Mead has been around for thousands of years, and it’s thought to have been discovered by the Vikings in their exploration of Northern Europe. But what does Mead taste like?
Mead is a drink with a very rich history.
If you’ve never tasted mead before, you might be struggling to imagine what the drink tastes like. Mead is an alcoholic beverage that combines honey as its primary source of sugar with water and yeast. As a result, there are many interesting flavors that can be found in this drink- it is sweet and sour.
The brewing process for mead is acidic while the honey base gives it a sweet flavor. You need to taste it to understand the interesting flavor. We have compared mead and beer to help you decide which taste, alcohol content, and ingredients suit your preferences.
Mead also has a relatively low alcohol content (between 5 and 20% ABV). As such, it can also be referred to as being ‘light’ or ‘low-strength’. Read on for more details about what mead tastes like, how to make it at home, and some popular commercial examples if you want to explore this beverage further!
What Does Mead Taste Like?
Mead has a sweet and sour taste due to the honey base and the acidic fermentation process. The taste can also be different depending on the additives/ flavorings added to the brew.
The flavor of mead depends on a few factors. First, it depends on how you select your ingredients. You can make an herbal or non-herbal mead or a sweet or sour mead.
The herb that you choose to add will determine the flavor. For example, if you want a mead that tastes like blackberry, you can add fresh or dried blackberry leaves to your mead.
Next, your choice of yeast also determines the taste. The last factor that determines the taste is the ABV of the mead. The higher the ABV, the higher the alcohol content, and it will taste more potent.
Mead is less carbonated than beer, but about the same as wine. Like wine and cider, mead can be made from any variety of honey, with different types of honey providing different flavors. Mead can be made from a single type of honey or a blend of different kinds of honey, which can create a complex, layered taste.
When you make mead, you can add different herbs and spices to change its flavor. Mead can be made in a variety of flavors depending on the herbs and spices added to the ferment.
Herbs like thyme and lavender add an earthiness and complexity to the final flavor, while flowers like honeysuckle and sunflowers add a sweet, floral aroma.
When it comes to sweeteners, you can also experiment and add sugar or other sweeteners like maple syrup or molasses. However, it is important to note that too much sugar can inhibit fermentation, so be careful.
Lastly, a hint of acidity from citrus or vinegar can add a lively, refreshing taste to your mead. Herbs like rosemary and thyme give it a pungent taste. You can also add other spices like cinnamon and nutmeg too.
Sweet mead is delicious with just a hint of honey. Sour mead can be made with citrus fruits like oranges and lemons to add a tangy taste. Sweet and sour mead is a combination of both and is a great drink for any occasion.
If there are no herbs added, the mead will have a sweet and sour taste due to the acidic nature of fermentation and the honey base.
Melomels are fruit-based meads. I’ve had excellent luck with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and black currants in my mead.
As far as how much fruit to add, I believe the more the better, and a standard amount is 5 gallons (19 L) of mead with 8 to 10 pounds (3.6 to 4.5 kg) of fruit. (3.6 to 4.5 kg) of fruit per 5 gallons (19 L).
Fruit is frequently acidic, so you shouldn’t add acid blends to the mead. You must also avoid adding tannin to the mead by using fruit in combination with tannin. To assist with clarity, you should use a pectic enzyme (1/2 tsp per 5 gallons).
Melomel is one of the most common types of mead in the market today. It is easy to make and gives the brew a great flavor.
Cysers are simply meads made with apple juice or cider instead of water that has various flavors and aromas. Cider, a blend of cider and mead, is still technically a melomel.
It is so commonly available on tap menus in Georgia that we have recognized it as a distinct drink. A cyser is a mead that has been fermented with apple juice rather than water, resulting in a unique beverage that is both sweeter and tarter.
Other ingredients like autumn fruit or spices can be added to flavor the cyser. Ciders are too ‘apple-y,’ and you might enjoy a cyser if you like cider but find it too ‘apple-y.‘ It is milder, smoother, and takes the tart bite out of the drink.
The word “Medcyglin”, as used in Wales, refers to an elixir made from honey and spices or herbs. It is my favorite how cinnamon and cloves enhance the sweetness of honey.
These meads are known as metheglin. Metheglin is a medicinal honey wine made from herbs and spices. The term is derived from two ancient Welsh words, meddyg and llyn.
In Eastern Europe, mead is often used as a medicine, and some pharmacies sell it. Thus, these Metheglin meads are frequently medicinal and sold in pharmacies, as well as being heavily infused with herbs. These meads are created using various combinations of herbs and spices.
