Mead. Have you ever heard of it? We couldn’t blame you if your answer is no, but you would be wise to do some research, because mead seems to be making a comeback.
It was considered the drink of the Vikings, after all, and if you don’t see Leif Erikson and his crew of Nordic conquerors as examples to model your drinking after, then we don’t know what to do for you.
Here are some of the basics you should know about mead.
Mead: The Basics
Mead is often referred to as honey wine, and is considered to be one of the oldest - if not the oldest - alcoholic drinks known to man. It is an inexact science for many, as a batch can come out tasting sweet, semi-sweet, dry, or like something you did not anticipate. However, it is relatively difficult to mess up, so rest easy knowing that your batch - which may take far longer to ferment than you thought - will likely come out drink-able, whenever it is ready.
While it is commonly associated with the Vikings, mead also has historical roots in Europe, Africa, and Asia. When you drink this historic beverage, you should feel downright cultured, a crucial part of its appeal.
Comeback Season for Mead
While mead is more commonly seen in Eastern Europe and Russia, it has made somewhat of a comeback in America and you can anticipate it becoming more popular in the near future. It’s the type of drink that craft brewers, hipsters, and lumberjacks would latch onto, and likely will.
There are some noteworthy mead-makers already in America, including Enlightenment Wines in Hudson, NY. The honey-rich Hudson Valley makes this a logical location for Enlightenment to be centered, as they produce variations of mead that are sparkling, unfiltered, varying in flavor, and some with additives such as juniper and lavender. Needless to say, they have taken the art of mead brewing to a new level.
Two Michigan breweries have also been lauded for their flavored twists on traditional mead. B. Nektar and Kuhnhenn have been known to add fruit, spices, and garden-grown ingredients to their mead, giving it a unique taste and appeal.
More well-known brewers such as Dog Fish Head and Rogue have come out with hybrid forms of mead called braggot, which is worth a try if you ever get the opportunity.
Serving the Mead
It is typical to see mead being served in wine glasses. Unlike the Moscow Mule, there is not a specific vessel for serving mead in the United States, so you can break out your mugs (copper or otherwise), tankards, and pint glasses and enjoy it in your container of choice.
Countries such as Ethiopia are known for using bulbous glasses, and this is definitely acceptable, if not preferred, should you have a set of special bulbous glasses. Most people probably do not. The Vikings probably drank it out of a mead horn, but again, good luck with finding one of those.
When it comes to temperature, it is recommended that lighter, drier meads be chilled, not dissimilar to the treatment of white wines.
Dark, sweet, and/or stronger flavored meads can be slightly chilled, but room temperature is acceptable as well.
Now that you know some basics about mead, go out and seek it. It is something every connoisseur should try at least once, if only to say that they did.