Mead: Our new favourite drink

Mead is on-trend for wine lovers. Discover why here!

Mead is having a moment in Australia. The ancient drink, made from fermented honey, has been popping up on menus at trendy bars and restaurants across the country.

It even popped up at the Relish Food and Wine Festival in Maryborough, Queensland, with the state’s first meadery from Pomona on the Sunshine Coast having a site.

With 3000+ people attending, the day was a boon for organisers and Andy Coates from Amrita Park Meadery was so busy serving I thought we’d try catching up with him the next time we’re down his way.

In the meantime, I’ve put together this article on what I’ve learned about mead since being introduced to the beverage in the Margaret River wine region of Western Australia in 2007.

Yes, mead has been around for some time, thousands of years, in fact.

Now, after many years of being in the shadows, it’s enjoying a renaissance!

And for good reason – mead is tasty, complex and versatile.

Whether you’re looking for something to enjoy at a party or something to pair with a meal, mead is worth exploring.

mead - bottle and wine glass

My purchase from Relish: Ginger & Lime Melomel from Amrita Park Meadery. I’ve mixed it with lime soda water.

 

***Disclosure: As a Booking.com affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through links in this post.***

What is mead, and where does it come from?

Mead is a wine made from honey rather than grapes and can be traced back at least 5000 years to Nordic legends.

During this time, the bee was revered as a bringer of life, courage and wisdom.

One legend claims that mead was the reason behind the word “honeymoon”.
The Northern European tradition says a bride and groom were to drink mead every day for one month after their wedding, which was intended to increase virility and fertility.

In more recent times, the ancient drink has seen a resurgence in popularity, with many artisanal meaderies popping up around the world.

mead - bee pollinating a flower

Apis mellifera Western honey bee. Photo: Andreas Trepte, Creative Commons.

But what about mead in Australia?

Mead’s history in Australia is a bit of a mystery.

There are records of it being imported from England as early as the 1800s, but it’s unclear if this was for commercial sale or personal consumption.

It’s possible it was being made locally in small batches during this time, but there is no definitive evidence of this.

What we know is the drink became more widely available in Australia in the 1970s, when several commercial meaderies began operating.

Today, there are meaderies all over the country, producing several varieties for locals and visitors to enjoy.

If you’re interested in trying mead, it’s best to keep in mind that it’s traditionally quite strong – about 18% ABV!

The average full-strength beer in Australia is 4.5%; wines range between 5.5% and 16%. Liquor is usually higher at about 37%.

So next time you’re travelling through Australia, be sure to seek out some meaderies and try this delicious honey wine.

Just remember to go easy on your first glass!

How is mead made and what ingredients are used?

Mead is an alcoholic drink that is made from honey, water and yeast or sometimes bacterial culture.

Sometimes other fruit juices, spices, or grains are added to give the mead different flavours.

The ratio of honey to water can vary depending on the desired sweetness of the mead.

For example, a dry mead will have more water than honey, while a sweet variety will have more honey than water.

Once the honey and water are combined, yeast is added to begin the fermentation process.

Depending on the type of mead being made, other ingredients may be added such as fruits or spices.

The mix is then left to ferment for several weeks or months.

Once fermentation is complete, the mead is typically bottled and allowed to age for a while before being enjoyed.

mead - bees inside a hive

Honey bees inside a hive. Photo: Public Domain.

The different meads available

There are many different meads available, each with its own unique flavour profile.

In Australia, mead is often made using native bush honey.

This gives the mead a rich flavour with hints of eucalyptus and tea tree.

Other common ingredients include citrus fruits, spices and herbs.

Australian makers are also experimenting with new flavour combinations, such as chocolate and coffee.

There are three main types of mead: traditional, fruit and spiced.

Traditional is the simplest type of mead, made just from honey, water and yeast or bacterial culture.

Fruit meads are made by fermenting honey with fruit juices or purees, while spiced meads are made by adding spices to the fermenting mixture.

Australian meaderies are experimenting with many different recipes, using a variety of honey types, fruits and spices.

So whether you’re a mead enthusiast or just curious to try this ancient drink, there’s sure to be a mead out there that’s perfect for you.

Mead pairing ideas

Mead is a delicious and versatile beverage that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with food.

When pairing mead with food, there are a few things to keep in mind.

It can be classified as dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.

It can be still or carbonated, and also vary in alcohol content.

Knowing these characteristics will help you choose the right mead to pair with your meal.

For example, a dry mead would pair well with a steak, while a semi-sweet variety would be better suited for a dessert.

For a truly unique experience, try pairing mead with cheese.

A sweet mead will complement the richness of the cheese, and the variety of flavours will ensure that there is something for everyone to enjoy.

If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, mead can also be paired with fruits and nuts.

The mead will contrast nicely with the tartness of the fruit, and the crunch of the nuts will add an interesting texture.

Ultimately, the best mead pairing is the one that you enjoy the most.

So experiment and find what works for you.

mead - pouring mead into glasses

Midus is a type of Lithuanian mead, an alcoholic beverage made of grain, honey and water. Balts were making mead for thousands of years. Photo: Shutterstock.

The health benefits of mead

Mead was once known as the “drink of the gods” and was thought to have medicinal properties.

Today, the ancient drink is making a comeback and people are once again advocating for its health benefits, despite the lack of scientific evidence.

There are many purported health benefits associated with drinking mead, but the most prominent claim is centred on honey and its probiotic content.

While we wait until more research becomes available, here are some claims:

  • The antioxidants in mead can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer.
  • Mead is an excellent source of vitamins B6 and 12 which help maintain energy levels as well as produce red blood cells.
  • Mead contains several minerals that are important for good health, including iron, potassium, and magnesium.
  • With its natural gluten-free status, mead is a great choice for those with celiac disease or sensitivity to it.
  • The fermentation process also creates probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health.

How to store and serve mead

Mead is a delicious honey wine that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a mixer in a variety of cocktails.

With storage, the drink should be treated like any other wine.

It should be kept in a cool, dark place and allowed to age for at least six months.

Mead can be served either chilled or at room temperature, depending on your preference.

Whether you are enjoying a glass of mead by yourself or serving it to guests, the important thing is to relax and enjoy the unique flavour of this versatile beverage.

Mead is a perfect choice

So, if you’re looking for a delicious and refreshing drink, Mead is a perfect choice.

And what better way to enjoy it than by sampling at some of Australia’s best meaderies?

We’ve put together a list of our favourites from each Australian state, with links to nearby accommodation, and online so you can get started on your Mead adventure. Cheers!

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