While its basic ingredients are simple, the possibilities of mead are at least as great as beer or wine, thanks to the longstanding tradition of adding extra ingredients to mead. Mead is traditionally divided into styles based on the ingredients used (both extra ingredients like herbs and spices and basic ingredients like honey); the degree of sweetness; the alcoholic strength of the mead, and the degree of carbonation used.
Describing mead styles
Because good mead can be made with any combination of sweetness, carbonation, ingredients, and strength, it is harder to define a "style" of mead than it is to define a beer style or wine style. Simply defining a mead by the ingredients used, as is done in the BJCP style guidelines used in most home meadmaking competitions, ignores many other aspects of a mead's character and does little to ensure that similar meads are grouped together. In order to fully describe any given mead style, therefore, it will probably be necessary to define it as falling into more than one "style"; one for ingredients, one for carbonation, and so on.
Over the centuries, an extensive vocabulary has grown up to describe various kinds of meads; modern mead makers often describe their products using terms like metheglin, melomel, petillant, and hydromel. These terms may be confusing or intimidating to the beginning mead maker, but each of them has a fairly simple meaning and describes one aspect of a mead's character. If you prefer, you can use simpler language to describe mead. For example, a petillant hydromel melomel can also be described as a mildly carbonated ("petillant") low-alcohol ("hydromel") fruit mead ("melomel"). Both kinds of terms will probably be encountered in this wiki.
One common way of defining mead styles is by the ingredients used. A variety of terms are used to describe meads made simply with honey and with addded ingredients like fruit, herbs and spices. The most commonly encountered terms are:
- Show mead
- A mead made with only honey, water, and yeast, with very limited additives.
- Traditional mead
- May include other ingredients to add complexity or depth, but should not feature other flavors.
- Varietal mead
- Mead made with honey from a single source, created by bees used to fertilize a single crop.
- Mead made with fruit; usually refers to fruits other than grapes or apples.
- Mead made with herbs and spices.
- Meads made with grapes or blended with wine.
- Meads made with apples or blended with cider.
- Meads made with malt or blended with beer.
Other terms are used to define less common mead styles with more specialized ingredients, such as morat (mulberry mead), or combinations of the above, such as hippocras (a spiced grape mead). Some mead makers have also created new terms such as capiscumel (hot pepper mead) to define more recent styles.
A number of terms are used to describe the alcoholic strength of mead, which is as varied as that of wine. The most important terms are those used by the BJCP style guidelines used in most mead competitions:
- Low alcohol mead, either brewed to a low original gravity or blended with water.
- Standard strength
- A moderate alcohol mead, usually 1.080 - 1.120 original gravity and 7.5-14% alcohol by volume.
- Sack strength
- A mead of more than standard alcoholic strength.
Unlike beer or wine, most styles of mead can be served uncarbonated or with different degrees of carbonation. Again, the most important terms are the BJCP guidelines:
- An uncarbonated mead.
- A mead with low carbonation but not enough to be described as "sparkling".
- A mead carbonated at beer or Champagne pressures.
Full list of mead style terminology
See the article listing below for more terms used to describe various mead styles.
Pages in category "Mead styles"
The following 46 pages are in this category, out of 46 total.