At this point one may ask the question: “What is the purpose of making mead?”
It is a valid question and one that I hope to answer, particularly for persons of the perpetual ponderous persuasion.
Mead is an alcoholic beverage with a difference. It often invites images of raucous vikings drinking a potent beverage, but more recently mead is seen as an alternative to wine or beer. Mead offers the same range found in wine: dry to sweet, fruity to oaky, still to sparkling. Mead also can show the same kind of variation found in wine if not more so, especially given the number of trees and plants that bees can collect nectar to make honey. Along with the preparation methods and the herbal a fruit additions, the possible kinds of mead appears endless. So why isn’t the market swamped with mead? Two words: know-how and familiarity.
When it comes to making wine, the process is well understood and the amount of aging that a wine needs is well documented. However, when it comes to mead the knowledge and amount of aging is not as well defined. It is generally understood that wine can take about a month or more to ferment, and it is typically aged for a year or more — usually in oak barrels — before being bottled. When it comes to mead, the process of fermentation usually takes about 3 months, but there is less consensus on how long it should age or how. Some have suggested that mead needs to age 5 – 15 years to mature properly, but even aging for 50 years has been suggested. Now it is true that some red wines are cellared for 10+ years, but the vast majority of red and white wines are sold and consumed within 1 – 5 years after bottling. Even if a mead ages for a minimum of 5 years before being sold, that places a severe financial burden on the mead maker. Furthermore with the emergence of wine making several millennia ago, the knowledge of mead by the general public has been scarce at best, or misinformed at worst.
Consequently, the art of mead making has all but been consigned to oblivion.
This is the reason I make mead: to contribute to the art of mead making. If I happen to make some money along the way, that is fantastic. If I do not, I will continue to make mead to share with friends and family. Mead is an excellent drink, and if you have not tried it I highly suggest that you find some for yourself.