Braggots are a type of mead that may be appealing to home beer brewers. They are created with mead, water, and yeast, but malts or malt extracts are also added.
Braggots are available with or without hops, depending on your preference. Braggots are a type of beer mixed with mead. Some establishments can create them on the fly by mixing mead and beer, but that is not what it was intended to do.
A braggot is an excellent mixture of sweet honey, malty flavor and body, and a trace of slight hop bitterness. Braggots, like cysers and ciders, can be flavored with spices and other flavors to create a rich experience.
A braggot is a beer with the best qualities of both beer and mead in perfect balance. Try a braggot if you see it on a tap menu. They are hardly ever available and are almost always worthwhile.
Pyments, which are meads blended with grapes or grape juice, are a great option for home winemakers. Pyments are meads that are sweet in taste due to high residual sugar levels, but they can be fermented to dryness if the appropriate yeast is used.
Your preferences will determine whether you want to use grapes or grape juice. You may choose to create any of the following pyment meads:
- Lindisfarne Mead,
- Lindisfarne Dark Mead,
- Lindisfarne Pink Mead,
- Lindisfarne Spiced Mead,
- Cornish Mead Wine,
- Cornish Strawberry Mead,
- Cornish Elderberry Mead
- Cornish Cherry Mead,
- Cornish Elderberry Mead,
- Cornish Mead Wine,
- Heligan Blackberry Mead,
- Friary Traditional Mead, and
- Rookery Lavender Mead
It is important to note that meads with fruit are also known as melomels. An appropriate yeast must be used to ferment this mead to dryness. However, it’s up to your taste.
Hippocras is one form of mead that blends grapes with spices. This variety of mead, which is named after the father of medicine Hippocrates, includes both grapes or grape juice and spices.
A spiced/herbed pyment is referred to as a hippocras in mead-making terminology. Historically speaking, hippocras was a mulled wine sweetened with honey, not a mead.
It was a medicinal drink of herbs steeped overnight in sweet wine, after which it was filtered through a Hippocratic sleeve (Hippocrates’ sleeve was invented in the 5th century BC to filter water, which gave the drink its name), that is now the common recipe for modern mead hippocras.
Unlike metheglins, which have herbs and spices incorporated into their must and flavor the mead as it ferments, most modern mead hippocras recipes are simply a pyment in which herbs and spices are steeped for 24 hours and then filtered and bottled.
Does mead taste good?
There are different tastes of mead depending on the ingredients used as discussed above. Pure traditional mead for most people tastes like a cross between wine and beer while other people indicate that mead has a honey taste. Thus, it tastes like medium-sweet wine having a similar texture to sherry but still featuring a distinct flavor of honey.
The taste makes mead great for beginners. Considerations have to be made to the type of mead since they are all not created equal.
The mead can have dry to sweet, low to high alcohol, and thin to full mouthfeel depending on the yeast used, duration of brewing, and alcohol content. However, the mead tastes so good since tastes more like wine than beer because the fermentation process is similar to wine, and the ingredients are closer to wine than beer.
What does spoiled mead taste like?
Mead can go bad.
This happens when brewing mead and there is an infection in the batch. The infected batch needs to be tossed out if noticed.
The taste of spoiled mead is bitter. This will be experienced even in traditional mead which normally has a sweet flavor almost similar to wine. People notice the sauerkraut or nail polish smell first before tasting the mead.
Moreover, a mead that has gone bad will have an odd or rancid aroma (butyric acid which is similar to vomit smell, but with very “high/light” estery quality) and color change including cloudiness. The continuous over-attenuation and persistent off-flavor that continues to appear with every batch you make means that your mead is infected.
Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of Mead
The ABV of mead depends on the kind of honey, yeast, and water used. If you use light honey, the ABV of the mead will be less. And if you use dark honey, the ABV will be higher.
The ABV of mead varies according to the yeast and honey used. The ABV ranges from 5 to 20 % alcohol content. You can make the mead to be sweet or dry, sparkling or still (uncarbonated).
ABV stands for “alcohol by volume,” and it’s a measurement of how much alcohol is in a given amount of a drink. A 12% ABV beer is 12% alcohol by volume. A 16% ABV wine is 16% alcohol by volume. A 5% ABV mead is 5% alcohol by volume.
It’s important to note that the ABV of mead can vary widely depending on the type of honey and spices used, the yeast used, and the amount of time the mead is fermented. There are also other variables that can affect the ABV, like the serving temperature and the amount of time it’s been carbonated.
