Sea water, burnt honey, hibiscus and tarragon are tools of the trade for the experimental labs of Gosnells mead brewery. Tom Gosnell confesses to lots of failures along the way but perseveres until they have the mix right.
Mead conjures up images of the halls of Valhalla or the hobbit burrows of the Shire. Tom plays down the reported Games of Thrones effect on consumption, adding that “it definitely doesn’t hurt. It’s nice to have an entry point or a reference for people”. If Games of Thrones prompts someone to seek out mead, Gosnells will be more than happy to lead them on the resulting journey. Hopped mead, elderflower mead and the exciting tarragon, lemon peel and sea water Citra Sea Mead await the neophyte. The next batch to be released will be a lusciously pink Hibiscus concoction.
The brewery is part science lab and like all scientists the Gosnells brewers conduct experiments that don’t yield the desired result. The most recent failure is an attempt at burnt honey mead, which sounds like it will end up a very intriguing success. Tom explains that burning the honey made it hard for the yeast to access the sugar, stressing it. The solution will be to follow the normal brewing process, only adding the burnt honey near the end, to get that rich darkness and caramelised flavour. I am definitely looking forward to that one. Crème brûlée in a bottle.
Not all this experimentation is in outlandish flavours. Tom’s original inspiration was a trip to the States, where he encountered beautifully crafted meads. This was an eye-opener, different to the “castle gift shop” mead he’d had before. He says that some of it was on a par with a good wine and he and his team want to explore that too.
Another side of development is volume and there are plans are afoot to add two more fermenters, which would let Gosnells double the weekly output of 2,000 litres. A chunk of that will be sold in Hong Kong and Singapore. Reassuringly, given the way our place in the world is changing, Tom says that being a London brand is a real asset.