Design by Steven Solomon (stevensolo.com)

Forget wine. Forget beer. They’re mere newbies in the world of fermented beverages. Mead is the patriarch, the original, the granddaddy that launched the human fascination with alcohol. But, strangely enough, it’s fallen out of fashion. How could this be? This was the drink of Aristotle and the Ancient Greeks; the drink of the brave Danish warriors in Beowulf. But now? Where have you gone, mead? It’s time to reclaim your glorious throne.

That's some sweet, sweet bee ass

Mead is a true symbiosis between insect, nature and man. The bees are king. And for lovers of terroir, their honey is as reflective of their home as any Pinot Noir grape.

Just like with grapes or cheese or oysters, honey tastes different the world over. Be it from clover plants, wildflowers or orange blossoms, bees transport the various flower nectars in their stomach (where it is combined with digestive enzymes), later storing it in a honey “cell” or “comb,” allowing it to partially dehydrate. The types of flowers and plants in an environment—such as those found in a high-altitude meadow in the Alps—and their inherent flavors and characteristics come through in the taste of the honey.

Stairway to Honey

The bees are the conduit, the driving force. They are the backing beats of John Bonham to the stage-shredding antics of Jimmy Page. While there are over 20,000 species of bees, only about seven of them are true honey bees (genus Apis). These are the gatherers of the gold that humans have chased around the world for nearly 10,000 years, prizing their valuable booty like pirates do their loot. Having both antifungal and antibacterial properties, honey won’t rot or ferment in normal conditions. It’s a complex mixture, primarily consisting of glucose and fructose. And it’s a perfect human food. A satchel of honey will provide nourishment and energy to a well-worn tribe of hunters chasing Wooly Mammoths across the tundra. And after discovering that…they soon discovered mead. And then the warriors were really happy.

The earliest archeological evidence of the production of mead dates back to 7,000 BC in Northern China. Pottery fragments were found with a mixture of mead, rice and other fruits along with organic compounds of fermentation. They were making booze. The mead was flowing. And honey was tops. Across the world, centuries later, Scottish warriors gathered in massive mead halls where the feasting, boasting and drinking were legendary.

It’s time to channel your inner warrior and philosopher. It’s time to rediscover the beverage that predates them all…


Met, Steinwalder Hausbrennerei Schraml, 2009, Bavaria

From a third-generation distiller. The Bavarian honey sees a very long fermentation, followed by aging in 30-year old French Limousin Oak casks (approximately 3 months) which were previously used to mature plum brandy. Notes of honey-bathed plums, bright lemon citrus and a slight tannin profile from the oak. (15.5% abv)

Viking Blod, Dansk Mjød, Denmark

Produced by a one-man operation, Viking Blod is based on a traditional recipe from 1700. 100% natural product flavored with Hibiscus flowers and hops. Big, bold flavor with an upfront sweetness and spicy herbs on the nose; akin to a hearty Viking pie. (19% abv)

Single Variety Lime Tree Blossom, Die Hochland Imker, Austria

Found in the rolling countryside of the Muehlviertel in Upper Austria—between the valley of the Danube and the forests of Bohemia—the Hochland beekeepers are committed to maintaining the character of their region by adhering to organic principles. A bit more dryness on the palate than the previous-listed meads, with a clean, floral, lime flavor that pervades the silky mouth feel. (13.5% abv)

Get your honey on.

Warning: this is what happens when friends let friends wear viking costumes.

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18 Responses to “Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Flaherty, Wine Lover. Wine Lover said: Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers: Forget wine. Forget beer. They’re mere newbies in the world of ferme… http://bit.ly/gQHMpv […]

  2. michele says:

    My Viking blood craves mead. Besides, honey is the ultimate healer-of-all-things (jazz hands), so mead is an important part of a balanced diet.

  3. Michele, do not ever, and I mean EVER, deny your Viking blood what it wants. (Especially if said Viking blood causes you to use jazz hands for emphasis).

  4. michele says:

    Aye Aye Cap’n!

  5. Wine Lover says:

    Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers: Forget wine. Forget beer. They’re mere newbies in the world of ferme… http://bit.ly/gQHMpv

  6. Forget wine. Forget beer. #Mead is the O.G. that predates them all. NEW post: "The Drink of Warriors & Philosophers" http://bit.ly/fH2F4m

  7. Allen Larson says:

    Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers | Grapes and Grains http://bit.ly/hc7CJ0

  8. Cheers, Rob. Honey ftw! RT @robstaro Forget wine. Forget beer. #Mead is the O.G. that predates em all. *NEW* post: http://bit.ly/fH2F4m

  9. terroirNY says:

    HONEY RT @grapesandgrains: Forget wine.Forget beer.Mead predates them all. NEW post: "Drink of Warriors & Philosophers" http://bit.ly/fH2F4m

  10. Marko Kovac says:

    Gr8 post->Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers http://bit.ly/fybOA9 by @grapesandgrains via @terroirNY

  11. RT @MarkoKovac: Gr8 post->Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers http://bit.ly/fybOA9 by @grapesandgrains via @terroirNY

  12. terroirNY says:

    READ RT @grapesandgrains: Forget wine.Forget beer.Mead predates them all. NEW post: "Drink of Warriors & Philosophers" http://bit.ly/fH2F4m

  13. Animadversor says:

    Can our Viking blood be satisfied at, say, Terroir or Hearth?

  14. Why, yes, yes it indeed can. (You need to provide your own Viking helmet, however).

  15. Courtesy of @Grapesandgrains — Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers http://ow.ly/3XOkQ Viking Blod in stock for $31.99!!

  16. RT @CTWineAuthority: Courtesy of @Grapesandgrains — Mead: the Drink of Warriors & Philosophers http://ow.ly/3XOkQ Viking Blod in stock …

  17. Over 700 species of bees make honey (they do not gather it – they gather nectar). Including the stingless bees means you can discuss stingless beekeeping and “New World” meads such as Balche – a honey beer made by Mayans.

  18. Brian, thanks for writing in….and for taking care of the world’s bees. You deserve an endless, monthly supply of mead delivered to your doorstep for your efforts.

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