Ask the Wild Bee what the Druid knows...
...or so goes the Old English expression. Bees were thought, by ancient European cultures, to be the messengers of the gods. Druids - the high-ranking, professional, and priest-like class of Celts, are known to have gravitated towards this devine brew, where mead was drank in temple rites and grand ceremonies. It was believed that a river of mead flowed freely through paradise, and Anglo-Saxons thought drinking it would give you knowledge, strength, poetry, and even immortality.
The ancient Greeks called mead Ambrosia, and it was considered to be 'The drink of the gods', as it was thought that honey descended from the heavens as dew, then gathered by bees. They believed that drinking mead would prolong life, and bestow health, strength, and virility, among other virtues. The prophetess’ at Delphi are suspected of drinking mead made from a honey from slightly toxic plants in order to induce their prophetic states, and visions of the future.
Mead is well documented in Norse mythology, where beautiful maidens would give a horn of mead to warrior Vikings upon reaching Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll, meaning "hall of the slain"). Norse god of poetry, Brage, is said to have drunk mead from a Brage-beaker, later called 'The Bragging Cup'. It is said that the great Norse god, Odin, gained his strength from suckling Mead from a goats’ udder as an infant, and continued to drink it to maintain his powers.
Mead is the world's oldest known fermented beverage, with a history that spans across many cultures from Asia, Europe and Africa. Traditions vary, but where mead is present, stories of magic and spirituality abound.
Why is mead gaining such popularity?
Well, the short answer is because it's delicious. The long answer, however, could be for health, environmental, or economic reasons.
For some, mead is so attractive because of the health benefits of honey, which contains more than 180 different substances including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and sugars. There is no shortage of mounting evidence to suggest that honey is loaded with compounds that contain amazing health benefits.
For others, mead is an excellent choice for environmental reasons. Bees, obviously, leave zero environmental footprint, and honey production requires no cultivated land. Moreover, without bees, many plants would have no way to reproduce and die out. With the declining population of bees, supporting beekeepers and bee culture is a worthwhile and necessary endeavour.
People who support the local economy gravitate towards mead, as honey is sourced locally. At Blue Druid, we only purchase honey from local beekeepers (of all sizes), and delight in doing business with them. Beekeeping is hard, time-consuming, and noble work, and it's an honor to produce mead with the excellent, unfiltered honey only they can provide, and be able to offer a drink made from the land we share.
But above all else, mead has a special place for the true seekers of authentic experiences. Loved by 'Foodies, but for booze', mead is uncharted territory, where mead makers and craft brewers let their imaginations run wild - where traditions are everywhere, and yet, beg to be re-interpreted and made anew. It only takes a sip to know that mead is special, to understand why our ancestors believed it to be divine, and for the select few who want more than a typical bottled experience, mead never disappoints.