It’s Mead Time is an up close and personal look at mead, an adult beverage fermented with honey and water that dates back centuries, and its continuing rise in popularity throughout craft libations circles. Each month, together with Scott Neeley, Founder and mead maker at KingView Mead, we look to deliver news, information, and commentary about ‘The Hero’s Drink’ and bring you plenty of reasons why mead should be added to your consumption list.
For The Love of Honey
Honey may be one of those food items that’s easy to overlook and take for granted, but it really shouldn’t be. Many foods wouldn’t exist if not for this magical nectar, even the ancients thought honey to have magical powers. And, of course, honey is the key ingredient in any style of mead and a world sans mead seems pretty damn scary. Different fruits and spices added to mead affect the flavor and classify it differently, such as melomel, cyser, and a wide variety of others. But honey is the workhorse.
The next time you want to overlook the importance of honey, think of what needs to unfold just to make a pound of it. Thousands of bees must visit MILLIONS of flowers and the flavor and color of said honey all hinge on the variety of flower, tree or source the nectar was drawn. For example, clover honey is lighter and mild while buckwheat honey is much darker and has stronger acids content. Naturally, different varieties of honey can lead to different flavors in mead, too. Like grapes, different honeys provide the mead maker with a spectrum of flavor profiles. What makes mead making so difficult is that the bees are truly sourcing from so many types of plants and year to year those plants differs based on the season, whether it’s wet or dry, cold or warm all factors into the honey profile. Making a consistently flavored mead is even more difficult with the reality that it just may not happen, add additional fruits or spices and those variations exponentially decrease the chances you’ll make two batches that taste the same.
Honey is loaded in simple sugars, sodium, iron, and potassium and contains more calories than ordinary sugar. Many refer to it as the world’s oldest sweet food. Early civilizations classified honey as food for the gods, a gift from the gods, and a giver of immortality…just to name a few. Greeks, Romans, Egyptions, and others used honey to make cakes, candies, and certain beverages (see: Mead). Honey also showed its diversity by making salted meats more palatable (see: honey ham). In these civilizations, it was not uncommon for households to have a small orchard and apiary or for citizens to convene and contribute the honey from a full summer’s gathering to a mead maker who would make mead for everyone to enjoy.
For mead, several different types of honey can be utilized, with wildflower honey standing out as the most common. A honey’s name is derived from the source of where the bees collect. There are what are called mono-floral honeys, these are honeys where the majority and in rare cases 100% of the honey is coming from one source. Orange Blossom and Clover are two such examples. This is where the beekeeper has placed hives in larger commercially grown orchards or fields where the only source of nectar is one flower type. In most cases it is rare to get a 100% mono floral honey because bees can travel two miles from their hives, which is also why wildflower is the most common honey.
No matter what style of mead is produced, there’s no chance of it ever coming to life without bees. This is why KingView Mead Founder and Mead Maker Scott Neeley created Mead-For-Bees, a cause designed to help local beekeepers and apiaries sustain their bee habitats so honey production remains fruitful, thus leading to more food, flora and of course, mead. Talk about the circle of life.
10% of all of KingView’s sales of meads, wines, and brand attire go towards the purchase of new boxes, frames, and bee nucs that make their way into beekeepers’ and apiaries’ hands via sweepstakes drawings. KingView’s Mead-For-Bees is the first program of its kind in the United States.