Midsummer Mead

Litha is a great time to take advantage of nature’s abundance – there’s stuff blooming everywhere – and brewing batch of homemade mead is an excellent way to do this! Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey, so what better way to celebrate the summer?

A Brief History of Mead

Brew your own midsummer mead. Andrea Altemuller / Stock4B / Getty

First, let’s look at a brief history of mead, which is believed to have originated in Africa, somewhere around 20,000 years ago. Nomadic people figured out that when bees nested in trees, and their honey combined with water and osmotolerant yeast spores, the end result was a tasty drinkable beverage. As these nomadic groups moved north, towards the Mediterranean, they took this knowledge (and their yeast) along with them, and mead stayed pretty popular in Europe for thousands of years.

As people moved into more urban communities, and out of rural areas, interest in honey and mead waned. Once sugar cane was discovered, which was a lot less expensive than honey, pretty much the only people making mead were monks. This was because they used beeswax to make candles for monasteries, so they had plenty of honey on hand from the hives.

Brew Your Own Mead

Honey Wine
It's not hard to make your own mead with honey. Public Domain (CC0 1.0) via PXHere

Lately, however, there’s been a resurgence in the popularity of mead. You can make your own batch fairly easily – it’s not hard, just time consuming. There are a number of great mead recipes online, and many of them include some fairly fancy ingredients, but the three I’ve chosen to include here are the easiest to do for a beginning meadmaker.

You’ll probably notice that all three of these recipes emphasize sterilizing your mead brewing equipment. Really, that can’t be stressed enough – no one wants to have moldy mead, and you sure don’t want to be known as the friend who gave everyone botulism. Follow the instructions to the letter, and you’ll end up with an amazing batch of delicious drink to share with your friends and family during your summer celebrations!