While waiting to have my eyes checked I was reading the September/October 2023 issue of Smithsonian. The headline “MEAD” IT’S NOT JUST FOR VIKINGS caught my eye. I’ve had experience with mead, so I was interested in what the Smithsonian had to say.
Mead has been drunk for over five thousand years by Greeks, Africans, Chinese and any other group that has been producing honey anywhere near people. Mead is a fairly standard choice in Eastern Europe and Russia . . . and is growing more popular in the U.S.
Like other stored drinks containing flavored fruits, spice, grains and hops, growers and drinkers didn’t have to be chemical wizards to mix, sip and drink it down. Mead generally has more alcohol than beer and is more like a good grape wine.
“Mead is a sweet, honey-based alcoholic drink that comes in a huge variety of different flavors including very sweet, full and rich, and bone dry. Tasting mead involves picking the different flavors that you want to try before taking in the aromas, appearance, and taste of each mead. To serve mead, decide whether to chill the bottle or keep it at room temperature, choose a type of drinking vessel, and pair food with the mead if desired.” – www.wikihow.com
Decades ago, in our younger days, Peg and I were involved with the Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) in Tacoma. Most bottles of wine, beer, and other alcoholic bottles disappeared from our cabinets, but the bottle of mead just sat there. Peg’s younger sister would stop by our house every now and then and her husband Bob would head toward the bottle of mead. It took a number of visits, but eventually the bottle became empty and we had more room in our cabinet.
Mead recently has become one of the fastest growing alcoholic beverage categories in the United States. An international competition began in 1992 for The Mazer Cup, which draws hundreds of participants each year. This years competition was held in Kansas City, Missouri just a few days ago. Someone told me the first competition was “Mead Me in St Louis . . . Mead Me At the Fair.” But, I could be wrong. The 2023 judges took some time before the winners were announced. I thought my best bet for mead advice might be my cousin Charles Coker, who is a constant competitor for the annual outstanding pumpkin carver of the year. In deed, he knew about mead as soon as I asked and suggested a Honey Bee Pumpkin. Charles lives in Kansas City, exactly where the mead competition took place . . . and 94 miles north from where I was born in Nevada, Missouri. My family left Nevada when I was two years old. If you travel to Nevada, don’t drink the water . . . you will need several bottles of mead to clear the taste.
There were a ton of different awards and categories given out a number of days after the event. Seattle Mead Company held up our Pacific Northwest heads for us as they scored 3rd Place in the “Dry” category and took 1st Place for the “Berry” category.