View Full Version : Modern history of Mead (last 100 years resurgence)

03-09-2004, 04:03 AM
Can someone provide a "summary of modern mead pioneers", and some of the influence that they have provided.

This should help provide perspective on how mead making has grown (popularity and "techniques") more recently - say the last 100 years, although it is probably the last 20-50 years.


03-09-2004, 10:44 PM
Brobably two of the biggest recent influences were Brother Adam And Roger Morse. Both of whoom started Publishing in 1953 about mead.

Brother Adam

(1953) The Art of Making Mead. Bee World, 34(8) 149-156.

Taking Over Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey

Many of the publications of Brother Adam in English have appeared in Bee World, Journal of The International Bee Research Association (IBRA). This journal also published a "Profile" in 1965. Brother Adam has been a member of the Council of BRA since 1964 until 1987 and a vice-chairman of this organisation since 1971.

Brother Adam Became very important in honey production circles. Extremely knowlegeable in Bees, Bee Breeding, Developing disease resistant breeds, etc... Along with his growing fame he established himself and his abbey as a source of top quality mead.

Others eschewing
the use of chemical nutrients are no less than Brother Adam, who said they
would harm the delicate nuances of the honey.

Roger Morse
Like Brother Adam, Roger Morse started Publishing on mead in the 1953 with his thesis on Commercial mead making. He continued research including patents for methods. Sharp rise in World Honey Prices dash hopes of going into the meadery buisness in the 1970's or so. In reguards to Brother Adam...
Roger Morse commented, in his book _Making Mead_ that he could argue
against Brother Adam's methods of making mead, but he could not argue
against the quality of his meads, which were excellent.

Dan McFeeley posts very informitive historical articles, well worth searching out and reading.

In general I think we can Label those two as Formost in the resurgence of the last 100 years. They represent (to me anyway)

To this list should be added footnotes for people who have continued thier work.
Dan McFeeley regularly Documents past efforts, and current research on meadmaking.
Ken Schramm had pushed Modern mead competitions
Chuck Wintergren has spread the word on intentionally Blending honeys the way some wines blend grapes.
Lastly Organizations like the SCA have excited the intrest of many.

I'm hardly an expert in the Field and have no doubt minimized, misunderstood, or mistated various things.
However I see Roger Morse as Father of the BMtC movement and Brother Adam as the Countering Voice of the Natural Meadmaker Cult (NMC).

This is not to suggest that either person entirely laid the ground work. Just as many people contributed Ideas... But Jefferson wrote the Declaration of independance, and his is the name associated most closely with it (other than John Handcock, I really don't think of the other Founding Fathers with this document and only Hancock because he showboated with his signature.). This being Said, threads of ideas on social contracts etc... can be found from the writing of philosophers beforehand.

Dan McFeeley
03-14-2004, 04:10 PM
Can someone provide a "summary of modern mead pioneers", and some of the influence that they have provided.

This should help provide perspective on how mead making has grown (popularity and "techniques") more recently - say the last 100 years, although it is probably the last 20-50 years.


I'd agree -- a good amount has happened within the last 20 to 50 years. Research into honey fermentation and mead production has been centered at the University of Cornell. Roger Morse got interested in commercial meadmaking during his graduate years and conducted a series of experiments during the early 1950's designed to recognize and overcome problems in making good mead. He continued his research during the 1960's with Keith Steinkraus, looking at nutrient supplementation, pH control, starter volume, temperature and yeast strains. Robert Kime, also of the University of Cornell, applied ultrafiltration to meadmaking with the intent of eliminating problems with off flavors associated with heating the honey must.

There were a number of mead publications in British beekeeping journals, but Brother Adam's 1953 _Bee World_ article was the most comprehensive guide at the time it was written. Interestingly, it was published in the same year that Roger Morse completed his graduate work on honey fermentation.

Charlie Papazian was an important figure during the 1980's in stirring interest in meadmaking among homebrewers. He had an early interest in meadmaking, although the famed Barkshack Ginger mead in its original form was a very austere and dry mead that would have needed years to age out. The recipe that appears in TNCJHB is a much improved version.

