Most people wonder what does mead taste like when they hear about this popular brew, especially since it’s becoming a popular offering in taprooms that serve beer and cider. Mead is known for having a long history of over 4,000 years.
But now, this well-known honey-powered drink has been restored to its former glory.
If you want to be one of the beer drinkers trying out mead, find out what it tastes like and more in this complete and in-depth guide.
What Does Mead Taste Like?
Basic styles of mead have slightly floral notes with hints of citrus and vanilla; honey is used to brew mead, and the better quality of honey you use, the more complex the flavor will be. Some meads are sweet, while others are dry.
Mead is also known to have a refreshing character on the palate without being too acidic or bitter. It also has a lot of subtle flavors that come from the residual honey, and they linger on the tongue for a short time without feeling overwhelming on the taste buds.
This honey wine can also be still or bubbly, depending on the level of carbonation. The carbonation level also affects the flavor, and meads have different levels depending on the type you buy.
– What Type of Mead To Get
Despite this fixed definition, there are different types of mead. If you haven’t tried mead before but like beer and wine, you can use your preferences to choose the right mead.
Light meads are perfect if you enjoy the taste of jam and fruits, as it is brewed with berries. This is a great choice for those who like red wines, but fans of the Indian Pale Ale will prefer traditional mead, which is dry or made with light fruits like melon or citrus.
Those who like drinking stouts will prefer to drink dark, spicy meads since they offer a similar thick mouthfeel and flavor.
What Is Mead?
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made with honey, which is fermented and mixed with water and sometimes with other ingredients like spices, fruits, grains and others. Mead is technically a type of wine, but it is usually sold by places that have beer and cider.
Since mead uses honey instead of grapes, it has a velvet-like mouthfeel and a golden hue appearance. Nowadays, mead brewers shift away from traditional methods. You can now find meads made with spices or fruit, which are called metheglins and melomels, respectively.
When you talk to mead lovers, you might hear them describe the brew as “sunshine in a glass.” This is because of its blend of sweet flavors.
– Mead – A Short History
It is believed that mead is the first alcoholic drink to ever be produced by humans, as it is made by the fermentation of honey and water. The process of making mead is really simple, and evidence has shown that the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians used to drink it more than 4,000 years ago.
Mead was slowly replaced by wine by 1000 BC, which involved using grapes rather than honey. Some Roman writers also stated in their work that mead was drunk by the rich. This means that most people were drinking wine since it must’ve been easy to access and affordable.
After the Middle Ages, mead had nearly disappeared and was only used during rituals in North Europe. Fortunately, mead did not disappear completely. Today, a lot of beer and winemakers are beginning to produce mead alongside their current offerings.
– The Features of Mead
Mead follows a similar fermentation process to cider, wine and beer, but it is very different from these drinks. When it comes to taste, the first thing you might notice is the sugar concentration. Mead has a higher level of sugar than wine, causing further fermentation even after it has been bottled.
This extra fermentation will change the taste of the drink by the time you drink it, and you might notice this by shaking the bottle before drinking. You will also notice the sound that carbonated drinks make when you open them, and it will tickle your palate.
Mead also sparkles sometimes, but this shouldn’t discourage you as it does not make them taste bad. Another feature of mead is its colors. There is no set color of mead, as this depends on the fermentation process and the type of honey used. You might also notice deposits settled at the bottom of the mead bottle, but this is normal.
– What Affects the Taste of Mead?
The main factor that affects the taste of mead is the quality of the honey fermented the first time. When mead is made with low-quality honey, it tastes flat and offers a poor drinking experience.
Even if other ingredients can be added to mead in the secondary fermentation and mead is almost always drinkable, the true experience is offered with good quality honey. This is important to note when wondering what mead tastes like.
There are other factors to consider, including:
The process of aging mead can either give you a high-quality brew or a poor one. Just like with wine, the longer mead ages, the smoother it would be.
Properly aging your mead will also help in developing the flavor and enhancing the subtle features. If mead has a higher ABV, it needs to be left to age for a longer time.
Another factor that can affect the taste of mead is poor storage. Just like a beer can turn skunky when you don’t store it well, mead can also turn and taste bad if you leave it in poor storage conditions. The best way to store mead is in a cool and dry place, like beer.
– The Mead Tasting Process
If you want to properly taste your mead, you should start by checking the type you’re drinking so you know what to expect.
You should check factors like the ABV, sugar levels, special ingredients, honey and carbonation.
Here’s how to taste mead.
Check the Appearance
The first thing to do is to evaluate the appearance of the mead. Check the hues if they are golden or if the spices and fruit add more color. The color can depend on the quality of honey too. Also, stronger meads have more color, but the color looks weak when there is a lot of carbonation.
