Mead: Types, Benefits, & Recipe

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Mead, an ancient drink of fermented honey and thought by many to be one of the first fermented drinks, is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. The modern variety of this beverage has been embraced by craft brewers, who now churn out a wide variety of flavors from very dry to sweet.

What is Mead?

Mead is made by fermenting honey with water and often adding other fruits or spices. It has been consumed all over the world for centuries. Flavors can vary wildly based on the fruit or flavors used, but a true one will be sweet and strong, with ABV ranging anywhere from 4% to 20%. [1]

Mead, or honey wine, in wine glasses with a honey jar and wine bottle in the background

Mead is made by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with fruits, spices, grains, or hops. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


There are over 30 different styles of mead from around the world. Here is the list of the most common types. [2]

  • Acerglyn: It is a sweet type made with honey and maple syrup
  • Bilbernel: It is a variety made with either blueberry juice or blueberries
  • Black: It is brewed with black currants
  • Bochet: A version where the honey has been caramelized or burnt before brewing
  • Braggot: A mead that is brewed with a malt and sometimes hops
  • Capsicumel: A type flavored with either mild or hot peppers
  • Dandaghare: A drink produced in Nepal that is flavored with traditional Himalayan spices
  • Hydromel: A low-alcohol variety with a lighter taste
  • Medica: A Slovakian style of this alcoholic beverage
  • Morat: A popular type brewed with mulberries
  • Omphacomel: It is brewed with the juice of unripe grapes or apples
  • Rhodomel: It is brewed with either rose petals, rose hips or rose attar
  • Show Mead: A “plain” style, made only with honey, water, and sometimes a yeast additive
  • Sima: A lemon-flavored variety from Finland

Food Pairings

Pair dry ones with cheese, or complement more fruit-heavy meads with spicy flavors. Fruity meads go well with fruit-based desserts while the floral and citrus varieties pair beautifully with salads.

How to Make Mead At Home?

There are a few steps involved in the preparation of mead, these include the following.

Mead, or honey wine, in wine glasses with a honey jar and wine bottle in the background

Homemade Mead Recipe

 Enjoy the fall season with this homemade honey wine!
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Course: Alcoholic drink
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Keyword: mead, honey wine
Appliance: Stove
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 1 gallon
Author: Ishani Bose


  • 1/2 a gallon unchlorinated water
  • 3-4 pounds honey
  • 1/2 package active yeast


  • To make mead, take 1/2 a gallon of filtered water in a huge pot and let it simmer over medium heat until it becomes warm.
  • Once it is warm enough, add 2 pounds of honey to it. Note that if you want to have dry mead you will require 2 pounds of honey, and if you want sweet mead, you will need 3 pounds. After adding honey as per your requirement, stir the mixture properly until it is completely dissolved.
  • Allow it to simmer (and not boil) for almost 30 minutes, removing any dollops that you may come across. Once it is properly skimmed, take the pot down from the stove and let it cool to about 100°F. You can then pour it into a glass bottle. 
  • Add in the yeast, when the temperature falls below 90°F. Half a package of yeast is enough as one package will make 5 gallons of mead. 
  • Make sure to cap the bottle and shake it well. At this point, you can add more water to fill the bottle, ensuring to leave 3-4 inches of headroom at the top. You can take the top off and add an airlock, which is available at any local homebrew store. You may even find it online.
  • Once the airlock is in place, you can store the wine in a cool place for almost 6 weeks.
    Different varieties of mead in glass bottles with colorful cloth lids


If you add fruits and herbs to it, you will notice bubbling and foaming in the top portion of the bottle, within the first 12 to 24 hours of making it. This is normal, but it will need to be cleaned. Failing to do so will clog the airlock, leading to a possible explosion of the bottle.
Once six weeks are over, check the airlock again. It should ideally have stopped bubbling. In some cases, it could also slow down, if not completely stop. When the bubbling stops, it is time to bottle it. 

Potential Benefits

Mead contains certain minerals, protein, vitamins, antitoxic, and sugars that make it beneficial for the body when consumed in moderation. It is also one of the world’s oldest probiotic drinks, containing bacteria and yeast. The potential health benefits of mead are not research-backed and are based mainly on the benefits of honey as well as anecdotal evidence. Here are the top potential benefits when the mead is consumed in moderation.

  • Boosts Immunity: Mead boosts the immune system against antibiotic-resistant pathogens
  • Fights Infections: Mead made with fresh honey, in particular, contains high levels of lactic acid bacteria, which comes from the stomach of the bees. This imbues the honey with powerful infection-fighting properties
  • Detoxifies the body: It is an alcoholic brew full of antioxidants, especially mead made with dark honey. This makes it an ideal way to lower chronic inflammation and free radical activity when consumed in moderation. [3]

Adverse Risks Associated with Alcohol Consumption: Alcoholism and binge drinking is detrimental to your overall health and can undo any possible good things that moderate amounts can impart. Excessive alcohol consumption can affect bone density and contribute to liver disease. Always check with a physician if you are on medication before mixing with alcohol. [4]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who should not drink alcohol include women who are pregnant, individuals younger than 21 years of age, and people who are recovering from alcoholism or cannot control the amount they drink. Also, it should be avoided by people who are planning to drive or any other activity that required focus and skill. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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