What actually is Mead? Here we explain the very basics of Mead, it’s origins and why we believe it is deserving of your consideration.
Mead, simply put, is an alcoholic beverage that is made by mixing honey and water and allowing it to ferment. The finished product is a deliciously sweet nectar that can be enjoyed as is, as it has been for centuries!
Lauded as the ‘Drink of the Gods’ it seems to have been around since the dawn of time, ascertaining it as the worlds oldest alcohol. It has a rich historic tapestry, with many notable civilisations in history making some reference to it.
There are many, many different recipes, each one using varying types and quantities of three main ingredients. Some recipes also include various ingredients such as spices, fruits, botanicals, grains and hops.
These recipes come from all over the world, with some claiming to date back 1000s of years. There is, therefore, quite a debate over what makes a true mead. One thing is definite; at the base of every recipe is honey, water and yeast.
In fact, it’s so simple that it’s thought that the first time mead was ever created it was simply a happy accident. Somewhere in the Henan province in China, a pot of honey, carelessly left out in the elements filled with rainwater. A little while later, the lucky consumer was delighted to discover his honey had been magically diluted into a sweet flavoured drink that made him feel… interesting. He was hooked, and the tradition of mead production ensued. Or so the story goes…!
The oldest actual evidence of the existence of mead is in some pottery found in China dating back to 7000 BCE. (Thats a really long time ago!) The remnants of what was stored inside the pottery container was tested and it was found to be consistent with what traces you would expect to be left of mead.
In Ancient Greek mythology, mead was known as the ‘drink of the Gods’ as it was believed to have healing powers, and thus, must have been a gift from above. It was given to the gladiators and warriors as it was thought to help heal injuries.
In the 5th Century AD, when people still used the moon as a measure of time, mead was believed to be an elixir of health, fertility and longevity and it thought to instil good luck. It was also thought that the consumption of it had aphrodisiacal properties, and so it was popular to have ‘honey wine’ (as it was often called) at weddings.
Friends and family would also give it to the bride and groom as gifts for them to drink during their first ‘moon’ (1 moon cycle, or 1 month to you and me) as newly weds in the hope that they would conceive a child. This is thought to be where the term ‘honeymoon’ comes from.
Further to all of this, there are references to Mead in ancient Hindu scriptures, in the Bible, writings by Chaucer and Aristotle and references to it in old English and Welsh poetry.
Possibly the most well known of all the references to mead (and therefore stereotyping of mead) is its prominence in Norse folklore. It is said that the Viking Gods created a man who was so wise he had the ability to answer any question. When he was killed, his blood was mixed with honey, and anyone who drank the concoction was instilled with his intelligence and knowledge.
Clearly, mead has stood the test of time! So, why did it fall out of fashion and disappear for a few centuries - to the extent where many some people nowadays haven’t even heard of it?
The decline in Mead began in the 16-1700s. It was largely down to the increased availability of sugar, which was being imported to the UK by the shipload from the West Indies. This was also coupled with new tax laws at the time. PLUS, the fact that to get your hands on some sugar does not require anyone to anger 1000s of bees… (they didn’t have bee suits back then!) You can understand why many people started opting for sugar.
Fast forward to the 21st century, (and the invention of bee-suits) and mead still gets slightly overlooked in the current marketplace, where shelves are often overflowing with award winning wines, craftily crafted beers and flavour-loaded ciders.
However, we believe that it’s time for mead to make a comeback, and for it to be enjoyed today just as it always has been. And luckily, there does seem to be some motion in the right direction.
If it is not through the rise of craft-brewing, the interest in home-brewing or even the surge in viking themed TV series, then maybe mead will be made popular again because of our passion at the Hive Mind. We want to make people see that mead is less ‘monks-and-druids’ and more ‘craft-beer-cool’. We want to breath new life into this age-old classic. We want to make mead new.
So, we took this drink, added some interesting flavours to complement the flavour of the honey, and turned it into a sparkling rendition of the traditional version. In this way, we hope that it can be enjoyed much more similarly to a cider or beer, and therefore make it much more accessible to all.
To create our meads, we use honey which we collect from our own beehives, dotted all around the beautiful hills of the Wye Valley region. This area is known for its high concentration of small leaf lime trees, and a high overall biodiversity of flora and fauna.
This means our honey has a distinct botanical taste. And it is for this reason that we like to keep our flavours simple, to allow the delicious flavour of our honey to shine through!
To find out which is your favourite flavour of out of our six varieties of sparkling meads: Find them here
Or if you want to try a Traditional Mead to really appreciate this time-honoured beverage: Find it here