We’re only on week two of social distancing and self-isolation, and I already forget what Friday feels like, let alone the weekend. I’m trying very hard to enjoy my “funemployment” phase since my entire industry shut down overnight, and I’m still hopeful that it will re-emerge in a few months when the entire planet isn’t in lockdown. Until then, I’ve been investigating the stash of liquid goodies in my fridge, starting with a session mead from Royal Canadian Mead Company, based in Hamilton, Ontario.

Feels Like Friday is the flagship mead from the Royal Canadian Mead Company, and you may have spotted it already at festivals or in cans at Avling Kitchen & Brewery in the east end. A 355 mL can will set you back $3.75 at the LCBO and it is a product currently available for home delivery, so feel free to add this to your quarantini stockpile for something a little different. Weighing in at 5.6% ABV, it only has 4.5 grams of sugar and 8 grams of carbs, so I didn’t feel too guilty having one on a Sunday afternoon while playing Exploding Kittens.

Mead is the world’s oldest known alcoholic beverage, with evidence of mead production dating back over 9,000 years in northern China. Since ethanol is a by-product of fermented sugars, it’s easy to see how this could have happened by accident many millennia ago, and we kept repeating it over the years since humans seem really fond of the effects of alcohol. There aren’t too many meaderies in Ontario just yet, but there is some local production thanks to Rosewood Estates and All or Nothing Brewhouse and Distillery, which took over from Trafalgar Brewing Company a few years ago (thankfully). Royal Canadian Mead Company seems to be the only one in Ontario focusing only on mead production, and anyone who keeps bees is a friend of mine in this strange apocalyptic time.

This particular mead is a hopped buckwheat beverage, made with honey that has come from buckwheat pollen. Honey will vary widely in flavour and colour based on the type of flower and pollen the bees used to produce it, so if you’re like me and enjoy having lots of different kinds of honey at home, this is the brew for you. As an added bonus, it’s a completely gluten-free product without the enamel-ripping acidity that cider brings to the table. I love cider, but more than 2 and I’m stuck brushing with Sensodyne for a few days. Buckwheat is one of my favourite flours to use in bread-making, so I thought I’d give this one a whirl while sitting in germ-fearing isolation. What else do I have to do? My tolerance is still low since I gave up alcohol in January, and February unleashed hell on my industry.

Appearance: Bright vibrant yellow colour, with a rapidly fading white head that did not survive long enough for me to capture a photo. Large carbonation bubbles.

Aroma: Freshly bundled hay. A warm, sweet but not cloyingly so aroma.

Taste: Spice on the palate from the buckwheat flowers, mild acidity, semi-dry flavour. Hints of green apples and white grapefruit.

Aftertaste: Lingering vegetable notes from the hops, with a honeysuckle aftertaste.

Food pairing: Whatever you’ve hoarded in your pantry? I think it would go nicely with cheese blintzes, Kole says it’s fine on its own.

Overall: Mead won’t be my go-to drink, but I am consistently pleased with this option and try to order it whenever I spot it at restaurants and festivals. It’s a nice change from beer and wine, give it a try.

Shawna O'Flaherty

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