/Get Inspired/Food and Design

Mead’s Modern Makeover

How a local brand is reviving a 9,000-year-old brew

By Caroline Aksich
Photography by Bomi Min

Royal Canadian Mead is using design to rehabilitate a drink with 90 centuries of baggage. After being introduced to modern mead, RCM co-founders Alex Yurek, Scott Friedmann and Sean Hazell were convinced that the versatile, honey-derived brew would blow up like craft beer. But there was one problem: “When people hear mead,” says Hazell, “they either have no idea what it is or they think it’s a syrupy Viking drink.”

It isn’t inherently sweet (or exclusively for warriors). It can be dry and effervescent, like RCM’s crushable Feels Like Friday; made from Bath, Ontario, wildflower honey, it defies mead’s saccharine reputation. And Hazell, RCM’s branding guru, didn’t lean on bees for the labels. Instead of hives or honey, theirs are decked out with abstract flowers – a nod to the delicate, floral notes in RCM’s flagship mead. Hazell also opted for cans over bottles. “Cans suggest approachability and signal to drinkers that this is different from what you believe mead to be,” he says. With quirky names like All Day Croquet (a tart peach quaff), RCM is beckoning drinkers to buck their preconceptions. Mead may be millennia old, but RCM tastes fabulously fresh. Feels Like Friday and All Day Croquet, $3.75/355 ml cans at the LCBO. ROYALCANADIANMEAD.COM