Elizabethan Mead

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Excerpted from the Gentleman’s Magazine Volume CCLXXII -January to June 1892 - Google Books Online


Early English Fare. pg. 362 & 363

Comparatively few people nowadays know from personal experience what mead is. A sweet, sickly, honey drink, which the concocter called mead, was once proffered me in a country place as sovereign remedy for a cold, but of the two the cold seemed the lesser evil. The Russians still make mead scaindurn artem, but only in remote parts of England is there any of the drink of the Norse divinities yet to be had. The writer of an article in the “Manchester Quarterly” some time ago mentioned with enthusiastic approval some very old bottled mead which he met with in the course of some rural wanderings, and it is conceivable that a sweet and luscious beverage like mead would gain immeasurably by age. Queen Elizabeth was a mead-drinker, and her Grace’s recipe for the beverage has been carefully preserved. It seems a fragrant mixture:


Take of sweet briar leaves and thyme each one bushel, rosemary half a bushel, bay leaves one peck. Seethe these ingredients in a furnace full of water (containing not less than 120 gallons) ; boil for half an hour; pour the whole into a vat, and when cooled to a proper temperature of about 75° Fahr., strain the liquor. Add to every six gallons of the strained liquor one gallon of fine honey and work the mixture together for half an hour. Repeat the stirring occasionally for two days; then boil the liquor afresh, skim it until it becomes clear and return it to the vat to cool; when reduced to a proper temperature pour it into a vessel from which fresh ale or beer has just been emptied, work it for three days and tun. When fit to be stopped down tie up a bag of beaten cloves and mace, about half an ounce of each, and suspend it in the liquor from the bang-bole. When it has stood for six months it is fit for use.