Mead is a honey based alcoholic beverage, like wine and beer. Whereas wine converts grape sugar into alcohol, mead converts honey into alcohol. Like other beverages, Mead can also be distilled or fortified to craft Brandy and Liquor, however, I’m sticking with the Mead variety.
Mead comes in two main varieties; the Melomels, which are the fruit infused mead, and the Metheglins, which are herb or spice infused mead. However, the addition of specific ingredients created a whole lot of sub categories.
For a mead to be a melomel, it must contain at least one fruit in its Must. Citrus fruits provide a natural supply of citric acid to aid yeast cultivation, so I add oranges in small quantity to the Must regardless of the category.
I would like to point out that there’s a difference between the terms Fruit Flavored and Fruit Infused. Fruit Flavored refers to when fruit are added to the fermenting Must in either the middle or last phase of its fermentation in order to extract specific amount of flavor from the fruit to add its taste. Fruit Infused, however, refers to when fruit are included in the Must recipe from the start, thus bonding its flavors to the mead itself, and a completely different and unique taste is obtained.
Melomels are usually identified by adapting the name of the fruit used to create it, for example: a pear melomel, a plum melomel, and a melon melomel tell us directly what fruit was used to craft it, although, the brewer usually names his melomels.
There are melomels that became so popular that specific names ware given to them, such examples include:
- The Cycer (apple melomel)
- The Pyment (grape melomel)
- The Bilbemel (blue-black berry melomel)
- The Rubamel (rasberry melomel)
- The Perry (pear melomel)
And much more.
Metheglins are slightly more complex to craft and good knowledge of spices and herbs is required, because, these have their own specific characteristics and properties. Some are suitable to be infused in a Must, while, others are suitable only to extract the flavor. Some can be left in the Must for months, and others for days, depending on the strength of the spices or herbs used.
Among these spices and herbs, the most popular and commonly used are; cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, ginger etc. But some metheglins can be crafted from native and even rare herbs, which makes them quite costly to buy.
Metheglins usually include fruits, fruit juice or zest in their recipe as well. A lot of world famous metheglins include fruits in their recipe in fact. Unlike melomels, metheglins are given more elaborate names, usually with historical backgrounds and traditional significance behind them.
Such famous metheglins are:
- The Barenfang: literally means “bear catcher”, which originated in East Prussia.
- The Braggot: a hops infused mead, with slight bitter taste of beer.
- The Dandaghare: a metheglin from Nepal, which contains Himalayan herbs.
- The Gverc: a Croatian metheglin with native Croatian spices.
- The Rhodomel: a rose hips or rose petals infused metheglin.
- The Gulepp liquor: a metheglin from Malta, made from carob honey, and local herbs.
And much, much more.