How Long to Brew Mead
If you are making a normal mead with nothing but honey, water, and yeast, then it will take three to six weeks to ferment. But if you are adding herbs or spices, it will take more than 6 weeks. This is different from the time required to brew a beer.
At Hopstersbrew, we recommend and also take 5-6 weeks before bottling but it takes between 3-6 weeks for the brew to be ready. This ensures that the yeast has consumed all the honey sugar to produce a perfect brew.
However, you can take the mead brew even before the fermentation is complete since it is a mixture of honey and water with yeast added. However, at that time, the brew will taste like honey and will not have high alcohol content.
How to Make Mead
Mead making is not rocket science, but it does take some time and patience. If you are making a normal mead with nothing but honey, water, and yeast, here’s what you need to do:
- Add water and honey to a jar and mix well. Make sure to use a non-metal container because metal will kill the yeast.
- Once you have added the yeast, cover the jar with a cloth and keep it in a warm place. Your kitchen counter or a warm closet will do just fine.
- Check on the mead every few days. Add more water if the mixture gets too thick.
- Wait for about 3-6 weeks for the mead to be ready for drinking. However, last Hopsters brew we give it 5-6 weeks before bottling
- If you are adding herbs and spices to your mead, then the process will take more than four months.
Making mead is a fairly simple process, but there are a few tips to remember that will ensure you get the most out of your brew.
First, use high-quality honey. There are a lot of cheap and artificial honey varieties out there, so be sure to buy pure and natural honey. Second, when it comes to water, filtered is best. Third, when it comes to the fermentation process, be patient. Fermentation takes time and different factors will affect how long it takes.
After the fermentation process, you can enjoy mead in different ways. You can have it warm or chilled and also you can add other flavors if you want.
Which equipment is required to make mead
All you need is a container to mix the honey, water, and yeast, a cloth to cover the container, a thermometer, and a hygrometer to measure the temperature and humidity of the mixture. The good news is that you can make mead with just a couple of simple pieces of equipment.
- A container – You can either use a large container or a smaller one with a lid.
- A thermometer – A thermometer is a great investment for any home brewer and can be used for a variety of different recipes.
- A hydrometer – This is an optional but helpful piece of equipment for measuring the alcohol content in your mead.
- A saccharometer – This is also an optional but helpful piece of equipment for measuring the sweetness of your mead.
If you are fermenting the mead outside, you will also need a place to store it away from the sun. A covered area is ideal so the mead doesn’t get infected with pests.
Where to Buy Equipment to Make Mead
You can buy equipment to make mead from a brewing store or an online store. You can also make do with the equipment you have at home.
You can make a container using an old bucket or a big jar. If you are fermenting your mead outside, you can make a wooden container or buy a plastic container that is resistant to outside elements.
If you want to make sure your equipment is clean and ready to go, it’s best to buy new equipment. If you have only a couple of recipes in mind, it’s better to buy the equipment rather than try to clean borrowed equipment that may not be properly sanitized.
There are a few places where you can buy supplies to make your own mead:
- Online stores – Amazon and other online stores have a great selection of equipment.
- Local homebrew supply stores – Some cities have homebrew supply stores that sell equipment.
- Craigslist – You can also try to buy used equipment from people locally on Craigslist.
The Rule of Threes
The rule of threes applies to mead-making. When you are making mead, you need to do three things at the right time. Fermentation is a very complex process, and there are a wide variety of variables that can affect it. However, a few rules of thumb can help you keep those variables in check.
First, when it comes to fermentation temperature, it is best to keep it between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Second, when it comes to pitching amount, one to two pounds of yeast per gallon of mead is a good rule of thumb. Finally, when it comes to the amount of time it will take for fermentation to finish, it’s better to err on the side of longer than shorter.
Thus you need to ensure that the following are done at the right time:
- You need to know when to add the yeast,
- When to add the honey and
- When to add the water.
If you get it wrong, the mead can spoil.
Mead is a delicious alcoholic beverage that has been around for thousands of years. It’s made from honey, water, and yeast, and it can be sweet, sour, or even herbal.
It can have an ABV from 5% to 20%, and it takes two to three years to ferment. Mead is a delicious alcoholic beverage that has been around for thousands of years.
It’s made from honey, water, and yeast, and it can be sweet, sour, or even herbal. Mead is as old as civilization itself, and it is experiencing a renaissance in modern times.
It comes in a variety of styles; it can be sweet and fruity, or it can be dry and earthy. It can have the carbonation of beer or the sweetness of the wine.
What’s more, it can be made with any type of honey, giving it a unique character. And with the following information in hand, making a delicious batch of mead is easy and accessible to anyone who has a love of history, science, or a good drink.