The History of Mead

In She Stoops to Conquer, Tony Lumpkin visits the alehouse called The Three Pigeons, where a gentleman might order a glass of mead and other libations.  Here’s a quick history  of the delicious honey wine as told by Derek Vaughan Brown, Marketing and Events Coordinator for Charm City Meadworks. This Baltimore-based meadery will offer a preshow mead tasting on September 29th in the theatre. Sip and enjoy!

The History of Mead

As Told by an Amateur and Somewhat Melodramatic Historian
Written by Derek Vaughan Brown, Charm City Meadworks

For about 10,000 years, humans decided to drink wine rather than write things down. The discovery of fermentation was most likely an accident, replicated by feeding a sugar-rich environment with bacteria through rudimentary or natural exposure. For a long time, honey was the most accessible form of sugar. Since the honey bee can be found in so many parts of the world, honey wine, or mead holds the record for the oldest form of alcoholic beverage. Dating back to China around 9,000 B.C., mead travels through time as gracefully as one could ever hope.

Even kings and gods are said to have been fond of mead. Meadmaking traditions can be traced back through China, India, Africa, and Europe, and because people have always loved drinking so much, mead’s effects can still be seen within the many cultures it has touched. For example, the tradition of the honeymoon comes from the medieval European tradition of giving newlyweds one lunar cycle’s worth of honey wine. It was believed that honey wine elixir would raise the chances of this couple producing male offspring.

But things change, and history has certainly taken mead for a ride. Since cider can be made with a bucket of dirty old apples and some water, wrestling a swarm of semi-lethal insects began to seem a bit dramatic. As planting became more common, various other forms of sugar-rich bases became the norm, and our beloved mead was nearly forgotten. Although the production of grape wine has certainly set the standard for mastery, the planting of grapes and other sugary delectables wasn’t really common until much more recently.

The tradition of mead is carried on world-wide by the many mazers longing to restore the drink to a state of artisanal mastery worthy of kings and gods. Thank you for participating in this most exciting turn in mead’s long and fruitful history.


For more information on mead and all the deliciousness Charm City Meadworks has to offer, visit their website here and be sure to follow them on social media: @charmcitymead

For tickets to She Stoops to Conquer on September 29th (admission includes the preshow mead tasting), click here.