Mead vs Beer vs Wine: Brewing, Taste, Alcohol Content & Calories

For us, homebrew lovers, experimenting with different liquor types is a thing we treasure. But for mead vs beer, what are the alcohol content, calories per serving, and how much to get drunk?

In this article, we will compare beer and mead alcohol content, health profile, and preparation period. We will also look at each alcoholic drink’s brewing method and how to take each of them due to their different tastes. We will also give you the differences in the history of mead and beer.

Let’s start with mead vs beer alcohol content but also check the different similarities and differences between mead and beer.

Mead vs Beer vs Wine: ABV, How Much to get Drunk, & Calories

Mead vs beer

The alcohol content in mead, which is made using honey, ranges between 6 and 20 percent ABV, depending on the fermentation while regular beer, which is made from malted barley and hops, typically comes in at 5% alcohol content. Mead can also contain fruits and spices while beer does not contain them traditionally.

Mead preparation takes longer since it is left to age for longer as compared to beer. Therefore, mead typically tastes more like wine than beer due to the fruit taste of honey. Sometimes, homebrewers can add hops and malt to the mead which makes it taste close to beer.

However, the popularity of mead continues to wane due to the mass production of grains and grapes by industrialized agriculture as compared to honey production which is hard to mass produce.

Honey, which is used to make mead is easier to metabolize in the body compared to grains used in beer production making mead healthier. Moreover, mead also contains the nutritional benefits of honey. Beer however requires the balancing hops to define the taste and aroma while some mead is only made from honey mixed with yeast and water.

Mead vs beer ABV: is mead stronger than beer?

You may be wondering if mead ABV is higher than the ABV of alcohol. The answer is yes, mead is stronger than beer in terms of alcohol content.

The ABV of mead ranges between six percent to twenty percent depending on the brewing process with most mead preparations having 10 to 15% ABV similar to wines. Regular beer has an average of five percent alcohol content by volume while light beer has between four to 4.2% ABV. You may find a few beer types having more than 5% ABV. Thus, modern-day beers have a four to six percent alcohol content by volume

Mead is brewed by adding yeast to the mixture of honey and water which converts the natural sugars in the honey into alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation. The alcohol content will thus be dependent on the alcohol tolerance of the yeast strain used and when the brewing process is stopped.

Some homebrewers flavor mead similar to beer with fruits, grains, hops, spices, and botanicals.

However, whiskey is stronger than mead when the alcohol content is compared. However, some brewers prepare distilled meads that are stronger in alcohol content compared to their counterpart meads. But even so, distilled liquor such as whiskey or vodka is stronger than mead.

Beer calories as compared to mead

Mead vs beer calories

Mead, having honey and a higher alcohol content gives it a higher calorie output compared to beer. Beer is made from grains of which much of the grains’ carbohydrate content is fermented to alcohol.

Therefore, mead contains 356 calories in an 8.1 oz serving while the regular beer will give you approximately 150 calories per 12 oz serving. The alcohol content in beer is approximately 5% while in mead the average is between 12% to 15% with the ABV sometimes being more than 20%. Alcohol gives you 7 calories per gram compared to carbs and proteins which give you 4 calories per gram.

Thus, when comparing calories output, mead is less healthy than beer. However, since honey has other additional benefits, mead is considered a healthier alcoholic drink. The other reason is that mead is made from water, and frequently fruits, spices, grains, or hops which are all healthy and natural in addition to honey.

However, West Indian sugar availability in the 17th century made honey harder and less necessary to obtain for making mead. This led to increased production and discovery of other types of alcohol such as beer and wine.

Mead vs beer taste

 As you explore the flavor, you will find that mead typically tastes more like wine than beer but with the flavor of honey and whatever was used to spice/flavor it. This is because the fermentation process of mead is similar to that of producing wine.

The taste of mead may be sweet, dry, or somewhere in the middle resembling the taste profile of a wine. The taste may differ depending on the alcohol content and other additional ingredients that are used to make mead. The prominent taste is a fruity, winey taste in most mead preparations.

On the other hand, beer may have bitter, sour, malty, hoppy, fruity, and even sweet tastes depending on the ingredients and alcohol content. What is most prominent in beer is the malty notes whether it is an ale or a lager.

Therefore, beer can be crisp, hoppy, malt, or roast. Therefore, the difference between mead and beer may be in taste, calories, alcohol content, or other qualities described below.

Mead vs cider

Cider is a fermented alcoholic drink made from unfiltered apple juice. Because of this, the taste can be sweet or dry. Moreover, it can be carbonated or non-carbonated.

Ciders have a wide range of alcohol content. The ABV of cider can range from 1.2% ABV to 12% ABV depending on the fermentation process. Mead as discussed has an alcohol content range of between 6% to 20% ABV but can even be higher depending on the yeast and water content of the alcoholic drink.

Some cider can also contain honey. The cider with honey is called cyser which is a mead made with apples. To prepare it, you can ferment honey with apple juice mixture or make cider using apple juice but sweeten it with honey.

Moreover, you can make a cider-mead cocktail. In this case, you can pour cider into a glass containing ice up to the three-quarter mark and top up with a double shot of mead. The drink is then garnished with cinnamon.

Beer vs mead styles

Beer and mead are both popular alcoholic beverages, but they are made using different methods and ingredients. Beer is made using grains, typically barley, that are mashed and fermented with yeast.

