Every Product has a Story - Norfolk Amber Mead
If someone offers you a glass of mead and you have a brief moment of panic wondering, “How did I end up at the Renaissance Faire?,” you are not alone. Mead is quickly on its way to become a trendy new way to get a buzz, but do you actually know anything about it—besides its frequent links to medieval culture? Who remembers references to Falstaff's love affair with Mead in Shakespeare's plays.
The first thing to know is that mead is now more farm-to-table cool than wear a corset and watch adults pretend to joust. The second thing you should know is that it’s delicious. The third thing is that you're unlikely to find any better mead than that you'll find in a bottle of Norfolk Amber Mead, made by it's founder and creator John Costin.
But first things first, what is mead? In short, mead is honey wine. It’s honey and water fermented by yeast, but it can also be flavored with fruits, spices, grains and/or hops. It’s its own distinct category, somewhere between beer and wine. You’d sip it like a beer, wine, or cider. The key thing to remember is that mead is a delicious alternative to many of the commercially made drinks on the market and mead can be used in a variety of ways.
John Costin is the man behind Norfolk Amber Mead and before you read his answers to our standard set of questions there's something John would probably be too embarrassed to say himself, but he became an instant hero for us in 2017 when we'd arrange a Christmas fayre in (and out) of the shop. We had invited a number of our producers and arranged for a snow machine etc to give the event a real Christmassy feel. The only problem was that we had a full blown snow storm outside and whilst everybody cowered inside John set up with his mead and a santa hat. An image which will forever live with us and a super hero for doing so.
However, let's find out a little more about the story behind the product.
What was your first job?
Production assistant: filling pies in McIntosh of Dyce (regrettably now ceased trading). I loved that job.
When & why did you start your business?
2016 I started producing mead commercially. I felt that mead was a great drink but had been left behind in the public imagination.
Do you have a favourite gadget? If so, what is it?
A 5 foot long paddle that I use to stir the Norfolk honey and water when I am brewing the mead. It really does feel like handling a giant’s teaspoon while stirring a giant teacup.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
Follow your heart.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever had?
Take the job.
What advice would you give to a start-up food business?
Who’s your favourite local producer?
Paul Cork and his lovely wife Beth from Norfolk Raider Cider. We have had many a laugh selling at a craft fair.
Using your products, what’s your favourite recipe?
Norfolk Trifle: bake a thin Victoria sponge (100g sugar, 100g flour, 100 butter), while it is still warm and flexible press it into a bowl, soak the sponge in Norfolk Amber Mead (liberally). Top with chocolate custard (just add a tablespoon of cocoa to ordinary custard), Then top with whipped cream. No fruit in the is trifle!
What makes Norfolk special for you?
It’s full of surprises: Red Deer in the mist in Narborough, wild horses on Roydon Common, the striking sea cliffs at Hunstanton, medieval shot turned up by the plough at Grimston Carrs, the abandoned plague village of Godwick …and so much more.
The White Horse in Brancaster. I like the fact you can hop onto the coastal path and do a gentle stroll after a blow-out in the restaurant.
Name one place in Norfolk people should visit?
Castle Acre. If you have only a day that is the place: ruined castle with well preserved earthworks, monastery and heritage site and brilliant walks down the river Nar.
Dogs or Cats?
Dogs. I am a lover of Great Danes.
We would highly recommend Norfolk Amber Mead. It's a very versatile drink which can be can be used as an alternative to a Pimms Cup for a refreshing summer BBQ drink. Give it a go.
John Costin will be bringing his Mead to our Showcase Saturday on the 12th June come along and meet him in person.