Styles of Mead
What are the common styles of mead?
Traditional or Show Mead
The most basic type of mead, a traditional mead is made of only honey, water, and yeast. They are very dependent on the type of honey, known as the variety, for their color, flavor and aroma. The variety of honey brings distinctive flavors that can be bold or subtle. For example, orange blossom honey has a light citrus flavor while buckwheat honey has bold chocolate and malt notes.
A spiced mead is known as a metheglin. The spices can be used to add balance, body, and complexity to the mead. Often, sweet baking spices are employed as they are a natural complement to honey's sweet, floral, and fruity notes. But the world of spices is broad and the imagination of meadmakers endless, so other flavors from the earthy to the herbal to the fiery hot can find there way into a mead!
Honey goes so well with so many things, why not add fruit? Berries, stone fruits, or exotic tropical fruits, all can be made into delicious melomels. A couple special cases of melomel exist- cysers are made with honey and apples, and pyment is honey and wine grapes.
A mead created from caramelized honey. The caramelization of the honey can bring out additional flavors- think caramel, toffee, or toasted marshmallow. Often only a portion of the honey will be caramelized and then blended with the original honey- the result is a more layered and complex mead.
Session Meads are the lightest meads, and usually sparkling. They can have hops, fruit, or spices added. Session meads make an excellent honey-based alternative to beers or ciders!
Also on the lighter side, hydromels tend to feature light, subtle and delicate flavors. They are comparable to white wines, but their varietal honey notes lend them their own distinctive character.
Sack or Great Mead
The grandaddy of meads, sack or great meads are full bodied, strong, and usually fairly sweet. They make an excellent dessert wine.