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Taste and tradition unites Saskatchewan mead lovers

It’s common for people to camp outside the brewpub to be the first to taste Bushwakker's Blackberry Mead.
It’s common for people to camp outside the brewpub to be the first to taste Bushwakker's Blackberry Mead. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

For many in Regina, the holidays don’t officially begin until Bushwakker Brewpub releases their blackberry mead. And for some, they’ll do anything to get it.

Last year, mead enthusiasts braved the Saskatchewan winter by camping outside the pub for 21 hours before getting a taste.

It’s common for people to camp outside with ice-fishing huts and propane heaters. This year, patrons set up tents, blasted rap music and caught up with friends they haven’t seen since being in line last December.

Dozens were lined up outside of Bushwakker Brewpub on Saturday to get the first taste of this year’s blackberry mead
Dozens were lined up outside of Bushwakker Brewpub on Saturday to get the first taste of this year’s blackberry mead Connor O'Donovan / Global News

READ MORE: Making the mead at Saskatchewan’s first dedicated craft meadery

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“It’s tradition,” said Dustin Bereti, who was the second person in line. He arrived at 6 a.m. on Saturday with several friends.

John Szala, who was the first in line, said he lines up for the mead’s unique taste.

Bushwakker Blackberry Mead has become a Saskatchewan phenomenon. Their off-sale inventory bottles sell out quick. This year only 6,000 bottles will be available.

Only 6,000 bottles of Bushwakker Blackberry Mead are available
Only 6,000 bottles of Bushwakker Blackberry Mead are available Connor O'Donovan / Global News

READ MORE: Bushwakker Brewpub releases this year’s batch of blackberry mead

The limited release has led to the overnight brewpub camp-out tradition, with people anxious to get their hands on a bottle.

Bushwakker’s started making the mead in the early 1990s. Over 400 pounds of specially selected Lumsden Valley honey is used in every batch, along with 80 pounds of blackberries. It takes a year to brew.

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“It’s a different taste,” Bereti said. “It’s something that everybody else in the city tries to do, but nothing beats what Bushwakker’s can do. I just love the way it tastes.”