in on the trend.

Mead is making it big time, thanks to peoples' love of Game of Thrones, Harry Potter

Mead has always been big with medieval re-enactors, says Fallentimber Meadery owner Nathan Ryan - but the last two years have also seen a spike caused by fans of Game of Thrones pouring themselves a pint. (Alison Cole/Fallentimber Meadery)

A growing number of Canadians are looking to toast their weekly viewing of Game of Thrones with a horn of medieval mead — and an Alberta meadery is cashing in on the trend.

The honey-based brew is making a comeback, says Fallentimber Meadery co-owner Nathan Ryan, and sales are on the rise.

Ryan's meadery in Water Valley, Alta. northwest of Calgary is among the handful of Alberta breweries serving up mead.

Fallentimber Meadery officially opened its doors in 2010, but the family behind it has been dabbling in mead for nearly a decade. (Alison Cole/Fallentimber Meadery)
For those unfamiliar with the drink, "Mead is basically any alcohol that is derived from honey," Ryan says.

"Mead can be actually quite dry and quite sweet, depending on the initial ratio of honey to water," he said.

"Our best-selling one in the wine-style is a really traditional mead, which is kind of a mid-range sweet but really meant to have the flavour of honey stand out."

The meadery got its start when Ryan's father, a lifelong beekeeper, got into home brew. Ryan and his brothers were quick to follow suit.

"We just saw a window of opportunity to try to do it on a bigger scale — and the hobby got carried away."

That "hobby" has gained growing interest from buyers in the past two years, spurred on pop culture phenomena like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, Ryan thinks.

The meadery sells several different types of mead, and is now developing more ale-style meads, which Ryan says have more carbonation. (Alison Cole/Fallentimber Meadery)
While mead doesn't form a huge part of the HBO series, characters in the books are forever toasting mugs of mead at banquets or quietly sipping it in wayward pubs.

Ryan says the re-enactment crowd has always been good for the mead business, but notes he's also seen a spike of interest during the show's TV run over the past two years.

"It was kind of exciting for me because I knew mead before I knew Game of Thrones — and when I started seeing it more and more in kind of pop culture references, it (was) fun."

"I've been waiting for the word to pop up in the series but in the book, it's all through it."

Ryan hopes the show will eventually incorporate more mead with time — but either way, says it's fun to watch with a period-accurate brew in hand.

And it also gives fans an excuse to try out the relatively rare beverage.

While there's plenty of variety in flavours, Fallentimber has specialized in wine-style mead so far. They're in the process of developing an ale-style, which Ryan says has more carbonation.

For those interested in trying out the mead-meets-Game of Thrones experience themselves, the company sells its wares at liquor stores across Edmonton.


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