It’s not a beer, wine, or spirit in the traditional sense. Mead is its own class of alcohol. Honey is the sugar source, which is then fermented with yeast and water to create a neutral alcohol platform. From there, mead can be left traditional (plain) or flavored with fruit, herbs, or spices. Currently experiencing a resurgence in the marketplace, this beverage has become one of the fastest-growing in the world.
Fun Fact: The word "honeymoon" is derived from the Scandinavian practice of drinking mead during the first month of the marriage (measured by one moon cycle). The word also showed up in the 1500s "as a term to warn newlyweds about waning love." The message was clear: "As the moon wanes, so shall your love.”
Bees collect nectar from flowers and return it to their hives. Once at the hives, they disperse the nectar, and the worker bees take over, turning the nectar into honey by evaporating most of the water. The honey is collected from the hives as a honeycomb, which is spun in a centrifuge to extract the honey from the comb.
The raw honey is thinned with water until it’s the consistency of grape juice and has a 24-26% sugar content, measured in Brix (°Bx). Yeast is added to the honey and water to start the fermentation process, thus converting the sugars in the honey into alcohol.
The mead makers at SoLu are true craftsmen. Using ancient techniques combined with modern chemistry, they can control the speed and desired outcome of the fermentation process using specific yeast and controlled temperatures. When making a traditional mead, the true flavors of the varietal of honey used become evident.
A common misnomer is that all meads are sweet, which is not the case. The mead maker can stop the level of sweetness (Brix) anywhere between sweet and bone dry. Because honey has a higher sugar content than grapes, meads can reach a higher alcohol content than standard wine. Mead can also be fermented to be low alcohol by volume (ABV), around 6%, and carbonated to create a light and refreshing beverage.