Bees, honey, honeycomb

Please note that the information on this page does not relate to the current festival.

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.

All of the mead at this festival is from the British Isles, from dry to sweet, all flaunting how gorgeous British mead can be.

45th Cambridge Beer Festival

The 45th Cambridge Beer Festival mead list is now available.

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.