M2. Fruit Mead

A mead made with fruit is called a Melomel, although some melomels also have other names (cyser, pyment). We are introducing category names for certain types of melomels based on the variety of fruit used; these are more entry categories than actual styles. We selected different names for the category and subcategories to avoid the confusion of using the same names in different ways.

See the Introduction to Mead Guidelines for detailed descriptions of standard mead characteristics, an explanation of standard terms, and entering instructions.

Refer to Category M1 descriptions for additional detail on the character to be expected from dry, semi-sweet 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.

M2A. Cyser

A Cyser is a melomel made with apples (generally cider).

Overall Impression

In well-made examples of the style, 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.

Appearance

Standard description applies, except with regard to color. Color may range from pale straw to deep golden amber (most are yellow to gold), depending on the variety of honey and blend of apples or ciders used.

Aroma

Depending on the sweetness and strength, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and apple/cider character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The apple/cider character should be clean and distinctive; it can express a range of apple-based character ranging from a subtle fruitiness to a single varietal apple character (if declared) to a complex blend of apple aromatics. Some spicy or earthy notes may be present, as may a slightly sulfury character. 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. Slight spicy phenolics from certain apple varieties are acceptable, as is a light diacetyl character from malolactic fermentation (both are optional). Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Flavor

The apple and honey flavor intensity may vary from none 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). Natural acidity and tannin in apples may give some tartness and astringency to balance the sweetness, honey flavor and alcohol. Tannin levels may make a cyser seem drier than the residual sugar levels might suggest. A cyser 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). Slight spicy phenolics from certain apple varieties are acceptable, as are a light diacetyl character from malolactic fermentation and a slight sulfur character (all are optional). Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Mouthfeel

Standard description applies. Often wine-like. Some natural acidity is usually present (from the blend of apples) and helps balance the overall impression. Some apples can provide natural astringency, but this character should not be excessive.

Characteristic Ingredients

Standard description applies. Cyser is a mead made with the addition of apples or apple juice. Traditionally, cysers are made by the addition of honey to apple juice without additional water.

Entry Instructions

See Introduction to Mead Guidelines for entry requirements. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level, strength, and sweetness. Entrants MAY specify honey varieties. Entrants MAY specify the varieties of apple used; if specified, a varietal character will be expected. Products with a relatively low proportion of honey are better entered as a Specialty Cider. A spiced cyser should be entered as a Fruit and Spice Mead. A cyser with other fruit should be entered as a Melomel. A cyser with additional ingredients should be entered as an Experimental Mead.

Commercial Examples

Moonlight Blossom, White Winter Cyser, Rabbit’s Foot Apple Cyser.

M2B. Pyment

A Pyment is a melomel made with grapes (generally from juice). Pyments can be red, white, or blush, just as with wine.

Overall Impression

In well-made examples of the style, 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.

Appearance

Standard description applies, except with regard to color. Color may range from pale straw to deep purple-red, depending on the variety of grapes and honey used. The color should be characteristic of the variety or type of grape used, although white grape varieties may also take on color derived from the honey variety.

Aroma

Depending on the sweetness and strength, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and grape/wine character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The grape/wine character should be clean and distinctive; it can express a range of grape-based character ranging from a subtle fruitiness to a single varietal grape character (if declared) to a complex blend of grape or wine aromatics. Some complex, spicy, grassy or earthy notes may be present (as in wine). 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. Slight spicy phenolics from certain red grape varieties are acceptable, as is a light diacetyl character from malolactic fermentation in certain white grape varieties (both are optional). Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Flavor

The grape/wine and 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). Natural acidity and tannin in grapes may give some tartness and astringency to balance the sweetness, honey flavor and alcohol. A pyment 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). Depending on the grape variety, some fruity, spicy, grassy, buttery, earthy, minerally, and/or floral flavors may be present. Some versions (particularly red pyments) may be oak-aged, with additional flavor complexity. Tannin levels may make the pyment seem drier than residual sugar levels might suggest. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Mouthfeel

Standard description applies. Wine-like. Some natural acidity is usually present (from grapes) and helps balance the overall impression. Grape tannin and/or grape skins can add body as well as some astringency, although this character should not be excessive. Use of oak can also add this character. Longer aging can smooth out tannin-based astringency.

Characteristic Ingredients

Standard description applies. A pyment is a mead made with the addition of grapes or grape juices. Alternatively, the pyment may be a homemade grape-based wine sweetened with honey, or a mead mixed with homemade grape-based wine after fermentation.

Entry Instructions

See Introduction to Mead Guidelines for entry requirements. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level, strength, and sweetness. Entrants MAY specify honey varieties. Entrants MAY specify the varieties of grape used; if specified, a varietal character will be expected. A spiced pyment (hippocras) should be entered as a Fruit and Spice Mead. A pyment made with other fruit should be entered as a Melomel. A pyment with other ingredients should be entered as an Experimental Mead.

Commercial Examples

Celestial Meads Que Syrah, Moonlight Slow Dance, Restone Pinot Pyment Mountain Honey Wine, Redstone White Pyment Mountain Honey Wine.

M2C. Berry Mead

A Berry Mead is an entry category for melomels made with berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants (black, red, and white), strawberries, boysenberries, elderberries, marionberries, 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, definition of 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.

Overall Impression

In well-made examples of the style, 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.

Appearance

Standard description applies, except with regard to color. Color may take on a very wide range of colors, depending on the variety of fruit and/or honey used. For lighter-colored meads with fruits that exhibit distinctive colors, the color should be noticeable. Note that the color of fruit in mead is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. Meads made with lighter color fruits can also take on color from varietal honeys. In meads that produce a head, the head can take on some of the fruit color as well.

