In 2004, my wife and I attended the Colorado Wine Festival in Grand Junction, and each of us came away with a much better feel for what we liked in a wine. My wife prefers her wine red and dry. I was surprised to learn that I prefer mine without... well, without grapes. I discovered that I had an affinity for the sweet taste of mead.
There probably are more variations of mead than of any other alcoholic beverage. From fruity melomels to herbal metheglins to spicy capsicumels. The myriad, delicious tastes of mead leave no doubt as to why it is was dubbed the "nectar of the gods."
For my 39th birthday, my wife took me to the Redstone Meadery in Boulder, Colorado. I sampled about a dozen varieties of mead, but my favorite was their Apple Reserve. The gentlemen doling out the samples said, "We make this one because... well, because we can." It was hands down the best drink I've ever tasted: warm, sweet, divine. It cost $4 for a 2-ounce sample, and it was worth it just to know that there is something on the earth that tastes like that!
My wife purchased a bottle of the traditional mead for me (which was about $25), and it started me thinking... What if I could make my own mead?
It didn't take much Googling to see that mead-making is wide open to anyone who wants to try their hand at it. If you want to make it on the cheap, you only need a couple of milk jugs, a balloon and piece of plastic tubing. Or, if you want to do it "right," you can buy all sorts of toys: glass carboys, hydrometers, airlocks, stainless steel crockery and a numerous other gadgets.
From amazingly simple recipes (i.e. honey, water and yeast) to sophisticated potions that tantalize your senses, the only limits are your own creativity and your willingness to try new recipes. If you want to pursue it scientifically, you can certainly do that. Or if you'd rather try to replicate what Beowulf and the Vikings drank, you can take a more primitive approach.
And here's the best part: To produce mead commercially (as with other alcoholic beverages), the licensing is so expensive, and the regulations are so rigorous, that this hobby isn't likely to fall prey to my inner entrepreneurial wolf. It's something I can actually do just for the pleasure of doing it! But if you want to go pro, who's stopping you?