Dry Meads

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 fermentation process.

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 many exceptions.

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.

  1. Dragonsbreath: Baldur

    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.

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