From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Mead (disambiguation).

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Mead is a fermented alcoholic beverage made of honey, water, and yeast. It is sometimes known as "honey wine" (for obvious reasons) and is generally pronounced "meed" (IPA: ), though South Africans usually pronounce it "med", to rhyme with "red" (IPA: ).

Mead was a favorite tipple of the Norse gods and heroes, e.g. in Valhalla, and the mead of Suttung, made from the blood of Kvasir, was the source of wisdom and poetry. The nectar and ambrosia of the Greek gods were probably draughts of fermented honey (see those articles and the history section below).

A mead that also contains spices (like cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg) or herbs (such as oregano or even lavender or chamomile) is called metheglin. The etymon of this word is the Welsh word meddyglyn, meaning "medicinal liquor", as healing herbs were often stored as metheglin so they would be available over the winter (as well as making them much easier to swallow). Slavic miod/med, which means "honey", derives from the same Proto-Indo-European root.

A mead that contains fruit (such as strawberry, blackcurrant or even rose-hips) is called melomel and was also used as a delicious way to "store" summer produce for the winter.

Mulled mead is a popular winter holiday drink, where mead is flavoured with spices and warmed, traditionally by having a hot poker plunged into it.

Hippocras is spiced grape wine sweetened with honey. A grape-based wine with added honey is called a pyment.

Cyser is made with (hard) apple cider and honey; braggot or bracket is made with malted barley and honey.


History of mead

In Crete, fermented honey was an entheogen long before the introduction of wine, and bees remained sacred to Demeter. Mead was the drink of the Age of Gold, and the word for drunk in classical Greek remained "honey-intoxicated." (Kerenyi 1976 pp 35ff)

Mead was very popular in Northern Europe where grapes could not be grown, but it faded in popularity once wine imports became economical. Mead was especially popular with the Slavs and was called in Polish mid (pronounced ), meaning honey. Mead was a popular drink among the Polish szlachta. During the Crusades Polish prince Leszek the White explained to the pope that Polish knights couldn't participate in the crusades because there is no mead in Palestine.

In Finland a sweet mead called Sima (cognate with zymurgy), is still an essential seasonal brew connected with the Finnish Vappu festival. It is usually spiced by adding both the flesh and rind of a lemon. During secondary fermentation raisins are added to control the amount of sugars and to act as an indicator of readiness for consumption — they will rise to the top of the bottle when the drink is ready.

Ethiopian mead is called "tej" and is usually home-made; it is flavored with the powdered leaves and bark of "gesho", a hops-like bittering agent which is a species of buckthorn. A sweeter, less-alcoholic version called "berz", aged for a shorter time, is also made. The traditional vessel for drinking tej is a rounded vase-shaped container called a "berele".

Mead is probably also the origin of the word honeymoon as the father of the bride was said to give as a dowry a month's supply of the liquor. Mead is mentioned in many old north Anglo-Saxon stories, including Beowulf.

Mead can have a wide range of flavors, depending on the source of the honey, additives called "adjuncts" (including fruit and spices), yeast employed during fermentation, and aging procedure. Mead can be difficult to find commercially, though some producers have been successful marketing it.

Many meads retain some measure of the sweetness of the original honey, and some can even be considered as dessert wines. Drier meads are also available, and some producers offer sparkling meads, which (like champagne) can make for a delightful celebratory toast.

How to make mead


Mead is made in fermentation vessel, preferably a glass carboy, an airlock and a rubber bung. These items can usually be found at a home brew supply store. The ingredients of mead are honey, filtered water, and yeast. Fruit or spices are optional.

Mead is made in sanitized equipment to ensure food safety. Potassium metabisulphite is a common sanitizing agent. Those who are allergic to sulphites can use other sanitizing methods. Failure to remove all traces of this chemical from the equipment may result in poisonous or otherwise undrinkable mead.

Starter recipe:

3 pounds of honey per gallon (U.S.). (For example, 15 pounds of honey are used with a 5 gallon (U.S.) carboy.) 1 pound of raisins.(optional) 1 packet of dry winemaker's yeast EC1118 or similar as well as yeast nutrient.

Some vintners prefer to create a starter culture by preparing a mixture of one cup of room temperature sanitized fruit juice and the freeze dried winemaking yeast and placing it into a smaller one quart sanitized container fitted with a rubber stopper and airlock for a day or two until the mixture is bubbling. This container is kept at room temperature out of direct sunlight. This starter culture will cause the fermentation below to begin with vigor and may prevent the mead from failing to ferment.

Honey is slowly added to a large pot half-full with water while heating. There is a common disagreement among mead makers as to whether you should boil the honey or not; mead makers have had success with either method. Boiling will alter the flavor, but will enhance the clarity of the finished mead. As the mead is heated over medium heat, it will just start to boil after the impurities have been cleared, as pure liquids boil at a lower temperature.

After a time of heating the honey (which helps it dissolve and can also pasteurize it), the mixture is cooled to between (170°F/76°C) and (140°F/60°C) and the raisins are added. The mixture continues to cool, then is transfered to the carboy. Once it has cooled to room temperature (68°F/20°C), yeast which has been rehydrated is added to the honey/water mixture (must) and the airlock is put on. After being placed in a cool (68°F/20°C), dark place for a few hours or a day, the airlock should start to allow bubbles to escape. This is waste carbon dioxide (CO2) and shows that the yeast is processing the sugar into alcohol. The raisins rise to the surface of the fermenting mixture. If they block the airlock, the mead maker will have to rack. Stirring or agitating the mixture is avoided, as it may cause the liquid to rise up and spill out of the airlock.

After a two to three week period the mead maker may want to rack the mead into a second sanitized carboy. An airlock is not necessary during primary (aerobic) fermentation. This racking will clear out the lees and allow the mead to clear faster. The mead is siphoned into the second carboy via a sanitized tube, usually filled it with sterile water to start the siphon. The mead is siphoned carefully to avoid splashing as excess oxygen at this point may cause an unpleasant taste in the final product. An airlock is placed on the second carboy. It is imperative that sterile conditions be maintained while the carboys are open to avoid infection. The mead is racked every two weeks until all signs of fermentation have stopped (usually when the airlock doesn't produce any bubbles for a long period of time—typically over 30 seconds between bubbles) and your mead has cleared. The carboy is clear enough when it is possible to read a newspaper through it.

Then next step is to bottle the mead. Mead is generally sealed in sanitized bottles using airtight caps or quality corks. If the fermentation is not complete, pressure will build up inside the sealed bottles and cause them to explode. Mead is generally aged for at least 6 months in the bottle before drinking.


da:mjd de:Met la:hydromeli es:hidromiel fi:sima fr:Hydromel nl:Mede pl:mid pitny sv:mjd


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