Mead is a beverage typically alcoholic, made from honey and water, by fermentation with yeast. The alcoholic content may range from that of a mild ale to that of a strong wine. Mead may be still or sparkling. Depending on local traditions and specific recipes, it may be brewed with one or more spices. It may be produced by fermentation of honey with grain mash; mead may also, like beer, be flavoured with hops to produce a bitter, beer-like flavour. Unless a bittering agent such as hops is included, mead is sweet.


Mead Variants

Braggot — Braggot (also called bracket or brackett). Originally brewed with honey and hops, later with honey and malt — with or without hops added.

Black mead — A name sometimes given to the blend of honey and blackcurrants.

Capsicumel is a mead flavoured with chili peppers.

Chouchenn is a kind of mead made in Brittany.

Cyser — A blend of honey and apple juice fermented together; see also cider.

Czwórniak — A Polish mead, made using three units of water for each unit of honey

Dwójniak — A Polish mead, made using equal amounts of water and honey

Great mead — Any mead that is intended to be aged several years. The designation is meant to distinguish this type of mead from "short mead" (see below).

Gverc or Medovina — Croatian mead prepared in Samobor and many other places. The word “gverc” or “gvirc” is from the German "Gewürze" and refers to various spices added to mead.

Hydromel — Hydromel literally means "water-honey" in Greek. It is also the French name for mead. (Compare with the Spanish hidromiel and aquamiel, Italian idromele and Portuguese hidromel). It is also used as a name for a very light or low-alcohol mead.

Medica — Slovenian variety of Mead.

Medovina — Czech, Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, and Slovak for mead. Commercially available in Czech Republic, Slovakia and presumably other Central and Eastern European countries.

Medovukha — Eastern Slavic variant (honey-based fermented drink)

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, pyment, morat for examples)

Metheglin — Metheglin starts with traditional mead but has herbs and/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. The Welsh word for mead is medd, and the word "metheglin" derives from meddyglyn, a compound of meddyg, "healing" + llyn, "liquor".

Morat — Morat blends honey and mulberries.

Mulsum — Mulsum is not a true mead, but is unfermented honey blended with a high-alcohol wine.

Omphacomel — A mediæval mead recipe that blends honey with verjuice; could therefore be considered a variety of pyment.

Oxymel — Another historical mead recipe, blending honey with wine vinegar.

Pitarrilla — Mayan drink made from a fermented mixture of wild honey, balche tree bark and fresh water.

Pyment — Pyment blends honey and red or white grapes. Pyment made with white grape juice is sometimes called "white mead."

Półtorak — A Polish mead, made using two units of honey for each unit of water

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

Sack mead — This refers to mead that is made with more copious amounts of honey than usual. The finished product retains an extremely high specific gravity and elevated levels of sweetness. It derives its name, according to one theory, from the fortified dessert wine Sherry (which is sometimes sweetened after fermentation and in England once bore the nickname of "sack"); another theory is that the term derived from the Japanese drink sake, being introduced by Spanish and Portuguese traders.

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 flavourings. Since honey alone often does not provide enough nourishment for the yeast to carry on its lifecycle, a mead that is devoid of fruit, etc. will sometimes require a special yeast nutrient and other enzymes to produce an acceptable finished product. In most competitions (including all those using the BJCP style guidelines as well as the International Mead Fest) the term "traditional mead" is used for this variety.

Sima - a quickly-fermented Finnish variety, seasoned with lemon and associated with the festival of vappu.

Tej — Tej is an Ethiopian mead, fermented with wild yeasts (and bacteria), and with the addition of gesho. Recipes vary from family to family, with some recipes leaning towards braggot with the inclusion of grains.

Trójniak — A Polish mead, made using two units of water for each unit of honey.


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