Drink up: South Greensburg business introduces mead

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Matt Falenski of South Greensburg first tasted the “nectar of the gods” eight years ago when he sipped mead offered by a friend.

“I loved it from the first try,” Falenski recalled.

He will be giving others a chance to meet the golden elixir, as well as selling bottles for $15, during a mead tasting 3-6 p.m. Saturday at All Saints Brewing Co. near Lynch Field.

Falenski, 42, and his wife, Mandy, turned his first tango with mead into Laurel Highlands Meadery, a part-time enterprise they operate out of their home.

“It's kind of a hobby that turned into an obsession that turned into a business,” Falenski said.

Mead, an alcoholic beverage also known as “honey wine,” is created by fermenting honey and water.

Mead isn't beer, and it isn't wine, although some wineries make it, Falenski said.

“It's completely its own category,” he said.

Mead has strong ties to ancient Egyptians, Norse Vikings, English kings and Celtic tradition. The alcoholic beverage is mentioned throughout literature, including “Beowulf.”

Mead fell out of favor in about the 12th century because of heavy taxation and increased availability of less costly fruits and grains, such as grapes and barley, for making other beverages, Falenski explained.

All Saints co-owner Beth Vreeland said she wanted to give Falenski, a friend and local businessman, a chance to show off his product.

“He is local, like we are,” Vreeland said. “We like to support local people, because that's who supports us.

“And we thought it would be a good combination for both,” she added, since All Saints, which opened 13 months ago, will have its craft brews on hand for sale by growlers in the former Stroehmann bakery outlet in Hempfield at the intersection of Route 119 and Roseytown Road.

Falenski expects to have traditional mead — made from honey, yeast and water — available on Saturday, along with bochel, which uses caramelized honey.

Some All Saints patrons have inquired about a bottle of mead that Falenski left at the microbrewery as a gift.

“We did have people asking what mead is, how it's made,” Vreeland said. “We thought it would be a good opportunity for people to try mead.”

People have inquired by phone about the tasting.

“I've had a couple phone calls, asking for directions, that sort of thing,” Vreeland said. “I hope he gets a good turnout.”

Falenski, who works as a network administrator for City Brewing Co.'s brewery in Latrobe, said he makes about 650 gallons of mead a year.

“I hope it's pretty decent,” he said of attendance on Saturday. “There's a lot of talk on Facebook and Twitter about it.

“I think people are excited about it and want to try something new. And it's local. That's even better,” Falenski added.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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