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It Happens Here: Crave Mead In Blackstone Brings An Ancient Drink To A New Generation

BLACKSTONE (CBS) - An ancient form of alcohol is gaining popularity. Mead was the drink of choice for Vikings and now it's making a comeback.

Inside Crave Mead in Blackstone, Rachel Humphries carries on the ancient tradition.

"Mead is fermented honey. It's very simple and it's easy to make. You take honey, water, and add yeast. The yeast eats the sugars in the honey and turns it into alcohol," Humphries explained to WBZ-TV. "It is nothing like a beer, it is nothing like a wine. It is its own entity."

Mead is considered the oldest alcohol in the world. Scholars say it predates both beer and wine by thousands of years. While Humphries says mead is making a comeback in the United States, there's a reason it hasn't gone mainstream.

"The story that I've passed down is thousands of years ago the only way to get honey from a beehive was to submerge the hive in water, kill the bees, and gather the honey. But no one knew that they were creating an issue, so honey became rare and very expensive. It was easier to turn to grapes and make wine."

Bees from Billerica make the Japanese Knotweed Honey that Crave Mead uses as the base for every flavor. The bees are brought to a local farm where they also pollinate the crops, a win, win for the environment says Humphries.

"They pollinate and in turn they help the crops grow so that's actually what this does. This farm has 30,000 bees that they can keep alive, keep eating, keep making honey and then we take the honey in," she said.

Honey belts slowly but surely warm each bucket until the honey is soft enough to go into a 200-gallon fermentation tank for two to three months. Humphries creates different flavors like Crème Brûlée, Blackcurrant and Pomegranate Sour Cherry by adding fresh fruit, juices, and herbs. And if you're wondering if honey maintains its health benefits once fermented, Humphries says that's still to be determined, but several customers claim they've found success.

"I've tried to find the answer and I'm not sure. We have a couple of customers that faithfully come in and purchase the honey and the mead because they have Lyme Disease that has gone untreated. They have said firsthand it makes them feel better," she told WBZ.

Since mead is honey-based it doesn't go bad quickly like other alcohols. The same bottle will keep for months after opening. Humphries says mead can also be used in a mixed drink like a spritz, daquiri, sangria, or even mulled. She suggests pairing it with salty dishes and charcuterie boards.

"It's more of an educational experience with the tasting that were going for. We want to educate people on mead, we want to let them know it is out there, it's something different. We want them to get excited about it because the more excited they are, the more they'll spread the word," she said.

Crave Mead is located at 7 Main Street in Blackstone. For more information on booking tastings and where to find Crave Mead in stores visit their website.

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