Honey! I got some Mead!

mead

I am about to admit just how much of a geek I am-

Hi! My name is Kate and I used to play Dungeons
and Dragons. Please…no snickering. I have a fragile ego.

What’s this got to do with food you ask? Well, invariably the role
playing party would find themselves in an imaginary pub, and on the
imaginary menu of imaginary drinks, one could find imaginary mead.

Now, being a simple child of Western Pennsylvania of the late
70′s, I knew nothing of mead. I knew of beer (specifically of Iron
City), wine and ale. But mead? This was new to me.

Mead, for all of you not in the know, is simply “honey wineˮ
or “Honey aleˮ (depending on which “mead headˮ
you ask). It us, quite possibly, the oldest fermented drink in human
history. I say quite possibly, as mead has become the bastard son of
wines, often ignored when it comes to the mor eflashy grape wines and
aggressive beers and ales that are out there. According to Food
in History infers that mead was enjoye in the Nile Delta for
thousands of years, as well as in the Amazonian Basin. Often used in
rituals, it was used as a means to speak to the gods. If you have
ever gotten drunk on mead, there’s no doubt that you believe that
this is entirely possible.

There are a variety of reasons why mead was so popular back in the
day:

  1. Honey as an extended shelf life. It has no season in which it
    adheres to. As such, it is readily available long past days when the
    grape, barley or wheat harvests had exhausted themselves.
  2. It’s simple to make. All you need is honey, water, yeast and
    a container, and you can make mead. Unlike beer, no boiling is
    required, and infections in mead are much less likely than they are
    in beer. And unlike wine, there is no need to worry about ripeness,
    the acid or sugar content of the fruits.

Unfortunately, hardly anyone makes mead anymore, let alone drinks
it. It’s difficult to discern what is a good mead vs. what is a
superior one.

According to About Mead
(from which the below table comes),these
are the most popular types of mead:

  • Traditional – Made with honey and water only. Usually showcases a particular variety of honey (e.g. orange blossom).
  • Melomel – Fruit mead
  • Metheglin – Herb or spice mead
  • Pyment – A melomel made with a wine grape varietal (e.g. syrah)
  • Cyser – An apple melomel (akin to hard cider)
  • Braggot – Made with malted barley (the flip side of honey ale). Also: bracket, brackett
  • Sack Mead – Sweet dessert traditional mead
  • Tej – Ethiopian-style mead with a white wine character. Pronounced “tedge.”
  • Hydromel – Light-bodied traditional mead. Also: French for mead.
  • Rhodomel – Rose hip mead
  • Hippocras – A spiced pyment (metheglin pyment)
  • Morat – A melomel made with mulberries
  • Capsicumel – Chile pepper
  • Omphacomel – Made with verijuice (unripe grapes)

mead

I knew I had to try some. So I
bebopped over to Whole Foods (and if you have ever bebopped to a
grocery store, you KNOW how painful that can be),
and purchased
myself two different bottles: A bottle of Ambrosia
by Kristy made right here in Washington State, and a bottle of
Kasztelański
, a Polish import.

Let
me tell you, I could not find a reliable source telling me the best
way to drink it. Some say it’s best served chilled, others say it can
only be served at room temperature. So, being the brave soul I am, I
tried it both ways. Let me just say that the following
is simply my own preference:

The lighter Ambrosia tasted much better chilled at around a mid 50
degree temperature. Wonderfully sweet, I wouldn’t mind having it in
place of a dessert wine.

The Polish mead was much better at room temperture. Its a thicker,
more viscous liquids and a darker, more “butterscotchyˮtaste
to it, and an flavor that I cannot recognize.

Both meads were fine as I drank both of these brands this past
Friday, not for testing purposes, but for …well…. (ahem)…fun.
The Polish mead seems to be for those cold winter nights in Northern
Europe, where you drink, get beat up, end face down in the snow, get
pulled up by your friends, and laugh as you go to eat some pickled
herring. The mead is for drinking.

The Ambrosia is a more polite drink, the kind of wine you have one
drink, giggle, and say “I think I’m getting tipsyˮ in
your best sing-song voice.

If I had to pick one, it would be the Ambrosia.

Yup, I’ve come a long way since I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons.


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