Aroma

Depending on the sweetness and strength, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and fruit character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The fruit character should display distinctive aromatics associated with the particular fruit(s); however, note that some fruit (e.g., raspberries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., blueberries, strawberries) — allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The fruit character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial, raw, and/or inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the fruit). In a blended berry mead, not all fruit 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 tartness may be present if naturally occurring in the particular fruit(s), but should not be inappropriately intense. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Flavor

The fruit and 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 natural acidity and tannin levels from fruit and fruit skins will vary, and this character is expected to be present in the mead, although in balance with sweetness, honey flavor, and alcohol. Tannin levels may make some meads seem drier than the residual sweetness might suggest. A berry mead 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). The distinctive flavor character associated with the particular fruit(s) should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The balance of fruit with the underlying mead is vital, and the fruit character should not be artificial, raw (unfermented), and/or inappropriately overpowering. In a blended berry mead, not all fruit may be individually identifiable or of equal intensity. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Mouthfeel

Standard description applies. Most will be wine-like. Some natural acidity and/or tannin are sometimes present (from certain fruit and/or fruit skin) and helps balance the overall impression. Fruit tannin can add body as well as some astringency. High levels of astringency are undesirable. The acidity and tannin levels should be somewhat reflective of the fruit used.

Comments

Generally a good tannin-sweetness balance is desired, though very dry and very sweet examples do exist. Some fruits, notably darker ones like blackberries, may contribute a tannin presence similar to a red wine.

Characteristic Ingredients

Standard description applies. A berry mead is a mead made with the addition of other berries or berry juices, including a blend of berries. There should be an appealing blend of the fruit and honey character but not necessarily an even balance.

Entry Instructions

See Introduction to Mead Guidelines for entry requirements. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level, strength, and sweetness. Entrants MAY specify honey varieties. Entrants MUST specify the varieties of fruit used. A mead made with both berries and non-berry fruit (including apples and grapes) should be entered as a Melomel. A berry mead that is spiced should be entered as a Fruit and Spice Mead. A berry mead containing other ingredients should be entered as an Experimental Mead.

Commercial Examples

Moonlight Blissful, Moonlight Wild, Moonlight Caress, Moonlight Mischief, White Winter Blueberry, White Winter Raspberry, White Winter Strawberry, Celestial Meads Miel Noir, Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar, Bees Brothers Raspberry Mead, Intermiel Honey Wine and Raspberries, Intermiel Honey Wine and Blueberries, Intermiel Honey Wine and Blackcurrants, Mountain Meadows Cranberry Mead.

M2D. Stone Fruit Mead

A Stone Fruit Mead is an entry category for melomels made with stone fruit, such as cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and mangoes. Stone fruit are 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 of the style, 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.

Appearance

Standard description applies, except with regard to color. Color may take on a very wide range of colors, depending on the variety of fruit and/or honey used. For lighter-colored meads with fruits that exhibit distinctive colors, the color should be noticeable. Note that the color of fruit in mead is often lighter than the flesh of the fruit itself and may take on slightly different shades. Meads made with lighter color fruits can also take on color from varietal honeys. In meads that produce a head, the head can take on some of the fruit color as well.

Aroma

Depending on the sweetness and strength, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and fruit character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The fruit character should display distinctive aromatics associated with the particular fruit(s); however, note that some fruit (e.g., cherries) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., peaches) — allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The fruit character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial, raw and/or inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the fruit). In a blended stone fruit mead, not all the fruits 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 tartness may be present if naturally occurring in the particular fruit(s), but should not be inappropriately intense. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Flavor

The fruit and 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 natural acidity and tannin levels from fruit and fruit skins will vary, and this character is expected to be present in the mead, although in balance with sweetness, honey flavor, and alcohol. Tannin levels may make some meads seem drier than the residual sweetness might suggest. A stone fruit mead 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). The distinctive flavor character associated with the particular fruit(s) should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The balance of fruit with the underlying mead is vital, and the fruit character should not be artificial, raw (unfermented), and/or inappropriately overpowering. In a blended stone fruit mead, not all the fruits may be individually identifiable or of equal intensity. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Mouthfeel

Standard description applies. Most will be wine-like. Some natural acidity and/or tannin are sometimes present (from certain fruit and/or fruit skin) and helps balance the overall impression. Fruit tannin can add body as well as some astringency. High levels of astringency are undesirable. The acidity and tannin levels should be somewhat reflective of the fruit used.

Comments

Generally a good tannin-sweetness balance is desired, though very dry and very sweet examples do exist.

Characteristic Ingredients

Standard description applies. A stone fruit mead is a mead made with the addition of other stone fruit or stone fruit juices. There should be an appealing blend of the fruit and honey character but not necessarily an even balance. A stone fruit mead can be made with a blend of stone fruits, but not other fruit not allowable in this category.

Entry Instructions

See Introduction to Mead Guidelines for entry requirements. Entrants MUST specify carbonation level, strength, and sweetness. Entrants MAY specify honey varieties. Entrants MUST specify the varieties of fruit used. A stone fruit mead that is spiced should be entered as a Fruit and Spice Mead. A stone fruit mead that contains non-stone fruit should be entered as a Melomel. A stone fruit mead that contains other ingredients should be entered as an Experimental Mead.

Commercial Examples

Mountain Meadows Cherry Mead, Moonlight Entice, Moonlight Sumptuous, Moonlight Flirt, Moonlight Smitten, Redstone Sunshine Nectar.
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