by Michael Harry
The Sydney Morning Herald
Blame the Portlandia effect – everything old is hip again. Pickling, yarn, Ned Kelly beards … and now mead. The favoured drink of ye olde Vikings is making a comeback, with boutique distilleries using honey to create their own sweet, warming brews.
It was a custom for a Viking bridegroom to drink a goblet of mead on his wedding night. — Mark Maxwell
“Mead has come and gone through the centuries. It was originally referred to as ambrosia and was nectar to the gods in Greek mythology,” says Mark Maxwell, whose McLaren Vale vineyard is the largest mead producer in the southern hemisphere. “It’s the first recognised alcoholic drink in history … mead was drunk before wine.”
The drink is traditionally made by fermenting honey with water and adding fruits and spices, resulting in a rowdy brew with an alcohol content of anywhere between 5-20 per cent. It’s also surprisingly the origin of a very well known part of modern life – the honeymoon.
“It was a custom for a Viking bridegroom to drink a goblet of mead on his wedding night – and for the month after he was married – to make sure he sired children,” explains Maxwell. “That became known as the ‘honey month’ which we now know as the honeymoon.”
Profile: Smoothbeard Mead
Mead Reviews: Smoothbeard Mead