Traditional mead, made from honey and water only, can be made in a limitless number of ways. Just as it is with wine, great variety can be produced from such a small number of ingredients. There are over 300 distinct varieties of honey for example and many are suitable for making mead.
Beyond the variety which exists in traditional mead, there are a myriad of other mead types to choose from. Some of the most popular meads are melomels; meads made with fruit. Metheglin is a mead made with spices and/or herbs.
When the weather turns cool, traditional mead may be mulled with spices in the same manner as hot apple cider – a wonderful drink on a cold winter’s eve. An enticing mead-food pairing is raspberry melomel and dark chocolate. Sheer indulgence! And a crisp, sparkling traditional mead is well suited for celebrating the New Year in style.
As you can see, there is a lot to explore. The journey of finding your favorite mead is half the fun and each meadery offers their own interpretation of a particular style.
History and Lore
The history of mead is rich. It’s glorious history dates back thousands of years, predating both wine and beer. Although there are no references to support this, it is believed that mead is the drink that gave us the tradition of the honeymoon. According to this legend, the newlywed couple was given a month’s (moon’s) supply of mead in the hopes of ensuring a fruitful union. If a son was born, the meadmaker was congratulated on the quality of his mead. And there are many legends about mead’s aphrodisiac qualities. As these legends span civilizations and centuries, one has to wonder if they might be true.
“This is an important time for mead. Every 500 years it comes around like clockwork.”
– David Myers, Redstone Meadery
It is the future of mead that is perhaps the most interesting. We are witnessing a renaissance of interest in this noble drink. Boutique wineries specializing in mead (called meaderies) are springing up all over the land and many people are finding that it is easy to make at home.
This renaissance comes at the heels of the craft brewing revolution. The next logical step is being taken by our generation. We are realizing that mead fills the gap which exists between beer and wine. Mead is at once refined and casual.
It is up to us to make things happen. Every time we stop by our local liquor store, we should ask for mead. We should sample different meads with our family and friends to learn what we like. Based on our findings, we can begin to ask our liquor store to carry the meads we like. The good news is the industry is beginning to respond.