If you’ve never tried mead before, you might expect it to be overly sweet, it is made primarily with honey after all. However, like wine and beer, mead takes on different tastes depending on what is added during the process. While often referred to as honey wine, if you try to purchase some, you’ll likely find it with the beer.
Overall, mead tends to taste like honey, so it skews somewhat sweeter. However, there are many types of mead and some are much drier, spicier, or tarter. It all depends on what’s added and the type of honey used.
Just like other forms of alcohol, the taste of mead is dependent on multiple factors. In addition, different types of mead will have different consistencies and feel differently in the mouth.
Types of Mead
There are many types of mead. Here are some of the more common forms, let’s go through them and discuss how they taste and their textures.
A traditional mead is simply honey and water. However, since there are 300 different types of honey, the one chosen will affect the taste of the mead. But basically, it will taste like honey, but that doesn’t always mean it’s sweet.
During fermentation, the sugar gets converted to alcohol, so you get the flavor of the honey, but not necessarily, the sweetness. Kombucha has a similar flavor.. Honey that isn’t sweet tends to taste smoky, woody, and earthy.
Overall, it’s fairly smooth in the mouth and somewhat crisp.
Technically, a mead that contains fruit, in addition to honey and water, is classified as a melomel. These can be either sweet or dry depending on the fruit used, but these are mostly sweet meads. The most common types of fruit used are blends of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and apricots.
They tend to feel very much like red wine in the mouth and have a fairly medium body.
This is a specific type of melomel made with apples. If you’ve ever had a hard cider, cyser is similar to that in flavor.
It tastes like a blend of apples and honey that comes with a bit of a tart bite to it. Overall, it’s fairly smooth to drink.
Similar to cyser, pyment is a melomel that is made with grapes. This is not wine though, as the grapes are added along with the honey to create mead.
Depending on the grapes used, pyment will taste moderately of honey with either spicy, fruity, or earthy flavors.
It has a medium-bodied mouthfeel.
Metheglins are meads that contain spices and herbs. Often, cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves are most common and can be added to melomels occasionally as well.
These types of mead are typically richer and spicier than some of the others.
Mulled mead is a combination of melomel and metheglin. It’s typically made with warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg (what does nutmeg tastes like?). It often has citrus fruit added such as lemons and oranges.
Typically mulled mead, has a bit of a heavier feel in the mouth.
This type of mead is often heated unlike the other types of mead which are consumed at room temperature or chilled.
Sima, Finland’s claim to mead, is somewhat less of mead than it used to be. While traditionally made with honey, presently, it’s often made with a combination of honey and brown sugar. This makes it much sweeter but isn’t necessarily classified as a mead.
It’s often flavored with lemons as well, which gives it a fresh, citrusy taste as well.
Lighter in the mouth than other meads, Sima is often used more as a sparkling beverage, than a heavier mead.
Bochet is a mead that is made from honey that has been caramelized. The flavor of the honey is dependent on how long it cooks for. When cooked less it tastes like caramel, however, when cooked longer, it tastes like dark chocolate.
Often fruits such as elderberry, blackberries, and dark raspberries are added.
It has a heavier, somewhat creamy texture.
This is very similar to Bochet, however, it is made with maple syrup in addition to honey.
Acergyln is very sweet and heavy.
Made in Lithuania, Midas is somewhat sweet and fairly bitter. Often made with juniper berries, Midas sometimes has a bit of a peppery aftertaste.
It tends to feel light in the mouth.
Braggots are made with grains, hops, and malts which makes them more like beer than wine. However, in order to retain its mead status, it still needs to have over 50% honey.
These types of mead are often tangy, earthy, and spicy, but the flavors can vary based on the levels of grains and hops.
This often has a texture similar to a sour beer like Guinness.. It often has a bit of a pucker and a bite.
While mead has multiple flavors depending on varying factors, most mead tends to smell floral and early with hints of vanilla and citrus.
If your mead smells like rotten eggs, chances are something went wrong during fermentation.
Mead is a fermented drink made from honey that tends to taste slightly sweet. It can also take on spicier or tarter flavors depending on the type.
If you don’t like sweet drinks, be sure to try a traditional mead or Braggot. Alternatively, see if you can find Midas, as it has a peppery finish.
For those who enjoy sweeter flavors, Bochet or Acergyln is what you want. Made with caramelized honey and maple syrup respectively, you get a much sweetener beverage with either of these.
Like many alcoholic beverages the variety is huge and it might take some time to find the perfect mead for you.