Have you ever tasted mead?

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Have you ever tasted mead?

Taste beer, gin and more made from mead (until June)

Last updated: Friday, 5 May 2023 

Did you know that mead originated in Southern Africa, not with the Vikings? Or that the Khoi San fermented mead twice as fast as the Europeans?

At Cape Town Meadery, you can learn about the history of mead while tasting this ancient African beverage with a modern twist (like sparkling mead and mead lager). 

Meet the meadmaker, Dr Ernst Thompson, during a tasting. Image: Cape Town Meadery


Mead is the oldest fermented beverage in the world, and the only alcoholic beverage that can occur in nature. It’s simply made from honey, water and yeast. 

Thanks to TV-sensation Game of Thrones, it’s become more well-known in popular culture over the past couple of years: So much so that it is the fastest-growing alcoholic industry in the United States. 

Cape Town Meadery uses organic sustainable honey. Image: Art Rachen/Unsplash

When you hear the word “mead”, you might associate it with the Vikings and mediaeval Europe. You wouldn’t be wrong – mead has been made for centuries across the world. However, it was the Khoi San who first discovered it (and brewed it in half the time of their Northern counterparts, who took 40 years to ferment mead). 

Drink slowly: Alcohol percentage varies from 6 - 20%. Image: Cape Town Meadery 


Cape Town Meadery was started in 2016 by Dr Ernst Thompson. He is full of knowledge about this fermented beverage and talks you through the entire tasting (which lasts about two hours). 

The tasting room is small, and since tastings are limited to 10 people, the experience feels intimate. 

Cape Town Meadery offers everything from traditional mead to mead gin and lager. Image: Cape Town Meadery

You’ll learn about the history of mead, the different production methods and their sustainability mission. Cape Town Meadery uses organic Zambian honey, and by doing so, uplifts small rural communities and protects the natural forests and woodlands. 

Mead also has a much lower carbon footprint than other alcoholic beverages. Only 5L of water is used to make 1L of mead (in comparison, 1740L of water is used to make 1L of gin). 

The tastings are small and guests will learn a lot. Image: Cape Town Meadery


Sparkling mead, mead gin, mead lager… you’ll try meads that vary from the traditional. 

The tasting includes 10 different kinds of mead. Melaurea Mead Methode Traditionnelle is a sparkling mead, with fine delicate bubbles and a very dry taste (with hints of lemon and buchu). 

The Braggot Lager is a winner for beer-lovers. It’s easy-drinking with Pale Ale hops that give it a slightly citrus taste.

There are also more traditional meads to try, like the sweet mead which has a thick syrupy mouthfeel (similar to a dessert wine). The dry mead, on the other hand, is light and crisp. Comparable to a chenin blanc, it’s the type of drink that you’d sip at a summer picnic. 

You’ll also be able to taste sweet and cloudy Viking-style mead, straight from the fermentation tank. 

Visit in the chilly months and mead gluhwein will warm you up. Image: Cape Town Meadery


Cape Town Meadery offers limited tasting experiences throughout the year. It’s currently being offered every second Saturday until 24 June 2023. Make a booking via Quicket

It can be a bit tricky to find. From Voortrekker Rd/R102, turn left onto 7th Avenue. Enter The Old Timber Yard on the left. Drive straight until you see Cape Town Meadery (Unit 27). Get the directions.

You can also buy mead via the website. Image: Cape Town Meadery


Book a tasting: Until 24 June 2023 (11am - 1pm; 2.30pm - 4.30pm)
Cost: R120pp
Find Cape Town Meadery: Unit 27 | The Old Timber Yard | 7th Avenue | Maitland
Book: via Quicket
Contact them on: Via the website; @cape_town_meadery

By Julia Rowley 



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