This was going to be another post in the ‘ancient mead’ series where we create modern interpretations of historical mead recipes. However, I found this excerpt to be interesting enough that I didn’t want to wait until I had come up with the interpreted recipe. I may pull out the main miodomel recipe and give my interpretation of it at some point in the future, but for now, here is an excerpt from the 1845 book “The Beekeeper’s Manual”1.
An immense quantity of honey is consumed in miodomel, which is as common as beer in this country. The numerous Roman and Greek monasteries have always their cellars well stocked with this favourite beverage. The monks, friars, priests, and nuns, of all orders and denominations, are exceedingly fond of it, and they know best how to make it. And, as there is a very numerous body of these fanatics or idlers, they help greatly to the universal consumption of the products of the earth, especially of honey; the only good they ever do render to the communities which feed them.
The following receipt is from the Prior of the celebrated stronghold of Sokal, situated on the banks of the Bug, built in the thirteenth century as a security against the invasion of the Tartars and Muscovites; still surrounded with bastions, walls 60 feet in height, deep and broad ditches, through which flow the waters of the Bug, and with two imposing gates, defended by draw-bridges; it is a remnant of the antique fortifications occupied by the monks of the order of St Basil. This monastery enjoys a widely-spread fame, through its miraculous Holy Virgin, and still more so through its excellent miodomel. The renown of both has attracted for centuries, thousands of pilgrims from a distance of 300 miles, whose gifts as the offerings to the Holy Virgin, and whose fondness for the miodomel, fill the coffers, cellars, and granaries of the epicurean monks.
To twenty-four gallons of water put twelve gallons of honey and twelve lbs. of hops; boil them together over a very slow fire, till the whole is reduced one-third. Care must be taken that the fire be not too strong, yet the heat must increase gradually; from a sudden and excessive heat, a burnt taste will be communicated to it. From the boiler empty it into a large tub or barrel, which must be deposited in a warm pace during eight days, so as to undergo the process of fermentation; afterwards it must be filtered through a woolen filter into a barrel, and placed in a cellar for use. The older it is, the better and stronger it becomes. After it has been twelve months in the cellar it may be bottled, and kept for years. The peasantry generally keep it in barrels, where it is preserved as well as in bottles for many years. But he who wishes to preserve it for half-a-century or so, must bottle it.
Half-a-pint of good old miodomel taken every second night before going to bed, improves (and even restores to the stomach) the power of digestion; but if the miodomel be very old, say from ten years upwards, and English wine-glassful is quite sufficient, and more effective.
Used as a beverage, instead of ale or porter, it is very effective against gout and rheumatism, disorders known in Poland as English maladies.
It is also a most excellent remedy for measles, being in such cases given, not as medicine, but in order to allay the thirst of the patient; for this purpose it must be only about one year old. It is not uncommon in Poland to see onw who has been afflicted with measles restored to perfect health on the third day after his attack, simply by the use of miodomel. Still, the patient must be confined to bed, and great care must be taken to keep him always warm.
Those who drink miodomel generally live to a great age, and it has a very invigorating effect on the old.
1“The Beekeeper’s Manual: Founded on the Experience, During Many Centuries, of the Apiarians in Poland. Dedicated to the Agriculturists of Great Britain”, Dobrogost Chylinski, 1845.