Gosnells of London

honey: i’m home

Forget all your preconceptions about mead. Get those medieval images out of your mind.
Gosnells offers a range of premium products that have more in common with craft beer and pet-nat wines than they do with Game of Thrones

Gosnells is London’s only mead maker. With a meadery which launched in 2014 in downtown Peckham, Tom Gosnell exports the highest percentage of his meads to Asia, with recent distribution for his cans and bottles in every state in America. And now he is turning his attention back to the untested market of the UK.

“Mead’s time has come,” he declares. “In the USA, it is enormous, and with a wide range of pricing and styles. It is like craft beer, a real growth area, with over 500 meaderies.

“In the past, mead here in the UK was often high in alcohol – up to 12% or 15%. It tasted like rich honey and had none of the delicacy of fine wines; and as the agricultural crops from which the bees harvested their pollen changed every year, so too did the flavour and consistency of the meads.”

In contrast, the majority of Gosnells’ honey comes from Spanish orange groves, and this provides a consistent Chablis/Viognier flavour profile for its Gosnells 5.5% sparkling Classic, in its 75cl bottle. It combines elements of sourdough bread, a floral richness and an edge of gentle orange. Made from just honey, water and time, it is a thoroughly modern mead – light, crisp and sparkling – but with the elegance of sparkling or petillant naturel wines.

“Every one of our meads is sparkling,” says Gosnell, “and recently we have extended the offering by bringing out four new cans at 4% abv and a kombucha-like LOW ALC variant at 0.5%, with a backbone of Assam tea. Launching our four cans has sky-rocketed us into new territory and led to export orders way in excess of anything we dreamt possible.

“The quartet of Sour, Hopped, Pink Hibiscus and Citra Sea in brightly-coloured 33cl 4% abv cans has completely separated us from the old perception of high-alcohol meads in 75cl bottles, great as some of them can be.

“The cans are part of our attempt to revolutionise the word ‘mead’ and to demonstrate the amazing range of flavours which bees of all nationalities, regions and postcodes can create.

“This is something we’ve been exploring with a series of limited releases, which demonstrate how Saffron Walden honeys are different from those from Biggin Hill, Finchley, or Hackney Marshes.

“Our new canned meads have good mouthfeel and texture, and show the extreme opposite of the cloying sweetness that many would expect.

“Our Hibiscus is bright pink as we use 10 kilos of Asian Hibiscus petals in each 1,000-litre brew. It’s my favourite. Then our Citra Sea – with American Citra hops and sea salt – is my can for the shower, as the steam sort of accentuates its citric edge and says freshness and zing.

“Then our Hopped is for beer lovers, using a grist of mainly American hops – it is also great with a barbecue as it confronts the slightest suggestion of oozing fats. And Gosnells Sour is for all the edgy brigade. It’s made with a blend of a super sour mead, like a lambic, and a sweeter mead, to get the perfect balance.”

The Gosnells range shimmies in strength from the new 0.5% LOW ALC up to a line-up of monthly Postcode Specials at 6% to 9% abv, and a vintage at 12%. These meads demonstrate the flavour of the nectar from the flowers of individual hives across suburban locations – which have a more steady planting of pollinating flowers than in the countryside.

The 4% cans retail at around £3 for a 33cl can, while the 5.5% Classic in its 75cl bottle retails at around £10, and the Postcode meads of the month start at £20.

Feature sponsored by Gosnells, May 2020