What is mead?

Mead is a wine made from honey and water. You could call it honey wine, however mead is the more popular term mainly because it can be made to taste completely different from traditional wine. In modern practices, the base mead is enhanced and transformed by using adjuncts, a fancy word for additives such as fruit, spices or other agricultural products used to impart flavor. These varietals have fancy names that we'll list below.

Where did it originate?

Mead is the oldest known alcoholic beverage, predating beer and wine by thousands of years to around 6500-7000 BC. Historians have discovered remnants of mead in many cultural vessels around the world, including originating in Asia and Europe.

What does mead taste like?

Not all meads are as sweet as honey. Like traditional grape wine, mead can present as sweet, semi-sweet, or dry. Many factors influence the sweetness, including the type of honey, fruits, spices and length of time in fermentation. 

Are there any health benefits?

Depending on your definition of healthy, mead provides many benefits over beer and wine. It is naturally gluten free and (depending on the fermentation process) often carries the benefits of the raw honey with it. It can be sweet and high in sugar or dry and sugar free. Ask your local meadery or beverage store for more information before you try.

Common Varietals

Acerglyn: A mead made with honey and maple syrup.

Bochet: A mead where the honey is caramelized or burned separately before adding the water. Yields toffee, caramel, chocolate and toasted marshmallow flavors.

Braggot: Originally brewed with honey and hops, later with honey and malt—with or without hops added.

Capsicumel/Capsumel: A mead flavored with chile peppers, the peppers may be hot or mild.

Cyser: A blend of honey and apple juice fermented together.

Melomel: Melomel is made from honey and any fruit. Depending on the fruit base used, certain melomels may also be known by more specific names (see cyser and pyment for examples).

Metheglin: Metheglin is traditional mead with herbs or spices added. Some of the most common metheglins are ginger, tea, orange peel, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, cloves or vanilla. Its name indicates that many metheglins were originally employed as folk medicines.

Pyment: Pyment blends honey and red or white grapes and/or grape juice.


Rhodomel: Rhodomel is made from honey, rose hips, rose petals or rose attar, and water.


Sack mead: This refers to mead that is made with more honey than is typically used. The finished product contains a higher-than-average ethanol concentration (meads at or above 14% ABV are generally considered to be of sack strength) and often retains a high specific gravity and elevated levels of sweetness, although dry sack meads (which have no residual sweetness) can be produced.


Short mead: Also called “quick mead”. A type of mead recipe that is meant to age quickly, for immediate consumption. Because of the techniques used in its creation, short mead shares some qualities found in cider (or even light ale): primarily that it is effervescent, and often has a cidery taste. It can also be champagne-like.


Show mead: A term which has come to mean “plain” mead: that which has honey and water as a base, with no fruits, spices or extra flavorings.

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