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Grainfather Blog - Week 163: The Wonderful World of Mead - Part 2

By Sam Loader - Resident Brewer 27/08/2018 10:21 Comments

Mead_2

Fruit Meads

Melomel

The Melomel is a fruit mead, however there are some subcategories with specific names like Cyser (with apples), Pyment (with grapes) and berry or stone fruit meads. Melomels can be made with a combination of fruits from multiple fruit mead subcategories (such as grapes and stone fruit). Some examples include citrus fruit, dried fruits (dates, prunes, raisins, etc.), pears, figs, pomegranates, prickly pear, bananas, pineapples, and most other tropical fruit. If in doubt, enter the fruit here – judges should be flexible with fruit not explicitly named in other categories. The use of Melomel as a subcategory name does not imply that other meads in the Fruit Mead category are not also Melomels; the choice was made to avoid using the same word twice in different contexts. The culinary, not botanical, the definition of a fruit is used here. If you have to justify a fruit using the word “technically” as part of the description, then that’s not what we mean. Overall Impression: In well-made examples, the fruit is both distinctive and well-incorporated into the honey sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. Different types of fruit can result in widely different characteristics; allow for a variation in the final product.

Cyser

A Cyser is a Melomel made with apples (generally cider apples). In well-made examples, the fruit is both distinctive and well-incorporated into the honey sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. Some of the best strong examples have the taste and aroma of an aged Calvados (apple brandy from northern France), while subtle, dry versions can taste similar to many fine white wines. There should be an appealing blend of the fruit and honey character but not necessarily an even balance. Generally, a good tannin-sweetness balance is desired, though very dry and very sweet examples do exist.

Pyment

A Pyment is a Melomel made with grapes (generally from juice). Pyments can be red, white, or blush, just as with wine. In well-made examples, the grape is both distinctively vinous and well-incorporated into the honey-sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. White and red versions can be quite different, and the overall impression should be characteristic of the type of grapes used and suggestive of a similar variety wine. There should be an appealing blend of the fruit and honey character but not necessarily an even balance. Generally, a good tannin-sweetness balance is desired, though very dry and very sweet examples do exist.

Berry Mead

A Berry Mead are Melomels made with berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants (black, red, and white), strawberries, boysenberries, elderberries, Marion berries, mulberries, lingonberries, huckleberries, cranberries, etc. Generally, any fruit with ‘berry’ in the name would qualify. Berries can have seeds, but do not have stones/pits; some are aggregates of druplets. Combinations of berries can be entered here. The culinary, not botanical, the definition of a berry is used here. If you have to justify a fruit using the word “technically” as part of the description, then that’s not what we mean. In well-made examples, the fruit is both distinctive and well-incorporated into the honey sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. Different types of fruit can result in widely different characteristics; allow for a variation in the final product.

Stonefruit Mead

A Stone Fruit Mead are Melomels made with stone fruit, such as cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and mangoes. Stone fruit is fleshy fruit with a single large pit or stone. The culinary, not botanical, definition of stone fruit is used here. If you have to justify a fruit using the word “technically” as part of the description, then that’s not what we mean. Combinations of stone fruit can be entered here. Overall Impression: In well-made examples, the fruit is both distinctive and well-incorporated into the honey sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. Different types of fruit can result in widely different characteristics; allow for a variation in the final product.

 

Spiced Meads

Fruit & Spiced Meads

A Fruit and Spice Mead is a mead containing one or more fruits and one or more spices. See the definitions of fruit used in the various Fruit Mead subcategories; any ingredient qualifying there meets the “fruit” requirement here. For purposes of this subcategory, any ingredient qualifying for use in the Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Mead subcategory also meets the “spice” requirement here.

In well-made examples, the fruits and spices are both distinctive and well-incorporated into the honey-sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. Different types of fruits and spices can result in widely different characteristics; allow for significant variation in the final product

Spice, Herb or Vegetable Mead

A Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Mead contains one or more spices, herbs, or vegetables (in this style definition, these are collectively known as “spices”). The culinary, not botanical, definition of spice, herb, or vegetable is used here. If you have to justify a spice, herb, or vegetable using the word “technically” as part of the description, then that’s not what we mean. The same definitions apply to this category as to the similarly named beer category. In addition to the more obvious spices, herbs, and vegetables that fit into this subcategory, the following ingredients also are explicitly included: roses, rose hips, ginger, rhubarb, pumpkins, chile peppers, coffee, chocolate, nuts (including coconut), citrus peels/zest, and teas (except those strictly used for increasing tannin levels, not for adding flavor). Overall Impression: In well-made examples of the style, the spices are both distinctive and well-incorporated into the honey sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. Different types of spices can result in widely different characteristics; allow for a variation in the final product.

 

Specialty Mead

Braggot

A Braggot is a mead made with malt think of this as a beer mead hybrid. A harmonious blend of mead and beer, with the distinctive characteristics of both. A wide range of results is possible, depending on the base style of beer, the variety of honey and overall sweetness and strength. Beer flavours tend to mask somewhat typical honey flavours found in other meads.

Experimental Mead

An Experimental Mead is a mead where anything goes. This could apply to meads that blend multiple mead subcategories or using additional sources of fermentables (e.g., maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, or agave nectar), additional ingredients (e.g., liquors, smoke, etc.), alternative processes (e.g., icing), fermentation with non-traditional yeasts (e.g., Brettanomyces, Belgian lambic or ale, etc.), or other unusual ingredient, process, or technique would also be appropriate in this category. Oak-aging does not necessarily force a mead into the Experimental Mead style unless the barrel has another characteristic (such as bourbon) in addition to the wood. These meads should exhibit the character of all of the ingredients in varying degrees and should show a good blending or balance between the various flavour elements. Whatever ingredients are included, the result should be identifiable as a honey-based fermented beverage.

With these basic categories, we can go and discover the wonderful world of mead with a good grasp of what the tastes of particular mead might be just by reading the bottle.

 

It will be next week for the 'how to brew' article - but to sweeten wait, we're working on a list of recipes for you too. 

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