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There are no Rules in Mead Club

The historic marketing truth is mead hasn’t had the same social exposure in recent generations as wine, spirits, cider and beer. Mead is often perceived in society as faux-wine; or, worse – as home made plonk. However, this is a misconception being put right in recent years.

Mead is the oldest fermented beverage with traces being found as early as 9,000 years ago in China. It’s made with fermented honey (and other inputs) and there are traditional meads to explore as you travel the world through Africa, Asia, the Middle East, across Europe and Russia. Mead is mentioned in the Hindu’s Rigveda, it was consumed by the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Vikings. It’s called iQhilika by indigenous South Africans and medd by the Welsh. And Aristotle recorded a mead recipe in 350 B.C.

Mead isn’t just one thing. Depending on the traditional mead recipe it can be anywhere from crystal clear to cloudy. Modern mead recipes are constantly being re-invented and ancient mead recipes are being resurrected.

While mead is made with honey it isn’t necessarily sweet. The spectrum, depending on how much honey is used and how far it is allowed to ferment, can run from extremely dry to extremely sweet. The type and amount of honey, the strength of the mead & finished qualities sit in the hands of the mead maker (the mazer).

A good short mead (for immediate consumption) doesn’t need to age and comes in at around 6% ABV, a standard mead runs at about the same as wine strength at 10-14% ABV and a sack mead can run as high as 18-22% ABV. Standard and sack meads only get better with age.

The components of the mead offer another classification set. Melomels contain fruit. Metheglins contain spices. Cyser is made with apple juice. Pyment uses grapes. Rhodomel uses rose petals or rose hips. The list of distinctions is longer than my willingness to run through them. What it should give you is the idea that mead is unlike wine – mead can taste like anything the mazer can imagine for you.

Finally, there are a few other terms worth noting. A Braggot is a mead made by fermenting honey in a dark ale or stout; a bochet is a mead where the honey is cooked down until puffs of black smoke emanate from the bubbles; the lees of a mead (what’s left behind after racking) can be put through a still to create brandy mead; and there is a method of freezing and removing the water content to produce honey jack (illegal for good reason). People are also working hard to resurrect hybrid recipes from the distant past.

What I really like about mead is the versatility: in a wine glass, a shot glass, a tankard, as a cocktail mixer or even as a carbonated cider-like short mead. Warmed, room temperature or chilled. However I damn please, thank you.

I like that mead can be whatever we want it to be. I can’t even tell you how to drink your mead – and I’m always asked. All I can do is hand you 9,000 years of globalised human culture in a bottle or glass. If you remember just one thing about mead from today it’s there are no rules in mead club!

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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