You’ve probably heard of mead from enthusiasts or a piece of pop culture referencing mead in some medieval setting. Either way, you’re now curious as to what mead tastes like.
The short answer is that it depends on what you put in your mead, but that’s not all there is to it. Stick around, and we can tackle the different ways mead can taste in this article.
What Is Mead?
Mead is an alcoholic drink made mostly from honey. It tastes more like wine than anything else and is often called “honey wine.”
Mead can be still or bubbly. It gets its sweetness from honey instead of grapes, which gives it a golden color and a velvety mouthfeel.
Some people who make mead don’t stick to the traditional way and add fruit and spices to their honey mix. Fruit meads are called “melomels,” while spiced meads are called “metheglins.”
When people hear the word “mead,” they usually think of the Middle Ages, when it was a popular drink. Mead has become more popular as a fun alternative to wine in recent years.
There are four kinds of mead, which are:
- Braggot is made by mixing fermented honey with grain or malt.
- Melomel is a mix of honey and fruit that has been fermented.
- Hydromel is like Melomel, but it has more water than Melomel.
- Great mead is an old honey drink that is made by fermenting honey.
When people try mead for the first time, they often think it will taste sweet. Since you use honey to make mead, this conclusion is correct.
But mead doesn’t always taste sweet. Instead, mead can be very dry. It can also taste like fruit (melomel) or have a lot of spices (metheglin). There are a lot of choices.
Mead should always taste like honey that has been fermented. Depending on the type of honey used, it can give the final flavor any number of subtleties.
If you think of honey without sweetness, you’ll get an idea of how the flavors in a traditional mead should taste. It should be floral and clean, like a glass of white wine, but usually have a stronger taste.
Still, mead will taste different to each person. The best way to figure out what it tastes is to try it.
With so many commercial meaderies opening up around the country, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a good mead.
The Way to Taste Mead
Find out what you know about your mead before you start to taste it. Is there anything you should look for in particular in the mead? Did the name call out a certain kind of honey?
How much sugar is there in the mead? Is it dry, semi-sweet, or sweet? Do bubbles form in the mead? If so, how much? And how much alcohol is in it?
Is it weak like a session mead or hydromel? Is it a regular beer (9-14% abv)? Or is it a sack mead that is very strong?
Before you pour your glass, you should think about these things to know what to expect from the mead.
Next, when judging the mead, you should consider its smell, appearance, taste, and mouthfeel. You’ll be able to say what you specifically like and don’t like about it.
Mead comes in various colors, from light yellow to darker amber and everything in between. Like with beer, how the brewer racks and filters the liquid can change how clear it is.
If you pay attention to how your mead looks, you can figure out which ones you will most likely like in the future.
We taste with our eyes and nose first, as the saying goes. When you bring your glass of mead up to your nose, the smell is a big part of how you think it tastes.
If you take the time to smell your mead before you drink it, you’ll be able to taste a broader range of subtle flavors, some of which you might not have noticed before.
If you want to taste all the different flavors your drink offers, you’ll have to give it some time. Let your mead sit on your tongue for a few seconds before gulping it down.
Notice how the taste changes as you move from the front of your mouth to the back. You’ll probably learn something new with each sip.
Some kinds of mead are light and go quickly through the mouth. Some of them are thicker and feel almost like velvet.
Most of the time, mead will be less thick if it is lighter in color, but this isn’t always the case. Some meads will surprise you with flavors and textures you didn’t expect.
After describing how the mead looks, smells, tastes, and feels, consider your overall impression. Good meads will look beautiful and have a strong balance between the smell, taste, and mouthfeel that matches the mead’s description.
To finish the evaluation, make a few notes about how you feel about the whole thing.
The amount, type, and quality of honey used is the first thing that changes the taste of mead. Honey can be dark, almost bitter, or too sweet, like syrup.
Honey tastes different because it comes from various plants. Mead makers use trees like orange blossom, tupelo, and buckwheat to make rich, dark honey.
Honey from blueberry blossoms is also rich and full of flavor. Honey made from sweet clover, alfalfa, and bluegum is lighter and has a milder flavor.
Mead with a stronger flavor is made with darker honey, while mead with a milder flavor is made with lighter honey.
The amount of water used in the fermentation process also affects how the mead tastes. Even if you use honey with a strong flavor, adding more water will make the taste less concentrated.
So, if the same honey is used, a Hydromel will have a milder flavor than a Melomel.
The yeast also changes how mead tastes. This is usually wine yeast, which is one reason mead tastes like white wine.
If there isn’t much yeast in the mixture, the mead won’t have much of an acidic taste. When there is more yeast in the mead, it tastes more acidic.
Spices give mead a strong, slightly bitter taste and change its color as well. Brewing spiced mead with citrus, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg gives it a unique, mixed spice flavor.
The flavor of mead changes by adding different fruits to the fermented honey base. When you add oranges, you’ll get a mild citrus flavor.
The drink will taste mildly like apple cider if you add apples to the mead.
Using an apple like the Crispin, which has a slightly sour taste, makes a taste that goes well with honey because it is sweet and sour simultaneously.
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The taste of mead heavily depends on how it was made or what you placed in it. At the end of the day, find a mead that suits your budget and your fancy.