Mead Made Easy: History of Mead

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First, some mead history to get us started and tell you a little about how mead works.

Mead has been around for thousands of years. Honey was one of the first things to be fermented into alcoholic beverages, and mead is mentioned in the Bible, the Rig-Veda, the Aeneid and Beowulf. Mead was sacred to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. The Norse god Thor was once challenged to drink from a bottomless mead-horn, although for some reason they left this out of the comic books, along with the gory details of the dwarves forging horseshoes inside his head the next morning.

Mead is also made in other parts of the world. Global brewers and consumers of mead include the Australian Aborigines. Mead is one of many drinks historically made in Africa, and was brewed as a ceremonial liquor in the pre-Columbian Americas.

Honey has traditionally had life-giving and aphrodisiacal qualities. Aeneas' wounds were doused with mead in the Aeneid. (That had to sting.) The reward of a fallen Norse warrior was Valhalla, where his time was spent in mead-drinking and battle. And a `honeymoon' was initially a month when the young couple drank mead in order to be fruitful.

Early meads were simply honey and water, with spices or fruits added for variety. The mixture was left open to the air, and wild yeast would start the fermentation going. Here in the new world, that's not really possible due to the different varieties of wild yeast. Other than that, it's possible to make meads in a very traditional style.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:09:11.