A Brief History of Honey
Mjǫðr. Miel. Honing. Honey. Nearly every language in the world has a word for honey. It is one of, if not the oldest sweetener in the world and is found almost everywhere. Honey has a long and interesting history that spans thousands of years and has impacted the world. Honey has been used for medicinal purposes, preservation, and to create booze throughout the course of humanity. Let’s dive into this honey pot of information!
Origins of Man Consuming Honey
Honey has been noted in Babylonian and Sumerian writings as far back as 2100 b.c.e. As the Babylonians began to farm, they also harnessed the power of the bees to produce honey for themselves. In Mesopotamia, honey was commonly used in pharmaceuticals as a method of delivering herbs and botanicals. They also discovered the antiseptic qualities of honey through trial and error. Ancient Chinese, Arabic, and Egyptian cultures even had a form of bodily preservation called mellification.
When combined with water and yeast, honey turns into alcohol also known as mead. While the actual origins of mead, or honey wine, are debatable, we do know that it is believed to be the oldest alcohols in the world. Mead is usually around 16% ABV. It is often attributed to the Vikings and Norse people however the history is much more ambiguous than that. The area that these individuals lived in (modern day Norway, Sweden, and Denmark), is too cold for consistent honey production. It is believed that the stories of mead and honey coming from these people are from importing these ingredients. It was celebratory and served to the higher class making it a beverage of the gods.
One of the first occurrences of fermented honey was between 20,000-40,000 years ago as nomadic people traveled around Africa and the Mediterranean with bees. The naturally occurring yeasts would ferment this honey into an alcoholic beverage – mead. Styles of meads have been popular in different places throughout history ranging from China to Mexico. Despite honey and mead’s luxurious reputation, it is an expensive product to produce and when other methods of alcohol became popularized, honey wine would lose fashion. In India, the style became unpopular 1,700 years ago. In China, 1,500 years ago. And in Europe, about 500 years ago.
A History Preserved
While these products may have gone off trend, there have been groups who have preserved mead making throughout history. In Europe, monastic communities would cultivate beeswax for candles and had quite a bit of honey. They began to produce mead using the honey. There are certain places in that have been producing mead for over 400 years and have truly kept the spirit of fermented honey alive.
There has been a resurgence in the production of mead and honey-wine. Using up-to-date technology in combination with old world methods, meaderies like us have been able to take the world of honey wine to the next level. There are many different styles of meads. We have produced a number of these styles over the years. While we are going on hiatus with producing stills, we have a handful for sale here.
Modern meets Mead
Which leads us to modern times. Meridian Hive has taken a forward and 21st century approach to this ancient beverage. Forgoing the classic high alcohol percentage beverage, we have opted to lower the ABV to that of a beer or cider for a more session style drink. Meridian Hive is about creating a community experience through our beverage while still respecting the origins. Our draft style, modern meads are melomels and hydromels. All of our real fruit flavored products are melomel while Honey is a hydromel. Hydromels, or show meads, are made with exclusively honey.
Honey is the source of all that we do at Meridian Hive and we will continue to feature just how versatile and unique it is through all of our amazing beverages. You can find us on shelves all throughout Texas and a number of states. Check out our finder for the closest location to you or order online, some states are restricted due to alcohol laws.