If you're new to mead, or even craft beverages in general, a Mead Buyer's Guide is a great place to learn all about the different types of mead and which ones you might want to try first.
The problem, we realized, was that all of the information you might want to know about mead before trying it for the first time was scattered all about the internet. Our own site has hundreds of articles and videos, which can definitely be overwhelming.
In this Mead Buyer's Guide, we run through the essential information that you need to make an informed decision.
If you want a TL;DR, we recommend that you grab a variety case which will have a great mix of meads that we curate based on reviews and fan favorites.
What is mead?
Let's start with the basics. Mead is any alcoholic beverage where the majority of the fermentables (the sugars that turn into alcohol) come from honey. It can also have fruit and spices in it, as many of our products do.
Why would I want to try mead?
Whether you're new to drinking, new to craft, or looking for something exciting and new, mead is a great place to start. It's quite possibly the oldest alcoholic beverage intentionally produced by humans (it's been around for at least 10,800 years), yet modern mead is one of the most innovative beverages on the market.
Additionally, all mead (by law, in the US) is gluten free, so if you have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease, it's a great option for you. It's also a very environmentally friendly choice compared to many other alcoholic beverages on the market.
What are the different types of mead?
At the end of this article, we provide an extensive list of the many, many meads out there. What you care about at this point is that there are three major classes of mead:
First, there's Craft Mead. That's the majority of what we make, and the quintessential craft mead is Valkyrie's Choice. Craft mead is any mead that's brewed with lower alcohol levels, comes in craft packaging like cans or beer bottles, and has carbonation.
The second type of mead is Honey Wine. Honey wine is just what it sounds like, a mead that is packaged like and has many of the same qualities as wine. We don't specifically produce anything in this category, but many wine fans really enjoy Bragi.
The third and final category of mead is Strong Mead. The difference between honey wine and strong mead is that the goal of strong mead is to create a beverage that highlights the honey or traditional styles of mead, rather than creating a mead that tastes like wine. Everything in our Ancient Collection is a strong mead.
Is mead sweet?
No. Well, some of them are, but not the ones we make. Everything we brew, whether it's craft mead or strong mead is bone dry, though some have a certain level of perceived sweetness due to the flavors from the honey and any fruit or spices that have been added. We provide tasting notes for most of our meads that can help guide you as to what a product will taste like before you try it.
How do I know which mead (or meads) I should try first?
This wouldn't be much of a Mead Buyer's Guide if we didn't do some guiding...
If you like craft products like beer, hard cider, or even hard seltzer, you should definitely grab a craft product.
If you're more of a wine drinker, then the Ancient Collection is the place to start.
If you love to play boardgames or D&D, read Tolkien or Beowulf, or watch fantasy films, you can really go either way. You're our kind of people, and everything we brew, we brew for you.
What if I want to do a really deep dive into the types of mead?
We've got your back. Here is just about everything you ever wanted to know about the major types of mead.
Melomels are just mead made with fruit, so there are as many different types of melomels out there as there are fruits in the world. Here are some popular ones:
- Black mead - a mead that is made with black currants
- Cyser - a mead made with apples or apple juice
- Morat - a mead made with mulberries
- Pyment - a mead made from grape juice. Alternatively, wine with honey in it.
- Omphacomel - a mead made with the juices of unripened grapes
- Bilbermel - a mead made with blueberries or blueberry blossom honey
- Bochetomel - a burnt honey mead made with fruits, like elderberries, black raspberries, or blackberries.
- Red mead - a mead made with red currants
- Rubamel - a mead made with raspberries
Metheglin is any kind of mead made with spices. Metheglins are often winter drinks, served hot.
- Hippocras - a pyment with spices
- Mulled mead - a mead that wasn’t necessarily brewed with spices, but is served warmed with spices.
- Conditum - from Ancient Rome, a metheglin that is aged rather than immediately served.
Mead Varieties Poster
This poster illustrates the many different varieties of mead.Each type of mead is accompanied by a description. The poster can be seen in full detail here.… read more
- Acerglyn - a mead made with maple syrup, in addition to honey
- Bochet - a mead made from caramelized honey. These meads have very rich, sweet flavors, like chocolate or marshmallow
- Braggot - a mead made with malted grain, not unlike beer or whiskey. Comes from Wales.
- Capsicumel - a mead made with chili peppers
- Oxymel - a mead made with wine vinegar
- Rhodomel - a mead made with rose petals. From ancient Rome.
- Sparkling mead - a carbonated mead in the honey wine category.
Meads From Around the World
You probably won't encounter many of these, but they could still provide some interesting ideas for your own homebrewing experimentation!
- Acan - Mayan Mexico, made with the bark of the balche tree. Acan is also the Mayan god of wine and intoxication. A similar beverage is now called Balche. Other local versions include xtabentun, which is made with a species of morning glory, and pitarilla.
- Ambrosia - Ancient Greece, often referred to as the drink of the gods
- Bais - Philippines, made by the Mandaya and Manobo people of eastern Mindanao
- Chouchenn - Brittany (France), usually made with buckwheat honey. Originally made with cider and drunk as an aperitif.
- Czworniak - Poland, made with three parts water and one part honey
- Dandaghare, Nepal, made with Himalayan spices and herbs
- Dwojniak - Poland, made using equal amounts of honey and water
- Gverc - Croatia, usually includes spices. Also called Meovina
- iQhilika - South Africa
- Kabarawan - Visayas Islands of the Philippines, made using the aromatic bark of the kabarawan tree. No longer made, but was mentioned by early Spanish colonists.
- Madhu - India, the Sanskrit name for mead
- Medd - Wales
- Medica/Medovica - Slovenia, Croatia, and Slovakia
- Medovina - Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Slovakia.
- Medovuhka - Slavic regions, a mead that is quickly produced by heating the honey mixture to encourage yeast production.
- Mid - Ireland
- Midus - Lithuania, usually uses berry juice and florals.
- Modu - Estonia
- Mulsum - Ancient Rome, a not-quite-mead, made by adding fresh honey to already-fermented wine and serving immediately
- Myod - Russia
- Nectar - Ancient Greece
- Poltorak - Polish mead made with two parts water and one part honey
- Sima - Finland, mead made with lemon and raisins
- Tapluch’I - Georgia
- Tella/Suwa - Ethipoia and Eritrea, similar to a braggot.
- Tej - Ethiopia, flavored with powdered leaves and twigs from the gesho (a type of buckthorn). Also called myes (Tigrinya) and daadhi (Omoro) in regional languages. There is a non-alcoholic version called berz.