Snohomish County’s bountiful farmland produces a plethora of delicious food and drink. Mead, an ancient alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey, water, and yeast, can now be added to the list of local delicacies to be enjoyed in Snohomish County.

Snohomish County mead
Mead makers work closely with local beekeepers to source fresh honey, a key ingredient for making mead. Photo credit: Julia Fiene Bowman

A Brief History Of Mead

One of the most interesting things about mead is its complex and fascinating history. Mead is considered the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. It first showed up in the archeological record in China 9,000 years ago. Great civilizations such as the Mayans, Egyptians, and Vikings have enjoyed mead ever since. Greek and Norse mythology mention the drinking of mead as well.

Ancient Greeks referred to mead as the “nectar of the gods” as bees were considered messengers to the heavens. In ancient times,  mead was a celebratory libation served at weddings to boost fertility. It was drunk for a month or “moon” after the wedding, hence the name “honeymoon.” In the past, the brewing process was primarily done at home. Abandoned hives would produce fermented honey from the combination of sun, rain, and yeast. Over time, a mead-like beverage would result from that and could be tweaked and enjoyed at home.

Snohomish County mead
Chilling or warming a glass of mead will alter the flavor of the mead from the same bottle. Photo credit: Julia Fiene Bowman

Mead Making Today

Today the process of mead-making is modernized and one of the fastest-growing industries in alcohol-making. Modernized meaderies now experiment with a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices to add to the delicious honey flavor.

Erik Newquist, the owner of Aesir Meadery in Everett, says that the wide variety of mead flavors is one of his favorite parts of making mead. Not only can flavors be added, but mead batches can vary widely. This is because honeybees gather different plant nectars depending on the season. Since bees visit various flowers seasonally and from year to year, each batch of mead brings its own exciting flavors, such as blackberry, apple blossom, and fireweed derived from the honey.

Snohomish County mead
Honeybees travel up to five miles a day to gather nectar and pollen. The nectar and pollen gathered will impact the flavor of honey bees will make during the nectar flow. Photo credit: Julia Fiene Bowman

Flavors of the mead can also vary depending on temperature. Try chilling or warming a glass to bring out the unique flavors of the same bottle.

Where to Find Mead in Snohomish County

Mead, found in every continent of the world except Antarctica, is a fascinating beverage that varies widely from region to region. Local Snohomish-area mead is found at several of Snohomish County’s farmers markets located in downtown Snohomish, Lake Stevens, or Stanwood. Sno-Isle Food Co-op in Everett is another excellent location to buy local mead and other fresh produce.

The abundant farmlands, bees that forage them, beekeepers, and local mead makers work together to create a unique beverage seeped in history and lore. Pick up a bottle of local mead today and enjoy the taste of beautiful Snohomish County.

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