The question, “How long is mead good for?” is often asked by lovers of this alcoholic drink who want to buy a couple of bottles and keep them. If you want to make mead at home or you found a bottle of mead in your pantry a year later, you might ask, does mead go bad?
As most people are unsure of whether mead is closer to wine or hard liquor, mead’s shelf life depends on the type of mead.
In this review, we cover all you need to know about how long mead is good for and how to tell if it has gone bad.
How Long Is Your Mead Good for?
Your mead is good for as long as one week to over five years, depending on whether it is a classic mead or light mead and whether it was opened or unopened. An unopened classic mead can stay good for over five years when stored in the proper conditions.
Classic meads have a higher alcohol content than lighter meads, making them more stable for storage. While an opened bottle can last up to five years or even decades, an opened bottle can last between three and six months in the pantry and up to eight months if you keep it in the fridge.
For a lighter mead, they usually come with a best-by date. The mead is good until about six months after the best-by date as long as it is stored properly. But once you open a lighter mead, you should store it in the fridge and drink it within a week.
Keep in mind that the mead taste won’t be as great as it first did when you bought the bottle. A classic or lighter mead will begin to taste flat if you wait until after a year to drink it. And once you open the bottle, producers recommend that you finish it at once because that’s when it tastes best.
What Are The Signs That Mead Has Gone Bad?
The signs that mead has gone bad are a color change, bitter flavor, a rancid or odd aroma, or a cloudy appearance. If your mead was in storage for a long time, or you’ve had an opened bottle out for a while, it’s best to do a taste test first.
Mead going bad is a rare occurrence because classic and lighter meads don’t spoil when you store them for too long. The mead’s taste will become flat and sometimes disgusting, but you can still drink mead. Commercially made mead has undergone rigorous processes to prevent it from spoiling.
If you have homemade brew instead, there is a good chance of it going bad when it gets infected. Once you notice this, throw the batch out and avoid drinking it. Also, you might notice sediment at the bottom of your bottle of mead, but this isn’t a sign of it going bad.
Most of the time, mead doesn’t go bad, but you should still check for the signs of spoilage if you’ve had the bottle for a long time. If you forget to close the bottle or it is homemade, the chances of it going bad are higher.
Will Mead Go Bad Once Opened?
No, mead will not go bad once opened, but it only takes a few months for it to go bad when you store it. An opened bottle of a classic mead can last for up to eight months, especially when you store it in the fridge.
For a lighter mead, you should drink it within a week of opening it. But, when you have a homemade mead and leave it open during fermentation, it is likely for it to get infected due to the yeast. It can grow mold, and this makes it undrinkable. So, mead will also go bad once opened when it has not yet been fermented. You should carefully pick yeast in order to make mead and avoid any possible issues.
What Is the Best Way To Store Mead?
The best way to store mead is in a cool, dry, and dark place, placing the bottle on its side, similar to wine. You should keep mead away from sources of heat and sunlight and avoid placing it near shocks and vibrations, like close to the fridge.
The perfect place to keep your mead is in a wine cellar, but not everyone has this. You can go for other options like a cupboard or your pantry. Once you open the mead, you might wonder whether it needs refrigeration or not. You can keep a darker mead at room temperature since it has a high alcohol content.
Other types of mead with ABVs below 14 percent should be refrigerated, except if the producers stated otherwise on the label. But when you drink the mead halfway, keep the bottle sealed to prevent air from entering the bottle.
Before you keep mead in storage, check the bottle, as manufacturers usually include their storage guidelines and best-by date, so you can use that as a base to store your mead for an extended period of time. Shelf life differs based on the type of mead and the producer that made it.
Should You Keep Mead Frozen?
No, you should not keep your mead frozen because this will affect the flavor. The best place to keep your mead is in a pantry or cupboard when it is unopened. If you want to keep mead in storage after opening it, you should store it in the fridge.
Storing mead in the freezer will cause you to freeze mead.
How Long Can You Age Your Mead?
You can age your mead as long as a year for the lighter meads. Darker meads can be aged for up to five years or even a decade. You can buy a few bottles of mead to age and sample them every six months to check the peak age.
Most makers set their mead age at up to two years, but you can also wait for ten months if you’re looking for the shortest time. If you don’t want your mead to be aged, you can start drinking it one month after making it.
If you’re making your mead at home, you should make sure it is properly sealed to prevent an infection or contamination. Mead is made with honey, fresh water, and yeast or bacterial culture, and the yeast can be infected if not taken care of properly.
Because of these ingredients, most produced mead are gluten free! Mead is naturally gluten-free since it is made with honey and yeast. Most mead on the market is gluten-free, only if it has not been aged in a barrel or made with additional ingredients.
1. Does Homemade Mead Last As Long As Commercially-Made Mead?
No, homemade mead does not last as long as commercially made mead. Commercially made mead has gone through a strenuous process and aging periods, so it will last years or even decades, compared to homemade mead that is made without any preservatives.
2. Can You Get Food Poisoning from Spoiled Mead?
No, you cannot get food poisoning from spoiled mead because it is not dangerous for consumption. Old mead doesn’t taste good, but it will not harm you. If you make your mead the wrong way, the alcohol can poison you, but spoiled mead can only cause nausea and stomach cramps.
Whether you want to buy mead to keep or you find a bottle of mead in your pantry after a long time, it’s important to know the answer to how long is mead good for?
Before you go, here’s a rundown of our guide:
- Mead will last between one week and five years, depending on the type, ABV, and storage.
- When mead has gone bad, it has a color change, bitter flavor, a rancid or odd aroma, or a cloudy appearance.
- The best method of mead storage is in a cool, dark, and dry place, with the bottle facing the side and in a pantry.
- You can age mead for up to five years, depending on the type of mead.
- Don’t keep mead frozen because it will affect the taste; instead, keep it in the fridge.
With this guide, you have all you need to know about storing your mead. So once you buy a bottle of mead, you should store it properly and don’t forget it in the pantry!