Honey is one of my favorite foods — sweet, surprisingly complex and healthier compared to other sweeteners. I think it’s quite odd that I hate mead, a type of alcohol that’s all about deep honey flavors. Honey may be tasty but a lot of people don’t like overly sweet drinks. Almost every mead I’ve ever tried is just too sweet for me to enjoy.
While mead is all about that sweet, sweet honey, it’s actually possible to find a dry mead that doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to fall into a sugar coma. If you have been craving a less-sugary mead experience, here are some tips to find a dryer, more sophisticated mead to enjoy.
1. Look for Dry-Hopped Meads
Dry-hopping is a hot trend in beermaking right now, but mead can also benefit from a dry hop treatment. You can create your own dry-hopping system by filling a French press with your favorite hops and slowly pressing the mead through the press. Maine Mead Works also makes the HoneyMaker Dry-Hopped Mead. During aging, Cascade hops are added to create a floral herbaceousness.
2. Try a Blend of Beer and Mead
If you like the taste of mead or tej (Ethiopia’s version of mead) but want something less sugary, try beverages that are part mead and part something else. For example, Dogfish Head’s Bitches Brew consists of three parts imperial stout to one part honey beer. You should also try braggot, a style of beer that blends ale and mead together. Samuel Adams Honey Queen is a braggot that should be easy to find in most markets.
3. Mix Up a Mead-Based Cocktail
The fact of the matter is that mead just isn’t as popular as beer or wine, and the mead selection at stores near you is probably limited. The best way to tone down ultra-sweet mead is to mix it into a cocktail. You’ll still get the sweetness and floral complexity of the mead, but you can temper it with other ingredients that give you a more unique drinking experience. Bourbon, vodka or gin are fun to experiment with in cocktails. The Cornish Mead Co. has a variety of interesting mead cocktail recipes you can browse.
4. Make Your Own Mead
If you enjoy home brewing, you can try your hand at making mead. It’s hard to find commercially-made mead with a high ABV, but making mead at home can ensure that you get a high alcohol content to temper the cloying flavor of honey. Making your own mead can be tricky and high-alcohol meads generally benefit from a cellaring period to mellow their flavors. If you’re up for the challenge, Northern Brewer has great advice to get you started.