Nectar of the gods
What was once called Ambrosia, or the nectar of the gods, by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Scandinavians, and Assyrians is what we know today as the alcoholic drink known as Mead.
Mead, thought to be the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man, was most likely discovered by accident. Legend has it that early hunters found a beehive filled with rainwater. Being thirsty, they took a swig of the sweet water. Of course, being unaware of fermentation and alcohol, they were about to experience man’s first intoxication. Before long, fermentation took on mystical and religious qualities. Ancient Incas and Aztecs brewed Mead and held it in reverence.
Many ancient civilizations believed mead to have magical and sacred properties that would prolong life, and bestow health, and increase strength and virility. The poet Virgil tells us that bees were sent to the sky to honor the goddess Aphrodite. After all, Mead is supposed to be the ultimate aphrodisiac. During the Middle Ages, Kings built elaborate Mead Cellars in their castles.
In reality, Mead is nothing more than yeast-fermented honey water. Of course, modern sophistication dictates that the types of yeast utilized to brew Mead be carefully selected and controlled, unlike the ancient methods of allowing wild, unpredictable yeasts to attack the sugars in the honey. The result, however, is one of the finest tasting beverages ever designed by humans, with a little help from Nature.
There are several types of Mead. Traditional Mead consists of water, honey, and yeast. Add fruit to the honey water, and you get melomel. Add grapes and the result is pyment. Infuse Mead with herbs and spices, and you brewed metheglin. One can even get creative. Ferment honey with apple juice and enjoy cyser, or if you prefer, brew a spiced pyment melomel and have yourself a hippocras.
It takes a while for Mead to age. However, anyone can brew a terrific gallon full, stash it away in a closet for a few months, and taste it. There are a million online recipes. I have tasted Mead, and it is indescribable. There is one caution for those who wish to give it a try. Before getting started, be absolutely certain you are willing to fall in love three months down the road.