Paramount Pictures and Shangri-L
If only the principals of "Beowulf" had used the "royal dragon horn" as it was intended, as a vessel for drinking mead, poem and now movie would have been shorter, though less interesting and less symbolically meaningful.
The horn's periodic appearance in the new film, however, did remind me that Northern California is home to an award-winning meadery, Mountain Meadows Mead at Westwood, 5,120 feet up the eastern slopes of Lassen County east of Chico.
So far, however, the movie "Beowulf," despite its numerous references to mead and the beverage's contributions to wanton wassails, hasn't boosted sales of the several styles of mead made by Mountain Meadows Mead, says Ron Lunder, who in 1995 founded the company with Peggy Fulder.
Instead, they're relying on their usual sources for sales - tourists who pass through the area in the summer, a spike in interest in meads during the year-end holidays, publicity from awards their meads regularly win in international competitions, and outlets in a few far-flung metropolitan areas, especially Portland, Ore., where mead is increasingly popular among a younger-skewing clientele. The couple's meads also are available in Sacramento at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Nugget Markets and Corti Brothers.
Lunder and Fulder produce a half-dozen styles of mead, totaling about 1,500 cases a year. Often called "honey wine," mead basically is an alcoholic beverage of fermented honey and water frequently seasoned with herbs and spices. Their signature mead is "Honeymoon Nectar," a traditionally sweet mead made with wildflower honey. "I read somewhere that a pound of honey represents four million wildflowers, so we like to say that there are a million wildflowers in every glass," says Lunder.
Other popular meads are the sweet and tart cranberry, made with Oregon cranberries; the semi-sweet Spice, seasoned with ginger; and the semi-dry Trickster's Treat Agave, made with nectar from the same plant that produces tequila.
Over the past decade. Lunder and Fulder have been tweaking their meads to be lighter and drier, hoping to attract more wine drinkers. It could work, but they also might want to consider retaining a goldsmith to hammer out a line of "royal dragon horns" to give their meads a more romantic and poetic flavor.