What is Mead? An Introduction
Mead: a sweet history. From the Greeks, Celts & Norse to Nottingham, Friar Tuck & Robin Hood
ead...perhaps the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man. People frequently ask, "Is Mead Beer or Wine?" Mead pre-dates both beer and wine, and is simply fermented honey. Early brewers used fruit, spices and hops to mask unpleasant flavors that occurred in their mead, and to stretch costly honey. As heavier and heavier doses of the adjuncts were introduced an evolution occurred. Eventually, grape juice enhanced mead became the wine we are familiar with today, and hops flavored mead became what we know as ale, or beer.
Mead fell out of favor for much the same reason that it was favored. As a raw natural product honey was subject to wildly varying qualities. Seasonal conditions could affect the kinds of sugars encompassed in the honey, meteorological conditions could affect the intensity of the sugar, and the raw nature of both the honey and the water left the mead subject to numerous contaminates. As the existence of yeast, and the cause of fermentation, was not understood until the time of Pasteur in the mid 1800?s, fermentation was, by matter of fact, an act of random chance. If random chance started an off flavor of yeast in the mead first, then the resulting product would not be an enjoyable drink. Consequently, six months to two years of fermentation and aging could be an utter waste of time. Honey was generally boiled to sterilize the honey and speed the fermentation process. However, boiling also caused a carmelization of the honey. These difficulties made the more sterile nature of the grapes natural package, and the heat tolerant nature of beer a far more consistently rewarding process.
At Sky River we have endeavored to reintroduce mead to the 21st century. With the help of Cornell University we have developed the ability to not only shorten the 6 month – 2 year fermentation/aging cycle, but also to create a consistently crisp, clean and beautiful drink. All of this is done without the damage to the color and flavor of the honey brought about by heating. Through a partnership with Pure Foods, in Sultan WA, we have decades of hands on understanding of honey, and have secured the highest quality honeys harvested from around the world. All of our honeys are handled with tremendous care, from the bee to the bottle. This yields a Mead that retains the honeyed essence of its foundation – the floral nose, and the melon and tree fruit notes of the fruits that the flowers and pollen prelude.
We invite you to enjoy Sky River Mead, the Nectar of the gods as it has long been known, with us. Sky River Mead is available Sweet, Semi–Sweet and Dry. Our Semi–Sweet Mead and Dry Mead, served well chilled, delicately offset the exotic notes of sesame and ginger in Pan-Asian cuisine, and the rich herbal textures of the Mediterranean, while many enjoy our Sweet Mead as a delicate aperitif, or dessert wine. And, in the long cold months of winter, Sweet Mead is a genuine indulgence warmed, with perhaps a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom. We just recently completed the quite exciting process of creating a new Raspberry Honeywine, also known as a Melomel, for your enjoyment. Other intriguing and delicious variations are coming soon! Please join us in the future for these new tastes.