What is mead?

Cortez: coffee mead

Cortez: coffee mead

Mead is wine fermented from honey, sometimes with additions of fruit and herbs. Mead is the oldest known alcohol and has a presence within numerous cultures across the world, but it has never been industrialized (unlike beer and cider), so many people are unfamiliar with it.. You may remember mead from Beowulf, the Old English epic poem in which the warriors make merry in the Mead Hall, and it has a strong presence in the histories of Scandinavia and England by way of the Vikings, but the oldest chemical evidence of mead dates back to 7000 BC China.  The ancient Greeks and Romans indulged in honey wine as well, and many countries have their own specific traditional mead recipes--Ethiopia, Lithuania, Norway, Greece, Nepal, Poland, and Croatia, among others. Like cider, mead will occur spontaneously when honey, water, and yeast are left to their own devices in nature. Such fermentation would occur in a waterlogged beehive, and upon consuming the wild honey wine, ancient people believe they were communing with the gods! Thus, mead and honey are historically linked; in fact, the Indo-European word “medhu” is thought to refer to both mead and honey.

Typically, mead is fermented between 10% and 12% ABV, but at Black Mountain Ciderworks + Meadery, we focus on hydromels, meads fermented with a higher water content to achieve a lower-gravity, more sessionable mead.  We find that hydromels are more approachable that traditional higher-gravity meads because they are more cider and beer-like and quite suitable for serving on draft. And like cider, mead is naturally gluten-free.  We craft our meads in small batches from local and regional honey so our selection changes frequently. Come often to try them all!

The Mayan: pineapple sage mead

The Mayan: pineapple sage mead

Sparkling meads on draft

Sparkling meads on draft

Up close with Bluebeard, blueberry and coriander melomel

Up close with Bluebeard, blueberry and coriander melomel

10 oz pours and 32 oz growlers of mead to go are available from our tasting room. Flights also available. 



Styles of Mead

These are the styles of mead recognized around the world. At Black Mountain Ciderworks + Meadery, we craft many of these styles based on seasonal ingredients.

Traditional/Show Mead: fermented with water, honey, and yeast

Great Mead/Sack Mead: fermented with more honey/less water, which increases the alcohol yield

Hydromel/Short Mead: fermented with less honey/more water, which decreases the alcohol yield

Melomel: fermented with the addition of fruit (blueberry, blackberry, fig, etc.)

Metheglin: fermented with the addition of spices (rosemary, lavender, sage, etc.)

Rhodomel: fermented with rose petals and/or rose hips

Coffeamel: fermented with coffee

Cyser: fermented with apples

Pyment: fermented with grapes

Hippocras: fermented with wine, brandy, and cinnamon

Viking Blood: fermented with cherries

Black Mead: fermented with black currants

Acerglyn: fermented with maple syrup

Sima: Finnish style fermented with lemons and raisins

Medovukha: Eastern European style fermented with cloves and raisins

Midus: Lithuanian style fermented with acorns, juniper berries, and other herbs

Bochet: fermented with caramelized honey




Information taken from: 

Schramm, Ken. The Complete Meadmaker. 2003

Crane, Eva. The Archaeology of Beekeeping. 1983.

Otto, Stella. The Backyard Orchardist. 1993.