MODERNISING MEAD: RENEWING AN OLD BREW

Making History

Possibly the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, the creation of mead dates back to around 7000 BC, tracing back to Northern China. Despite this earliest-known location, the word instantly conjures to mind European drinking cultures, and can be found in numerous English epics, Gaelic bard lyrics, as well as Germanic and Celtic poetry. Frequently referred to as ‘honey wine’, mead is traditionally made through fermenting honey with water – though additions of herbs, spices and hops are also common, and are known as ‘adjuncts’ or ‘gruit’. Despite its comparatively low profile, the craft beverage movement has shifted this old brew back into the mainstream, even resulting in the founding of meaderies. With minimal ingredients, easy preparation, and a distinct flavour, mead has slowly established itself as an enduring addition to any recipe – both at the bar and at home.

The Sweet Spot

The key to creating desirable mead lies in its fermentation, often requiring the same temperatures and yeast with which wine is fermented. Its unique, sweet undertones are derived from its honey – which also functions as the fermenting agent. Because of this, mead was usually associated with vitality and good health, as honey had antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. While newer drink makers are sceptical about whether the resultant drink retains these benefits, honey still maintains an edge as a natural sweetener. However, honey also has the double-edged effect of taking a long time to ferment, with recommended timeframes spanning anywhere from six to eight months for higher alcohol content. Conversely, this means that mead is a perfect base for low-ABV drinks when fermented for a shorter time, supplying both alcohol and flavour in an easy, attainable way.

Made To Last

The final taste of mead, depending on fermentation time and other additions levelled into the mix during this period, ranging from dry to fruity and spiced. However, its applications are expansive, as it doubles as both a cocktail mixer and substitute. Boasting a smooth, floral flavour, mead is not only compatible with a variety of other ingredients but also quickly absorbs the tasting notes of other ingredients. This is especially evident in recipes where mead is mixed with bold, rich flavours such as coffees and chocolates. When combined into mellow refreshers, the aromatic essence of its honey adds an intriguing layer of complexity to the final drink. Whether as an easy standalone brew, or to add a creamy build to your beverage, it’s clear that this drink’s appeal is experiencing a well-deserved revival – the rest, as they say, is history.

Mead

 

Ingredients

  • 300g honey
  • 1.5l water
  • 10g wine yeast/bread yeast
  • 1 nos orange

Equipment

  • 1.8l airtight glass jar

 

Preparation

  • Fill jar until half full with water
  • Put honey into the jar
  • Pour the rest of the water in and seal tightly
  • Shake to mix the honey and water
  • Add yeast into the mix and stir to combine well
  • Ferment for 2 weeks

Mead-tini

 

Ingredients

  • 20ml Le Fruit de MONIN Raspberry
  • 45ml mead
  • 10ml bianco vermouth
  • 20ml lemon juice

Garnish

  • Blueberries
  • Lemon peels

 

Preparation

  • Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker
  • Add ice and shake well
  • Strain into a glass
  • Garnish to serve

Honey Coffee Fizz

 

Ingredients

  • 10ml MONIN Jasmine syrup
  • 45ml mead
  • 45ml cold brew coffee
  • 90ml soda water

Garnish

  • Blueberries
  • Mint leaves

 

Preparation

  • Combine all ingredients except soda water in a glass
  • Add ice
  • Top with soda water
  • Garnish to serve