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What Is Mead? Everything You Need To Know

We’ve all heard and even tried mead, but what exactly is it? Characterized by three key ingredients – water, fermented honey, and yeast – mead is a unique type of alcoholic beverage. 

Alcohol has been around for thousands of years. Wine and beer date back over thirteen thousand years! But, the earliest example of an alcoholic beverage being consumed by mankind is thought to be a type of mead (see also: A List Of All The Types Of Mead).

What Is Mead? Everything You Need To Know

So early, in fact, that historians believe mead was consumed some three thousand years before wine!

Fast forward to modern day and mead is often referred to as “honey wine.” This is because the process of making mead is very similar to wine making.

But, there are some differences, with the main one being that honey is used in mead as a source of sugar, rather than grapes in wine.

As with wine, however, mead is aged for a certain period of time. Sometimes, this can be for a few months or a number of years.

Mead can also contain up to 18% alcohol and, like wine, it is typically sold in a bottle. As for traditional mead, it is made without any grains and is entirely gluten-free. 

Want to find out more about mead? Read on as we discuss everything you need to know about this sweet honey beverage that is loved or loathed by the public. 

Mead: What Is It?

To many, mead is a very sweet, almost sickly drink that was popular during the Middle Ages or the Renaissance and a sure fire way of a hangover for the next day!

However, there are many types of mead that are super tasty and not as “disgusting” as you have been made to believe. 

But, what exactly is this ancient beverage?

Mead is an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey that is diluted with water.

When heading to the store, you’ll typically find mead with various ABV volumes, but most are between 6% ABV and 22% ABV, but there are some that have a higher alcohol content than this. 

Some types of mead are integrated with fruits and spices to enhance their flavor. Also, most mead you find will be uncarbonated and gluten-free. You can find fully dry or overly sweet types of mead, but the majority tend to lie somewhere in between.

When made correctly, mead can be one delicious beverage. Well-made mead can boast all the complexity of great wine and the flavor and density of great beer. 

The good news is that mead is getting better and better. More and more delicious flavors are being introduced to us and are available in local liquor stores. If you haven’t tried mead before, it’s time you treated your taste buds!   

From spiced meads and those made with fruits to carbonated, still, and barrel-aged meads, we are truly spoiled for choice these days.

You can enjoy mead served hot and cold to suit all times of the year and choose between weaker and stronger types. 

We understand that mead has a reputation as being a “viking’s drink,” but this is no longer the case. Head to your local liquor store and ask for a flavorsome mead and you may be surprised by how much you like it!

Mead: What Does It Taste Like?

Mead: What Does It Taste Like?

One type of mead can taste completely different to the next. The main reason mead has distinct flavors is down to the flowers its honey is derived from in certain regions throughout the world.

The honey within the mead simply tastes like the flowers it is derived from.

Mead comes in a range of complex and diverse flavors. The way it tastes is determined by the type of honey used, how sweet or dry the mead was intended to be, and if any additives were used in the crafting process.  

Take traditional mead as an example. This only contains water, honey, and yeast. Therefore, its flavor can be pretty bland. But, many types of mead are now made with fruits, herbs, and spices. 

Yes, mead is typically honey-based, so you would expect it to taste sweet. But, the truth is that not all mead is sweet. There’s no doubt a lot of mead can be very sweet, but others can be semi-sweet or even dry.

Mead: Different Types

As we have mentioned already, the flavors of mead are diverse and complex. It can be dry and herbaceous, or sweet and fruity. That means that there is a type of mead to suit all taste buds, even yours! 

Some of the main types of mead are:

  • Cyser
  • Melomel
  • Black mead
  • Bochet
  • Braggot
  • Pyment
  • Metheglin
  • Sparkling mead

Cyser mead is made with apples or sometimes apple juice. On occasions, it is even made with real apple cider and, therefore, tastes very similar to cider.

Melomel is much like cyser and is made with all types of fruit. This can be sweet or dry with either a subtle or very sweet flavor. 

Black mead is a type of melomel mead and is made with black currants, hence the name.

Bochet is made with burned or caramelized honey and has a dark, smoky flavor, similar to caramel, marshmallow, and toffee.

Braggot is crafted by fermenting malted barley and honey together. It is regarded as a mead-beer type drink and was popular in the medieval period. 

Pyment is another type of melomel mead and is made with grapes. 

Metheglin is a type of mead made with herbs and/or spices. It is believed that the word “medicine” is derived from this mead as it was a widely used remedy for certain ailments and colds for hundreds of years.

Spices used in Metheglin include nutmeg, cloves, garlic, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, rosemary, and hyssop.

Sparkling mead is a carbonated type of mead, resembling champagne and wine. 

​In Summary

Possibly the oldest alcoholic beverage on Earth, mead has been consumed for thousands of years. Today, varieties of mead mean it is tastier than ever and something everyone should try.