Mead is most well known as a sweet drink. When we use honey as a fermentable
(or a flavouring in things like pyment), this is hardly surprising
given honey is a strong concentration of sugar.
This differs from say, wine, where grapes are indeed sweet like many fruits,
but the sugar is balanced with bitter skins and also water and acid in the
flesh. This leads to a lower amount of sugar overall that goes into the
If you use similar yeasts for both wine and mead production and ferment until
the process naturally stops (the yeast will naturally die off once you reach
14% to 15% ABV), you will get much residual sugar still left in
mead whereas grape wine will ferment to dry.
This means a typical, traditional pure honey will be a
sweet drink with typical wine strength around 14% ABV. However, there are
Firstly, we are now seeing meads from producers
such as Zymurgorium, Gosnells, and Mabinogion made in the 5% to 7% ABV range.
These are more comparable (and drinkable) like a craft beer.
And secondly, it is possible for mead to be made in a range of sweet to dry
as you get with cider and wine. On this page, we have a list of meads that
are known to be made to a dry style.
What makes dry mead interesting is that it brings out a more distilled honey
flavour, which can lead to more complex tastes on the palate. Dry mead also
offers itself for pairing with savoury foods — particularly spicy food —
and less sweet desserts such as panettone. Dry mead pairs particularly well
with a good selections of cheeses too.
This is a dry style offered by
The Lancashire Mead Company from their
“Dragonsbreath Artisan Mead” range. Wildflower honey is used more sparingly
to leave less sugar behind at the end of the fermentation. This produces a
dry mead ideal for those who find some other meads overly sweet.