What Does Mead Taste Like And What Is It?
When you think of mead, do you think of a weird beverage that is common at Renaissance Festivals where people are dressed like Kings, Queens and peasants from the Renaissance era? Most people have probably never tried this unique beverage, because it isn’t all that easy to find. What is mead? What does mead taste like?
What is Mead?
Mead is one of the oldest drinks in the world. Before beer, wine and other spirits, mead was consumed as the beverage of choice. At the time, mead was one of the only intoxicating drinks available, so it was a drink of choice at formal dinners.
Mead is made with fermented honey and water. Yeast is used to ferment the beverage. This alcoholic beverage sometimes also contains fruits, herbs, spices and grains (cooknovel.com). Meads with different flavor additions also come with different names. You will learn more about that in the next section.
Mead is different from wine and beer, because of the honey. A fermented beverage that has grain as the primary source of sugar is beer. If the primary source of sugar is fruit, then you have a wine. A fermented beverage with 50 percent or more of its sugar source being honey is mead (Local Wine Events).
What Does Mead Taste Like?
Figuring out what mead tastes like isn’t easy, especially since it can be made a number of different ways, all of which will dramatically change the way the drink tastes.
In general, mead has a honey flavor, because honey is one of the main ingredients. Depending on the kind of honeybees that made the honey, the final product may be different than others around. Bees fertilize a number of different flowers and plants. The flavor of the honey may be affected by the plants and flowers the bees pollinated before producing the honey. The flavor of the honey will affect the final flavor of the mead
Surprisingly, the kind of yeast used to ferment the mead can greatly affect the final flavor. Although yeast isn’t thought of as flavorful, it does lend flavor to the foods it is in.
Lastly, many different ingredients are also added to mead. Spices, herbs, fruits and grains are all additions to mead that can greatly affect the flavor of the final product.
When herbs and spices are added to mead, you get a metheglin (E.C. Kraus). Metheglins made with ginger or cinnamon may be spicy, while vanilla or chocolate metheglins may be sweet and full of flavor.
Mead made with fruit is called a melomel. A Melomel made with blueberries is likely to taste a bit like blueberries, while mead made with rhubarb will taste like rhubarb. Melomels can be either sweet or dry, and they are often compared to fruit wines (http://www.dailyfruitwine.com/).
The best way to truly discover what mead tastes like is to try it yourself. If you taste plain mead before you start trying flavored meads, you will get a good understanding of what the original mead tasted like.
History of Mead
Mead has a complicated history. There are many different theories on when and where mead was originally created. Some people believe that mead dates back 20,000 years by African nomads who wander into the Mediterranean region with honey (medovina.com). Other people believe that more than 8,000 years ago, mead was created on the Island of Crete. Generally, people seem to attribute the creation of mead to the Greeks, however.
Greeks called mead Ambrosia or Nectar. They believed it to be the drink of the gods. The Greeks though that mead had magical and sacred properties that lead to health, strength and virility. It was also believed that mead could extend life.
Mead was popular during the Middle Ages, because it was attributed to the kings and queens. Plus, once the church started using bees wax for candles, mead making declined, which made it even more valuable (http://www.skyriverbrewing.com/).
Mead predates both wine and beer, and it was the drink of the Age of Gold in Europe, which is where many people believe mead was created. Since its creation, mead has been part of the history of a number of different countries and cultures, including both Polish and Norse cultures (http://www.beer100.com/).
How Do You Make Mead?
Just like beer, you can make mead at home! While you may think that mead is complicated to make, it really isn’t difficult at all. Here is how to make six gallons of traditional mead (http://www.mnn.com/):
- Purchase a brewing kit, a large pot, glass carboys, a large plastic pail and a mead-making book.
- Wash and sanitize all of your tools. Bacteria can spoil your mead, so you want everything to be sanitary.
- Boil a gallon and a half of water in the large pot. Once boiling, remove from heat and add a gallon and a half of honey. This is the step where you could also add fruits, spices or herbs if you wanted to. To do so, either add the fruit directly to the mix or put the herbs in a muslin bag in the mix.
- Add three gallons of cool filtered or spring water. Check the temperature of the water. Once it is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, add in the yeast.
- Find the alcohol content of the mead with a hydrometer, stir the mead and seal the top with an airlock.
- Allow the mead to ferment for at least a month.
- Siphon the mead into a different container. Be sure to leave the sediment in the first container. Cover with the airlock again and let sit for at least another month.
- You can then put the mead into bottles and cork them.
This process may sound complicated, but with a little practice, you will master it in no time. The hardest part will just be the waiting.
So, you may still be wondering, “what does mead taste like?” Since it is so hard to describe what mead tastes like, you can best describe the flavor of the mead by the other flavors added to it. Pay attention to the kind of mead you purchase to see what kind of flavor you will taste in the mead. Once you start finding flavors you enjoy, you can try to find similar styles of mead to expand your mead varieties.