See the Introduction to Mead Guidelines for detailed descriptions of standard mead characteristics, an explanation of standard terms, and entering instructions.
Refer to Category 24 descriptions for additional detail on the character to be expected from dry, semisweet and sweet meads. Use those guidelines to judge distinctions between the various sweetness levels. Judging meads from dry to sweet is recommended as the primary ordering, with strength being the secondary ordering criterion.
A Metheglin is a spiced mead.
Aroma: Depending on the sweetness and strength, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and herb/spice character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The herb/spice character should display distinctive aromatics associated with the particular herbs/spices; however, note that some herbs/spices (e.g., ginger, cinnamon) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., chamomile, lavender)—allow for a range of herb/spice character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The herb/spice character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the herb/spice). In a blended herb/spice metheglin, not all herbs/spices may be individually identifiable or of equal intensity. The honey aroma should be noticeable, and can have a light to significant sweetness that may express the aroma of flower nectar. If a variety of honey is declared, the aroma might have a subtle to very noticeable varietal character reflective of the honey (different varieties have different intensities and characters). The bouquet should show a pleasant fermentation character, with clean and fresh aromatics being preferred. Stronger and/or sweeter versions will have higher alcohol and sweetness in the nose. Some herbs and spices may produce spicy or peppery phenolics. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.
Appearance: Standard description applies, except perhaps to note that the color usually won’t be affected by spices and herbs (although flowers, petals and peppers may provide subtle colors; tea blends may provide significant colors).
Flavor: The herb/spice flavor intensity may vary from subtle to high; the honey flavor intensity may vary from subtle to high; the residual sweetness may vary from none to high; and the finish may range from dry to sweet, depending on what sweetness level has been declared (dry to sweet) and strength level has been declared (hydromel to sack). The distinctive flavor character associated with the particular herbs/spices may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive (although some herbs/spices may not be individually recognizable, and can just serve to add a background complexity). Certain herbs and spices might add bitter, astringent, phenolic or spicy (hot) flavors; if present, these qualities should be related to the declared ingredients (otherwise, they are faults), and they should balance and blend with the honey, sweetness and alcohol. Metheglins containing more than one herb/spice should have a good balance among the different herbs/spices, though some herbs/spices will tend to dominate the flavor profile. A metheglin may have a subtle to strong honey character, and may feature noticeable to prominent varietal character if a varietal honey is declared (different varieties have different intensities). Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.
Mouthfeel: Standard description applies. Some herbs or spices may contain tannins that add a bit of body and some astringency, but this character should not be excessive.
Overall Impression: In well-made examples of the style, the herbs/spices are both distinctive and well-incorporated into the honey-sweet-acid-tannin-alcohol balance of the mead. Different types of herbs/spices can result in widely different characteristics; allow for a variation in the final product.
Comments: Often, a blend of spices may give a character greater than the sum of its parts. The better examples of this style use spices/herbs subtly and when more than one are used, they are carefully selected so that they blend harmoniously. See standard description for entrance requirements. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level, strength, and sweetness. Entrants MAY specify honey varieties. Entrants MUST specify the types of spices used.
Ingredients: Standard description applies. A metheglin is a standard mead made with the addition of spices or herbs. Meads made with flowers (such as rose petal mead, or rhodomel), chocolate, coffee, nuts or chile peppers (capsimel/capsicumel) may also be entered in this category, as can meads made with a blend of spices. If spices are used in conjunction with other ingredients such as fruit, cider, or other fermentables, then the mead should be entered as an Open Category Mead.
Commercial Examples: Bonair Chili Mead, Redstone Juniper Mountain Honey Wine, Redstone Vanilla Beans and Cinnamon Sticks Mountain Honey Wine, Long Island Meadery Vanilla Mead, iQhilika Africa Birds Eye Chilli Mead, Mountain Meadows Spice Nectar
A Braggot is a mead made with malt.
Aroma: Depending on the sweetness, strength and base style of beer, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and beer character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The honey and beer/malt character should be complementary and balanced, although not always evenly balanced. If a variety of honey is declared, the aroma might have a subtle to very noticeable varietal character reflective of the honey (different varieties have different intensities and characters). If a base style of beer or type of malt is declared, the aroma might have a subtle to very noticeable character reflective of the beer style (different styles and malts have different intensities and characters). A hop aroma (any variety or intensity) is optional; if present, it should blend harmoniously with the other elements. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.
Appearance: Standard description does not apply due to beer-like characteristics. Clarity may be good to brilliant, although many braggots are not as clear as other meads. A light to moderate head with some retention is expected. Color may range from light straw to dark brown or black, depending on the variety of malt and honey used. The color should be characteristic of the declared beer style and/or honey used, if a variety is declared. Stronger versions may show signs of body (e.g., legs).
