Just north of Cremona the nice lady on my phone (Google Maps is a beautiful thing) instructed me to turn west on Township Road 301A and travel another 15 kilometers to the rather remote Fallentimber Meadery. I followed her orders and was promptly greeted with a gorgeous panoramic vista of the rugged Rockies sweeping across the western horizon. Fifteen minutes later, give or take, I made a hard-left turn into the tucked-in-the-pines Fallentimber Meadery and the experience took on a decidedly different flavour. A sweet and savoury one, that is!
While the gorgeous drive to Fallentimber – one of only a handful of meaderies in Alberta – is certainly worth the trip alone (it’s located approximately 30 minutes north of Cochrane), the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the real payoff.
In this case, “the gold” is mead. Like most “newbies” who know little about this honey-made beverage, it was an eye-opening, palette-pleasing experience. This is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world. It’s ancient, but, thanks in part to meaderies such as Fallentimber and their delicious, pioneering products, it all seems very new and cutting edge. (Case in point: their exceptionally popular Meadjito is about the best thing I’ve slurped this decade. This is their take on the classic mojito cocktail made with mead instead of rum. Just try it.)
Honey Wine, traditional mead
While Fallentimber certainly makes plenty of traditional mead – which is best described as “honey wine” – it was these “new” concoctions, their “session meads,” that really won me over. After touring the brand-new production facility and learning about the fast-growing operation, owner, Nate Ryan, ran through the entire line-up and poured a small sample of each in their cozy tasting room. Besides their Meadjito, the Hopped Mead (think India Pale Ale) was another favourite of mine.
On my way back to Calgary I made a quick pit stop to explore the quaint village of Water Valley. An old general store…. a rustic saloon…a few cowboys. Just like the experience at Fallentimber, it was classic Alberta.
Andrew Penner – Guest journalist and photographer