by Lt. Col. Robert Gayre and Charlie Papazian
Brewers Publication, P.O. Box 287, Boulder, Colorado 80306-0287; 200 pages, softcover. 

{rawcontent 11} The American Homebrewers Association is a group usually associated with home beer brewing. However, they took a bit of a detour, and published Brewing Mead – Wassail! In Mazers of Mead, a book which is widely considered a ‘must-have’ addition to a mead-maker’s library. 

The section entitled "Brewing Mead" is authored by AHA president Charlie Papazian. A long time Mead maker himself, Papazian gives the reader a clearly marked guide into the mysteries of wine making. He defines, he explains, he lists and he clarifies. He includes eight recipes – including sparkling, cyser and metheglin–which give the reader a tantalizing range of possibilities. 

"No one should ever use the excuse that mead takes too long to make," he says in the introduction, "what better way is there to pass time than knowing that one's mead is slowly aging, mellowing and maturing as he or she is?" 

"Wassail! In Mazers of Mead" is a reissue of Lt. Col. Robert Gayre's 1948 history of Mead. This history is an important resource, one quoted often in contemporary works about Mead, and as such, we are indebted to the AHA for the reissue. 

Gayre is a recognizable Englishman–a man in love with tradition and the Proper Order of Things. "With time, customs and habits change and old ways are forgotten, and with the passing of centuries much is forgotten which ought to be remembered," he says. 

To this end, Gayre rolls out the rich and varied history of Mead–the mythic beginnings, the historical evolution, with quotes film Beowulf and Bede, Chaucer and Virgil. He includes a delightful chapter on drinking vessels–silver tipped buffalo horns and large wooden bowls (mazers) properly used to quaff the golden wine. 

Unfortunately, in his quest to preserve these traditions for his countrymen, Gayre displays an obvious racial bias. As he lights the beacon of English Mead Tradition, he is very careful to keep the riff-raff out. 

In Chapter V, "A Brief Account of Honey-Liquors Outside the Aryan World," Gayre takes great pains to exclude non-Aryan cultures from the history of Mead. Honey liquors made by non-Aryan people are "…not to be confused with that liquor that Aryans prized so highly…it is doubtful that they should be called meads." 

Not only do the honey drinks fail to make the grade but the "myths and practices among these coloured peoples…make it quite clear that in certain essentials there is nothing in common between their heritage and our own." 

We find it unfortunate that such a rare and valuable resource as Lt. Col. Gayre's work should be marred by this racist undertone. 

We recommend this book, nevertheless. Histories of Mead are hard to come by and the section by Charlie Papazian is a gem. "A friend of Mead is a friend indeed," says Papazian. And we couldn't agree more.

Vicky Rowe
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