Types of Mead: The Ultimate Guide to Mead Classifications
Mead! It’s not just the elixir of the Gods or the water of the Vikings. In fact, mead has seen a resurgence as of late which many mead enthusiasts have coined the ‘Game of Thrones Effect’, despite the tasty “honey wine” never appearing on the show (sorry mead heads, Tyrion Lannister prefers red wine).
So what is mead? And how many types of mead are there? The short answers: Glory in a cup and a lot.
Mead is made from fermenting honey (no grapes or grains!)
Learn about all the different types of mead, from fruited meads (melomels) to one of our favorites capsicumels (spiced meads!).
Popular Types of Mead
Mead brewed with maple syrup. During the mead making process some of the honey is substituted out for all natural maple syrup!
Made with both honey and grains. Typically the ratio is 50% or more mead and 50% or less of beer or grains. Translation: This is the closest you’ll get to a “beer mead.”
Bochet likes to be fancy and caramelize its honey. Honey is carmelized by raising the temperature to boiling. If the honey is boiled for longer, the honey darkens and can take on bitter notes.
Like your alcohol with a little spice? Capsicumel uses chile peppers! Capsicumel also typically refers to any mead that uses a spicy pepper during brewing.
The key difference here is cyser’s use of apples. You know what they say - a mead a day keeps the doctor away.
Sack Mead (Great Mead)
Sack mead has a higher honey to water ratio and typically ranges from 14-20% alc. Drink in elegance...if you can wait a bit. Great Mead is bottled first and then allowed to rest...for awhile.
Wine (hello there old friend!), cinnamon, spices, and sugar - if you’re looking to steal the show at your office Christmas party (and you’re allowed to drink), bring this!
Much like there’s session beers, there’s session meads. Enter Hydromel, a low ABV 3.5-7.5% alc mead typically mixed with fresh fruit. The word Hydromel comes from water.
Mead brewed with spices. It's thought that the word "medicine" came from metheglin. Metheglin often features simple spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and/or vanilla beans.
This mead is brewed with mulberries, a berry native to Midwestern U.S. and Asia. Fan of mulberries? Just learned from reading this that mulberries are a real fruit? Regardless, give Morat a try!
"With fruit". Any mead made with fruit is considered a melomel. The fruit can be fermented or added in after fermentation is complete.
“Heated.” That’s right fans of warm alcohol, mulled mead is typically warmed in a crock pot or at medium heat. We recommend not heating above 110 degrees to maintain the alcohol %!
Incorporates the juice of unripened grapes. Why? Because it adds a sourness to the mead!
The added dimension here is vinegar. Interestingly enough, this mead can also serve as the base liquid for a medicinal herb creation.
A luscious blend of grapes with the standard mead ingredients. This can also be a blend of wine and mead.
Concocted with rosehips, rose petals or rose attar.
Sack Mead (Great Mead)
Brace yourself - this one packs a punch! High density and often wildly sweet. There’s usually a little extra honey, honey.
Short Mead (Hydromel)
This gets its name from the little time it takes to make. Also typically a low ABV mead - great for starting (or finishing) your day of libation testing.
Show Mead also known as Traditional Mead
As simple as they come - honey, water, yeast. “The standard.” Show mead and traditional mead are one in the same.
It’s carbonated! A little extra sugar/honey added before bottling does the trick or you can force carbonate with CO2.
This uses wild yeasts and a lacto strain of bacteria to achieve the “sour” effect. Best way to prepare yourself for this special flavor? Drink some sour beers!
Spoiler alert: There are even more types of mead than what we have listed! The above list, however, should serve as a good starting point. So grab your upturned horn and join us in the mead hall!
Mead (A Brief History)
As suggested above during our shameless attempt to reference pop culture, mead is a honey wine that is arguably one of the oldest alcoholic beverages around, dating back thousands of years. It’s honey wine definition is completely designatory; while beer is made with water, barley, hops, malt, and grain, mead is made with water, yeast and - you guessed it - honey!
Hold the phone beer aficionados - you’re right, you’re right. Beer uses yeast too; however, it uses an ale yeast whereas mead uses champagne or wine yeast (pending the type being concocted).
Hollywood has trained us to hear the word “mead” and picture a group of chivalrous (or slovenous, for that matter) men weighed down in chainmail and laughing hearty laughs around a table. In actuality, mead has left its imprint on the ancient cultures of Greece, India, Egypt, and China!
It was the ancient Greeks, of course, that coined the phrase “nectar of the Gods,” as they commonly referred to mead as “ambrosia” or “nectar.” So yes - your boy Socrates? He was probably kicking back goblets full of mead while writing about philosophy.
Another great thing about mead is its versatility. It has a wide ranging ABV (anywhere from 3-20%), and the types of mead are substantial. Let’s check’em out!
Would you like to try some mead? Order here!
Or check out our article on Viking Mead.
MEAD (HONEY WINE) IS A PASSION FOR US
We started Batch Mead in 2019 to leave our Silicon Valley tech careers and pursue our real passion, MEAD!
We love locally sourced honey, apples and other ingredients. We focus on small batches to keep taps rotating and deliver delicious meads and hard ciders.
We believe mead is an experience, and our tasting room reflects all the notes of that ideal experience.
We recently won Best in Show from the San Diego International Beer Festival (2020, 2021 & 2022)! As well as several other wine, beer & mead awards!