02 November 2009

Justin and Nana Drink Weird Stuff for Your Entertainment: Mead

Yesterday, Nana and I celebrated Halloween with a day trip to Lindisfarne, aka the Holy Island, just south of the English border. We have more posts coming on the history, the sights, etc. (it was an action-packed day), but first things first: the booze.

Lindisfarne, like many popular tourist spots in North Britain, does its best to capitalize on its dual Norse-Celtic roots, and what better way to celebrate than by selling mead, which by some accounts is the world's oldest alcoholic drink.

"Mead" can refer to any of a range of alcoholic drinks made with yeast and honey, everything from a kind of very mild honey beer to a strong honey wine. The drink features prominently in many northern European legends, most notably Beowulf, wherein people are always draining their mead-horns and tussling in the mead-hall. (Etymology dork moment: some have argued that the modern English "meet" shares a root with the word "mead.")

Anyway, some meads are spiced, some peppered, most sweet, and despite their Northern European associations, they come from all over the world. The one we tried was from England, of the sweet variety, and tasted something like a very sweet white wine or a very light port wine, with (surprise, surprise) a hint of honey thrown in.

Very pleasant, which owing to the mead horror stories you sometimes hear (that is, if you're the kind of person who knows people who drink mead . . . which I guess you are now, if you've read this post . . .) was not what I'd expected.

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