About Us

SAMMA members meetings are held every three months. At the meetings members are given the opportunity to share in tasting each other’s meads. Demonstrations are given on how to make mead. It is our goal to have SAMMA Chapters in all major centres of South Africa to encourage the estimated 250 mead produces to participate in the promotion of mead.

Our story

SAMMA Terms of reference:

BC 1600

Before Europeans entered the shores of South Africa, the indigenous peoples of Africa; namely Koi San were brewing mead. Although it was common amongst all the various tribes the most well-known was iQhilika also known as Karee, found in the Eastern Cape. A strong drink was made using a yeast derived from Kareemoer (Trichodiadermat), the root was crushed into a powder. Honey from feral colonies and water were added and left to ferment.

Early 1900’s

Early in the twentieth century the authorities were having a huge problem with drunkenness in the Cape Colony amongst the labourers. The beekeepers complained of the hives being pilfered for honey to make beer. Cannabis somehow also got into the mixture. So in 1927 mead was outlawed as an unhealthy and undesirable beverage.


During the eighties the beekeeping fraternity wanted to have the law rescinded. This was during the time of President PW Botha’s rule and South Africa’s political state was in a bad way. Unfortunately, previous letters of request to the legalisation of mead were not motivational thereby reinforcing the ban on making mead.


At the 1991 South African Federation of Bee farmer’s Association (SAFBA) Annual General Meeting (AGM), Eddy Lear was tasked as newly elected Chairman to address the concerns of the government with the view of having the law against making mead rescinded.

Formation of SAMMA

The media of the day, radio and newspaper were used as platforms to reach out to the public of South Africa announcing the inauguration of a Mead Association representing all South Africans interested in making mead.

SAMMA was founded on the 14th May 1992, at the inaugural meeting held in the Board Room of NASREC, Johannesburg at 18:00. The event was published in the July/August 1992 edition of the South African Bee Journal.

The founding members were: 

  • Mr EN Lear (Chairman)
  • Mrs M Krul (Secretary)
  • Mr H Krul (Treasurer)
  • Mr A Dercksen
  • Mr S Hallet
  • Mrs MF Lear
  • Mr D Marchand
  • Mr S Struymfer

Constitution was adopted in 1993.

1.  Registration of SAMMA and logo

The logo shown on the front page is the official logo of the association and was registered as such in 1994 by Moritz Kalmeyer, (Vice Chairman).

The Latin inscription Qui non proficit deficit which means “He who does not advance loses ground.” was proposed as the motto by Mr Sam Hallet, a man of the law.

2.  Wine and Spirit board (WSB)

Eddy Lear first contacted Mr Andre Tromp of the Department of Agriculture telephonically in September 1991 and held a meeting with him on 3 October 1991 at Nietverby Research Centre Stellenbosch.

For mead to be legalised, Eddy had to motivate the proposal by proving that mead would not be harmful to one’s health and would not compete with the Wine Industry as the GDP in South Africa relied heavily on Wine Industry. This motivation went forward on the 19 November 1991.

Further meetings were held with Mr Tromp who then presented to Government their consent that mead was no longer considered detrimental to people’s health and the existing law of its production being prohibited was no longer valid. During these meetings Eddy was told that the industry would be given a Quota of 4 000 Hl per annum.

Mead was legalised in April 1993, the legislation was changed and signed off by FW de Klerk.

Until the regulations were published in 1996, SAMMA was the official governing registration body of mead makers. A registration number was allocated and required to be displayed on the label.

In the 1996 promulgation of the regulations, the member’s names were incorporated in Table 1 of LIQUOR PRODUCTS ACT 60 OF 1989, AUTHORISATION TO SELL MEAD.


SAMMA logo

Mead regulations:

The WSB indicated that under no circumstances is mead to be referred to as wine, neither in Afrikaans as heuning wyn. Therefore, the compulsory on labels is to state Alcoholic Honey Beverage or Alkoholiese Heuning-drank.

It was also indicated to us that the word “Must” is reserved for the beginning of the wine process and so we adopted the word “Hydromel”, which mean honey water.

We had to assure WSB that there would not be any fruit nor other sugars used to stretch the sugar content of the honey used, neither would adulterated honey, honey produced by artificial nectar would be permitted.

Eddy met with Jan van Rooyen at the beginning of 1994 to negotiate, so that all who were involved in mead making could have direct contact with the person from the Directorate of Plant & Quality Control who was responsible for putting the regulations together.

SAMMA met on several occasions to formulate the regulations. Studies were made of international Mead Masters’ recipes as well as South African Wine producers’ techniques. Ari Dercksen and Sam Hallet were the main contributors, as most qualified members in the field of mead making at the time. Moritz Kalmeyer was the main contributor for Honey Beer. It was agreed by the whole association keeping in line with the WSB to only keep to the traditionally known mead, viz Dry, Semi-sweet, Sweet, Metheglin, Hippocras, Melomel, Sparkling, Petillant and Honey beer. We were originally told that Melomel would not be accepted until we were able to convince the WSB that it was flavouring and not a means of stretching honey.

We had to commit ourselves to be the controlling body who would act on behalf of all mead makers in reaching quality standards.

Shelving of SAMMA and Current resuscitation proposal:

On the 7th October 1999 a joint meeting was held with Southerns Beekeeping Association (SBA), Gauteng, where it was agreed that the interests of SAMMA would be kept by SBA until such time that there was enough interest in the Mead Industry to continue with an association.

In March 2019, South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) requested Eddy to resuscitate the association as there was a void between the authorities and those interested in making mead. People who approached DAFF were told that it was a very grey area and they couldn’t refer interested people to any group.

Eddy sent out notices on the 9th of May 2019, announcing a meeting with the intention of resurrecting the Association. Robert Ashby, Eddy and Tina Lear were the only persons present at the meeting. Robert encouraged Eddy not to be discouraged and continue with relaunching of the association and he agreed to do so.

SAMMA today:

The true resuscitation of SAMMA was on the 24 August 2019 and was attended by 17 people. Eddy agreed to chair the association for the year with Tina Lear as Secretary and Alma Boucher as Treasurer. On 8 August 2020 Ernst Thompson was elected Chairman, Garth Cambray as Vice Chairman, Eddy Lear as Secretary, Alma Boucher as Treasurer, Juliana Gautier as Media Officer and Brendon Cloete as Editorial Officer.

SAMMA continues to be the link between industry and Government, now known as the Office of the Liquor Products Act, Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

SAMMA has put forward recommendations to the Liquor Products Act, to add additional mead names to the list currently in the Regulations in Tables 2, 3 and changes to Table 6.

Members meetings are held every three months. At the meetings members are given the opportunity to share in tasting each other’s meads. Demonstrations are given on how to make mead. It is our goal to have SAMMA Chapters in all major centres of South Africa to encourage the estimated 250 mead produces to participate in the promotion of mead.

The Association is established with the objects of:-

  1. Promoting and advancing the science of Mead
  2. Establishing and maintaining competency and professional conduct amongst its members.
  3. To promote the interests of mead making for the mutual benefit of all.
  4. Accepting donations, raising moneys and undertaking investments to assist the association in carrying out its objectives into effect.
  5. To seek and liaise with governing bodies in the liquor industry on behalf of its members to make changes when applicable to the Mead regulations.
  6. To promote the initiatives and importance in combating alcohol abuse, as its social responsibility.
  7. Doing all such other things, within the confines of the law, as are incidental for conducive attainment of its objectives.