#Beowulf #Mead #Hall
Beowulf is the title of a poem written in England between the 8th and 11th centuries. Beowulf is also the name of the main character, a hero of a Scandinavian tribal people known as the Geats. The story pits Beowulf against a merciless monster known as Grendel, who breaks into the mead hall of the King of the Danes to wantonly maim and kill members of King Hrothgar’s court. In 2007, this story was told in a popular techno-animated film. I wondered, what is a mead hall?
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey, combined with water, grains, hops (also used in beer), and there might be a few other ingredients like fruit. This drink traces its history back to Asia, Africa, and Europe. Evidence of it has been found in jars dated to 2800 BC. I have not been able to determine why the art of fermenting the sugars of honey was attempted. The fermentation of the juice of grapes traces back at least 9,000 years.
Nevertheless, mead as a social beverage was very popular throughout many cultures. It was the national drink of ancient Greece. It was the preferred drink of ancient Rome. It figures prominently in Celtic and Germanic epic poems. I wonder why we don’t readily see it in use today or when it was that it fell out of public favor.
A mead hall was a place suitable for a king to meet with his warriors and with important dignitaries. It was his court, if you will, and by calling it a “mead” hall, the king informed all who came that they would be treated with feasting and the fermented beverage. I have seen a reconstruction of one of these mead halls. It looks like a sagging barn. I think that a mead hall must have been a forerunner of an old English tavern, but I cannot confirm that.
Mead is still out there. Just as there are craft breweries springing up here and there, folks have revived the art of crafting mead and they loosely cooperate with one another as they seek a market for their product. You are more likely to find a local source for mead by contacting a bee keeper. You may want to ask about its transportation and any special storage needed to preserve its shelf life. I am pretty sure that Beowulf took Grendel out of the picture, so you won’t have to worry about that.
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