What is the difference between mead and beer?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question,”What is the difference between mead and beer?”, and discuss what mead and beer is, how they are made along with the types of beers and categorisation of meads.

What is the difference between mead and beer?

The difference between mead and beer is that mead when made does not go through the process of boiling but is directly passed through the fermentation process. Whereas, the beer, when it is made has to undergo both the processes of boiling and fermentation

What is mead?

Mead is one of the oldest fermented beverages made with honey, water and yeast. The yeast used for the formation of mead is the champagne years and not the yeast that is used to make ale. Mead has to be aged for 2-3 years before consumption. 

How is mead made?

Mead is made by thinning honey by the addition of water for the yeast to easily break down sugars and ferment them into alcohol. The honey which is diluted in water is known as must. Fruit and vegetable juices are then added to give the mead a specific taste. Yeast, nutrients and oxygen is then added for the process of fermentation to occur.

Mead contains wide ranges of alcohol by volume from 3% upto as much as 20%. 

After the fermentation process, mead is aged for some months upto several years before going into the market. Meads have a fruity flavour with hints of cider. As the main constituent of mead is honey, the type of nectar and pollen collected and made into honey by honey bees also contributes to the different types of flavours.

What is beer?

Beer is a beverage which is made up of water, barley, hops, malt and grain. The production of beer is termed as brewing, and involves fermenting the starch mainly found in cereal grains. Beers are not kept for long and are served in a short time period, within 2-3 months. 

Beer has a malty flavour and the flavours can also be identified as crisp, hoppy, and roast. Beer contains 4-7% alcohol. Some countries state that any beverage that exceeds 4-7% alcohol does not fall into the categorisation of beer.

How is beer made?

Beer is made by the extraction of sugars from barley and the addition of yeast, and alcohol and carbon dioxide is produced. The making of beer involves malting, mashing, boiling and fermentation. The grains are first heated, dried and cracked open. 

They are then soaked in hot water and the enzymes are activated in the grains to extract the sugars, the process is  called mashing. The water is drained when the grains are fully soaked. The water which drains is known as the wort and is basically raw beer which has high quantities of sugars.

The wort undergoes boiling and hopsm flavours and spices are added to it. Hops are a type of fruit which grow on wine plants. The wort is cooled down and is filtered and then fermented by the addition of a specific yeast kind to the liquid. 

The mixture undergoes fermentation for some days and then bottled for market distribution.

The fermentation of beers that occur at warm temperatures are called ales and those that undergo fermentation at cooler temperatures are called lagers.

What are the types of beers?

Beers are broadly categorised into:

  1. Ales – made from the yeast known as saccharomyces cerevisiae
  2. Lagers – made from the yeast known as saccharomyces pastorianus

How to categorise meads?

Meads are categorised depending on the ingredients they contain. Meads which consist of fruits are known as melomels. Other types of mead are known as traditional mead as they do not contain other ingredients except for honey, water and yeast. 

Meads are also categorised based on the alcoholic content. 

  1. Hydromels – have the lowest amounts of alcohol – 3-7%
  2. Standard meads – have alcohol between 8-13%
  3. Snack meads  – have the highest amounts of alcohol.

Other FAQs about Mead that you may be interested in.

How to bottle mead?

What is the distinction between mead and beer?

Is mead good for you?


In this brief article, we answered the question,”What is the difference between mead and beer?”, and discussed what mead and beer is, how they are made along with the types of beers and categorisation of meads.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.