During a visit to the Alaró market in October 2022, we stumbled upon something that caught our attention - a stall selling Mead. Intrigued, we decided to give it a try, especially since we love honey and alcohol!
Mandragora Hidromel was the name of the stall that piqued our interest.
· But what exactly is Mead?
Mead, also known as Hydromel, is an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting a mixture of honey and water. It can contain additional ingredients such as spices, fruits, grains, or hops to enhance the flavour, and the bees’ diet can also affect the taste nuances of the beverage.
Mead can have an alcohol content ranging from 3.5% to 20% and can be still, carbonated, naturally sparkling, dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.
There are many different variations of Mead such as Metheglin, which contains spices; Melomel, which includes fruit such as blackberries, cherries and raspberries; Cyser, an apple-based Mead; and Acerglyn, made with maple syrup.
It's worth noting that Mead is not classified as a wine (even though it is sometimes referred to as honey wine), as it is made with honey, water, and yeast.
· How old is Mead and who drank it?
Mead has an ancient history and was produced in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Some evidence suggests that Mead fermentation predates both wine and beer.
Viking and Danish warriors drank Mead for courage, the Greek philosopher Aristotle drank it for inspiration, and in medieval Ireland, it was a popular drink. Even Queen Elizabeth II was known to enjoy a tipple or two.
Certain types of Mead, particularly those that included herbs or spices, were also used as a medicinal treatment in early England. It was believed to aid digestion and help with depression.
· Mead in Mallorca
With the resurgence of this ancient beverage, there are now two (that we can think of) creators of Mead on the island.
Their stall at the Alaró local market featured products such as Melomel Cireres, a semi-sweet Mead made with the addition of cherries, creating a harmonious balance of sweetness and acidity; and Origen, a semi-sweet Mead with low alcohol content. We were so impressed with the taste of Origen that we bought a bottle to enjoy at home.
It's an excellent way to be introduced to this 'nectar of the Gods', and support our hard-working honey bees at the same time!