The tradition of meads

Mead is considered by many authors as one of the oldest beverages, with origins dating back to ancient times.

The first recipe, already regarded as an extremely noble liquor, comes to us from Caius Pliny the Younger in the first century of our era. Mead was known to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and by Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic tribes.  It was widely recognized throughout the world [9]. It is believed that mead was first created by accident with humans only learning later how to produce the excellent  beverage[17].

Polish tradition dates back to prehistoric times. Mead was brought by the Phoenicians who visited our lands because of amber. The first mention of mead in Polish literature was by Sirenius, who reported a method for producing the sought after drink.  During the reign of the Piast dynasty, honey served as money, and could be exchanged for the various items.

The first mention of mead on Polish lands appeared in 966 in the annals of the Spanish traveler, Ibrahim Ibn Jacob. Mead development in Poland lands owed itself to the climate and the wealth of forests, where wild bees lived. In countries where the climate favored the cultivation of grapes, the production of mead was soon abandoned in favor of wine.

Initially, the quality of the drink produced was low – due to weak distillation. It was too sweet with a disagreeable flavor. This was mainly due to the ignorance of the fundamental processes of fermentation and the lack of yeast. The fermentation process was arbitrary, causing many infections. Only much later were canvas-covered dishes introduced and the addition of hops and brewer’s yeast – which added flavor and served as an antiseptic and fermentation accelerator.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the production of mead was distributed fairly widely. However, a policy allowing for tree-felling diminished forests and led to worsening conditions for bees which ultimately caused the Polish traditions of mead to decline. The tradition was also weakened due to invaders practicing a policy that encouraged the consumption of wine and spirits.

In the nineteenth century, Poles had grown averse to spirits, German beers and wines but mead began to recover a very important position. In the period from 1918 – 1939 Polish traditions sustained only a few wineries. The mead industry experienced a renaissance after World War II and began rapidly expanding.

Now, after a certain time lag in the production of mead, the industry has begun to grow more dynamically.  The most famous meads are Bartniak, Koronny, Królewski, Staropolski, Trybunalski.


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