Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Gauls and Langobards drank mead: Part 2

Mead was covered here on an older post entitled 'Seeking a taste of the past? Get thee to a meadery' from a 2004 San Francisco Chronicle article. It's remarkable that wine is such a big part of local culture and industry, and yet mead is hardly known; especially considering its long history. In colder climates where wine was difficult to cultivate, they produced mead. It's associated with the Vikings in particular.

The website was designed to help promote the market and culture of mead... also known as "honey wine." Just searching around on the subject, I can see some of the local meaderies from the SF Chronicle article above are mentioned often. If you're close to a Bev and More, then finding a good honey wine shouldn't be any problem.

The Viking heritage website features a section about Viking-themed meads and meaderies. The following is from that main page...

Viking Brews and Booze

When it comes to drinking, no one can top the Vikings. No one. Which is why it is only appropriate that some modern day beverages are dedicated solely to Viking glory. In one of my more samaritan moods, I decided to compile a list of those drinks here, which is broken down into the following categories:

Barley Brews

Honey Brews

Distilled Options

Fruity Booze

Viking Booze Burial Mound

And a few short notes on the listings:

—First, everything is broken down by type of beverage as indicated in the submenu above (and also in the menu on the right-hand column), then alphabetically by title of brewery/distillery/etc. as indicated.

—Second, most of these beverages are, by some sick joke of the norns, rather hard to find, and I have not yet succeeded at apprehending most of them myself at the local booze stores. Fy fan!

—Third, I hope to keep this list as complete as possible. If you know of any appropriate beverages not listed here, please let me know! My email is on the FÅQ page. I can also be reached on facebook and myspace.

Happy browsing and drinking. Skål!



If the Greeks and Romans drank wine, then the Vikings and Gauls drank mead. I don't necessarily know that there is any type of really interesting documentary on the history of mead, as it was just part of the scenery.. part of those cultures. It was sold and traded on the market just like any other product. Even before Roman expansion, the Gauls had a system of roads that linked various tribal settlements, and even to Celtic nations outside of Gaul. They traded with Celtiberians, Vikings, Etruscans, Germans, Bohemians, and probably Greeks, Slavs, and Phoenicians. I can imagine that a good northern mead, perhaps produced by ancient Belgian-Celts, would have been a good sell at a trade-market along the southern coast of Gaul. Actually, mead can be produced even more readily in warmer climates.

Somewhere about 1300 A.D., the Italian voyager Marco Polo (1254-1324) returned from the Spice Islands with sugar cane. This inexpensive source of sugar became dominant and honey went underground - well almost. The tradition of mead was sustained in the monasteries of Europe. The need for ceremonial candles made of beeswax necessitated managed bee colonies and surplus honey was used to make mead, which was enjoyed by the monks in their more secular moments. [from]


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