I remember a few years back when I first started getting into home brewing, I was only really interested in making beer. Sure, I was aware of wine, but I didn’t have too much interest in it. Fast forward a year and my friend asked me if I wanted to make a mead. My first thought was, what the hell is mead?
I started reading about mead and looking into all the wonderful different varieties and became extremely interested in this magical brew and it’s rich history.
What is Mead?
Mead is simply fermented honey water. Take water, mix it with honey, ferment the mix, and sure enough you’ll have some mead. How this initially was discovered isn’t exactly sure, but some say it happened when bee hives fell into a tree branch and got rained on.
Can you imagine the sheer joy of the person who stumbled upon that tree? I imagine he was walking along in the forest very thirsty and just wanted some water to drink. He sees a tree branch with some water and immediately goes over and drinks it. Surprise! The water is actually mead and he gets all sorts of liquored up.
This gentleman then goes back to his village and reports his strange feelings. Some other members of the village return to the tree to try the sweet mead as well. One of these villagers is a bit brighter than the others and sees the beehive and puts two and two together. Somehow, if you mix honey and water and let it sit for a while, you get mead!
So the villager goes back and starts experimenting with how to create his own. For a while he is making waves in the village with his glorious brew. Then he starts to get another interesting idea. He starts wondering if he can put other ingredients in with the honey and water to enhance the brew.
Sure enough, when this gentleman started adding other ingredients, the color and taste of his brews changed. He started giving other names to his concoctions to separate the different varieties.
Today, we still use these different names to describe the different types of meads.
One Mead to Rule Them All
Mead is simply fermented honey water, but once you start adding different ingredients, it becomes something else entirely. Under the umbrella of mead, there’s a specific name for each type of brew depending on what specific ingredient you are adding to the mix.
Here’s a handy picture I found of all the types of mead under the sun.
Different Country, Different Name
Once this true innovator started making the first meads, some travelers to the village brought some of his mead back to their home countries. When they did this, they wanted to take all the credit for discovering it, so they just renamed it!
Travelers went to all the corners of the world with this man’s fine mead and started making their own with their own name. Such is the nature of business.
Here’s a list of different names for mead in different countries:
- France: Hydromel
- Germany: Medu
- Brasil: Mel
- Poland: Miod Pitny
- Sweden: Mjod
- Ethiopia: Tej
- Finland: Sima
What’s In A Name?
Ladies and gentlemen, the bottom line here is that mead is mead. It’s an incredible brew and if you’re not already doing so, I suggest making some for yourself right away.
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