Similar to wine and its plethora of varietals and combinations, it was only inevitable that a variation for mead would be created. After all, mead is an ancient beverage, having been enjoyed for thousands of years, even if it has dropped in popularity over the past few hundred years. Similar to metheglin, melomel, aside from being its sibling in a way, is a variety of mead, but what is melomel?
While metheglin contains herbs and/or spices, simply put, melomel is a mead made in combination with fruits or fruit juices. Mead, of course, is made from a combination of water and honey then let to ferment over time to develop alcohol.
How to make melomel?
Just like its sibling metheglin, it all begins with the making of the mead. Start with your choice of honey along with the amount of it and mixed with enough water to make a total of a gallon. Heat it a bit to dissolve the honey and create a thorough honey/water mixture, then let cool.
Once it has been cool sufficiently, it is time to add choice of fruits and considering the sheer amount of different fruits, purees, and juices available, the options are nigh-limitless. Next goes in the yeast, in this case a Brewsy bag, shake a bit, then let the yeast go to town on the honey and convert it to alcohol. The added fruits will give the yeast added sugars to eat. Happy yeast makes for a happy drink.
If you are using milder-tasting fruits, you can wait until the mead has reached secondary fermentation to add.
Lastly, you can also opt to add additional fruits, purees, or juices at the end before bottling. Since fermentation is no longer happening, it will not affect the fruits added at this point.
Why is it called melomel?
Unfortunately, the exact etymology of the word melomel is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. However, there are some theories on the internet that it may come from the Latin word mel, meaning honey, or even from the word mellifluous meaning sweet or musical, or pleasant to hear. The word itself is derived from Latin melli-, stemming from honey, and flu, meaning flow. Melomels is the plural version.
What is the history of melomel?
Because of the alcohol content of mead, it is believed that fruits were preserved in the golden drink for later consumption, i.e.: to prevent the fruits from rotting or going bad.
There is a mention, however, found in a 1st manuscript called Naturalis historia (natural history), by Roman author Pliny the Elder, where a combination of grape must and honey were combined and then allowed to ferment. Although more commonly known as their source of many a great wine, grape is still a fruit, and when combined with honey would, technically, make a melomel. Therefore, through context, it seems that melomel, while being a variation of it, is maybe as old as mead itself.
That pretty much outlines everything there is to know about melomel. Tempted in making one?