Mead (honey wine) is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from honey and water. The fermented honey represents the oldest form of alcohol known to mankind. Production of mead is documented in the oldest cultures. It is such an ancient beverage that the word root "Medhu" occurs in most Indo-European languages within words meaning mead, honey, sweet, intoxication, inebriation etc.
In order to make the best mead, we have to select the best honey.
Mead museum is mapping production of mead in Czech republic and abroad. Actually we offer 203 kinds of mead in our stock. Most of them are available to taste.
Mead production is spread alll around the world.In America, mead had been produced even before Columbus arrived. In Europe, Bohemia was the biggest mead exporter in 10.-12. century. At those times, people did not know much about fermentation. The quality and stability of meads thus varied a lot and alcohol content was always below 10%. The current modern process enables to make stabe meads with up to 14% of alcohol, but the quality of meads still varies a bit from year to year duet the variaton in the quality of honey. Due to difficult production process, mead has been gradually substituted by wine and later by beer.
There are two different production methods being used and each of them has its pros and cons. In both cases only water and honey of bee are used. Sometimes herbs can be added for more interesting taste, like they used to do in the old times.
First method of production, which is more traditional, is a boiled mead. Honey solution is boiled before fermentation. This process removes various natural impurities , but destroys some of the healthy components of honey. The fermentation process is then quicker and resulting product is more stable.
The second method is to produce mead in a cold process, without boiling. The fermentation requires much more experience and attention from the producer. After the fermentation is finished, an in-depth filtration of the product is necessary.
Meads available on the market
There are dozens commercial producers of meads and hundreds of craft producers in Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia. The quality of meads varies: most of commercial production suffers from some bad habits typical for mass production. Commercially produced mead, usually found in the supermarkets, can be found with spirit or sugar added, with artificial colors or flavors. Additional spirit (fortification) turns the natural mead into an artificial beverage with higher content of alcohol in comparison with meads produced by natural fermentation. By adding cheaper sugar, producers substitute more expensive honey. Meads are also unfortunately additionally colored to reach the colour majority of consumers prefer, although it does not correspond with natural color of real mead, that can be found in our Mead Museum, or at different events (see our News section). These are usually almond, cinnamon or cherry flavours.
How to recognize quality mead?
Fair mead is not fortified, sweetened, or otherwise improved. It has a pleasant taste of honey, not the taste and smell of artificial flavors and aromas. Mead museum is mapping artisan producers of these very honest meads. And we found quite a lot of them...
Storage of mead
Given the fact that honey is sensitive to heat or temperature changes, it is recommended to store mead at 15 °C and in the dark. Storage period is often limited especially for meads bottled without preservatives, which is an expected “downside” of a natural product.
Mead is best enjoyed chilled at a temperature between 10 and 12 °C (50 to 54F).