Mythbuster: It’s Not Just the Honey That Makes Mead Sweet

Mead-making is a delicate process. The delicious golden “honey wine” has a reputation for being sweet in flavor; although, like many other alcoholic beverages, mead is diverse in style and substance.

Depending on how it’s made, mead can be dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. With its resurgence in popularity over the past several years, mead is acquiring new fans each day.

A popular misconception that comes with mead’s growing fanbase is that, when the drink is sweet, it’s simply because of the honey.

Mythbuster time: That’s not totally true.

What is Mead?

A quick refresher: Mead is possibly the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. At its base, the legendary libation is very simple: water and honey, fermented into a delicious drink.

And given its reliance on honey, as well as the inclusion of various fruits, mead is often said to have various restorative properties.

However, just because mead incorporates honey doesn’t mean that its level of sweetness is based solely off how much honey it uses.

The Truth About Honey

A natural assumption is that honey is sweet. It’s a fair notion, especially given that most people have probably used honey to sweeten a larger dish.

Just like finished mead, though, honey’s sweetness-level can vary. Think about where honey comes from – bees. And bees don’t just pull from one flower or plant. So, different flowers often equate to different types of honey.

Not to mention that we have different honey-making processes across the country. With varying climates alone, east coast honey is different than west coast honey. Not a bad thing by any means, just different.

In fact, it’s an awesome thing that we have diversity in our honey, because it means we get to have diversity in our mead!

Don’t Forget the Yeast

Yeast is the real hero in making alcohol what it is by the time it’s poured into a cup for your enjoyment. It works in tandem with honey to give mead its final flavor.

Most mead makers use a white wine yeast when fermenting, but champagne yeast or red wine yeast can also be used. Just like honey, this decision affects the end product and, specifically, its level of sweetness.

The most important thing to remember is that there’s intentionality behind what a mead maker is using. Whether it’s a sweeter honey or a yeast intended to produce something relatively dry, there’s an endless number of possibilities when it comes to crafting mead.

In the end, the goal is always the same: Produce something delicious.

What’s your favorite type of mead? Let us know in the comments!