Back in the days of yore, before craft beer wars and Chinese wine conglomerates, there was mead.
The earliest references to mead, an alcoholic fermented honey beverage, come from the hymns of Rigveda, according to the American Mead Makers Association, a sacred Hindu text dating somewhere between 4000 and 1500 BC. Mead was the drink of deities. “God, as our Priest, be thou the first to drink it: We give thee of the mead to make thee joyful.”
Mead has been traced to ancient Egypt, ancient China, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome—to name just a few cultures that claim mead as part of their heritage—but it is most commonly associated with the European Middle Ages. The “mead hall” figures prominently in Beowulf, the epic Old English poem, dating between the 8th and 11th centuries, and considered by some to be the most important work of English literature ever. (It is also mentioned, centuries later, in the actual most important work of English literature ever, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.)
The word “honeymoon,” according to the National Honey Board, is actually a reference to the practice of newlyweds drinking mead, believed to be an aphrodisiac, for a month following the wedding. (The term does have other origin stories, however.)
At some point mead was nicknamed the “nectar of the gods.”
But, alas! The gods are fickle and mead later fell out favor as sugar replaced honey as the primary sweetener. Wine and beer pushed it further out of its domination of the alcoholic beverage market.
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