While I greatly dislike beer, I am fond of mead, and I have reason to suspect that it is valuable in the worship of Apollon. Particularly in the winter season when the god has departed to the far northern lands of Hyperborea. This is based largely on the symbolism of the bee with immortality and the divine, and the holy substance of cultivated honey. Worshippers should already be familiar with the importance of honey and honeybees in the worship of Apollon, particular through his son Aristaios who was the first mythically to have domesticated bees. It was also Aristaios who in a contest with Dionysos, was the firt to mix wine and honey together as a libation when his honey lost to the susbtance of the vine. As honey doesn’t naturally have a very fluid body to make it, in itself, a decent libation. It is too thick and syrupy. Raw honey is a natural sweetener and does have a history of being used medicinally, but in its form seems unlikely to have been used in such a contest. If we consider mead, which is the fermented honey, as perhaps the only form of honey which can be poured in a form of libation then we can surmise from this that it is an adequate rival to the fermented grape. Though mead is widely recognized in connection to northern faiths, It is unlikely that the Hellenes, who were very familiar with the use of honey, would have been unaware of the result of fermentation of honey, though may have considered it inferior to wine (via the myth of contest of Aristaios and Dionysos) and prefered the use of honey mixed with the wine which Aristaios was inspired to create from which we have honeyed wine, and recipes for cooking mulled wine which also calls for liberal amounts of honey to sweeten it. In fact on an interfaith group an individual who makes mead suggested different ways of preparing mead in different cultures and did mention the Greek recipe which called for a portion of water to honey that made a sweeter mead that the northern recipes. This has reinforced this connection for me.
Reason then suggests that for Apollon there are two appropriate honey drink forms which could be used for his worship. One of which being honey-wine, the evolution of the honey libation, and the possible original predecessor as mead, makes mead a potential valuable drink/libation during the winter months in honor of the god among the blessed, and his connection to the ancestrial lands of his mother who was said to have come from Hyperborea too. Therefore where I am more inclined to give offerings of honeyed wine during the rest of the year, and mulled wine (once I get started preparing it for the noumenia), I am more interested in replacing such offerings to the god afar with that of mead until the return of Apollon in the spring. Unfortunately it is too late to start a batch for this winter, but I have it on my list to do in the later part of spring so that it is ready by the fall. So I suppose instead I will get some store-bought mead and lift a glass to Apollon beyond the north!