What is Mead?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Now that you've made some simple mead I suppose you should know a bit about its history so you can answer the questions of all your mead sampling friends. Don't worry, this will be the cliff-notes version, I'm not the biggest history buff and as long as it tastes good, who cares about its past!

If you want to learn more, checkout this book - it's much better written than my post

Mead comes in many forms, however, it's most basic is that of honey, water and yeast. This fermented beverage dates back to at least 2000 B.C.E but the exact time period is lost in pre-history. Since it was cultivated in so many places the origin is unclear but evidence suggests that the first to brew it where the bee farmers of northern Africa who used hollow logs as bee hives and clay pots to hold and ferment the drink.

History and poetry contain countless references to mead, especially in northern European literature. One of the oldest and most well known reference is that found in Beowulf. Some Roman scholars even called it the drink of the poet and believed that those who drank it would become great poets. I'm sure they were just talkative and not all that interesting though.

Mead is not just made with honey it can contain hundreds of different ingredients, all altering it's final produced flavors. Some common varieties are melomel (added fruit), pyment (added grapes), metheglin (added spices and vegetables) and my favorite; acerglyn (honey & maple syrup). These varieties can all range from very dry to very (very) sweet.

All in all, mead is a very varied drink with a longer history than any other fermented beverage. It takes time to ferment, patience to enjoy and a pallet to appreciate. Try some with a friend before you decide to make your own, you don't want to wait a year to make something you don't like! I suggest trying dry, medium and sweet meads so you can figure out which side of the spectrum you prefer.

Good luck-

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