Use the menu or these links for the Site Bibliography and a list of Mead Names through the ages.
The historical mead maker relies on the expertise and efforts of many to exercise their craft. The links and discussions in the pages on this section present many of the resources I have used and rely upon to execute my work.
Primary sources are always preferred - documents originating in the time period of interest. Secondary sources, which derive from the primary sources are of interest insofar as they lead to more primary sources but also provide insights and conclusions. Modern sources that provide information that illuminates various factors (such as studies showing the variation in composition of honies, or a book on the history of the spice trade) are also of interest.
Vast amounts of information are available online.
The Internet Archive (https://archive.org/), Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org/), and Google books (https://books.google.com/) are well known repositories of scans of books dating back to the invention of the printing press. The Internet Archive and Project Gutenburg generally give full access to books. In Google books, books that are out of copyright can typically be read in their entirety; those that remain under copyright can often be looked at in part, or searched for keywords to establish how much information of interest may be present. All of these allow searching of text, although the effectiveness can vary depending on the quality and typography of the source material.
Less well known are the Biodiversity Heritage Library (https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/) and HathiTrust Digital Library (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/mb) which can be quite useful for many mead related materials.
The Internet Archive is also home to the 'Wayback Machine' where untold numbers of web sites have been archived. Old, inactive URL's can often be retrieved using this tool.
Many academic and state libraries have made books and manuscripts available on line. The British Library, Bibliotheque Nationale Francaise, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, and Library of Congress are notable. Private libraries including the Wellcome Collection and Folger Shakespeare Library also deserve mention. Early English Books Online maintains a paywall for much of their material, but also have made significant amounts publicly available.
Interlibrary loan (most local libraries can obtain books from many other libraries for free or for a modest fee), always deserves a mention.
Books containing mead information are split among widely divergent subject matters. Roughly in order of most to least total number of recipes in my database, I have found recipes in books on the following general subjects:• Books on medicine with specific cures are a prolific source of mead recipes; many of these may have only been intended to be taken in small amounts and not recreationally.• Herbals focusing on the characteristics and properties of herbs. Many such texts give examples of how herbs are used medicinally, sometimes in mead.• Books on general health, which are often for the layman. Many of these are general in nature.• Books on farming and husbandry, including almanac type books.• Travelogues / Histories / Natural History.• Books of Secrets – think of these as household advice columns.• Houswifery, household• Bees and beekeeping.• Brewing and drinking including wine.• Cooking• External: archaeology, folklore, etc.• Laws and regulations
Searching multiple subject areas increases the scope of review. And many of the sources are not in English. Always search with variable spellings.
I keep track of the books and manuscripts I review and intend to review in an annotated bibliography. I keep a list of keywords with consistent spelling to enable searching for varied topics.
Information from texts is collected chronologically in a series of text files. The original text is transcribed and translated if needed. I maintain separate files for different types of drinks, Mead, cider/perry, hippocras, and usquebath – to name a few.
Then data for any mead recipes is entered into a spreadsheet catalog. The catalog collects bibliographic information on each recipe and recipe data including ingredients, as well as summary data on brewing, fermentation, and aging instructions. Recipes are classified by time period, type of source, mead style, and other identifying characteristics. Recipes that are duplicated in multiple sources are noted, to allow focus on unique recipes and sub-recipes.
The catalog includes calculations that summarize data on different aspects of recipes. I can immediately find all the recipes including a given ingredient, At least I can to the extent I have entered the data.
All of these are always works in progress. Information can be stalled at any step in the process, and its existence either awaiting processing or noted in later steps by a placeholder. While I can generally find information readily, none of these documents are currently suitable for general viewing due to errors and typos, omissions, and old data that often lingers after I have revised a process or my conclusions..
Last updated August 11, 2023
Picture credit: MET open access program.