Covid in California: Thirsty Thursday with the Bearded Mead Expert, Aric Deardorff

September 09, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Who is THIRSTY this THURSDAY?!


The correct answer is…”ME(ad)!”


“Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops.The alcoholic content ranges from about 3.5% ABV to more than 18%. The defining characteristic of mead is that the majority of the beverage's fermentable sugar is derived from honey. It may be still, carbonated, or naturally sparkling; dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.”

Kayla, my lovely wife, introduced me to it when she was living in San Diego in 2017. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some quality mead, consider yourself forever changed. It’s often hard to find and tastes so different from any other type of alcoholic beverage (in the best way possible).

“Mead was produced in ancient times throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, and has played an important role in the mythology of some peoples. In Norse mythology, for example, the Mead of Poetry was crafted from the blood of the wise-being Kvasir and turned the drinker into a poet or scholar.”

“The term honey wine is sometimes used as a synonym for mead, although wine is typically defined to be the product of fermented berries or certain other fruits, and some cultures have honey wines that are distinct from mead. The honey wine of Hungary, for example, is the fermentation of honey-sweetened pomace of grapes or other fruits.”

Kayla, Tova, and I went to San Diego a few months ago on a work trip.

We made sure to pit stop at one of the best Meaderies in Southern California on our way back up the coast.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Twisted Horn Mead and Cider lives up to all the hype and ratings you see online.

It’s sort of a hidden gem, located in Vista, California, where Kayla was living when we first met in 2017.

Yes, you can actually drink out of those horns like a true Viking!

If you’re ever in the area or on a road trip, be sure to head in and ask for Aric Deardorff!

Yes, that’s his real name and yes, that’s his real beard!

He’s essentially a wizard truly a master of the craft, always focusing on precision and authenticity.

See below for my interview with him:

RR: How has Covid-19 impacted you personally?

AD: “Working at a brewery, work hours immediately became limited. The last year has been a slowly shifting grind to figure out how to stay in service while still protecting staff and customers, while also splitting what few work hours were available between all the employees."

"With so little work It's been a struggle to stay occupied, finding hobbies, exercising, eating right, all the little minutiae of living while the world around you goes crazy and people are dying by the thousands...it led to a long year of introspection and attempted self realization. Biggest victory is that I'm still here, and so are all the people I care about.”

RR: Did you or anyone you know get Covid-19? 

AD: “None of my immediate family or friends got it. I know of some people in the industry who caught it when restaurants reopened early, and friends of friends who died in hospital. What really got to me was when the New York Times published a single sentence Obituary for Covid Deaths. They just didn't have room for anything more than a single line, how do you sum up a life in just a sentence? I glanced through the article and one simply said, 'We called him the Grand Poo Bah.' It's a reference to a live stream Dungeons and Dragons show, Critical Role, and I remember breaking down and crying. Here was someone my age, someone I'd never known, but someone that I shared a passion with, and they'd never get to see another episode or play another game."

"Life cut short by a disease that wasn't taken seriously and was actively underplayed by the people in power, all while so many people are trying to do the right thing while medical professionals work themselves to death. It's been a rough year to be empathetic, it doesn't take much to see the fear, the loss, the frustration writ around so many peoples eyes, yet so many people just didn't, and still don't give a shit.”

RR: What specifically changed your personal / professional life during this time? I.E. What daily routine did you have to adjust?

AD: “With reduced hours at work I had to find ways to keep "busy" at home. I'm lucky I'm a natural introvert, so I fell back on reading, painting, I played around with cooking and came up with a bunch of cocktails back when #quarantini was trending. I was on unemployment, so I didn't have to worry about making rent or getting food, but it was still worrisome."


"That worry led me to try my hand at running Dungeons and Dragons games online, apparently there was a surge in demand since people were stuck at home all day with nothing to do. Why not try out a 3-5 hour role playing game? Found out I was pretty good at it, and even as things have started to creep back to normal I've kept a couple paid games running, who knows, maybe it'll pay all my bills someday.”

RR: Is there a story behind your mask?

AD: “When it became apparent that masks would be required for everyday life I decided I'd approach them with the same philosophy as my T-shirts."

"Let's display something that I like that can maybe get a chuckle or laugh out of someone. The one I'm wearing is one of my favourites, but I've got a half dozen that are an even split between star wars jokes, history references, anything that might put a smile one someone's face under their mask. My favorite depicts children dancing around a plague doctor from a wood block print dating back to the 1600's, with the caption "Lets party like it's 1346". Black humour about the black death, cynicism and history in a combo package.”

RR: What do you miss most about life before Covid-19?

AD: “Being able to have friends over. Like I said, I'm a natural introvert, so I didn't miss clubs or cocktail lounges...maybe the speakeasies and breweries."

"But being able to have friends over for game nights, or a movie marathon, to be able to bask in the company of people you care about reveling in each other's presence. I also miss the Gym and my Dojo. I'd started Krav Maga and going to the gym to increase my strength and endurance. It took the better part of a year but I'd dropped weight and was feeling great about my progress in and outside the sparring ring. Then Covid put a quick end to that, and weights were one of the first things to sell out at sporting good stores. Been a hard year to stay motivated to keep up with home exercise, and I just hope I haven't undermined a year's worth of effort with a year of lethargy.”

RR: What has Covid-19 made you grateful for?

AD: “My friends. I've been lucky that my roommates are also two of my oldest friends, and when lockdown went into effect we welcomed in two of our other friends who didn't want to return to their families and risk exposing them to Covid. So we had five bodies crammed into our three bedroom townhouse. We made it work though, and between game nights, movie nights, and swapping family recipes, it felt like a home. We all kept each other sane, in the most human sense of the word.”

RR: What has been the biggest challenge for you during this time?

AD: “Struggling to come to grips with how little I've been able to effect wider change. All I can really do is wear my mask, keep away from crowds, get vaccinated, and go with the flow. I've donated to charitable causes, especially with all the human rights protests that took place over the last year, but I'm ashamed I never worked up the courage to go in person. Every time I see someone who just doesn't care, or who subtly or openly peddles conspiracy theories, it feels like a slap in the face to all the people who've been risking their lives on the front lines working to end covid or those who've been directly affected by it. But you can't teach empathy, and you can't force guilt on people, they'll either come to grips with it when it affects them directly, or walk face first into someone's grief and loss.”

RR: What are you most excited for when things return to normal”?

AD: “Honestly…I don't know. A part of me is looking forward to having a full bar again, being able to go out for a beer after work, chatting up strangers over a pint. Another part of me feels like we shouldn't push so quickly towards normalcy. So much has changed in the past year, I'd rather people come to grips with that and acknowledge their needs to be some fundamental changes. Both in how we perceive ourselves as individuals and how we comport ourselves as citizens of our country and people of the world. Probably just a fool's hope, but the world has pivoted on less before.”

Thank you, Aric, for the delicious mead, as well as for the honest and intimate feedback on how Covid-19 has affected you.

We can’t wait to come back and cheers to you when this is all over!

Maybe by then, you'll have some dog mead for Tova!

If you or anyone you know would like to be featured, please direct message me on social media or shoot me an email - I’d love to share your story with the world! 🌎 

And, if you haven't done so already, please follow along this journey with me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter - and share it with your community! The whole point of this project is to connect humans during a time of so much uncertainty.

Much love, health, and happiness,

Robin


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