You should also check the clarity of the mead, as clearer meads are usually better than those that are cloudy. If mead is carbonated, another thing to consider is bubbles and head formation.
Sniff the Aroma
After looking at the appearance, you should check out the aroma. Checking the scent of your drink before tasting is a good way to enhance the overall flavor. The scent of mead can be floral, spicy, or even fruity based on the honey source. Fresh aromatics indicate that the mead is fresh.
There might also be some aromatics from fermentation, like sulfur, alcohol and yeast. Plus, sweet mead has a stronger honey aroma than weak or dry ones. You should also look out for offensive odors and avoid drinking mead if it tastes off.
Taste the Flavor
Now you can drink the mead. You should also be attentive when tasting mead to identify the different flavors and aspects. Check if the flavors are balanced or if one, like honey or fruits, dominates the other. You should also look out for vinous flavors and extra ingredients like spices and fruits.
When tasting mead, the alcohol flavors should be smooth and well-aged. Then you might notice higher acidity and a sting at the finish because of oxidation. Mead shouldn’t taste harsh or solventy or have excessive molasses, sherry or papery flavors. This beverage also has a longer aftertaste than other styles of alcohol.
Feel the Body and Texture
The final thing to think about when tasting mead is the mouthfeel. This involves the physical and chemical sensations you feel on your palate like the body, balance, and texture of the mead. The body of a mead can differ from medium-light to medium-full. Mead with a thin or watery body is not advisable.
You should also consider the tannin and acidity of the mead, as this usually balances out the honey, alcohol and sweetness. Carbonation and alcohol warming can also be present in mead and can add a bite to its finish.
– How To Store Mead Properly
Mead should be stored the same way that wine is stored. You should store it in a cool, dark and dry place. The mead bottles should be stored while kept on their sides so that they won’t fall down and break or get damaged. This makes them different from beers that are best stored upright.
If you’re storing mead for a long time, you also need to consider the temperature. The ideal temperature range for mead is between 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a temperature higher than this, this will increase the humidity and speed up the mead’s aging process.
– Mead Alcohol Contents
The range of ABV of mead can go from 2 percent to 20 percent, depending on the type you purchase. Most of the time, you will find mead with ABVs between 7.5 percent and 18 percent.
If you have a light mead, the ABV will be lower than 8 percent, but with strong meads, their alcohol is higher than 12 percent, with a thicker and sweeter taste.
Is Mead Stronger Than Beer?
Yes, mead can be stronger than beer. As mentioned earlier, light meads usually have an ABV of 8 percent and below, but the average beer in America has an ABV of 4 percent, making most meads stronger than beer. You can also find mead with very low ABV, reaching even 2 percent, while beers go as low as 3 percent, except it is a non-alcoholic beer.
On the other hand, there is no such thing as non-alcoholic mead, so if you want low alcohol in your mead, you should go for the 2 percent drinks.
Why Is Mead So Expensive?
Mead is expensive because it is made with organic honey. Organic honey works best if you want to make mead the right way, especially since it still contains yeast for fermentation. Using commercial honey for mead means there’s no yeast. It also prevents the granulation of the honey.
Mead is also expensive because it’s scarce. It is not widely found like beer, whiskey, or even wine, so when large-scale breweries make it, they have to increase the price. But when small craft breweries add mead to their menu, they only make a little because of storage issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have some burning questions regarding mead and its components? We have all the expert answers here for you!
– Does Mead Taste Like a Honeyed Wine?
Not always; although honey is the main ingredient in mead, it won’t always be the dominant flavor. When fruits and spices are added to mead, they can cover up the flavor of honey a bit.
– Does Mead Taste More Like Wine or Beer?
Mead is more similar to wine than beer because they are made with the same process, but malt and hops can also be added to mead, making some types of mead taste a bit more like beer than wine.
– If Honey Is Sweet, Why Is Mead Sometimes Dry?
Mead can be dry because the sugar in honey is consumed by yeast and turns to alcohol during the fermentation. Thus, sweeter meads usually have less alcohol than dry meads, except fruits were added in the secondary fermentation.
Although mead dates back to medieval times, it has also become a popular drink nowadays. With honey as its base and the fermentation process being acidic, mead usually has a flavor of sweet and sour.
- Mead has a floral character with hints of citrus and vanilla.
- Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey and water and adding other ingredients.
- The flavor of mead depends on the type of honey, aging process, and storage method.
- The alcohol content of mead is between 2 percent and 20 percent.
- Mead should be stored in a cool and dry place.
Regardless of what flavors you like, it should be easy to find a mead drink that works for you. Now that you know what mead tastes like, you know what to expect when buying your first bottle.
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