When you’re sick of sav blanc, totally over cider and not in the mood for beer, your “new” alternative might come from the long, long ago. Angus Smibert is on a mission to make mead happen. His mead company Smoothbeard is barely a month old (having just launched after over a year of experimentation and planning with a winemaker) and aims to educate Australian drinkers on the world’s oldest tipple. Mead ferments by using the sugars in honey, where as beer uses grain and wine uses grapes. Bees must travel 12,500 kilometres to produce the approximate two teaspoons of Australian honey in each bottle. For now, Smoothbeard’s blend comes from Mallee Gum and Blue Gum blossoms. It tastes more like a lightly sparkling honey wine than beer to me. It’s sweet but not as sticky as most dessert wines. I’d happily drink it over ice for a summer arvo session.
After working on his family’s Whistle Post wine label based in Coonawarra for the past couple of years, Angus read about mead making a comeback in popularity over in the U.S and the U.K. He decided to introduce it here at a time when there are only a handful of meads readily available. Happily he had the perfect moniker ready-made. His surname “Smibert” was derived from the Viking-esque name Smoothbeard. Apparently, if the men in the family grown their beards long enough, one side will grow smooth while the other stays curly (a theory Angus has not yet found the patience to test).
However, you can test Angus’ mead at a growing list of locations around Melbourne including The Tippler & Co, Grace Darling and Forrester’s Hall.