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.
February 2017 – Up Your Mead Knowledge
If you caught our last installment of Stylin’ & Profilin’, you learned that evidence exists suggesting that mead is the ancestor of all alcoholic beverages. You also learned that when Vikings were crossing the oceans, mead was their drink of choice. And Chinese vessels dating back to 7,000 B.C. potentially tell the story that mead was the alcoholic beverage of choice long before beer and wine were created or consumed.
In other words, as libations enthusiasts, we owe a lot to mead. Though its popularity declined as time pressed on, it certainly built a foundation through which a world of alcohol-based beverages were born, nurtured, and perfected. Today’s landscape is one forged by ingenuity and the creation of something new. Often times, these ideas are born by tapping the past and resurrecting styles, recipes, and processes left behind in the annals of history. Undoubtedly, old can most definitely be new once again.
The creative platform that is today’s libations scene provides the perfect stage for mead to mount a serious comeback. According to Statistica, there were 275 mead producers in the United States in 2015, up from 236 in 2014. While these numbers may not be as staggering as what you see in the beer niche, mead production is steadily rising and more artisans are applying their skill set to making and evolving this historic beverage by adding modern-day twists to their creations.
Mead features a variety of categories and types. If you add a fruit to the mead, you are making a Melomel, a name that applies to any mead created with fruit. But there are multiple directions mead can go.
The following is a comprehensive list of common mead types, courtesy of StormTheCastle.com:
- Melomel: Mead made with fruit added
- Braggot (or Bracket) Mead made with malted grain (usually barley)
- Hydromel: This is the term for a weak or watered down mead
- Pyment: This is mead made with grape or grape juice added. This is also the term for a grape wine that has honey added to it.
- Cyser: A mead made with apples or apple juice
- Metheglin: A mead made with added spices – often considered to have medicinal traits. Some common spices are cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves
- Rhodomel: An ancient Roman term for a mead made with rose petals
- Sack Mead: A mead with a very high honey content. It has a high density and is often sweeter than typical meads. This can be thought of as a dessert wine of meads.
- Show Mead: This is a term that has come to define a plain mead with no spices or fruits added.
- Short Mead: (Also referred to as a quick mead) this is a mead that is made in a fashion so it matures quickly. Short meads are often very similar to ales.
- Great Mead: Kind of like the opposite of a Short Mead. This mead is designed to be bottled and aged for several years.
- Sparkling Mead: A carbonated mead much like a sparkling wine. This is usually achieved by adding a small amount of honey or sugar just before bottling. This causes a small secondary ferment while in the bottle that will elevate the pressure and sweetness.
- Morat: A Melomel made from Mulberries
- Hippocras: A pyment to which spices have been added
- Omphacomel: mead made with verjuice which is the juice of unripened grapes. This is often considered to be a type of pyment.
- Oxymel: Made with wine vinegar
- Acerglyn: Mead made with maple syrup
- Bochet: refers to a mead that was made with the honey caramelized or burned before it is added to the water. Creates several different flavors including toffee, chocolate or marshmallow.
- Capsicumel: Flavored with chili pepper
- Black Mead: Made with Black Currants
- Mulled Mead: This refers to a mead that is heated before drinking. Typically it has spices for flavoring.
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 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.
“It’s a program that makes sense,” Neeley said. “We support local beekeepers, not just by purchasing honey, but by helping them grow. They support local farmers and, in return, give us all better food to eat. Not to mention, bees help propagate so many other plants critical to the ecosystem. This was the foundation of why I started making mead in the first place. When you drink KingView, you get to have fun and it helps everyone and everything. There are many wins here.”
In March’s installment of It’s Mead Time, we’ll dive more into the process of making mead and talk to Scott at KingView about his upcoming collaboration project with Rivertowne Brewing for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.