A few facts about mead in general, and our mead in particular.
What is mead?
It’s Old. Mead has been around a long time. Lots of folks associate the drink with King Arthur’s round table or Beowulf’s mead-hall, but the history goes back even farther than that. Archaeologists in Northern China have found evidence of honey-based fermented beverages dating from about 9000 b.c. Some maintain that mead is as old as civilization itself. The great anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss suggested that the invention of mead marks a critical passage in human evolution, the transition “from nature to culture,” as he put it.
We know that Pharaohs drank mead. Its praises are sung in the Sanskrit hymns of the Rig-Veda. Aristotle extolled its virtues in Meterologica; the Aztecs and Incas both used it in their religious festivals. In the heavenly realm it was nectar and ambrosia — the very food and drink of the gods. Odin gained his power and wisdom from a draught of magic mead. Throughout the ages, across the globe, mead has been celebrated as a source of health and happiness, of strength and inspiration, the preferred drink of poets and scholars, warriors and kings.
It’s New. What’s new about a drink that’s been around for 11,000 years? Turns out it’s all about attitude. At Honey Moon, we’re motivated by a spirit of innovation, of improvisation & creative connection. Plus, we just like to have fun. We try to pour a little of that playful spirit into every bottle. We start with pure wildflower honey, pale and delicate, harvested in the foothills of the North Cascades. We’re just as particular about the things we add to it – our berries, apples and rhubarb come from friendly farmers right here in Whatcom County, our spices are freshly ground and blended by an importer just down the road in Seattle. We’re inspired by the past but not beholden to it; we love to experiment with new ingredients and fresh combinations. As for technique, suffice to say production methods have come a long way from the Neolithic period. Odin’s mead might have been brewed by dwarves in a cave, but there’s modern magic to be conjured with stainless steel, controlled fermentation and sterile filtration. We think the gods would approve.
It’s Different. There’s a lot of confusion about what this stuff actually is. Is it a wine? Is it a beer? Sort of. Not really. Yes and no. The most basic mead recipe contains just three simple ingredients: honey, water and yeast. We usually think of wine as fermented juice, with no water added, so in that sense mead resembles beer. But beer is made with grain, which must be malted and mashed and lautered and sparged — a complex process which has nothing to do with making mead. In the end we might have to conclude that mead is its own sweet thing. It’s probably less important to figure out what mead is than to experience how it tastes. Which brings us to our last point–
It’s Delicious. But don’t take our word for it. Try some for yourself!
Tasting notes: How sweet it is! Or, how sweet is it?
It’s true that mead tends to be on the sweet side, but just how sweet is a matter of preference and choice. As with any other wine, you can ferment mead until it is bone dry. But chemically speaking, the sugars in honey are very simple. If you ferment them away entirely, you risk losing all the flavor. The challenge for the mead maker is to find the right balance, the sweet spot, if you will, to preserve the delicate, mellow character of the honey without being cloying. If you’re a fan of technical data, our signature Lovers Mead finishes at about 1.014 SG, or approximately 3.5% residual sugar, and 13.5% ABV.
What if I don’t like sweet wine?
You’re not alone. Lots of folks don’t like sweet wine. Hey, to each his own, right? Or her own, as the case may be. . .But if you’re curious about mead, we invite you to set aside your expectations about sweet versus dry and let the mead be mead. Let yourself be open to the possibilities. You might be surprised at what you find.
For starters, pour yourself a small taste of Lovers Mead. Just an ounce or so. Give it a gentle swirl and stick your nose in the glass. Close your eyes. What do you smell? Flowers? Dirt? Something you can’t quite put your finger on, some kind of herb, slightly grassy and pungent? Take a small sip. How does it feel in your mouth? Thin, full, smooth, rich? How does it taste? Buttery, acidic? Take another sip. Feel how it rolls across your tongue? How would you describe the aftertaste? Warm, lingering, vaguely lemony? Would you like some more? If yes – hooray! Pour a glass and enjoy. If no – well, we have others for you to try. Like our Raspberry Mead, or Rhubarb Mead, or Wassail. Or you can pour a glass of our Cider, which is crisp and delicate and quite dry. . . Or you can have a beer. It’s OK. Really. We just want you to be happy.
What about gluten?
All our meads are naturally gluten free. Same goes for our cider.
What about sulfites?
Sulfites (sulphur dioxide, or SO2) is widely used in winemaking to prevent oxidization. This isn’t necessary in the case of mead, since honey has natural preservative and anti-oxidant qualities. We do add a small amount of sulfites to prevent secondary fermentation. The amount is minimal, however, and many folks who are sensitive to sulfites find they can happily drink our meads. Please use your own discretion.
- For more Honey Moon tasting notes, see our Products page
- For more information on mead, try www.gotmead.com or www.realbeer.com/edu/mead
- For Claude Levi-Strauss’ rumination on the cultural significance of mead, see From Honey to Ashes: An Introduction to a Science of Mythology, Vol. 2 first published in 1966.