Mead is having its time in the spotlight again thanks to craft brewing becoming more readily available to hobbyists. The old recipe has had a new life brought into it and mead has become popular again with the craft brew and mico-winery crowds, even going as far to being available online from Dan Murphy’s!
What is mead?
Mead, also known as honey wine in some countries, is an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey, water and various spices, grains, hops and fruits. There can be a lot of variety in mead and there are many different types available including a standard honey mead, spiced meads, and even sparkling meads that have been pre-carbonated.
What does mead taste like?
Mead is often considered most similar to a cider because of its sweetness, but it has elements of beer (because of the grain and hops addition) and also wine (because of the higher alcohol content). Mead is considered alcoholic and contains 8-20% alcohol volume. Some varieties of mead are known as cysers, and these are more alcoholic as they use apple cider instead of water in the brewing process.
Mead can be served at room temperature, chilled, or over ice. Mead can be mixed with soda water, lemonade, dry ginger ale or any other carbonated beverage that compliments the flavours.
How to make mead
Mead is made by fermenting honey and distilled water with yeast. The process involves heating, fermenting over time, and depending on the added ingredients (i.e. fruit or spices), it will also be strained before bottling.
Mead can be brewed at home with simple ingredients and the right equipment. Follow this recipe for a great mead homebrew for beginners.
Mead doesn’t get better with age like wine. Depending on the alcohol content it is generally shelf stable but should be consumed within 3 day of opening and kept in a cool, dark place, or in the fridge once opened.
5 popular meads to try
1. Moonlight Meadery, Deviant
Moonlight Meadery are a world class mead and cider maker from America who have taken mead to the next level with their playful adaptations and flavour pairings. As sustainable as possible, their fruit is sourced close to home and they do not add sulfites, sorbates, or manufactured flavorings to their meads, and they only use True Source Certified or Certified Organic honey. Deviant is a cyser and one of the most popular varieties.
Taste: With tastes of honey, apple and ginger, this playful mead is slightly sweet and slightly spicy with a pleasant aroma to finish on this cyser mead.
Price and where to buy: $40 per bottle, Dan Murphy’s
2. Maxwell Honey Mead
The bright golden hues of Maxwell Honey Mead are made using one of the oldest mead recipes and by fermenting pure South Australian honey. This mead has been awarded the ‘best pure varietal mead’ gold medal at the International Mead Festival Competition in the USA.
Taste: Light, refreshing, and sweet but not overpowering. Hints of apricot and honey characters tickle the palate.
Price and where to buy: $17.10 per bottle, Dan Murphy’s
3. Wikinger Met Roter
This seasonal mead, or honey wine, is as close to the drink from viking tales as you can get. Made from an original recipe right in the land of Vikings at Hedeby, it is only available when in Autumn in Australia.
Taste: Cherry juice is blended with the original honey mead recipe to give a sweet, complex and invigorating flavour.
Price and where to buy: Unknown, only available seasonally from Dan Murphy’s
4. Mudgee Honey Mead
Local honey-makers and beekeepers in Mudgee have branched out with their own mead that has aromas of floral beeswax and nutty marmalade. The honey used in their mead comes direct from their hives. Also available in a spiced variety.
Taste: Subtle honey and apricot hints add to this light and breezy mead. The finish is a pleasantly sharp and appetising spiciness.
Price and where to buy: $23 per bottle, Mudgee Honey Haven
5. Stone Dog Heading to the Coast - Macadamia honey Traditional Mead
Stone Dog Meadery is a small artisan brewing company that brews its meads by using honey from single sources. This boutique meadery makes limited quantities and prides themselves on the variety, their ability to showcase Australian honey and food pairing suggestions.
Taste: You can really taste the raw unfiltered Macadamia honey in this unique, semi sweet mead. Bright and light, you’ll be transported to the shores after one sip. Enjoy with fresh seafood.
Price and where to buy: $20 per bottle, Stone Dog Meadery