Everything You Wanted to Know About Mead

by Mama Loves A Drink

National Mead Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in August – but what EXACTLY is Mead?!!

Often (mistakenly) referred to as honey beer or honey wine – it is in fact neither. Mead is indeed made from honey but it sits in a class of its own.

It is a favourite amongst home brewers for its simple list of only three ingredients – though making the perfect drop can, of course, take the right ingredients and years to perfect. It’s certainly not a mainstay in bars or on supermarket shelves in the 21st century, but it is one of the world’s oldest brews – the nectar of gods!?

So in celebration of National Mead Day, let’s take a deeper look at some mead facts and see if we can give this lesser-known drop it’s day of glory once more!!

Mead Honey Drink

The oldest alcoholic drink in the world?

Historical references to the drinking of mead see it outdate both beer and wine. It is believed its origins could date back as far back as 7000BC. Pottery discovered in northern China has shown chemical signatures consistent with the presence of honey, rice and organic compounds associated with fermentation (Source).

And the drink of royalty no less! There are reference from King Midas to Queen Sheba having mead as their drink of choice.

What is mead made from?

Mead has just three basic ingredients; honey, water and yeast. It stands in an alcohol class of it’s own – it’s not considered wine as wine is made from fruit, though many will refer to it as “honey wine”.

There are many different processes and techniques that mead brewers can employ in the fermentaion process.

Brewers may also add spices, grains and hops during the fermentation process (to make metheglin) or add fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, making it a melomel.

What does mead taste like?

The end result can be still, carbonated, naturally sparkling, dry, semi-sweet or sweet and there are plenty or regional variations around the world with their own naming conventions.

The type of honey used and the results of the fermentation process will determine the actual taste. Whilst some are made to taste very much like a sweet desert wine, others can some across more like a cider.

If you don’t like the first mead you try, give it another go as there are plenty of variation and one might just suit your taste buds better.

Honey Wine

If a bottle is labelled as honey wine, it’s quite possible the honey was added to the wine after the fermentation process and it is indeed, not a mead.

Honey Beer

There is another subset again of mead known as “braggot” – a mead made from honey and barley malt. Most commercially sold honey beer is this hydrid braggot.

What is the alcohol content of Mead?

The ABV can vary greatly from 3.5% to more than 18%.

A traditional Honeymoon?

A “honeymoon” period can trace its origins back to mead. It was apparently a European tradition to give a newlywed couple enough mead after marriage for a full moon cycle.

Looking for an original and unique wedding gift? Maybe a collection of traditional meads from your local meadery will do the job.

A glass of mead with jar of honey

Is mead good for your health?

Anyone good marketer can spin a product to be “healthy”, right?

Honey has been used for its culinary and therapeutic applications for centuries. And mead itself is often touted as a health tonic which can have a positive impact on gut health due to its potential probiotic content (if you use wild yeast – commercial yeasts are pasteurized).

And herbal mead – known as Metheglin – is derived from the Welsh word for medicine. It was used in early England to help with improved digestion, depression and even alleviating hypochondria! Healthy, right?

However, the alcohol content of mead be counteractive to any positive benefits for gut bacteria, and its natural sugar content means it’s packed full of calories.

Like all things alcoholic – drink in moderation and responsibly – you can learn more on health benefits here.

How is mead best served?

Mead can be served warm or chilled – there are no hard and fast rules though a dry mead is better chilled.

Chilled mead is best served in a stemmed glass, whilst room temperature and warmer mead works well in both whisky style glasses and glass mugs.

How should mead be stored

In theory due to the high alcohol content there should be no problem leaving an opened bottle of mead of the shelf well-sealed. However for the quality to last longer, it’s recommended you leave your mead in the fridge.

Cocktails made from mead

So whether you drink your mead straight, or like to get creative, here’s a collection of mead-based cocktails you could try:

National Mead Day

Celeberated on the first Saturday in August, this year National Mead Day will be celebrated on 1 August 2020.

The celebration was initiated back in 2002 by the American Homebrewers Association but has caught on worldwide as a day to appreciate this nectar of the gods and raise awareness about one of the lesser-known alcoholic drink categories.

Happy National Mead Day!

Mama Loves A Drink advocates quality over quantity. Always drink responsibly!

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