A DRINK producer has toasted the new year and the sweet taste of success for its honey-made mead by starring in the Hairy Bikers’ new TV series.
Wye Valley Meadery, set up in 2019 by Chepstow brothers Matt and Kit Newell, welcomed the freewheeling cooks on electrically-powered bikes to their Caldicot base back in August 2021.
And the fruit of their labours was aired this week in the new Hairy Bikers’ Go Local series, where the stars source fantastic ingredients for a top chef to create food fit for a ‘King’.
Si King and Dave Myers visited three producers in South Wales for the show before asking award-winning Penarth-based chef James Sommerin to rustle up something special.
The basis of the six part series, which visits different regions of the UK and began airing on BBC this week, is: “To play matchmaker and bring together the best local restaurants with the most innovative local suppliers.
“Each week, Dave and Si base themselves in one stunning region, meet a top local chef and learn about their menu.
“They’ll then find some incredible new local producers and showcase their ingredients. Can they convince their chef it’s what their menu is missing?”
Having sourced ingredients from The Baker’s Pig in Upper Brynamman and the Peterston Tea Estate in the Vale of Glamorgan, the Hairy Bikers rolled in to Wye Valley Meadery, to sample one of the world’s oldest alcoholic drinks - with a “modern twist” – and find the secret ingredient for a mouthwatering dessert.
And ahead of the broadcast last Tuesday (January 3), which can now be watched on BBC iPlayer, the meadery posted a photo of the brothers with the TV cooks, saying: “Big news! We’ve been keeping this quiet for a while…
“Tune in to BBC 2 at 8pm this evening to see us on the new series The Hairy Bikers Go Local!
“We were joined by Dave and Si in August 2021 to brew a batch of our traditional mead.
“They then took some to Home By James Sommerin in Penarth to create a delicious mead Panna Cotta!”
James Sommerin said: “After speaking to the Bikers when they left, to go off and find us some produce that we might not know about, I was a little bit dubious because we do know the area pretty well. But actually, this has been a real eye-opener, I am absolutely blown away. I am genuinely gobsmacked. The ingredients, the flavours, the whole lot has just been a revelation.”
Matt Newell first took up beekeeping as a teenager 18 years ago after meeting St Briavels beekeeper Doug Isles at the Forest Food Festival. He set up the meadery in Chepstow at the start of 2019 while out of work, using honey produced by the bees he kept as a hobby, turning his passion into profit making Europe’s oldest known tipple with brother Kit.
Moving to bigger premises in Caldicot’s Severn Bridge Industrial Estate in 2021, including a tap room, the business doubled its turnover during the pandemic through online sales and appearances on the likes of Countryfile.
And thanks to shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones popularising mead, and now with an appearance on The Hairy Bikers, the business is moving into producing kegs and cans.
The meadery posted last week: “Another remarkable year for us! We’ve grown our team to six, launched many new products, won some awards, and taken our meads to lots of new places.”
Highlights included appearing on BBC show The Farmers Country Showdown; meeting new customers at the Farm Shop & Deli Show and winning the Gold Award; going to BrewLDN (London) and winning the £50,000 accelerator competition; The Good Life Society Summer Camp; taking their new mobile mead bar to the Green Gathering festival; hosting monthly taproom parties; winning a 3* award at the Great Taste Awards World Cheese Awards; and having a stand at the German Christmas Market for November and December.