What does prima melior mean?
June 24, 2009 7:40 AM   Subscribe

What does the Latin "prima melior" mean in English? It was the name given to beer reserved for the honored guests at monasteries in the Middle Ages.

The closest I can get is "the best." Any ideas?
posted by sixpack to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It seems to be used today as well (according to Google) - "Special Reserve" is a close functional equivalent. "The best of the best", if you want something descriptive?
posted by altolinguistic at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2009

"first [and] sweeter" is the literal translation
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:00 AM on June 24, 2009

Response by poster: Yes, there is one beer called Prima Melior, from Abbaye de Floreffe. I stumbled across the term while researching the Saint Gall Monastery Plan.
posted by sixpack at 8:07 AM on June 24, 2009

Best answer: The first wort, rich in sugars and dextrines, produce a strong and delicious beer, called “prima melior”. The barley used helds a great amount of sugars that, by adding water and lautering, gives a beer less rich in sugars and dextrines, lighter and less precious, called “secunda”: this beer was reserved for the monks thierselves and they colud drink, following every abbey regulation, between 5 and 8 liters a day! A further dilution could produce a beer even lighter, called “tertia”, that was offered to pilgrims and mendicants.

So, prima = first (like secunda= second, etc), melior = best/better.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 8:16 AM on June 24, 2009

Jon_Evil: "sweeter": really? I would have thought "better". What's your source?
posted by altolinguistic at 8:26 AM on June 24, 2009

I think Jon_Evil confused "melior" (best, linked to French meilleur and English ameliorate) and "melli-" (honey, Apis mellifera is the honeybee, linked to words like mellifluous).
posted by explosion at 9:53 AM on June 24, 2009

melior (comparative of bonus)
1. better; irregular comparative degree of bonus, good
posted by aquafortis at 12:05 PM on June 24, 2009

(explosion: yes, that's my view too)
posted by altolinguistic at 8:48 AM on June 25, 2009

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