If mead was the 1st alcholic beverage made by man, why isn't it mass-marketed like wine and beer?
(1) Does it not taste as good as wine?
(2) Is it more expensive/difficult to make than wine or beer?
(3) Is it because grapes/hops don't sting?
(4) Is it so good that home mead makers keep it all for themselves, thwarting market penetration?
(5) Does it bring less in the marketplace than other honey products?
(6) Is mead-making equipment prohibitively expensive?
David in Baltimore
[This message has been edited by dcromwel (edited December 11, 2003).]
It is marketed, and is gaining popularity in the US, however it is a sweet wine generally and the refined European tastes prefer dryer wines. Also most beer was made from honey and or apple juice until a process for growing and processing refined sugar was developed. Mead is awesome, originally that is the main reason I started keeping bees, to have a source of honey. But then I found out how cool bees are.
Sorry, I didn't reply to your questions.
4) No, money is a great motivator
5) No, it is much cheaper, bulk honey is ~$1.25 per pound it took me ~30 lbs to make 8 gallons that I took to 21% alcohol (little experiment) so this cost ~$3.75/gallon. Seval/Vidal cost $800/ton, making ~140 gallons of white table wine = ~$5.71 per gallon. That is the cost to a commercial winery, if you bought a pail of grapes it it would cost ~$80/5 gal bucket and you would get ~4 gallons. You don't need a crusher stemmer, you don't need to cold stabilize to shed the tartrates, you don't have all the cost of handling the grapes (manual labor) so that cost difference becomes even greater. Some people boil there honey mixture, I recommend against it, champagne yeast does just fine.
6. No, actually it requires less equipment.
Hope this answers your questions.
Most people suggest boiling the honey and removing the froth that develops. My understanding is this froth is mostly protein. Protein is not something usually wanted in a wine. I save my froth to use in my patties for feeding in the spring.
Be carefull, mead has a reputation of causing a huge hangover. There is a story in ancient times an invading army surrounded a town and then sent is barrels of mead to the residents. The next morning all they had to do was beat on their shields with their swords and the town surrendered!
We had a mead/honey tasting meeting this year with attendant education about it at my club.
One of the things I took away was that it's hard or impossible to control the alcohol content and that's why it never went commercial. We had a dozen meads to sample and I'd have to disagree that mead is a "sweet wine". It ranged throught the spectrum from dry to sweet and light to dark. One sample was 12 yrs old. About half of them were something I would buy.
That's all I know.
If you were paraphrasing an earlier comment I made, I just want to set the record straight about the "oldest alcoholic beverage"; that's just MY guess. I'm sure you'd get an argument from the beer or wine guys! For instance, I know that proof exists that wine was made in Egypt some 5,000 years ago. And I think there is some kind of alcoholic beverage made from fermented goats milk in Mongolia that probably goes back even further. If the truth be known, I rather suspect that knowledge of the very first alcoholic beverage will always be lost in the fog of pre-recorded history.
I think several responses have answered your question about why it isn't more popular in the market place. There's probably no one single answer. When I've traveled in Europe (specifically England/Wales), you can buy mead that is "mass marketed". In fact, here in Dallas for a few years, there was a "commercial meadry" - you could actually buy bottles of his mead in several different local wine & beer stores. I took a tour of his operation before he closed the doors - it was interesting to see mead being made on a large scale. His was a capacity problem; he had managed to get the fermenting times down to a reasonably short period (comparable to grape-based wines) but didn't have enough physical capacity to sustain the business. I seem to recall his total capacity was about 15,000 gals (from three ss vats) but he felt his "per bottle" pricing had to compete with a mid-range priced wine which his volume just didn't support.
Many thanks for the informative replies. Do you experienced mead folks recommend one or more references/sources for a beginner to learn how to take a crack at it?
David in Baltimore
definitely the best book on the subject available today is Ken Schramm's _The Compleat Meadmaker_
thanks dega. i just ordered the book and look forward to pouring through it....
david in baltimore