The History of Mead

Wikipedia had this to say on the history of mead

Pottery vessels dating from 7000 BC discovered in northern China have shown chemical signatures consistent with the presence of honey, rice, and organic compounds associated with fermentation.  In Europe, it is first attested in residual samples found in the characteristic ceramics of the Bell Beaker Culture (c. 2800–1800 BC).

The earliest surviving description of mead is in the hymns of the Rigveda, one of the sacred books of the historical Vedic religion and (later) Hinduism dated around 1700–1100 BC. During the Golden Age of Ancient Greece, mead was said to be the preferred drink.  Aristotle (384–322 BC) discussed mead in his Meteorologica and elsewhere, while Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) called mead militites in his Naturalis Historia and differentiated wine sweetened with honey or “honey-wine” from mead. The Hispanic-Roman naturalist Columella gave a recipe for mead in De re rustica, about 60 AD.

Take rainwater kept for several years, and mix a sextarius of this water with a [Roman] pound of honey. For a weaker mead, mix a sextarius of water with nine ounces of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for 40 days, and then left on a shelf near the fire. If you have no rain water, then boil spring water.

There is a poem attributed to the Brythonic-speaking bard Taliesin, who lived around 550 AD, called the Kanu y med or “Song of Mead.”  The legendary drinking, feasting and boasting of warriors in the mead hall is echoed in the mead hall Din Eidyn (modern day Edinburgh) as depicted in the poem Y Gododdin, attributed to the poet Aneirin who would have been a contemporary of Taliesin. In the Old English epic poem Beowulf, the Danish warriors drank mead. In both Insular Celtic and Germanic cultures mead was the primary heroic drink in poetry.

Later, taxation and regulations governing the ingredients of alcoholic beverages led to commercial mead becoming a more obscure beverage until recently. Some monasteries kept up the old traditions of mead-making as a by-product of beekeeping, especially in areas where grapes could not be grown, a well-known example being at Lindisfarne, where mead continues to be made to this day, albeit not in the monastery itself.