'Games of Thrones effect' sees huge rise in mead consumption among US hipsters

It's retro, obscure and difficult to make well. What's not to like?

Considered the world’s oldest fermented beverage, mead is making a huge comeback thanks to what makers have dubbed “the Game of Thrones effect”.

Combining the ingenuity of craft beer creation with an extremely retro back story, and the recipe is an almost inevitable hit among US hipsters.

Mead has been traced back to ancient civilisations in China, Greece and Egypt, was first mentioned in the sacred Hindu text Rigveda and features prominently in the Old English classic Beowulf.

Made by fermenting honey and water, it was superseded by other drinks like wine and beer because, frankly, they were better, tastier and easier to make.

Those sorts of obstacles are nothing to your average hipster, however, especially if it means emulating their favourite character from George RR Martin’s series of medieval-inspired books.

According to Quartz, the American Mead Makers Association has released its second annual “Mead Industry Report” for 2014. And the results are extraordinary.

While the figures are only taken from the reports of 52 participating meaderies from across the States, they are the best barometer we have and show that mead production went up 128 per cent from 2013 to 2014.

That huge rise was underpinned by an increase in sales of 42 per cent – by comparison, wine sales for the same year went up 6.3 per cent.

Michael Fairbrother, the founder and mead maker at Moonlight Meadery in New Hampshire, said the report’s “remarkable” figures were the result of modern advances in mead that make it “nothing like” the drink that died out in the Middle Ages.

And he told Quartz that there was definitely a link between the growing interest in mead and the popularity of HBO’s TV adaptation of Martin’s books. He said he was “tickled to death when Game of Thrones came out” – a violent metaphor that seems altogether appropriate.

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