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Guerilla Gardening in Peckham

Guerilla Gardening in Peckham

The sun was blasting and the yellow dungas were out. Always a sign of a top notch day for the Gosnells gang. And good omen it was!

On world bee day (May 20th) we got started with Laura from Plastic Free Peckham clearing a sadly neglected site that was full to the brim with rubbish; old toys, kitchen crud and even a fridge! 

Laura was the perfect person to wingman us on the day, making sure we were disposing of all the rubbish in the best way, whilst also getting her hands dirty!

 Once ready, Will and Tom built a slightly raised bed to make sure that we had a nice clear area ready for all our trusty local volunteers to get involved with.

Finally the big day arrived and at 2pm we were lucky enough to get a smiley, excited gang of local volunteers to lay the HUGE pile of soil. It was all giggles and plenty of hard work, but with a mead or two in tow everyone was up for it. Together we planted a large variety of bee friendly plants, all to reseed and come back next year with minimal maintenance. 

The thing about planting perennial plants, is that its actually really low maintenance but has maximum impact. Not only are we feeding the bees, but we are doing our bit for community. Having more green and encouraging interaction makes everyone a little bit happier. We feel more connected to each other, and it actually encourages respect for the local area which has a huge positive ripple affect. 

Not only were we joined by lovely locals, but fans and mead drinkers from as far as the US also wanted to get involved! So we sent off packs of mead, t-shirts and sunflower seeds so that they could get involved from afar.

And that, my friends, is showing the world the honey and making the planet that little bit sweeter.

Do let us know if you have an area in South London that you think could do with a spruce and a team of yellow dungaree sporting folk, we would love to hear from you!

Now buzz off and get planting!!!

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No Mow May

No Mow May

We are finally on our way to summer and the gardens are growing faster than we can control. Which is why it's pretty great that now we are being asked NOT to mow our lawns.

We know, asking people NOT to do anything at all in the garden is pretty different, and we totally appreciate that those keen gardeners might not be so wild about letting the garden run wild…

So why are we not mowing?

Well it's about making sure that all those juicy flowers like dandelions and daisies are keeping their heads so that our lovely bees, butterflies and more get to drink their goods. It's not about being lazy, it's about making sure that the food supply for our buzzy pals is free flowing.

And if that's not enough for you, by not mowing the lawn you can actually increase the numbers of very rare plants like bee orchids and eyebright.

It’s not just about the garden either… How about letting the verges grow, parklands and those little areas around the driveway. 

So take a mow off and let our gardens thrive to keep the bees alive!!!

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A DAY WITH S.L.U.G

A DAY WITH S.L.U.G

Hi, James here,

I'm the brewer at Gosnells Meadery down in Peckham. Mostly my work week is spent in my yellow dungarees, stooped over a stainless steal vat, mixing honey and water together to kick off the brewing process before cleaning down at the end of the day (cleaning, always cleaning). However come spring time my job becomes somewhat more varied as we start our guerrilla gardening campaigns and support work for local green initiatives.

This week we put on our green fingers and teamed up with urban gardeners/growers Ben and Alice of 'S.L.U.G' (South London Urban Growers). We put on our signature yellow dungarees and took a short stroll down to St Francis Park on the border of Camberwell and East Dulwich where they have marked out a large area for growing produce.

Earlier in the year they had also built 3 bays for compost, capable of producing 12 tonnes of compost every 2 months, all made from local green waste. They mostly end up using the compost for their flower beds in different areas around South London. On arrival, I was struck by the steam coming up from the compost! It was quite mesmerising. Ben informed us that once the decomposition process is under way that temperatures in the middle of the pile reach up to around 70 degrees due to the activity of the bacteria. 

The park is lovely and the area marked out for growing sits beneath 2 large elm trees, where you could happily spend an afternoon reading in the shade. After a meet and greet we were given shovels and wagon wheels and sent round to Champion Hill football field to start collecting their discarded turf for the third bay of compost.
We spent most of the day shovelling and pitchforking our way through the turf and wheeling it back round to the compost bays, building layers of the nitrogen rich turf,  followed by carbon rich wood chips. Turf, wood chips, turf and so on until the bay was full. Other sources of nitrogen came from spent hops used in the beer brewing process, given by local breweries.
Throughout the day locals who had signed on for the effort came in and out, giving a hand in either composting or planting seeds back over by the elm trees and we got to meet some interesting people. Ben and Alice seemed to be familiar with all of them, as they had obviously helped out before, and there was a real sense of community as they each dropped by; sometimes to help, sometimes to take pictures, sometimes to drop off cake, or at one point a bathtub presumably to build a flower bed...
As the day drew to a close we opened a few cans of our Gosnells mead and we all enjoyed a cup or two with the last of the days sun. We made some plans for the summer (BBQs were mentioned) said our goodbyes and strolled back to the brewery, where I had plenty of cleaning still waiting for me. 
If you live in South London you will have surely walked past some of Ben and Alice's work. You can check out what S.L.U.G are up to or get involved by following them on Twitter and Instagram.
You can also get involved with us directly on May 21st when we collab with more local friends to plant up Peckham.

