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Is it mead or beer? The award winning Buzz Honey Lager is one of the newest offerings from Mudshark Brewery and Public House in Lake Havasu City is brewed with orange blossom Arizona honey. So, for some beer connoisseurs that seems to blur the line between beer and mead.

Cofused? Well let’s look at the difference between mead and beer. And then I will share a bit about the beverages interesting history.

Hey, honey lovers! Do you know that there is a delicious drink made from fermented honey and water? It’s called mead, and it’s one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world. Mead is also known as honey wine, and it has inspired the creation of other drinks like braggot, which is a mix of mead and beer. In this blog post, I’m going to tell you some fascinating facts about the history and trivia of honey beer. Let’s get started!

  • Honey beer is a hybrid of mead and beer. Honey beer is a type of beer that is made with honey as well as malted grains. Honey beer can be traced back to ancient times, when people mixed mead and beer to create a new drink. Historically honey beer was also called a braggot, which is a term derived from the Welsh word for malt.
  • Honey beer can have different flavors and aromas depending on the type and amount of honey used. Mead has been made for millennia. Some of the earliest records of a fermented honey drink come from India and China, dating back to 4000 years ago. Some historians theorize that Mead may have been the result of an accidental discovery when rainwater mixed with honey in a pot and started to ferment.
  • Beer brewing has ancient origins too. The process of beer brewing used by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia resulted in what we now call “beer-bread”: half baked bread was soaked in water to create a fermented brew, which was often flavoured with honey and herbs . Beer brewing spread to other civilizations, such as Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Europe.
  • Mead was a central part of Viking culture. The Norse warriors drank mead at feasts and ceremonies to celebrate their victories and honor their gods. Mead was also a ritual drink, served according to social rank. The king would get the first sip, followed by the rest of the guests.
  • Mead was immortalized in an Old English epic poem. Beowulf, a heroic tale written before the Norman conquest of England, tells the story of a Scandinavian prince who fights the monster Grendel and his mother. The poem features several scenes of mead drinking at the Heorot mead hall, where King Hrothgar hosts a celebration for Beowulf’s victory over Grendel.
  • Medieval monks excelled in making mead. Some monasteries in England and Wales were known for their beekeeping and mead making skills. They used their honey and water to produce mead, which they also sold to travelers and pilgrims. One of the oldest mead making traditions still alive today is on the island of Lindisfarne, where monks founded a monastery in 643 CE. Visitors can still sample mead made with local ingredients on the island.
  • Beer brewing was also influenced by religion and politics. Beer brewing was often associated with religious rituals and ceremonies, as well as social events and gatherings.
  • And early beer brewing was often regulated by laws and taxes, which affected its production and consumption. For example, in medieval Europe, beer brewing was controlled by monasteries and guilds, which had strict rules about the ingredients and quality of beer. In Germany breweries still adhere to these ancient rules.
  • Royals and their subjects drank mead in medieval England. Mead was a popular drink among all classes of society in England during the Middle Ages. King Henry VIII was said to be fond of mead, and even had his own recipe for it. Mead was also used as a medicine, as it was believed to have healing properties. Some people added herbs and spices to their mead to enhance its flavor and effects .
  • Beer brewing led to scientific discoveries and innovations. Beer brewing was not only an art, but also a science. Beer brewers experimented with different ingredients, methods, and techniques to improve their beer quality and taste. Craft breweries such as Mudshark Brewery carry on this tradition.
  • Beer brewing also contributed to the development of fields such as chemistry, microbiology, thermodynamics, and hygiene. For example, Louis Pasteur discovered pasteurization while studying beer spoilage.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of trivia about honey beer. If you are curious to try some honey beer yourself, stop by Mudshark Brewery in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America