Dating back to Biblical times, mead is a beverage made by fermenting honey, water and yeast with flavorings such as herbs, spices or flowers. Mead was popular in early England and, though not widely distributed today, is still bottled. The word hydromel (an Old French word for mead) describes the lowest level of alcoholic strength for this potable; standard and sack are stronger versions. It comes from the Greek hydro ("water") and meli ("honey").
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.