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Hector Brews a Tepache

Hector Brews a Tepache

Tepache

Hello guys, I wanted to share my thoughts and experience on brewing the honey Tepache. You can watch the video detailing step by step how to brew it @GosnellsMead

First, a brief history of Tepache:

Tepache is a traditional fermented drink from Mexico. The first evidence of Tepache brewing comes from the pre-columbian era (more than 400 years ago), the first brewers being the Nahua people. The word "Tepache" comes from the nahuatl word "tepiātl" that means "drink made out of corn", as Tepache was originally brewed from corn and a raw brown sugar called "piloncillo".

With the arrival of the Spaniards to America, Tepache brewing shifted from corn to other fruits (like guava, apples or pineapples)

Nowadays Tepache is still quite popular in Mexico and in other Mexican communities (I.E. South-western United States). It is more of a low ABV (around 1%), refreshing drink and you can buy it in restaurants, bars and even street vendors! (Sometimes in a plastic bag with a straw).

 

Due to its low abv, Tepache is considered a family drink for sunny days. But some Mexicans that like a bit more alcohol in their fermented drinks, don't hesitate to pour in a beer in their Tepache mug!


The recipe:


With this project I wanted to make a harmonious blend between mead and Tepache. For this, I substituted the "Piloncillo" sugar with honey. I used a bigger amount of honey than usual recipes to avoid getting the pineapple and spices flavour masking the honey profile (and to get a cheeky couple of extra ABV points as well).


I kept the rest of the recipe as traditional as I could, still using spices and wild yeast from the pineapple skin.


Honey Tepache recipe


3.4 L of fresh water

450g of honey

1 Big pineapple

6 cinnamon sticks (optional)

6 cloves (optional)

The brewing:


Home brewers caveat: I wanted to be sure that the yeast that fermented the honey Tepache was coming from the pineapple skin, so I did wash and sanitised my equipment before brewing. That's why I heated up the honey as well (honey has dormant wild yeast spores in it). Now, I don't believe this level of sanitisation is necessary to make Tepache, being a drink so popular and brewed in so many households and kitchens, I would think the majority of them do not take these many precautions and most of the time end up with a nice brew too. So I would recommend sanitising just as any other brew, but whatever you do with sanitisation, it is still paramount to brew with spotless clean equipment.

As we use the skin of the pineapple, I would recommend using organic fruit, as skins are the part of the fruit that gets dosed with pesticides and fertilizers. If you can’t find an organic pineapple, any will still work the same. Whatever the organic status of your fruit is, just give it a good wash under the sink (using just warm water and not soap) as we don’t want to be drinking dirt with our Tepache (even when this dirt tastes deliciously like pineapples and honey)

One of the good things about brewing this drink, is that it uses the bits of fruit that usually people throw away (skin and rind). So it’s a great way to use the leftovers after cutting a pineapple. You can even grab the leaves bit (the top slice) and put it on the ground to grow a pineapple plant. 0% waste!

Another thing to keep in mind in this brew is that you will have to check your fermenter daily in the lookout for mold. The pineapple bits will float and if we have any mold strain or weird bacteria inside of our fermenter, things might start growing on those bits. If you start seeing something weird growing on your fruit bits sadly there’s not much to do but to start from scratch (throw away the brew, give your equipment a good clean, sanitise and start all over).

Don’t try and savage part of your brew, as once these spores are visible, it means that the mold has already spread all over our Tepache and as you might already know, mold can cause severe allergic reactions, asthma and/or other serious diseases if ingested. Good cleaning and sanitising practices are the best tools a home brewer has to lower the likeness of these spores flourishing in/on our brew.

 


Conclusion


The finished product ended up being great. It was hard for me to determine when to serve it, as the more you ferment it, the pineapple flavour shines more and more but you also lose some honey character. So it’s a matter of finding the right balance for your palate.

The flavour: There are definitely floral notes coming through, with some honey sweetness at the beginning and ending in a dry/sour pineapple-y flavour. I also added a bit of lemon juice in the jug to give it a citrus punch at the end. Also, as the Tepache is still fermenting when we serve it, it will contain a moderate amount of CO2 bubbles in it, giving the drink a slight “fizz” or carbonation. 

The aroma: is a bit funky, as most wild fermented drinks (if you have ever fermented pineapple before you would know what I mean). 

Visually, it ended up being a cloudy, dark (ish) yellow-orange drink.

