Types of Mead: The Ultimate Guide to Mead Classifications

mead types

What is mead?

Mead is alcohol made from fermenting honey (no grapes or grains!)

How many types of mead are there?

There are numerous different types of mead, from fruited meads (melomels) to one of our favorites capsicumels (spiced meads!). We will get into all of that in a bit, but first...

A Brief History

Mead 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!

In a world brimming with artisanal beverages and craft brews, mead holds a unique place, straddling the realms of history, mythology, and modern resurgence with an elegance few other drinks can boast. Often dubbed "nectar of the gods," mead's rich heritage weaves through countless cultures, each bringing its own interpretation to this honey wine. As we embark on a journey through the various classifications of mead, we delve not just into the nuances that distinguish one type from another, but also into the stories, traditions, and innovations that breathe life into this age-old yet ever-evolving drink.

The Mordern Mead Movement

The culture surrounding mead is fascinating blend of ancient tradition and contemporary innovation, capturing the imagination of craft beverage enthusiasts across the globe. With roots stretching back to the earliest civilizations, mead is experiencing a remarkable resurgence, fueled by a growing appreciation for artisanal and locally-sourced products. In fact, mead has seen a resurgence as of late which many mead enthusiasts have coined the Game of Thrones Effect’, despite the tasty honeyed elixir never appearing on the show

Today, meaderies are leveraging modern winemaking techniques to produce meads that are arguably the best the world has ever seen, offering an unprecedented range of flavors and styles. From sustainability-focused practices using local honey, positioning mead as an eco-friendly alternative to beer, to the craft movement's embrace of this honeyed beverage, mead's appeal is broadening. The movement is not just about revisiting an ancient drink but reimagining it for today's society, making mead more accessible, diverse, and enjoyable than ever before.

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.

Mulled Mead

“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 a.k.a. Traditional Mead

As simple as they come - honey, water, yeast. “The standard.” Show mead and traditional mead are one in the same.

Sparkling Mead

It’s carbonated! A little extra sugar/honey added before bottling does the trick or you can force carbonate with CO2.

Sour Mead

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!

Pairing with Different Meads

Pairing food with mead can elevate both the drink and the meal to a whole new level of gastronomic delight. Given the diversity in mead's classifications, each type brings its own unique pairing possibilities. Here are some food pairing recommendations for various classifications of mead:

Dry Traditional Mead: This mead is versatile due to its balance of sweetness and dryness. It pairs well with smokey foods such as smoked salmon, fatty cheeses, sausage, and smoked almonds. Its clean finish also complements spicy dishes, allowing the flavors to shine without overwhelming the palate.

Sweet Meads: With their pronounced sweetness, sweet meads can accompany dessert courses like peaches and cream or shortcake with strawberries. They also balance out the spiciness in dishes, making them a good match for spicy vegetable and meat dishes, similar to how Ethiopian tej is served.

Melomel: Fruit-forward melomels pair beautifully with dark, heavy meals like steaks, stews, chili, and even desserts that echo the fruit used in the mead. For example, a berry melomel might go well with a berry tart or cheesecake.

Metheglin: The spices in metheglin make it a great companion to hearty, savory dishes such as roast meats (pork, lamb, veal, or venison) and rich stews. The spices can also complement the flavors in Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine.

Cyser: Cyser's apple notes mean it pairs well with autumnal dishes, pork, and poultry. A buttery, herby roast chicken or a pork dish with an apple compote would be ideal.

Pyment: Pyment bridges the gap between mead and wine, making it suitable for meals typically paired with wines, such as pasta dishes, red meats, and cheese platters.

Braggot: Braggot's beer-like qualities make it a good match for pub fare, including burgers, fish and chips, and salty snacks like pretzels.

Session Mead: Lighter and less alcoholic, session meads are perfect for casual sipping alongside light appetizers, salads, or as an accompaniment to brunch dishes.

Sparkling Mead: The effervescence of sparkling mead makes it a festive choice for celebrations. Pair it with stronger fish (salmon, tuna, seabass), shellfish (scampi, prawns, squid), or poultry like goose and duck to cut through the richness of these dishes.

Another great quality of 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.

About 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!