Flavor: Displays a balanced character identifiable as both a beer and a mead, although the relative intensity of flavors is greatly affected by the sweetness, strength, base style of beer, and variety of honey used. If a beer style is declared, the braggot should have some character traceable to the style although the flavors will be different due to the presence of honey. If a variety of honey is declared, the braggot should feature a subtle to prominent varietal character (different varieties have different intensities). Stronger and/or sweeter braggots should be expected to have a greater intensity of flavor than drier, lower gravity versions. The finish and aftertaste will vary based on the declared level of sweetness (dry to sweet), and may include both beer and mead components. A wide range of malt characteristics is allowable, from plain base malts to rich caramel and toast flavors to dark chocolate and roast flavors. Hop bitterness and flavor may be present, and may reflect any variety or intensity; however, this optional character should always be both suggestive of the base beer style and well blended with the other flavors. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.
Mouthfeel: Standard description does not apply due to beer-like characteristics. Smooth mouthfeel without astringency. Body may vary from moderately light to full, depending on sweetness, strength, and the base style of beer. Note that stronger meads will have a fuller body. A very thin or watery body is undesirable, as is a cloying, raw sweetness. A warming sense of well-aged alcohol may be present in stronger examples. Carbonation will vary as described in the standard description. A still braggot will usually have some level of carbonation (like a cask bitter) since a completely flat beer is unappetizing. However, just as an aged barleywine may be still, some braggots can be totally still.
Overall Impression: A harmonious blend of mead and beer, with the distinctive characteristics of both. A wide range of results are possible, depending on the base style of beer, variety of honey and overall sweetness and strength. Beer flavors tend to somewhat mask typical honey flavors found in other meads.
Comments: Sometimes known as “bracket” or “brackett.” The fermentable sugars come from a balance of malt or malt extract and honey, although the specific balance is open to creative interpretation by brewers. See standard description for entrance requirements. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level, strength, and sweetness. Entrants MAY specify honey varieties. Entrants MAY specify the base style or beer or types of malt used. Products with a relatively low proportion of honey should be entered in the Specialty Beer category as a Honey Beer.
Ingredients: A braggot is a standard mead made with both honey and malt providing flavor and fermentable extract. Originally, and alternatively, a mixture of mead and ale. A braggot can be made with any type of honey, and any type of base beer style. The malt component may be derived from grain or malt extracts. The beer may be hopped or not. If any other ingredients than honey and beer are contained in the braggot, it should be entered as an Open Category Mead. Smoked braggots may be entered in this category if using smoked malt or a smoked beer as the base style; braggots made using other smoked ingredients (e.g., liquid smoke, chipotles) should be entered in the Open Category Mead style.
Commercial Examples: Rabbit’s Foot Diabhal and Bière de Miele, Magic Hat Braggot, Brother Adams Braggot Barleywine Ale, White Winter Traditional Brackett
26C. Open Category Mead
An Open Category Mead is a honey-based beverage that either combines ingredients from two or more of the other mead sub-categories, is a historical or indigenous mead (e.g., tej, Polish meads), or is a mead that does not fit into any other category. Any specialty or experimental mead using additional sources of fermentables (e.g., maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, or agave nectar), additional ingredients (e.g., vegetables, liquors, smoke, etc.), alternative processes (e.g., icing, oak-aging) or other unusual ingredient, process, or technique would also be appropriate in this category. No mead can be “out of style” for this category unless it fits into another existing mead category.
Aroma, Appearance, Flavor and Mouthfeel: Generally follows the standard descriptions, yet note that all the characteristics may vary. Since a wide range of entries are possible, note that the characteristics may reflect combinations of the respective elements of the various sub-categories used in this style. Refer to Category 25 for a detailed description of the character of dry, semisweet and sweet mead. If the entered mead is a combination of other existing mead categories, refer to the constituent categories for a detailed description of the character of the component styles.
Overall Impression: This mead should exhibit the character of all of the ingredients in varying degrees, and should show a good blending or balance between the various flavor elements. Whatever ingredients are included, the result should be identifiable as a honey-based fermented beverage.
Comments: See standard description for entrance requirements. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level, strength, and sweetness. Entrants MAY specify honey varieties. Entrants MUST specify the special nature of the mead, whether it is a combination of existing styles, an experimental mead, a historical mead, or some other creation. Any special ingredients that impart an identifiable character MAY be declared.
Commercial Examples: Jadwiga, Hanssens/Lurgashall Mead the Gueuze, Rabbit’s Foot Private Reserve Pear Mead, White Winter Cherry Bracket, Saba Tej, Mountain Meadows Trickster’s Treat Agave Mead, Intermiel Rosée