Mead doesn’t have to be sweet.
Sure, it’s a beverage created from fermenting honey and water, but like beer and wine, mead is diverse. And most of all, mead is delicious.
At the Viking Alchemist Meadery — located in both Smyrna and Marietta — its mead-makers took most of the world's perception of mead and turned it on its head through crafting an off-dry and delightfully acidic concoction — Solifaction.
Tamara Kosoris, the meadery’s head mead-maker, said Solifaction was a part of the operation’s signature meads when they first opened in 2016. Like an alchemist transforming gold into wine, she took Georgia wildflower honey and conjured something worthy of Dionysus.
“As a challenge, we made it as an off-dry,” Kosoris said. “Everyone talks about how sweet mead is.”
Although Kosoris considers Solifaction the meadery's driest mead, she still labels it as “off-dry.” She said this choice was made because it’s not like other wine labeled as “dry,” meaning that it “doesn’t suck the moisture from your mouth.” A tiny hint of sweetness remains in Solifaction, one that reminds you of its honey origins.
“Our challenge was, ‘How do you get it to be off-dry and still have honey remnants without being sweet?’ Kosoris said. “It’s a delicate balance.”
Kosoris said one of the biggest battles the meadery has faced since opening involves producing a consistent product year after year. Unfortunately, honey doesn’t stay the same each year, even if it’s harvested in the same location.
“Throughout the year, honey changes in its sweetness levels and viscosity,” Kosoris said. “It’s been an interesting journey. Customers will forgive some variance, but if you start varying it too much, you end up with a different product all together. It’s a tough job, but we have to taste our product quite frequently.”
After taking a sip of Solifaction, I experienced what any beer, wine or mead disciple yearns for —instant euphoria.
Meadery: Viking Alchemist Meadery
Alcohol by volume: 11%
Style: Off-dry mead
Bottom line: Honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better mead
Since my first introduction to the world of mead a couple of years ago in Wales, I had searched for mead to try back in the U.S. However, none brought me back to the joy experienced in my first batch made in the Snowdonia mountains, until I tried Solifaction.
This beautiful mead offers a lively burst of apple flavor and a whisper of honey. It finishes light and delicate, and lulled me in for another sip.
I can say without hesitation that Solifaction is one of the loveliest meads I’ve ever tried. It makes me want to pursue a life like Smaug the dragon, hoarding all the golden beverage for myself.
Luckily for Hall County residents, signature meads from the Viking Alchemist Meadery are available at both Downtown Drafts and Tap It in Gainesville. Before you drive to either business, I recommend calling first to make sure they still have what you’re looking for.
For more information about the meadery, visit vikingalchemist.com.