Mead was the Celtic beverage of immortality, drunk by the gods in the Otherworld - when the monks came to write these legends down they often substituted wine - and also at the ritual feasts during the great festival of Samain. At Celtic feasts mead and beer were drunk together and mead brought swift and complete intoxication. Mead lingers as a drink in Celtic areas, especially in Brittany.
In contrast with beer, which was the drink of the warrior caste, mead, in the Celtic world, was the drink of the gods.
The drinking of mead at the festival of Samain was due to the fact, confirmed by all literary sources, that the priestly caste joined in the feasting. The deposed High King died, drowned in a cask of mead - or less frequently of wine - while his palace was burned down.
In Africa, mead has remained a divine drink. The Bambara regard it as the drink of their wise men, since it stands for knowledge in its highest form. This is because it is made of water and honey, fermented and flavoured with pepper. Pepper gives strength and stimulus to the virtues of these two ingredients and lastly fermentation activates and sublimates the virtues of the whole. Mead only becomes intoxicating once it is fermented.