If you are an experienced home brewer, when you watch the video you will notice that I didn’t use a hydrometer, any sort of ph regulation or added any yeast nutrients. This was made on purpose, as I wanted to preserve the spontaneous nature of a brew like Tepache.

 

Refreshing!


Variations


There’s not a simple definition of what Tepache should be or contain. There are dozens of Tepache recipes all around Mexico with only 2 ingredients in common:  pineapple skin and water.

Some popular variations that you can find around are:

  • Adding pineapple juice as a sugar source
  • Using different spices (like ginger)
  • Using malted barley as sugar source
  • Adding other fruits like guava or mango
  • Pitching a known strain of yeast (instead of wild yeast)

I hope you enjoy brewing and drinking this recipe as much as I did. It really is a refreshing drink and I would recommend having it on a hot summer day. 

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Kanpai X Gosnells - Sake and Mead Collaboration

Kanpai X Gosnells - Sake and Mead Collaboration

Gosnells & Kanpai both grew up in a little industrial estate in Peckham called Print Village. My first time meeting Tom Wilson (Head Brewer/Co-founder) was after a 2 days koji growing session poleaxed by the daylight as he trundled over to our taproom.

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Mead in the USA

Mead in the USA

Mead in the United States of America is growing very quickly, a new meadery is opening every three days on average in the USA and every seven days in the rest of the world.


Here’s three fun facts about mead in the States that you may not have known:


1. Melomel (Fruit infused mead) is the most popular style.

2. 67% of all meaderies in the USA are under 5 years old.

3. The US only had 30 commercial meaderies in 2003. Now there are more than 500 estimated to be active.

Just to bring things back to home a bit, mead in the UK is growing slowly. "The mead industry is only just beginning to take off in the UK, however, tactics appear to be the same has in the US] - a strong craft stance, with the addition of sophisticated glass enclosures which help highlight the premium nature of the product," - Charles Sissens (Consumer analyst at Global Data)

In our latest podcast episode we speak with Vicky (GotMead?), Jeff (Superstition), Matt (All Wise), Jeff (Liquid Alchemy) & James (Charm City) about Mead in the states and how the industry is so unique and awesome.

Listen on:

Apple Podcasts or Spotify

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The History of Mead

The History of Mead

The History of Mead - with Tom Gosnell

Where does mead come from?



So, I’m by no means an expert but I have read almost everything there is to read out there on mead and the history of mead. The best source for this is Ken Schramm’s - The Complete Mead Maker, there is a good chapter in there about the history of mead, and it goes into quite a lot of detail.

Mead has a very rich history, if you take honey from a hive, particularly early in the season when there is quite a lot of water in the honey, the honey won’t be preserved, so it will just start fermenting, wild yeasts will get in there and will start fermenting the honey into alcohol.

There is quite a lot of evidence that goes back 10,000-12,000 years, in a couple of places in Africa, and also in China where they found bits of pottery with grains and pollen, this suggests people have been fermenting honey for thousands of years.

Everyone always argues about what the worlds oldest booze is, and everyone argues it’s either beer, wine or mead, but it’s likely a mix of everything, they were less dogmatic about what they were fermenting back then, as long as it fermented and got you drunk!

So then, moving forward through history a bit, it crops up again all over the world in many cultures and forms, you find tablets in Mesopotamia, where they were using honey based alcohol there. Again looking a bit further forward in time with the Greeks and the Romans, they were using honey to sweeten up there wine, potentially just to increase the flavour and to cover up some of roughness, but there’s evidence that they made pretty reasonable wine but they may have used honey to sweeten and spice up perhaps the cheaper wines. There is also a lot of evidence to prove that the domestication of bees began specifically for the production of honey to sweeten up wines.

What about the UK, and the history of mead there?

Again, there is a really rich history of mead in the UK. So if you look back into Celtic culture and then moving forwards a bit into Anglo Saxon culture, mead crops up quite a lot. The classic text is Beowulf, which is set in a mead hall where they are all sitting around in the evening, drinking plenty of mead and waiting for the monster to arrive. Mead has a real place in that culture, and it kind of continues up until broadly the Norman conquest of 1066.

Why did mead lose popularity?



The crux point was when the Normans in 1066 came in, conquered us, and replaced our aristocracy with their own. They brought in their own alcohol traditions which was mainly, cider and perry, fruit wines and grape wines. So when the rich people in society are drinking something quite different, that then filters down through society and it marginalises mead as sort of a lower end, more rural country thing as opposed to an urban elite drink.

Alongside this, you’ve got the advent of other booze, so up until about the 14th Century, hops weren’t used in beer, so before that beer only had a shelf life of perhaps 2 to 3 days before it started to go bad. After the introduction of hops which were primarily introduced as a preservative rather than a flavour, (whereas we know, today, that a hoppy IPA is there for the flavour.) Hops are a massive preservative and have a massive antibacterial effect which means the beer lasts a lot longer, more like 6 or 7 days. That then means that the product is a lot more economically viable and cheaper to produce.

