Mead: The new it drink?

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First Posted: 7/28/2014

Mead is a drink currently going through a bit of a renaissance in the craft beverage industry. The past few years has seen many dedicated meaderies open their doors to the public with a vast array of meads to sell, but what exactly is mead?

In the crudest of terms mead is often referred to as “honey wine,” but it is much more complex than that simplistic title suggests. Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, and may also contain fruits, spices, grains or hops. The predominant flavors throughout are honey balanced against any number of other ingredient choices.

The ABV can range anywhere from 8 percent up to 20 percent and beyond in some cases. The drink may be still, carbonated, or naturally sparkling, and it may be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. The characteristics will depend upon the mead makers’ intent and the ingredients chosen.

The history of mead can be traced back to ancient times, namely to Asia where pottery vessels containing chemical signatures of a mixture of honey, rice and other fruits along with organic compounds of fermentation dating from 7000- 6500 BC were found in Northern China. However, this drink was not called mead yet, instead the term came about later through a variety of translations, as is the case with many beverages throughout history.

Mead has been popularized in pop culture by appearing in many Viking stories, whether in book or movie. Vikings often refer to mead as the “drink of the gods” in these stories and enjoy it in large quantities. Current shows such as Game of Thrones have also helped popularize this drink and helped to further bring this ancient drink back to the forefront of many modern craft beer drinkers.

So what does mead taste like? This can vary greatly but typically it is sweet but does not have a great deal of residual sweetness. The honey imparts a great deal of flavor but this is dependent upon which type of honey is chosen to make the mead as the flavors of honey are also vast.

Mead can be slightly carbonated or still but regardless the body is smooth and is meant to be sipped and enjoyed like a fine wine or a Scotch. The temperature is also important with mead as you do not want it served too cold as it will trap all the aroma and taste within the drink.

The demand for mead has grown so much that meaderies are beginning to open throughout the country with notable ones such as Moonlight Meadery from Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Mead is a drink that is a precursor for many of the fermented beverages that we enjoy today, namely beer, and is a drink that should be tried by all who claim to love craft beer, but where to start?

August 2 is National Mead Day and in the local area there are 2 great events happening to celebrate this event. The first is on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour where a full mead discussion is planned, along with a sampling of meads on air. The show can be heard every Saturday morning at 10 AM on Sports Hub 102.3 FM.

The other event is happening at Cooper’s Seafood in Scranton, PA. This event is being held by the Scranton Brewers Guild and will feature samples and education about the brewing process and honey production. Best of all, this event is free!

Whether you are a fan of beer, wine, or spirits, mead is a drink that has something for everyone. So take this chance to learn something about a beverage you may know nothing about, it just may become your new favorite drink!