What do Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, Sir Walter Scott, Yeats, James Frazer, a myriad of Norse writers, sacred texts, and fairy tales all have in common? Mead. Yes, mead. All of these writers and texts reference mead as medicine, a drink for heroes, warriors and royalty alike, as a river that runs through paradise comprised of it and is considered a source of wisdom.
The history of mead may go back as far as 8,000 years. Research has shown that the oldest known meads were created on the Island of Crete (wine was not yet created even!). The ancient philosophers saw mead as a way to gain the wisdom they needed for their writings. Mead was the drink of the Age of Gold. In fact, the Greek’s word for drunk is translated to “honey-intoxicated.” The ancient Greeks called mead, Ambrosia, or Nectar. It was believed to be the drink of the gods, and was thought to descend from the Heavens as dew, before being gathered in by the bees. Because of the believed ties to the gods, it is easy to see why the ancient Greeks believed mead to have magical and sacred properties. The Greeks believed that mead would prolong life, and bestow health, strength, virility, re-creative powers, wit and poetry. The bees themselves, we are told by Virgil’s Georgics are driven to the sky to honor the goddess Aphrodite. And, the prophetess’ at Delphi are suspected of drinking mead made from a honey from slightly toxic plants in order to induce their prophetic states, and visions of the future (courtesy of Sky River).
You may be reading this wondering why I am harping on the history of mead. Quite simply, this is a drink that was almost obliterated from society. It seems that over the last few decades, mead was relegated to consumption at Renaissance Fairs. Forgotten about in everyday consumption, mead was only a reminder of an ancient past, mostly remember as a drink of Medieval ages. Mead came dangerously close to being something that was only read about but no longer made. So it pleases me to tell you that we have three new varieties of mead at Bauer for you to try.
Honeymaker mead, out of Portland, Maine, was founded in 2007 with an eye on innovation, the environment and a re-introduction to this ancient beverage. Handcrafted in small batches, Honeymaker’s mead is known for its exceptional clarity and lightness.
Although Honeymaker has many different varieties, we chose our favorite three to share with you:
Howie’s favorite-Honeymaker Dry Hopped Mead ($17.99). A medium-to-full bodied mead to be enjoyed all year round. During the aging process, Honeymaker introduces fresh whole leaf Cascade hops and this yields a unique, floral, herbaceous flavor. Bright tart, citrus fruit and a wildflower aroma is followed by a complex flavor of grapefruit, pine and sun-soaked grass.
John’s favorite- Honeymaker Lavender Mead ($17.99). This one is medium-to-full bodied as well with a foundation of wildflower honey. Honeymaker ferments this mead in the spirits of French botanical aperitifs. It is aromatic and semi-sweet with the iconic scents of summer. Locally grown English lavender imparts brilliant floral notes that is balanced out by a crisp minerality. Lavender mead is creamy with a round finish that leaves citrus and pineapple on your palate.
Corinne’s favorite- Honeymaker Blueberry Mead ($21.99). Rose-hued, this mead balances the delicate elements of honey from Maine’s most pristine farmlands with the tart notes of wild coastal blueberries. It’s medium-bodied, crisp and refreshing-ideal for these late summer evenings or even a taste of harvest during the long winter months. It is perfect with a slight chill.