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Mead, The Drink of the Gods

The drink of the GOD’s. A drink that can be served warm or cold, sweet that has a little bite, simple to make, but complex to perfect MEAD! I am speaking from experience!

Kegged Mead

I got into beekeeping from this master’s dink known as mead. It is one of the simplest drinks to brew up that has sweet taste, complex smells, and can be high in alcohol. I have a recipe that is over 400 years old, and is one of the few open fermentation styles for making it.

 Brewing

 I highly recommend having some. *Wink* This art of wine making set me off on my quest to know everything I could on bees and to make KING’S MEAD, my show mead!

MEAD Award
MEAD Award for World’s Best International Mead Fest

Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, and frequently fruits, spices, grains or hops, can be blended with fruits drinks or wines, and frozen into ice cubes for a sweet add to a stiffer drink. The alcoholic content of mead may range from about 8% to more than 20% of alcohol by volume, (mine is around 26% to 30% if I ice it not). It can be regarded as the ancestor of all fermented drinks, and dates back to ancient history throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. The earliest archaeological evidence for the production of mead dates to around 2000 BC.

 Ancient Mead

It is found all over the world, from the trail made from the Vikings just before the crusades. Mead, in its travels, still is looked for by wine lovers, mead makers, Paleo eaters, and food lovers. The background and flavor is unmatched, giving it its own line in the supermarket liquor store.  Some of the first found writings on the drink are:

“Take rainwater kept for several years, and mix a Galun (ancient units of measurement) of this water with Punt (ancient unit of measure) of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for 40 days, and then left on a shelf near the fire.”

Heated Mead

“FROM THE CLOSET OF SIR KENELM DIGBY KNIGHT OPENED”.

You can download your own copy of this book for free from the gutenberg.org website. Just look up Digby as an author.

“To every quart of Koney, take four quarts of water. Put your water in a clean Kettle over the fire, and with a stick take the just measure, how high the water cometh, making a notch, where the superficies toucheth the stick. As soon as the water is warm, put in your Honey, and let it boil, skimming it always, till it be very clean; Then put to every Gallon of water, one pound of the best Blew-raisins of the Sun, first clean picked from the stalks, and clean washed. Let them remain in the boiling Liquor, till they be throughly swollen and soft; Then take them out, and put them into a Hair-bag, and strain all the juice and pulp and substance from them in an Apothecaries Press; which put back into your liquor, and let it boil, till it be consumed just to the notch you took at first, for the measure of your water alone. Then let your Liquor run through a Hair-strainer into an empty Woodden-fat, which must stand endwise, with the head of the upper-end out; and there let it remain till the next day, that the liquor be quite cold. Then Tun it up into a good Barrel, not filled quite full, but within three or four fingers breadth; (where Sack hath been, is the best) and let the bung remain open for six weeks with a double bolter-cloth lying upon it, to keep out any foulness from falling in. Then stop it up close, and drink not of it till after nine months.

Translation and explanation of how to make this mead recipe yourself. I will stick close to his quantities, which will give us about 1 gallon of mead. You can easily translate this if you want to make a 5 gallon batch. Put four quarts of water in a pot and heat it. Mark the side of the pot at the water level. Add 1 quart of honey to the water and bring it very gently to a boil. Skim off anything that rises to the surface. Put 1 pound of white raisins in a nylon straining bag (or a doubled cheesecloth bag) and drop into the water. When they are swollen and soft, remove them from the boiling water and press all the juices out of them. Add all these juices into the boiling mead. Continue to boil the batch down to the mark you made on the pan. This is the four quart level. Once this is done, cool the liquid and strain it into a fermentation bucket for six weeks. After this, the fermentation should be almost complete and you can transfer it to a carboy or bottle it, where you keep it for nine months before drinking.

 Mead Cups

See, a very easy but every complex drink to make. The drink takes two years to make this way and one year of good aging for best flavor. I reason my recipe is so hard to do with people wanting instant gratification. Mead can have a wide range of flavors depending on the source of the honey, additives (also known as “adjuncts” or “gruit”), including fruit and spices, the yeast employed during fermentation and the aging procedure. Some producers have marketed white wine sweetened and flavored with honey after fermentation as mead, sometimes spelling it “meade.”

Lavender chilled Mead with Lemon
Lavender chilled Mead with Lemon

Paleo and it’s gluten-free, many more people are turning back to the time of drinking mead. For those looking to have an adult beverage and are on strict diets, mead seems to be the drink. Due to the fact it ferments in the wild, Paleo eaters are jumping on the mead bandwagon.  Beer, despite the adoration it commands, it has its shortcomings. Mainly that it’s usually made with gluten grains, and that’s the non-Paleo. Honey, on the other hand, has no grain product in it at all, unlike most alcohols.

To the Celts and Vikings mead is not just a drink but a cheer to honor life.

