Did Game of Thrones Really Save Mead?

There’s a lot of talk in the mead industry about the “Game of Thrones effect.” In 2014, mead production increased 128%, and sales went up 84% between 2012 and 2015. Some mead makers (mazers) attribute this stunning increase in the imbibing of honey brew to the spike in popularity of fantasy fandoms like Game of Thrones (even though, ironically, no one on Game of Thrones ever drinks mead).

That theory makes a lot of sense. The boom in the mead industry coincides almost perfectly with the popularity of the HBO Game of Thrones show, and follows closely in the shadow if the Lord of the Rings epic. Add in Marvel’s Thor and History Channel’s Vikings and you’ve got yourself an honest to goodness collection of mead-drinking heroes that helps explain the ancient drink’s massive popularity spike.

The entertainment industry may not be entirely responsible, however. As many mead fans are quick to point out, people have been brewing mead at home for ages. While the mead brewing movement definitely has its own grass roots origins, many mazers and aficionados see the popularity spike as a by-product of the boom in the craft beer industry.

Strawberry/Rhubarb (from left), Dry Hopped Blueberry, Apricot, Black Currant, Cherry and another Strawberry/Rhubarb Mead from Indianapolis’ New Day Meadery

The way we’ve come to expect different craft beers to be exciting, unique, and made using a higher standard of care and creativity has paved the way for a similar culture of mead appreciation. The mead brewing movement, however, has developed in a way that’s almost beer’s direct opposite.

The modern beer industry has gone from mass production in factories to smaller craft batches to being brewed at home, whereas modern mead began in the home and is just now expanding into a commercial craft industry. Does that mean mass production of mead is next?

The Accoustic Tap Room is a mead tasting room in Traverse City, Michigan

While the boom in mead has been delighting mead lovers and mazers for the last few years, the lack of its commercial availability remains an eternal frustration. The rising popularity will definitely send the message that commercial outlets should take mead more seriously – we’ve certainly moved past the idea that mead is just a renaissance fair novelty.

So now that you’re curious and inspired, where can you try some? For now, you won’t likely find it at the local pub (although if you do, please tell us!) but many wineries and breweries have dabbled in mead making, and there are also around 150 (and growing) mead makers in America, many of which will ship to your door (depending on your state’s laws).  You may also find some solace in the fact that mead can be purchased on Amazon.

Where do you get your mead? Would you like to see it mass-produced some day? Give us your thoughts – we’re currently compiling info about where to get the best mead using tips from AleHorn lovers!

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Did Game of Thrones Really Save Mead?