Jo Fried raises a glass to Britain’s bees
Mead is essentially fermented honey. Its main ingredients are just honey and water – no grapes, no hops – to make it one of the simplest types of alcoholic beverage. Most of the differences and nuances of flavour come from these key ingredients:
- Honey – bees in different parts of the country feast on different flowers and plants, leading to lighter or darker meads. Traditional mead is light, sweet and highly quaffable.
- Water – Moniack mead, for example, is made with the waters of Scotland’s whisky region. This yields a rich peaty aroma.
- Flavours – some meads contain additional spices or spirits to generate a truly unique flavour. Reserve mead is infused with rum whereas Christmas mead is blended with festive spices.
Brewed by the Vikings, druids and ancient civilisations, mead became linked with tradition, ritual and feasting. In the past, wine was only produced in areas where grapes grew, so it didn’t emerge in Britain until the Romans arrived. But with hops and honey easily sourced from northern Europe, beer and mead flourished.
Local produce shaping alcoholic beverages is a concept recognised by LocAle – a CAMRA initiative that encourages pubs to stock locally brewed real ale. The scheme builds on a growing consumer demand for quality local produce and an increased awareness of green issues to celebrate what makes a locality different. All of the mead at this festival is from the British Isles, from dry to sweet, all flaunting how gorgeous British mead can be.
I hope you enjoy this year’s selection – it’s one of the largest at any CAMRA beer festival – and raise a glass to the lovely bees of Britain, who make all this possible.
A provisional list of the Mead available will be available shortly.
Please note: That mead will only be served in to a wine glass – you’ll be able to swap beer glasses for wine glasses at the mead bar, or at the glasses counter.