Beer is one of the most popular and oldest drinks on Earth and will likely continue to be so for the time to come. While beer is drunk in almost every country, there are regional drinks that predated beer. One example of this is mead which is widely associated as the drink of choice for the Norse, or Norwegian and Danish people. This drink is largely unheard of here in Thailand, but is starting to become available and gain interest. In this week’s article we will take a quick look at mead.
What is mead?
Mead is an alcoholic drink that is often thought to have originated in northern Europe. Made of fermented honey and often fruits and spices, it is the drink of legends. Anyone who has studied Norse mythology knows that the drink of choice of the gods was Mead. In truth, Mead or a similar drink is known to have originated as early as 9,000 BC in northern China. It was also the preferred drink of ancient Greeks and even drunk by Romans when wine wasn’t available.
In the middle ages, Mead was produced in nearly every European country but was most popular and well known in Northern Europe and countries settled, or invaded by the Vikings.
These days, the name is applied to any drink that is made mainly with fermented honey. It can be flavored with ingredients like fruits, hops, flowers and even grains, and is usually sweet. That being said, mead with hops in it will usually be slightly bitter.
Because mead is a drink made from honey, which is quite a bit sweeter than barley, the alcohol content will usually be higher – anywhere from 8 to 20%. A popular form of mead is honey jack which is made by partly freezing finished mead and removing the ice until a highly concentrated liquid remains.
How is it made?
Obviously the main ingredient of mead is honey and as a rule of thumb you will need around 1.6 kilograms for every 3.8 liters of water. Once a brewer has the honey, they will often flavor it (if they want) with different ingredients.
They will then put the honey/water mixture into a pot and heat it to ensure the ingredients have a chance to mix and release their flavors. Then, the mixture is added to a fermentation container with yeast and left to ferment for around four weeks. After the fermentation has finished, you have mead.
You can then put the fermented mixture into bottles much like beer and let sit for another month to add some carbonation.
How do you drink it?
Because of the higher alcohol percentage, mead is normally drunk more like a wine than a beer. You probably don’t want to go and drink three bottles in one night, you may end up with a mighty hangover the next day!
Unlike beer or wine however, mead is often drunk a variety of ways. Some people like to chill it and drink it near freezing, others like to drink it at room temperature, while others will drink it hot like Chinese tea – less than boiling. Our best recommendation would be to try it a number of different ways to see which tastes best to you.
Wish of the week
This drink from Denmark is not for everyone, but for those who have ever tried mead and would like to try it it’s an interesting first. With a moderate body, this sweet and slightly hopped mead is well worth a go. Take one sip and the taste will linger for almost a minute, or more leaving most people wanting more. Try it after dinner in place of a fine port or other dessert wine.