There are two main types of beer: ales and lagers. Ales are made using saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, which ferments at warmer temperatures and rises to the top of the fermentation vessel. Lagers are made using saccharomyces pastorianus yeast, which ferments at cooler temperatures and sinks to the bottom. Ales are known for their complex and robust flavors, while lagers are known for their crisp and clean taste.

Mead, on the other hand, is made using honey as the main ingredient. Water, yeast, and sometimes fruit or spices are added to the honey to create the fermented beverage.

Mead can be made dry or sweet, still or sparkling, and can have a range of alcohol content. Some meads also contain fruits, spices, or herbs to add flavor. Unlike beer, mead is not classified into different types based on yeast or fermentation methods.

Mead is classified either using the ingredients used to make the mead or based on the alcohol concentration. The most frequent mead varieties of mead include:

  • Cyser- The mead is a honey and apple juice/cider that is fermented together.
  • Melomel – The mead is a fruity mead made using blueberry, melon, or strawberry among others.
  • Pyment– This mead variety is made using honey and grape juice. It is thus a fermented mead or unfermented wine.

How are Beer and mead Made?

How is beer and mead made?

Making mead

Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made from honey, water, and yeast. The process of making mead is similar to winemaking, but it also has its own unique characteristics. The first step in making mead is selecting high-quality honey, which is the main ingredient of the beverage. The honey is then diluted with water and yeast is added to start the fermentation process.

During fermentation, the yeast converts the sugars in the honey into alcohol. This process can take several weeks to several months, depending on the desired alcohol content and the type of yeast used. Once fermentation is complete, the mead can be flavored with additional honey or fruits to add complexity to the final product.

After fermentation, the mead is transferred to another tank for clarification. During this process, any remaining particles are removed and the mead is clarified. The alcohol content of the mead is determined by the ratio of honey to water and the type of yeast used.

Finally, the mead is stored in bottles or barrels for aging. This allows the flavors and aromas to develop further and the mead to reach its optimal taste. After aging, the mead is ready to be enjoyed.

Overall, making mead requires patience, attention to detail, and a good understanding of the fermentation process. But with proper care and techniques, it can result in a delicious and unique alcoholic beverage.

Making beer

The process of making beer involves several steps, starting with the selection of ingredients and ending with the packaging of the final product. One of the key ingredients in beer is barley, which is first malted by soaking it in water and then allowing it to germinate.

After germination, the barley is dried and crushed to create malt. This malt is then mixed with water to create a mash, which is heated and stirred to extract the sugars.

The next step is to strain the liquid from the mash, which is known as wort. The wort is then boiled with hops, which are added for flavor and aroma. After boiling, the wort is cooled and yeast is added, which ferments the sugars and creates alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process is called fermentation, and it usually takes several days to a week to complete.

Once fermentation is complete, the beer is filtered and clarified to remove any remaining yeast and other particles. The beer is then stored in tanks or barrels to allow the flavors and aromas to develop further. This step is called maturation. After a period of time, the beer is packaged and distributed to retailers, ready for consumers to enjoy.

Overall, while the brewing process is not complex, it requires attention to detail and a careful following of each step to ensure a high-quality final product.

Mead vs wine vs beer

Mead is neither a beer nor a wine. It is a different class of alcoholic drink but its preparation is pretty similar to the process of making wine or beer with the difference being the boiling stage in beer brewing. The main difference is the maturing process of mead which is different from the beer and wine maturing process.

We know that mead can be consumed early like beer but the standard aging requirement for mead state that you need to age the mead for at least a year after adding yeast. This enables the mead to mature and become more complex as well as become tastier.

When comparing wines, meads, and beers, you can use the table below to get the distinction between the qualities of different brews. All three drinks undergo the fermentation of sugar in the honey, apple juice, or malted barley for mead, wine, and beer respectively.

The taste of mead can be a cider taste but also can be sour, sweet, or in the middle. The alcohol content of white wine, red wine, mead, and beer differs as shown below. The qualities of the three brews are as follows:

Alcoholic DrinkMeadWineBeer
Alcohol contentBetween 6 and 20% ABV: Average 10-15% ABVAround 12% ABVAround 5% ABV
IngredientsHoney, yeast, and waterFruits (grapes), yeast, waterMalted Barley, Yeast, hops, and water
Brewing time3 – 6 weeks but aged for a year4 – 6 weeks but aged accordingly2 – 4 weeks
Calories 356 calories in an 8.1 oz serving120 calories per glass (5 oz.)150 calories in 12 oz.
TypesMelomel, Pyment & CyserDry and sweet
Red and white
Ales and lagers
FlavorWine Sweet, dry, or somewhere in the middleSalty, sour, sweet, or bitterBitter, sour, malty, hoppy, fruity, and even sweet.

Related: Best low-carb wines


We have gone through mead vs beer to help you decide on the alcoholic drink you need for every occasion. It is important to note that every alcoholic drink should be taken in moderation. The key takeaways are:

  • Beer has an alcohol content of between four to six percent by volume on average with regular beer having a 5% ABV. Mead on the other hand has an ABV range of 6% to 20% depending on the fermentation process.
  • The calories in mead are quite high compared to beer. You will get 356 calories in an 8.1 oz serving of mead compared to 150 calories in a 12 oz. serving of beer.
  • Mead is considered a healthier alcoholic drink compared to beer because of the additional benefits of honey.
  • Mead is made from honey while beer is made from malted barley.

Using these and the other qualities described in this article, you should be well-enlightened on the brew that you want to have.