Speed Reads


Is craft mead the new craft beer?

Craft beer is no longer associated solely with brew snobs and bearded Brooklynites, as the booming industry has increasingly carved out a larger share of the American beer market over the past decade. Now, an even more esoteric alcoholic beverage is hoping to follow suit: mead.

Yes, the medieval beverage made from fermented honey is eyeing its own revival amid a broader foodie movement in the booze business. The craft mead industry enjoyed 130 percent growth in sales from 2012 to 2013, the American Mead Makers Association said in a recent report, making mead the "smallest but fastest growing segment of the entire U.S. alcohol business."

"Mead is quietly booming and our industry has caught the beginning of a tidal wave," the report added.

That may be true. Back in 2012, The New York Times quipped that mead was undergoing a "renaissance." Then again, the Times also said monocles were making a comeback, so it may not be the best source for spotting trends.

So is mead really poised to move into the 21st century and join your favorite quintuple IPA on liquor store shelves everywhere? Don't drink a celebratory toast just yet.

That mammoth spike in sales is impressive, but a tad misleading. The industry reported $112,000 in sales last year; craft beer reported $14.3 billion in sales, up 20 percent from the year before. Still, the growth is interesting nonetheless. And heck, if kombucha can get a cult following, why can't mead get one, too?