The gospel according to Marissa Percoco, a self-described “obsessed fermenter,” goes like this: Mead is a magical brew. Teach as many people as possible how to conjure up the magic for themselves — which she’ll do May 14 at Villagers in West Asheville.
What’s so, ahem, intoxicating about fermented honey water? “There’s this historical coolness that mead has going for it,” she explains, citing its prevalence in Viking lore and its possible distinction as the oldest form of alcohol known to man. Vikings believed in its healing powers, and Percoco does, too. Especially since, as an herbalist, she incorporates natural medicinals into her boozy beverages, therapeutic plants from the forest along with healthful fruits and edible flowers from the garden. (Not to mention, honey has its own medicinal qualities.)
In fact, the long history of fermenting plants in this way has as much if not more to do with preservation than inebriation, she says. “If I grow this amazing medicine, I can then ferment it and bottle it and keep it for years, so I always have that plant available.”
While spreading her spirited message, Percoco is also encouraging people to get to know and interact with the natural world and impressive biodiversity in their backyard. The more they learn about plants’ many uses, the more they’ll want to protect them, she believes.
In her upcoming beginning mead-making class, she’ll discuss fruit and plant selection and how to capture their essence during the brewing process without destroying any special properties — as well as, of course, how to coax out their flavors for a great-tasting elixir.
For more about Percoco and her classes, visit wilderlandia.org.
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