 Kings Mead

Mead, for the old ways, was only for war, marriage, and parliament. That the mead was the king’s, and the king’s mead was the best in the land. Most of the time drank before and after battle, mead was handed out in leather jugs for the warrior to take on his jest to Valhalla to see the Gods.  One of the greatest things to see is a Mead Hall. It was made to have the whole town come and drink. The first bars of old, you would say.

 Inside a Mead Bar

To sit in the halls of days of old and have this drink can bring you back. I have had lots of mead in my day. I do not think I have had a bad mead, not saying I have not made some bad meads in my day. I will leave you with wonderment on it and a quick brew for you.

Here is a chocolate pumpkin mead recipe that I like. I hope you do as well.

Ingredients:

 10 lbs sweet cooking pumpkin

4 oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate powder

 11lbs honey

 3 T acid blend

 6 teasp pectic enzyme

 5 teasp yeast nutrient

 1 pkg wine yeast

 Wash pumpkins. Remove seeds and stringy material. Cut into small chunks and boil until soft. The skin will soften with cooking. Leave it to cool. Heat 1 gallon spring water to 160 degrees. Stir in honey and mix thouroughly. Add 4 oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate powder and add 1 gallon cold spring water and add the other ingredients. Add to sanitized fermenting bucket. Add cool spring water until the level reads 4.5 gallons. Put the pumpkin into a large straining bag and add to the contents of the bucket. Pitch yeast when the temperature reaches 70-75 degrees. Close the lid and add an air lock. Daily open and push the pumpkin down, without disturbing the bottom of the bucket. When fermentation slows transfer to secondary. Rack as needed and bottle when clear and stable.

I love to talk bees, I travel all over the world doing so. You can reach me at abeefriendlycompany@gmail.com. Get me there and we can all bee friendly.

“Make a buzz, have a Bee Hive. When you Talk about Green Technology and Products, I laugh because there is nothing greener then a Beekeeper!” – Michael Jordan –

About Michael Jordan

Profile photo of Michael Jordan
Thank you for reading. I am Michael Jordan, “The BEE Whisperer,” Owner of A BEE Friendly Company, INC. located in Wyoming. I have been teaching the art of bees and beekeeping for over 15 years. I have studied bees in my many travels over the world. Bees and Beekeepers are different all over the world. The style of beekeeping used is up to you. There are over 20,000 types of bees and 1500 of them are a type of honey bee. If you work with bees I would love to hear from you. If you want me to come and teach a group or class for you, let me know, I love to talk bees, I travel all over the world doing so. You can reach me at abeefriendlycompany@gmail.com. Get me there and we can all bee friendly.

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7 comments

  1. Michael,

    Excellent intro into mead making. I was unaware of this beautiful drink that can be tailored to individual taste by all the herbs and spices.

    Just have two questions:

    1. How do you control the alcohol? Is that happening while boiling or fermenting?
    2. What aging methods would one use?

    Thanks,

    William

    • Profile photo of Michael Jordan

      Thank you. I love this drink.
      you can make mead taste in many ways. I love to freeze and all the tasty cubes to my ginger ale.

      1) control the alcohol: Potential Alcohol levels vary on the source. This is because the actual quantity of alcohol produced is dependent on the individual yeast strain and fermentation environment. Some sugar is also used by the yeast for growth and production of other compounds, and some alcohol escapes with the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. My style of open fermentation it is hard to control the alcohol content. when taking a brewing class, you will lean how to read specific gravity and this will tell you your final readings of alcohol content in your mead. This takes time to work with. The More sugar used to make more alcohol the more completed the drink and how it is put together. to get over 20% you have to pitch the mead twice to reach that % of alcohol.

      I age mine one year open to exposed air, then bottled for 6 months of aging.
      most are aged in the bottles for a year after brewing. aging is for taste, the more it ages the more you may end up with vinegar. It also depends if you are making wine or champagne as well.
      basic mead or any wine drink you age for one year…beers 2 to 4 weeks after brewing……whisky 1 to 10 years in a cast wood barrel depending on taste.

  2. Thanks Jordan. Your input is much appreciated!

    This alcoholic drink is a no brainer for someone interested in homebrewing.

    I’ll try to make my own. I have made before a strong alcoholic drinks like vodka through distillation process using different kinds of fruit. When the process was finished and the drink was ready I added honey to that drink. The end result is a strong alcoholic drink but sweet to drink. In my part of the world it’s regarded as medicine.

    Mead is also a good addition to producing some value added products from honey and also in a survival situation a good barter item.

  3. Profile photo of Steve Baze

    Nice. A couple of years ago I tried some wine from simply local fruit and it turned out very pleasant. All the bottles are gone? I just wanted to see how easy or difficult making wine is and it was actually very simple. I suppose one could get much more involved go in many directions. I did add a source of yeast. I will have to try this as soon as I get some bees ! I have a herd now , but they are just visitors and collecting pollen. So we shall see ? Intersting stuff.

  4. Profile photo of Brooke Lounsbury

    Paleo and gluten free? I am going to try making it very soon! Great article!

  5. Great article thank you! Will try making it out soon – i hope it will be good.

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