Alongside this, trade starts to get going a lot more, they were brining in wines from places like Spain and France and the technology is there to keep them for longer. Then finally then you’ve got the advent of spirits, so that’s when distillation started happening and you start getting the first evidence of Scotch Whiskey and that sort of stuff. So ultimately it’s a cumulative effect of different things displacing mead, as the other things are cheaper and I guess, easier to make.

What’s happening today with mead, what’s actually brought it back to popularity?

It’s an interesting question, people always ask me if it’s because of Game of Thrones and I highly doubt it. Mead has been having a bit of a renaissance over the last 10-20 years and it all started in the USA, where there are over 500 meaderies across the county. There is much more of a scene there, then potentially there is in Europe or the UK. Why that is, is probably open for speculation, certainly the advent of craft beer and better beer has meant that people are looking for new products and well crafted with a real sense of provenence and mead fits all those bills. You can really get a sense of terroir and craftsmanship out of a really good mead. Just like you would do a beer or a wine and that’s quite exciting for a significant proportion of people who are looking for something new and exciting to drink. So the mead industry is certainly growing it was declared the fastest growing category in the US in 2017 and I would expect the same for recent years and it’s a really exciting time.

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Why Choose Gosnells at your Local Shop?

Why Choose Gosnells at your Local Shop?

5 Reasons to Choose Gosnells:

1 - Gluten Free
All our meads are naturally gluten free and taste amazing!

2 - Natural
Our meads are only made using natural ingredients for example, Spanish Orange Blossom honey, hibiscus flowers, tarragon and even hops!

3 - Unique Flavours
Most of our meads are brewed purely with honey for flavour, this means that the taste is purely derived from the specific flowers the honey bees were foraging on at the time. That’s pretty neat!

4 - Terroir

Mead has a broad and exciting terroir, the honey can come from a single type of flower (monofloral) such as Lavender Honey or from a certain area known as single origin, such as Finsbury Park Honey where only specific types of flowers are available for the bees to forage. These factors can have a very strong impact on the flavour profiles.

5 - History
Mead has been around as long, if not longer than wine, beer and cider and has no reason to be taking a back seat in the drinks industry. We are London’s first meadery in over 500 years and we’re making a delicious, sparkling modern mead. Why not give it a try?

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Gosnells Presents | The Mead Podcast

Gosnells Presents | The Mead Podcast

The Mead Podcast with Gosnells

Introducing, The Mead Podcast with Gosnells! We're so happy to finally be releasing the first episode of our brand new podcast which we have been working hard on over the past few weeks. Our first episode is titled, 'Why Mead?', why not go and have a listen and let us know what you think? This podcast will focus on mead, honey, yeast, fermentation and the drinks industry.

In the first episode, we go in depth with meaderies around the world on what sparked them to start brewing mead and why? Featuring industry giants such as Superstition Meadery, All-Wise Meadery, Charm City Meadworks and more! Listen here: The Mead Podcast


Over the next few weeks we will be speaking with some of the biggest meaderies, beekeepers, mead fans and honey aficionados from around the world about a whole host of mead related topics, from how they got started, what honey they use and what they think about the future of the industry. We will be going into detail about honey and how it can create such incredible flavours and why.

For any enquiries or if you would like to be featured on the show, contact podcast@gosnells.co.uk.

We really hope you enjoy the first series!

Cheers,

Ted & Tom

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Gosnells First Sour Mead

Gosnells First Sour Mead

When I first tasted the original Gosnells I knew that the balance between the sweetness of honey and a complex acidity profile of mixed fermentation was a direction I wanted to explore.

Given just the starting simple sugar profile of honey brewing a complex acid profile with enough body structure has been a hurdle.

Developing this sour has certainly not been easy but after many trails (some successful and many much less successful) we've finally created a product that marries the sweetness with the sour and is reminiscent of a traditional spontaneous fermentation flavour profile.

We've achieved this balance by developing a blending program, much like lambic styles, to get the exact balance of acidity dialled in.

For our first release, we've blended a combination of mixed, single strain and open top fermentation. This allows not only a funky fun flavour profile but also allows for better consistency.

Using Spanish Orange Blossom Honey as a base for all the ferments was an easy decision. Its light and citrus profile allows for another string to the acidity bow with the honey itself being around 3.9 ph.

With the movement being towards kettle souring in the beer industry, we decided to create a more complex acidity profile as LAB produce a fruity but thin mono-tonal acidity profile. Using acetobacter as well as 2 LAB strains and a few other tricks, created our first ever sour mead, which has complex layers of flavour, a puckering sourness, and our signature honey flavour!

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