Mead versus Beer in Fantasy


Until today, whenever I was reading historical accounts or fantasy I read beer and mead as interchangeable words. Today I decided to look it up. They are not the same according to Wikipedia. Here we go. We’ll start with a word problem.

If your young vagabond hero sits down in a tavern on his travels in some medieval inspired fantasy and orders mead but his companion, the magic-wielding beautiful damsel, who has bound him into her service against his will, orders beer in the same style tankard , who is going to be consuming more alcohol?

Answer, your young vagabond hero. Mead has a higher alcohol content. “The alcoholic content of mead may range from about 8%  to more than 20%.” (Wikipedia: Mead)

The beautiful magic wielding damsel however, will only be consuming considerably less “The strength of beer is usually around 4% to 6% alcohol.” (Wikipedia: Beer)

Also, if you’re reading this story, you know now several things about this world. Firstly, if there is mead than there is honey and hops as mead is largely made from sugar fermented in water from honey. Secondly if there is beer, then there is some sort of large production of grains, either wheat or barley mostly likely, taking place nearby. Otherwise, you better hope that either your magical damsel or young vagabond have some coin on them to pay for those drinks because hauling large quantities of liquid is going to be labor intensive.

For those who love words, here’s a one more bit of information: Mead is also known as honey-wine. However, its seems that Hungarians draw a clear distinction between the two.

So much for Wikipedia diving today. Now I need to run a check through my documents and make sure I didn’t make a silly mistake. Enjoy your medieval-inspired fantastical drinks. Personally, I can’t consume anything with noticeable amounts of gluten, so sadly while Pippin and Merry dance on tables with their tankards, I’ll be sipping my mulled whine, sake or rum in the back. Hopefully Count Dracula won’t show up with any red, red wine.


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