Ken Schramm and Dan McConnell were known as "the mead guys" in homebrewing circles during the early 1990's. They co-authored several articles on meadmaking in _Zymurgy_ magazine, founded the first national level all mead competition, the Mazer Cup competition, and gave seminars and presentations on meadmaking to homebrewers. It was Ken and Dan who researched Roger Morse's publications and then presented them to the homebrewing community, bringing Morse's ideas from the relative isolation of beekeeping journals to the meadmaking community.

Ken has recently published _The Compleat Meadmaker_, the most updated text on meadmaking now available. Ken has also been active in promoting mead, notably at the annual International Mead Fest, and at other places.

Of course, there is Dick Dunn, digest janitor of the Mead Lovers Digest, who has helped maintain MLD as a prime Internet information source on meadmaking.

(Addendum -- I don't know why the software insists on changing "Richard Dunn" (you know who I mean) to "thingy Dunn." But anyway, you know who I mean. :) )

Pamela Spence founded the American Mead Association in the late 1980's, and until its unfortunate demise, was a small but important part of mead history in the U.S. Suzanne Price took over the helm of the AMA but the association fell apart after her tragic death.

Let's not forget the Society for Creative Anachronism for its scholarship on medieval meadmaking styles. Marc Shapiro and Cindy Renfrow are standouts. There are others.

Greg Lindahl has been keeping the hist-brewing list going for a few years now. There have been some very good discussions on mead.

C.J.J. Berry was active during the peak of interest in the British home winemaking movement. His books cover meadmaking. There is also Clara Furness, whose articles on meadmeaking were collected into a single publication.

The Internet has been very important in spreading meadmaking information. Vickie Rowe has one of the best, if not the best, web sites on mead. Julia Herz and Chris Hadden also have good sites.

Going back to the 1950's and earlier -- there was interest in improving meadmaking techniques, even during Prohibition time. This was loosely disguised under the topic of mead vinegar. After all, in order to make a good mead vinegar, you first have to make a good mead. Roger Morse noted the research done here, mostly in the area of nutrients.

Morse also noted that a lot of commercial meads made in the New York area during that time were for Jewish sacramental purposes. This is something I'd like to know more about -- mead traditions in Judaism. I'm assuming that this is a part of Ashkenaz Judaism, the Judaism of Germany and Eastern Europe.

I'm sure I've left out a lot of others. Anyone else have ideas here?

03-14-2004, 08:20 PM
Thanks for filling in some of the gaps Dan,
I'd already plugged you so you modesty leaving yourself out of the list is noted.

Dan McFeeley
03-18-2004, 04:42 PM
(Thanks for the plug TV :) )

Just to add a little more to Chuck Wettergreens info -- Chuck had been a brewer for a good long time and got into meadmaking, maybe about 1994 or 1995. He found that reducing additives such as nutrients, avoiding heat of any kind while preparing the honey must, and using a vigorous yeast strain improved the quality of his meads. He struck up a friendship with fellow meadmaker Wout Klingens of the Netherlands, and the two of them traveled to Brittany France to research meadmaking and cider making out there. Chuck had already been experimenting with honey blends, but gained more insight into blending from the Breton meadmakers in France. He has one of the best competition records in the Mazer Cup, placing regularly in one or more of the categories. All of his meads are "natural" meads, i.e., simply honey, water and yeast. More recently he has worked with beekeeping and making mead vinegars.

03-20-2004, 08:58 PM
Do you happen to know if the Brother Adam article "the art of making Mead" is available in Digital form? Either the 1953, or the 1987 version (if different). I was a little surprised that I can't find it on the web somewhere.


Dan McFeeley
03-24-2004, 03:53 PM
Do you happen to know if the Brother Adam article "the art of making Mead" is available in Digital form? Either the 1953, or the 1987 version (if different). I was a little surprised that I can't find it on the web somewhere.

No, I don't think so. Wicwas press used to sell the Bee World reprint of the article -- try contacting Larry Connor and he might be able to help you.

Larry Connor, Ph.D. (the above mentioned owner/webmaster) Wicwas Press, LLC 175 Alden Avenue New Haven, CT 06515 phone & fax 203 397 5091 old email: LJConnor@aol.com new email: Larry@wicwas.com http://www.wicwas.com

The article is also a chapter in Brother Adam's book, Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey. Northern Bee Books has it. Check at: http://www.beedata.com/beebooks.htm

03-24-2004, 08:32 PM
Thanks John & Dan. The book is on order.