You might be surprised to learn that mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world—dating back over 9,000 years! This fermented drink is made from honey, water, and yeast, and it can be consumed dry or semi-sweet. Around the world, mead is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, with many craft brewers producing their own unique takes on this ancient beverage. Read on to learn about some of the different types of mead you may come across.
Table of Contents
This verision is the closest to the original mead recipe, containing only water, honey, and yeast. The ratio of honey to water can vary, but it is typically around two parts honey to one part water. This results in a very high alcohol content— usually around 14%. Traditional mead can be still or sparkling, and it can be enjoyed dry or semi-sweet.
Hydromel is the lightest and most refreshing type of mead. It is made by diluting honey with water, which results in a lower alcohol content than other types of mead. Hydromel is perfect for summer days or for people who don’t want an overly sweet drink.
Capsicumel is mead made by infusing honey with hot peppers. This gives it a bit of a kick and makes it ideal for people who enjoy spicy food and drinks. Capsicumel pairs well with cooked meats or hearty cheeses.
Acerglyn is made with honey and maple syrup, which gives it a smooth, rich flavor. Acerglyn are some of the sweetest and heaviest meads available, which makes them perfect for people who have a sweet tooth. They also tend to have a higher alcohol content than other types of mead.
Rhodomel is made by combining honey and roses, resulting in a delicately floral flavor. Rhodomels are perfect for people who enjoy light, fruity drinks. They also make a great addition to desserts or can be enjoyed on their own as an after-dinner drink.
Melomel is made with fruits in addition to honey, water, and yeast. Typically they are made with grapes and berries, but any fruit can be used. This type of mead tends to be sweeter than traditional versions because of the natural sugars in the fruits. Melomels also tend to have a lower alcohol content—around 10%.
Sack is also called “strong mead”. This type of mead is higher in alcohol than regular mead, and it is typically flavored using spices and herbs. Because of the higher alcohol content, sack mead is usually reserved for special occasions like weddings and feasts.
Braggot is a type of mead that is made with both honey and malt. The malt gives the braggot a slightly nutty flavor and a higher alcohol content. Braggots were originally brewed in medieval times, but they fell out of popularity during the Renaissance. Today, braggot recipes are making a comeback among craft brewers.
Mead made with grapes is called pyment. It can be made with either red or white grapes, which depending on the grapes used will give the finished product a slightly different flavor profile. Traditionally, pyment was made with whatever type of grapes were locally available.
Mead that has been caramelized or burned is called bochet. The process of caramelization or burning adds flavors like coffee, chocolate, or burnt sugar. Bochet was popular in medieval times but it fell out of favor during the Renaissance. In recent years, however, bochet has been making a comeback among modern-day mead makers.
Great mead is a type of sack mead that has a high alcohol content – usually between 14% and 18%. Great meads were traditionally given as gifts on special occasions like Christmas or Easter. Today, great meads are also making a comeback among craft brewers who enjoy experimenting with new flavor profiles.
Short mead is also called “quick mead” because it takes less time to ferment than other types of meads – usually only 2-3 weeks as opposed to the usual 4-6 weeks. Short meads are typically lower in alcohol than other types of meads (usually around 4-6%), which tends to make them easier to drink a few in one sitting; they are also known for being more refreshing.
Sparkling mead is a type of mead that contains carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is produced during fermentation, and it gives sparkling mead its characteristic effervescence. Sparkling mead also has a light and refreshing taste, which makes it a popular summertime drink. It can be served on its own or with food, if served with food it tends to pair well with lighter dishes such as salad or fish.
Metheglin is a type of spiced mead that originates from Wales. In addition to honey, water, and yeast, this type of mead contains spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The spices give it a warm flavor that makes it ideal for enjoying during the colder months. Like traditional meads, metheglins can be still or sparkling and dry or semi-sweet. The word “metheglin” comes from the Welsh word for medicine, where it was once thought to have medicinal properties.
Cyser is a type of apple cider mead that is made with apples and honey. Originating in England and historically made with apples called “drops” which are apples that had fallen from trees that were too bruised or damaged to sell. The fermentation process helps to mask any off flavors from the apples, resulting in a delicious drink sweetened by honey with a slight tartness from the apples. Cysers typically have an alcohol content between 8% and 12%.
Also known as “blackberry mead”, it is clearly mead made using blackberries. It is typically sweet, but can also be made into a dry or semi-sweet wine.
Is made with red grapes and spices. It gets its name from Hippocrates, the Greek physician who is considered to be the father of modern medicine. The spices used typically include cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
Oxymel is a combination of vinegar and honey. The vinegar is added during the fermentation process. It is believed to have originated in ancient Greece where it was originally used as a cough syrup because of its honey-based sweetness and vinegar-based tartness.
Is a mead made with green grapes that have not yet ripened (also known as “verjuice”). It originated in medieval times and was also used as an ingredient in sauces and other dishes.
T’ej is a type of Ethiopian honey wine that is made with gesho, a bittering agent that gives the wine its characteristic flavor profile. T’ej can be either still or sparkling, and it ranges in color from light amber to deep red.
Rhyzamel is a type of Hungarian mead that is made with roses. It tastes sweet and has a rose-colored hue. Rhyzamel is another mead that is often reserved for special occasions such as weddings or other special events.
Faro is a type of Portuguese mead that is made with honey, grapes, and spices. It has a sweet taste and ranges in color from yellow to dark brown. It is typically aged for several months at a time in wooden barrels before being served.
Lactomel although still, a mead is also a type of fermented milk that contains live bacteria cultures. It has a sour taste and slightly thick consistency similar to yogurt or kefir. Lactomel originated in Eastern Europe but in recent years has become popular in the United States as a probiotic-rich food.
As you can see there are many different types of meads available for you to enjoy and this list is by no means a complete list, there are numerous others with new styles being created regularly. So whether you’re looking for something sweet or dry, fruity or spicy, go out and explore what this ancient beverage has to offer as there’s sure to be a type of mead that’s perfect for you.
P.S. If you brew your own beer or want to start then be sure to grab your gift of Big Robb’s top 5 favorite beer recipes from his brewpub. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you are on your phone. Cheers!