Sometimes referred to as ‘honey wine’, Mead has stood the test of time! When you think of Mead, images of Medieval Knights and fierce Norseman come to mind but Mead is making a comeback in the modern age as a stand-alone alcoholic beverage. Mead is made by fermenting honey with water. Like beer, mead is sometimes flavoured with fruits, spices, grains, or hops. Also, like wine, mead is produced in a variety of sweetness levels, from bone dry to lusciously sweet, and can be still or sparkling.
1. Mead is the oldest form of alcohol
Mead pre-dates both beer and wine by thousands of years. Dating back as far as 3000 BC, some texts show Mead was consumed by the Ancient Greeks to honour the Gods. It was believed Mead descend from the Heavens as dew, before being gathered by the bees. Because of the believed ties to the gods, the Greeks believed that mead would prolong life, and bestow health, strength, virility, and re-creative powers. It is also thought that Nordic Vikings used Mead to celebrate battles and long voyages, while the great Norse god, Odin, was said to have gained his strength by suckling Mead from a goats’ udder as an infant.
2. The word ‘Honeymoon’ comes from Mead
Within many cultures, including Welsh, German and Scandinavian, mead was often consumed during wedding celebrations as a toast to the bride and groom. During medieval times, mead was a part of the marriage ritual in which after the wedding, the bride and groom were provided with enough mead to last until the next full moon. They were encouraged to consume the mead to bring good luck to their marriage, as mead was believed to promote fertility, hence the term ‘honeymoon’.
3. Mead is not just for getting merry
Today’s physicians are unlikely to write a prescription for mead, but certain kinds made with herbs or spices were used as medicine in early England. Infusing herbs into a sweet mead made them more palatable, and different varieties were thought to improve digestion, help with depression and alleviate good old-fashioned hypochondria. These types of spiced, herbal meads are called metheglin, derived from the Welsh word for medicine.