Mead is an alcoholic drink created by fermenting honey with water. Sometimes other ingredients such as fruits, spices, grains, or hops are added. The alcoholic content of the mead varies from about 3.5% ABV to more than 20% ABV. Mead is a diverse drink, it can be still, sparkling, dry, sweet, and many other things. Drink to mead, the nectar of the gods!
Mead was first...
It is considered that the mead was the first alcoholic beverage, and we think that it is true. It isn’t difficult to imagine ancient people stumbling upon the beehive in a tree trunk that has been watered by rain, and fermented by naturally occurring yeasts. This was a chance discovery that changed their lives. After drinking the sweet boozy water, who wouldn’t wanna learn how to replicate that?
Our ancestors were all enjoying mead because, at that time, honey was one of the easiest sugars to get. Mead was produced in ancient history throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. In Northern China were discovered pottery vessels dating from 7000 BC. The studies have shown that in the vessels was kept mead, as there were found chemical signatures of honey and organic compounds associated with fermentation. This is the earliest evidence of mead in history, but we assume that ancient people were enjoying this drink of gods much earlier.
Then they came up with Honeymoon
The tradition of the honeymoon was across many different cultures, especially in arranged marriages when husband and wife didn’t know each other before the wedding. The newlywed couple was given a month’s supply of mead, and they would drink that mead for thirty days or the full moon cycle. And that was a honeymoon back then, no tropical beaches and romantic dinners, but a lot of sweet booze. Sounds not that bad, huh?
Mead was supposed to help to break down barriers and get the guy and girl to know each other and then start a family. After such a sweet month, the wife usually got pregnant. That’s where that story of mead as being the world’s original aphrodisiac comes from.
Mead is amazing. Literally.
The etymology of the term “amazing” is based on the ancient wooden bowl made with maple. People used to drink the mead out of this bowl and this vessel was called a mazer. And if something is amazing it’s as good as being drunk on mead. One more reason to try this beverage!
Types of Meads
As we mentioned at the beginning, mead is a diverse spirit and there are tons of mead varieties. Mead is having a moment now and modern meaderies are on a mission to revive this delicious ancient beverage. Here is a list of mead varieties, just take a look and see how different it can be.
Short Mead. Short meads are generally brewed in a fashion to promote a quick maturation and a fast turnaround for impatient drunks. These are usually brewed in an ale style.
Great Mead demands a long aging period in a sweaty basement for a maximum crust.
Standard Mead. Generally ranging from 7-14% abv. These are traditional meads, made without adding spices, fruits or extracts.
Hydromels are another classification of meads. As the name implies, they are usually containing more water to honey than standard meads. Meaning that their ABV is usually pretty low.
Session Meads can also be considered in the same vein as hydromels, but unlike the hydromels, sessions are left sparkling to resemble beer in style.
Sack Meads are of a higher percentage than standard mead, at 41-to around 22% ABV. Usually a sort of dessert mead.
Fortified Meads or honey liquors are made through distillation.
Melomels are meads made with fruit. Pyments made with grapes, omphacomels made with unripened grape juice, and there are white meads made with white wine grapes.
Cysers are made with apple juice or apples.
Black meads are made with black currants.
Morats are made from mulberries.
Meads with spice inclusions are called metheglins.
Rhodomels are meads made with rose petals.
Acerglyn made with maple syrup.
And that is not the end of the mead classification. New styles appear to this day, and who knows, maybe while you were reading this article, a new type of mead was born.
The 13th century mead recipe, just in case you want to make some
This recipe comes from the 13th century Tractus Manuscript Folio 20r Mead recipe, and here are the most important hits on how to make medieval mead at home.
For to make mead
Take 1 gallon of fine honey and to that 4 gallons of water, and heat that water till it be as “length” (meaning: as hot as is needed).
Then dissolve the honey in the water then set them over the fire, let them boil, and ever scum it as long as any filth riseth there on. And then take it down off the fire and let it cool in another vessel till it be as cold as milk when it cometh from the cow (no need to look for a cow, we got you covered, it is about 37°C).
Then take dregs of the finest ale or else barme and cast it into the water and the honey and stir all well together. And so let it stand 3 days and nights.
Then draw it from the dregs as clear as thou may into another vessel clean and let it stand one night or two, and then draw it into another vessel and serve it forth.
The recipe also gives us instructions on how to make this mead eglyn ( short form for meddyglyn - healing mead) by adding pretty regular herbs such as hyssop, bettony, moonwort, hart’s-tongue, and white horehound, just to name a few.
Sounds like a lot of work to do, right? Good news, we live in the 21st century, and there is no need to make mead by yourself. Especially, if you are at Lassou! We have a great sparkling mead produced at the foot of Table Mountain reserve in South Africa. Van Hunks Sparkling Mead and Sparkling Rosé Mead are true drinks of gods, made with all natural ingredients delivering the pleasant floral notes and delicate dry finish. This is your new kind of pleasure!