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How Honey is Used to Make Mead

Centuries ago, mead was the drink of choice – ancient Greeks, Chinese, Danish warriors, and Egyptians enjoyed this alcoholic beverage. The origin of mead is still unknown, but the manner in which it was made is still in practice today. Honey is the main ingredient in all mead recipes and is essential to creating this style of alcoholic beverage. Although we may never know how this type of drink came to be, mead has been keeping honey bees in business for thousands of years.

The Basics of Mead

While there are many different styles of mead out there, there are some basic ingredients that they all have in common. An unfermented mixture of honey, yeast, water, and flavorings is the basis of any type of mead. These flavorings can come from a variety of different places including fruits, spices, and hops. The alcoholic element of mead is created by the fermentation of the sugar located in honey and this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.

Generally, mead will have an alcohol by content volume of between 8 and 18 percent, which can sometimes be much higher than the alcohol content found in regular wine or different types of beer. It is possible for the alcohol content by volume to be even higher, especially in sparkling meads – these beverages usually take two rounds of fermentation to increase the alcohol content to the right level.

Types of Honey Used to Create Mead

The type of honey used to create mead can affect the flavor as well as the time that is needed for the initial mixture of ingredients to ferment. For example, meads using New Zealand manuka honey will have a stronger flavor and can also take a much longer time to ferment. Beverage makers who use this type of honey to create mead can wait up to one and a half years for the beverage to be ready for consumption. In many cases it is worth the wait for a delicious mead that consumers love.

Using Hops in Mead

The ingredients that are used to create mead are often dictated by local traditions and cultures. Hops are sometimes used to create mead in order to give them a beer-like flavor – meads that use hops tend to be more bitter than those that are created with fruits or other spices. Some of the different profiles of mead include dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and can also be naturally carbonated or un-carbonated. Tradition and culture often dictate what type of mead is available in a certain part of the world.

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