What is the distinction between mead and beer?

In this brief article, we will provide you with the answer to the question: “What is the distinction between mead and beer?”, discuss what is mead, and the origins of this beverage. We will also discuss if mead is a healthy drink and how it is produced.

 

What is the distinction between mead and beer?

Mead looks like a beer but is not one, or it looks like wine but is not wine. Mead is often a little more intense than beer.

Mead, like beer, has a number of “unofficial” sub-styles that are only recognized by the name of mead. Just like beer, you may make multiple types with varied flavors by adding spices, fruits, and vegetables.

The Belgian beer school, for example, demonstrates that there is no limit to innovation here. Among its substyles are:

  • Braggot is a mead that has been blended with beer, malt, and hops.
  • Melomel is a fruit-flavored mead.
  • This is a fantastic mead.

Its manufacturing process is similar to that of wine, as wine uses grapes in fermentation, and mead, it is honey.

What exactly is mead?

In summary, mead is a drink that is manufactured from honey and water with the aid of yeasts and can be flavored with fruits, spices, grains, and/or hops. It has a distinct character that falls in between beer and wine. Its alcohol content can range from 3% to 20% ABV. 

3% to 7% is considered a mead session, that is, a more relaxed version to consume in terms of complexity and alcohol content, 7% to 14% is considered the standard, and 14% to 20% is called sack, because they use more honey in their recipe, increasing the concentration and alcohol and bringing a sweeter, stronger drink.

Vikings popularized it by drinking from horns, but it is also served in wine glasses and the mazer, a classic bowl-shaped cup lacking the stem of a standard cup.

 

Mead has a distinct flavor owing to the fermented honey, but depending on the ingredients used, it might resemble fruit wine, white wine, or even cider-like.

The greatest meads maintain or magnify the subtleties of high-quality honey while also adding floral, earthy, or white wine-like scents derived from fermentation to compliment the honey’s flavor.

It can also be very sweet, extremely dry, or anything in between. Choose a mead flavored with fruit or spice that you know you enjoy as a starting point. If mead is flavored with blueberries, and you know you like blueberries, you can anticipate tasting blueberries as well as some honey in that mead, and you will most likely enjoy it. 

 

The Origins of Mead

While mead has acquired popularity as a result of its association with medieval times in films and television shows, its origins are far older.

Mead was one of the first alcoholic beverages ever manufactured, even predating beer and wine, with its simple mix of fermented honey + water about 3000 before Christ. Mead is thought to have been formed when rain dropped into a honey pot, and the first people to consume and prepare it was from the Chinese region of Henan.

However, it is crucial to note that there are numerous legends and documents about the origin of this drink, as well as the location where it occurred.

Mead became a habit for the Greeks, Romans, Vikings (with whom they also have a significant relationship in pop culture allusions), Poles, Russians, and Ethiopians, who each had their unique drink called tej. According to Vogue, mead messages may be found everywhere, from the Bible to Chaucer, Aristotle, and Beowulf.

 

Is mead a healthy beverage?

In ancient societies, mead was connected with excellent health and energy, and it was referred to as “the drink of the gods” in Greek mythology. 

Because of its principal constituent, honey, mead is thought to offer certain health advantages. According to studies like this one from Healthline, honey has powerful antioxidant and antibacterial effects. However, there is currently little evidence to support the hypothesis that honey retains its magical characteristics after fermentation. 

Fermentation alone may have a health benefit since microscopic living bacteria known as probiotics can present in naturally fermented mead, but it remains unclear how effective or concentrated they are because other additives may be utilized. Bacteria can be harmed or killed in the production process.

Calorie-wise, there is not much information regarding mead either, but you may make a guess: pure alcohol has 7 calories per gram. A serving of any alcoholic beverage contains around 14 grams of alcohol or more than 100 calories. That is, prior to the addition of sugar calories.

In essence, mead is no less healthful than beer, and at best, it may have some beneficial, good properties.

How is mead produced?

Mead producers begin by diluting the honey with water so that the drink is not too sweet to ferment. Any fruit or seasoning additions are made after the dilution process and before fermentation begins. In reality, fruit and/or fruit juices can substitute part or all of the water required for dilution.

The diluted honey combination is required because heating destroys any undesired germs that might produce off-flavors, also known as off-flavors. 2 pounds of honey combined with 3.5 liters of water yields 5 liters (1 gallon) of mead.

Some mead producers, however, skip this process because they feel it destroys some of the delicate natural tastes in honey. Instead, they rely on their antimicrobial qualities to protect them from deterioration.

The yeast, as well as the oxygen and nutrient mixes, are then added for the fermentation process because honey and water alone do not provide all of the nutrients required by the yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol.

Several factors influence how sweet or dry a mead is, as well as how low or high in alcohol it is:

  • How much honey has been diluted
  • What sort of yeast is utilized in fermentation
  • Fermentation temperature

After fermentation (which takes 4 to 6 weeks), the mead matures for a few months to a few years before being sold. Carbonated meads are forcibly carbonated or bottled with yeast and a little sugar — the yeast works by fermenting the sugar and emitting carbon dioxide, which has nowhere to go in the sealed bottle, so it generates bubbles.

 

Conclusion

In this brief article, we provided you with the answer to the question: “What is the distinction between mead and beer?”, discussed what is mead, and the origins of this beverage. We also discussed if mead is a healthy drink and how it is produced.


References

Homini Lúpulo. “Hidromel: o que é, origem e onde comprar?,” May 10, 2021. https://www.hominilupulo.com.br/hidromel/.

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.