What is Mead?
In its simplest form, mead is essentially fermented honey and water. It is the fermented sugars in the honey which turn into alcohol. Mead is often called Honey Wine because the fermentation process of the honey is similar to the fermentation of grapes to produce wine.
But mead actually predates wine, as the oldest alcoholic drink in the world mead was produced in ancient civilisations before the Romans cultivated grapes for wine production.
Mazers (mead makers) are famed for using secret blends of honey fermented, blended and then aged to create the rich, floral and pungent flavours that characterise their mead. The flavour of mead can vary depending on the source of the honey, additions to the blend including fruit and spices, yeast employed during fermentation, and the ageing procedure. Many meads retain some measure of the sweetness of the original honey, and are considered as dessert wines.
But beware of faux-meads; these cheap wines masquerading as mead made with large amounts of honey added to the wine produce a cloyingly sweet liqueur. It has been said that “a mead that tastes of honey is as good as a wine that still tastes of grape”.
Variety and Versatility
With its extensive history, mead has many variations as production techniques and additives vary around the globe. Four popular types are mead are:
● Melomel is the blending of fruit and honey, where the combined sugars contribute to the fermentation. Here at Mella Mead we produce Apricot, Raspberry and Blackberry blends.
● Pyment is thought to be a transitional drink as grape produced by the Greeks and Romans as wine increased in popularity. Pyment can be the blending of grapes with the fermented honey or the addition of honey to a grape wine.
● Braggot is a cross between beer and mead, with both grain and honey as the fermentable sugars. Braggots can also include hops, fruit, and/or spices.
● Cyser is the name given to the blending of apples and fermented honey. It is believed that this too was transitional mead around the time of Pyment.
Mead is in a league of it’s own, a standalone category, mead is not a wine, cider, beer or liquor. Although we can see from the combinations above how mead can be blended to be more wine-like, cider-like or beer-like.
The beauty of mead is its versatility. You can drink it like a wine, cider, beer or liquor. It can be served chilled, over ice, at room temperature or warm (mulled Mead at Christmas time anyone?) Mead can be enjoyed as an aperitif (like Sherry), to accompany a meal like wine (or served in place of a dessert wine) or as an after dinner digestif (like brandy). Mead also makes a refreshing long drink with a mixer (replace that G&T with a Mead & Tonic) and is an excellent base for cocktails.
Download our Mella Mead Cocktail Recipes and be inspired to create your own mead combinations.