Mead has been closely been associated with ages past. It was common among the knights of the medieval ages. People seemed to have forgotten the taste years back but the honey wine suddenly seems to have picked the markets. The alluring taste of the honey wine seems to have captured the hearts of many and people are longing for more. Meaderies in USA seem to have doubled over and has made it to the list of top beverage list in USA.
What is mead?
Mead, the beverage of the Divinities. Honey wine or more commonly known as mead is fermented honey mixed with water. Mead is also flavoured with different kinds of fruits, grains, spices or hops. Mead is higher in alcohol in comparison to beer, closer to wine with around eight to twenty percent ABV. The sweetness levels of mead vary from succulently sweet to bone dry and can be sparkling or still.
Braggot is a type of mead which is formed if brewed with malt and hops or mixed with beer. When fruit is added to the honey wine it is known as melomel and if mixed with water which is highly loved by the French and the Spanish, it is known as hydromel. The more the mead is aged the heavenlier it tastes.
How is it made?
Fermentation is the main process in the making of mead. Wine yeast will not suffice the actual amount of nutrients required to make good mead. Hence, fixed quantities of diammonium phosphate, Vitamin B3, B12, B1, biotin and other minerals are added according to certain schedules to get the best quality of ready to drink mead. The nutrients available these days are straight away consumed as the mead are bottled, removing the time for their aging.
The gravity of the mead is checked with a refractometer or hydrometer once afore fermentation and during the course of fermentation. This enables the mead producers to ascertain the percentage of alcohol by capacity which will appear in the final beverage. The mead producer can also locate the “stuck” batch with the help of a hydrometer; the batch of mead whose fermentation has stopped is referred to as stuck.
Mead required the same temperature as that of wine for fermentation.
The mead is racked in different containers once they reach the gravity of 1.010. Racking is done primarily to get rid of the dead yeast which has settled down and the mead gets time to clear. The mead producers add potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite to avoid oxidation in the mead. The mead is bottled and sent for distribution once the meads is cleared.
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The legend of mead dates back as far as 3000 B.C. According to historians the first mead which was ever made was in Island of Crete. There are many potteries discovered in Asia which have been found to contain chemical signatures of mixture of fruits, honey and rice along with preservatives. People from ancient world, Greek, Europeans, Chines, Indian, Africans, Russian, Finnish and even Japan all seemed to drink mead. Although mead had different names with a variety of flavours in different parts of the world but the basic preparation was almost same.
Significance of Mead in History
Mead was an important part of the daily lives of the Norse. Their legends speak of a “Poetic Mead” which had mystical powers. According to the mythology Norseman Kvasir who was made so wise by the gods that he had the ability of answering any question. When he was slain his blood was mixed with honey and all those who drank this mead had the intelligence of Kvasir. Dansk Mjod was highly inspired by this myth and he started producing red coloured mead which he flavoured with hibiscus and named it Viking Blod Mead.
The English, Celtic and German cultures mention mead as the drink of the heroes in all their poems. The famous folktale of Beowulf sings about their heroic deeds while enjoying mead. Later on production of mead was made official by the governments for trade. Many monasteries kept bees and with so much honey they started making mead. Many areas could not grow grapes; hence honey was used to make mead which substituted for wine.
Best Mead Producing Areas
Although America has hundreds of meaderies and almost every meadery produces tasty mead there are few which really stand out. Some of the best meaderies are in Eugene Oregon which manufactures the braggot mead. Seneca Falls in New York have meaderies which focus on meads with fruits while Port Chester, New York has a meadery owned by Ed Tiedge which produces brandy distilled from mead known as ‘comb’.
Top 3 varieties of Mead
- Kuhnhenn Brewery/Meadery from Warren Michigan is one of the most looked out brands who are famous for March Madness, when they produce a different mead everyday in March. Bourbon Barrel French Toast Mead is one of the crowds favourite.
- Nektar from Ferndale, Michigan is one of the biggest meaderies in the United States of America. The people drool over Zombie Killer lightly carbonated cherry cyser.
- Wild Blossom Meadery. Chicago, Illinois is the first winery in Chicago. They have their own bees and use pure honey to manufacture mead. Nau-t-guy/Nau-t-gal is the best from their winery.
Top Mead festivals in the USA
The Americans are in love with mead and there are many of festivals which are dedicated just to mead. Some of the festivals are:
Mazer Cup International Mead Competition and Tasting Event –which is held in Boulder, Colorado in the month of March every year is the largest mead festival in the world. More than 200 commercial mead producers and over 300 home mead producers participate in the competition. Other international mead producers also come from all over the world to partake in the event. The festival is sponsored by Gotmead.com.
Real Ale Festival –thousands of Americans and people from different parts of the world flock to Chicago, Illinois to enjoy the mead, perry and cider.
Woodbridge International Mead Festival –is the only mead festival in Mississippi and the local residents sponsor the festival. All the meads are home-made and the best takes home a wonderful prize.
Orcas Island Cider and Mead Festival –is held on Orcas Island in Washington, on the second Saturday of May every year. Mead and cider producers from Canada and West Coast of United States of America participate in the contest. The event is sponsored by Northwest Cider Association.
Mead is a growing industry in America and growing meaderies are its proof. Many businessmen are moving towards the industry as the demands seem to have grown. People are conscious about taste and are waiting to explore new flavors.
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Image credit: by Grapetonix – Own work, CC BY 3.0