What is mead?

If you’re a fan of ancient history or have a passion for brewing, you’ve likely heard of mead. Mead is an alcoholic beverage that’s been around for centuries and is made from fermented honey. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of mead and explore its history, production, and different types.

What is Mead?

Mead is a type of alcoholic beverage that’s made from fermented honey, water, and yeast. It can range in alcohol content from 3.5% to over 20% and has a sweet, honey-like taste. Mead is often referred to as “honey wine” and is typically served in a wine glass.

A Brief History of Mead

Mead has been around for thousands of years and was likely one of the first alcoholic beverages ever made. It was a popular drink in ancient Greece, Rome, and throughout Europe, where it was often used in religious ceremonies and celebrations.

During the Middle Ages, mead-making became a common practice in monasteries throughout Europe, and mead became a staple drink in many households. Mead continued to be popular in Europe throughout the Renaissance and into the 18th century.

How is Mead Made?

Mead is made by fermenting honey and water with yeast. The yeast consumes the sugars in the honey and produces alcohol, which gives mead its characteristic flavor and alcohol content. Mead can also be flavored with fruit, spices, or herbs to create different varieties.

The production of mead typically involves several steps, including:

  1. Sanitizing equipment to prevent contamination.
  2. Mixing honey and water to create a must (unfermented mead).
  3. Adding yeast to the must to begin fermentation.
  4. Allowing the mead to ferment for several weeks to several months.
  5. Racking (transferring) the mead to a new container to separate it from the sediment.
  6. Aging the mead for several months or years to improve its flavor.

Types of Mead

There are many different types of mead, each with its own unique flavor and characteristics. Here are some of the most common types:

Traditional Mead

Traditional mead is made with just honey, water, and yeast, with no added flavors or spices. It has a sweet, honey-like taste and is the simplest and oldest form of mead.


Melomel is a mead that’s flavored with fruit, such as berries, apples, or peaches. The fruit is typically added to the mead during or after fermentation, and the resulting flavor can range from sweet to tart.


Metheglin is a mead that’s flavored with spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves. The spices are typically added to the mead during fermentation, and the resulting flavor can be spicy or aromatic.


Braggot is a mead that’s made with malted barley or other grains, giving it a beer-like flavor. It’s often brewed with hops and can be carbonated, making it similar to beer.


Cyser is a mead that’s flavored with apples or apple juice. It’s similar to a cider but has the addition of honey, giving it a unique flavor.


Pyment is mead that’s flavored with grapes or grape juice. It’s similar to a wine but has the addition of honey, giving it a sweeter taste.


Bochet is a mead that’s made by caramelizing the honey before fermentation. This gives it a unique, caramel-like flavor and darker color.

Serving and Pairing Mead

Mead can be served chilled or at room temperature, depending on personal preference. It’s typically served in a wine glass, and the flavor can be enhanced by allowing it to breathe for a few minutes before drinking.

Mead can be paired with a variety of foods, including cheese, fruit, and meats. It’s also a popular ingredient in cooking and can be used to flavor sauces or marinades.

Mead as a Cultural Symbol

Mead has been an important part of many cultures throughout history. It was often used in religious ceremonies and was a symbol of hospitality and friendship. In Norse mythology, mead was said to be the drink of the gods, and it played a significant role in many stories and legends.

Today, mead is still used in many cultures as a symbol of celebration and friendship. It’s often served at weddings, festivals, and other special occasions.

Health Benefits of Mead

Mead, like other alcoholic beverages, should be consumed in moderation. However, it does have some potential health benefits. It contains antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory properties. It may also help improve heart health and reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Mead-Making at Home

Making mead at home can be a fun and rewarding hobby. It requires some basic equipment, including a fermenting vessel, airlock, and bottling equipment. There are many recipes and guides available online for home mead-making.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is mead gluten-free?

A: Yes, mead is typically gluten-free, as it’s made from honey and does not contain grains.

Q: How long does mead last?

A: Mead can last for several years if stored properly in a cool, dark place. However, the flavor may change over time.

Q: What’s the alcohol content of mead?

A: The alcohol content of mead can vary widely, from 3.5% to over 20%, depending on the recipe and fermentation process.

Q: Is mead sweeter than wine?

A: Mead is typically sweeter than wine, as it’s made from honey and has a higher residual sugar content.

Q: What’s the difference between mead and honey wine?

A: Mead and honey wine are the same things – mead is often referred to as honey wine.


Mead is a delicious and unique alcoholic beverage that’s been enjoyed for thousands of years. Whether you’re a fan of traditional mead or enjoy experimenting with different flavors and styles, there’s something for everyone to love about this ancient drink.

So next time you’re looking for a special drink to celebrate with or want to try something new, consider giving mead a try.

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