Mead is the booze that launched a thousand myths.
In one of Tim Martin’s favorites, the Norse god Thor is dispatched to retrieve a kettle massive enough to serve everyone at the pantheon get-together, all at once. Because you can’t party like it’s Ragnarok without honey wine!
“It’s the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man and likely predates civilization,” said Martin, whose Viking-themed tasting room, Drekar Meadery, celebrates its grand opening Friday in Colorado Springs.
Mead can occur naturally if a honeycomb gets waterlogged and the right wild yeasts find their way in, so “that’s the first thing ancestral humans probably came across that was alcoholic: magic hives, with honey that got you drunk,” Martin said.
Drekar’s meads get significantly more production oversight, from co-owner and brewer Mike Sonderby, but the duo aimed to stay as close as possible to the styles that Vikings might actually have quaffed during the Middle Ages.
“We call it traditional Viking style because we do a lot less to it. We don’t have any complex clarification process. Ours isn’t very clear, much more a homespun product in that way,” Martin said.
Martin and Sonderby met at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, bonding, in part, over their shared Scandanavian heritage. Sonderby had been exploring those roots by homebrewing mead and refining his process, and his creations were a hit.
“Anybody who came over to his house and tried it, they asked where can I buy it? But you couldn’t. It was homebrew,” Martin said.
When the two decided to go entrepreneurial in 2018, the product, and theme, was a natural.
There’s no denying Vikings are having kind of a pop culture moment, thanks to superhero movies and TV shows.
“It’s a cool time to make a comeback,” Sonderby said. “When I first started doing this, it was still an underground scene. But just in the last five to six years, it’s taken off like crazy.”
“I can’t imagine a better time to — unironically — open up a Viking-themed meadery,” added Martin, whose meadery is named for the infamous dragon-headed Viking warships.
The meads at Drekar are semi-sweet and include a traditional style, Freyr’s Sail; one made with raspberries, Freya’s Tears; and one with blackberries, Loki’s Barb.
“I wanted to be different from everything else on the market. Things on the market were either too sweet, or like a dry white wine. This falls pretty squarely in between those two,” said Sonderby, who “wanted something drinkable that wouldn’t stick in your mouth after you take a sip, and just be delicious.”
Other local mead-makers include Black Forest Meadery and the production-only Annapurna Mead, based on West Pikes Peak Avenue.
Drekar’s modest Knob Hill location fits about 30 people and has family-style seating.
“We’ve got a couple nice big tables we made, for big parties or if people want to play board games. If somebody wants to run their D & D game here, they can do that,” Martin said.
After a series of soft openings in late December, the tasting room celebrates its official grand opening with a “ribbon axing” at 1 p.m. Friday.