Earlier I was invited by friends to try honey drink (Mead). In Hong Kong, honey beer is not popular but in fact it has a long history.
As its name implies, honey drink is brewed using honey as raw material. The Prototype of honey beer dates back to 200BC -100BC in Rome, Greece, Egypt, where people use honey mixed with fruits to make alcoholic beverage. When the Roman Army first invaded the United Kingdom, it was found that the British would use honey and apple juice in making MEAD, and actually it was very common. The beekeepers in Poland and Germany would also brew MEAD, therefore hailed as some of the pioneers. MEAD tied with beer as the most common alcoholic drinks in those countries.
As you may not know, the same type of drinks has appeared in China as ancient as 780 BC in the royal feast of the King You of Zhou, and was prevalent in Tang and Song Dynasty. The therapeutic value of honey drinks was described in ancient book. The "Compendium of Materia Medica" recorded it as an independent subject, claiming that it avails against rubella and ringworm. Of course, this is subject to further verification and consultation from Chinese physician.
To understand honey drinks, we can divide it into three types based on method of production:
(1) Pure honey fermented wine – Use diluted honey as raw material and fermented by yeasts (can also add nitrogenous nutrients for microbial multiplication), which retains both natural aromas, flavors and its nutritious effect.
(2) Pure honey fermented spirit – Use honey as raw material after dilution, which undergoes fermentation and distillation, and the resultant spirit has an abv between 18% - 55%.
(3) Honey drink – using the above as the base, adding various edible material such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg to make a savory drink; or adding herbal medicine to boast therapeutic value.
In addition we have ‘MEAD Champagne’, which is made by 2nd fermentation of the above MEAD in bottle.
It can be seen that honey drink is extremely versatile in terms of producing method and style. Actually I have tried one which has been matured in Bourbon cask, some made of black berry, spices. They showed distinguished styles! I believe it will be greatly welcomed by women.
早前應好友邀請品試他新引入的蜂蜜酒 (Mead) . 在香港, 蜂蜜酒並不流行, 但其實蜂蜜酒有著遙遠悠久的歷史.
顧名思義, 蜂蜜酒就是用蜂蜜釀成的酒. 據資料記載, 羅馬, 希臘, 埃及等古國, 早在公元前200-100年間, 出現以蜂蜜為原材料, 配入糧食或果品中釀製的混合酒. 至古羅馬軍首次入侵英國時, 就發現英國人會用蜂蜜及蘋果汁釀酒, 且非常普遍; 波蘭及德國的養蜂者也會自釀蜂蜜酒飲用, 因此被譽為造蜂蜜酒的先驅, 與啤酒並列為最常見的酒類飲品.
不講不知, 相傳中國始於公元前780年周幽王宮宴中便有蜂蜜酒的記載, 並盛行於唐, 宋. 孟詵在<食療草本>中也闡述了蜂蜜酒的食療價值. 明代李時珍的<本草綱目>把蜂蜜酒列為專條, 認為可治療風疹, 風癬等疾病. 當然這有待向中醫師進一步請教.
要了解蜂蜜酒, 可以其生產方式分為三類 :
(1) 純蜂蜜發酵酒 -- 以蜂蜜為原料經稀釋後加入酵母菌發酵 (亦可適當添加微生物在繁殖期所需氮源), 既保留純天然的蜂蜜香氣及味道, 亦提高了其營養和保健價值.
(2) 純蜂蜜發酵蒸餾酒 -- 以蜂蜜為原料經稀釋後發酵蒸餾, 酒精可在 18% - 55% 之間.
(3) 蜂蜜配制酒 -- 以上述蜂蜜發酵酒作為基酒添加一些可食用物質(如果汁等);香料(如肉桂,薑汁或肉豆蔻等)造成香味蜜酒; 或中草藥以提高其作用價值, 作為具有一定程度的保健功能及治療作用的飲料酒.
另外亦有香檳蜂蜜酒, 以純蜂蜜發酵酒或配制酒放入香檳瓶中加入糖及酵母菌, 在瓶中進行第二次發酵而成.
由此可見, 蜂蜜酒是一款可塑性非常高的飲料. 隨著時代之轉變, 現今造法亦層出不窮. 當日我品試過的, 有以 Bourbon Cask 陳存熟成的, 亦有添加不同香料及Black Berry等水果配制而成的, 表現及風格不一, 但卻同樣是討人喜愛, 相信會大受女仕歡迎.