It is mead’s time to shine. Mead is no longer the super-sweet elixir common at Renaissance festivals. While the drink does not have a long history in the Lone Star State, that perception of the honey-based drink has changed for the better. According to the Texas Mead Association, Texas is home to just 12 mead-makers, which is a solid improvement from 2009, when the state’s first meadery, Rohan Meadery opened its doors.
Some Texan meaderies, such as Dancing Bee Winery, run their honey farms. However, since mead-makers require a winery permit under Texas law, many also make wines and cider.
Each meadmaker has its craft in mead-making, which brings the drink far beyond what it used to be. With National Mead Day coming up on the 7th of August, it is an exciting time for Texan mead.
History of Mead
Chinese earthenware dating from 7000 B.C.E. have indicated towards mead fermentation, predating both wine and beer. The first mead was likely a chance discovery when early foragers drank naturally fermented hives of honey where rainwater had collected. Once knowledge of mead production became known, it spread globally and was popular with Vikings, Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans alike. Many believed that this golden potion was dew sent from the heavens, collected by bees and fit for gods.
According to Mead: The Libations, Legends and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink by Fred Minnick, the Vikings and Romans were the first mead-drinking civilizations, which is why we find it associated in pop culture like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.
Given its wide-traveled routes, mead reached all over the world, where people enjoyed it in different variations. Te’j, a version from Ethiopia, incorporates gesho root, an indigenous plant, into mead. Medovukha, a Russian style of mead was made by heating the honey and water mixture. Hydromel, which literally means ‘honey water’, is found throughout Spain and France.
With the craft beverage movement growing in the U.S, meaderies continue to flourish, and this traditional drink has entered its new age.
Mead comes in several styles, each exemplified by the fruits, vegetables and herbs that go into it during fermentation. Mead made traditionally is bold and intense, with alcohol content in the double-digits with a typical sweet flavor.
What is Mead?
While mead is like wine, it exists in a distinct category. While you may find it to be referred to as honey wine, that’s not really accurate. Made with honey, water, and yeast, rather than fruit, mead is in a different league of alcoholic drinks. Mead’s flavor varies greatly depending on the kind of honey that goes into it. The kind of honey defines the overarching flavor of the mead and can vary according to the honey bee’s foraging range. Mild honeys such as orange blossom, clover or acacia feature mostly in traditional mead, but wildflower, blackberry, and buckwheat honeys produce great flavor profiles with sturdier spiced meads.
Types of Meads
At its most fundamental level — honey, water, and yeast — fermented is traditional mead, which is also the most widely available. But incorporating fruits, grains, and spices give the mead a distinct identity and taste.
Melomel is a mead variation fermented with fruit (berries) juices. This mead is popular in Spain and France. Under this category, you can find Pyment (mead with grape juice) and Cyser (mead with apple juice).
Metheglin uses herbs and/or spices.
Braggot could be considered a beer-mead hybrid, where honey and grains like barley are fermented together.
Acerglyn incorporates maple syrup into traditional mead.
Bochet uses a caramelized honey in its blend.
Rhodomel is an ancient mead, one laced with roses.
Sweet, dry, still or sparkling, mead has a tremendous amount of versatility.
Where can I find mead in Texas?
The resurgence of this sunny drink seems guaranteed due to continued interest in craft brewing and distilling.
On the occasion of National Mead Day, TexasRealFood rounds up some of the popular local Texan meaderies. So be sure to check them out and enjoy the royal beverage on the 7th of August!
The Gordon family welcomes you to Breaking Brew Meadery, the first mead taproom, in Dallas, for a new kind of brewery experience. If you have never tried meads before, this is the place to get your first drink and learn more about the process and how meads get their taste. Breaking Brew Meadery specializes in session meads, which are lower in sugar, lower in alcohol and maintain a refreshing, fizzy flavor drinkers might not expect. There are dry, fruity, or hoppy meads like the Ginger Bear and Raspberry Beret. You will also find light, flavorful, gluten-free meads like Comb Over and Bee Sting.
Located in the family owned, Walker Honey Farm, Dancing Bee Winery got its name from the way honey bees communicate with one another-through dance moves! Dancing Bee Winery is the first winery in the Central Texas area focusing on mead. Its mission is to produce a wide variety of mead using exceptional ingredients. Visit them, and you will love the secluded location with a nice view of this spacious country store with honey products and a selection of mead wines. The mead menu features blackberry melomel, traditional sweet mead, dry mead and more.
Texas Mead Works is a boutique meadery that has been producing mead since 2010. They are located in Seguin and Hye. Their 15-acre property in Seguin grows grape varieties such as Lenoir, Lomanto, Norton, America, Champanel, and Wine King. The Mead stock at Texas Mead Works features Blackberry mead, Solstice Belgian styled spiced mead, ‘Pinehopple’ and more. They also conduct several fun events throughout the year. Click here to know more!
Elgin Meadery is a family-owned and operated micro-meadery in Elgin, Texas and visiting them is by private appointment only. They use local Texas honey and varietal honey to make unique handcrafted meads via simple methods inspired by medieval traditions. Their black currant mead which has an intense flavor, and the semi-sweet peach apricot summer mead are sure winners. Elgin Meadery also features an award-winning semi-sweet mead crafted from guajillo honey harvested in Central Texas, Intricatus. It won the gold medal in the Experimental Category at the Texas Mead Cup in 2019. Click here to order the Intricatus!
Enchanted Manor is a small winery specializing in mead and located north of Houston on the grounds of the Texas Renaissance Festival. You will enjoy the taste of some of the best meads such as The Bochet and Queen Mother’s Mead or even the novel Earl Gray. You can also buy direct from their website, and they offer free shipping on orders of 6 or more bottles. A Texas Reserve Class Champion, their award-winning meads are crafted from 100% Texas wildflower honey. This is sourced from a farm on the Gulf Coastal Prairies outside of Angleton, Texas. Click here to join their Mead Club so you can try new mead flavors before they hit the market.
Meridian Hive is built by a team of passionate and dedicated people who celebrate color, flavor, individuality, and diversity. They create delicious alcoholic beverages from real fruit, with natural ingredients. They go against the grain to create something decidedly different and aim to share products that are easy to buy, easy to drink, and easy to love.
Blissful Folly Farm is home to Rohan Meadery and Blissful Folly Hard ciders & fruit wines. Each mead begins with all-natural Texas honey, wildflower or huajilla, sourced from their farm or their partners at Bee Wilde Honey. All meads are created in a Czech-German style, resulting in a drier, more nuanced end- product. Their mead is delicious, and the place has a great vibe. There are also different choices of cider and wines as well as pizza! Rohan Meadery has a large, covered area for outdoor events or just a chance to sit and have a nice drink.
Have you tried mead this summer? Which is your favorite type of Texan mead? Let us know!