M3. Spiced Mead

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.

M3A. Fruit and Spice Mead

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.

Overall Impression

In well-made examples of the style, 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.

Appearance

Standard description applies, except perhaps to note that the color usually won’t be affected by spices (although flowers, petals and peppers may provide subtle colors; tea blends may provide significant colors). The fruit may provide significant color, and is generally evocative of the fruit used (although it may be of a lighter shade than the fruit skin).

Aroma

Depending on the sweetness and strength, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey, fruit, and spice character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The spice character should display distinctive aromatics associated with the particular spices; however, note that some spices (e.g., ginger, cinnamon) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., chamomile, lavender) — allow for a range of spice character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The spice character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the spice). The fruit character should display distinctive aromatics associated with the particular fruit; however, note that some fruits (e.g., raspberry, cherry) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., peach) — allow for a range of fruit character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The fruit character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial, raw (unfermented) and/or inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the fruit). In a mead with more than one fruit and/or spice, not all fruits and 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 spices may produce spicy or peppery phenolics. Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Flavor

The spice flavor intensity may vary from subtle to high; the fruit 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 spices may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive (although some spices may not be individually recognizable, and can just serve to add a background complexity). Certain 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. The distinctive flavor character associated with the particular fruits may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive (although some fruits may not be individually recognizable, and can just serve to add a background complexity). Certain fruits might add acidic, bitter, astringent or 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. Meads containing more than one fruit or spice should have a pleasant balance of the different fruits and spices, but this does not mean that all fruits and spices need to be of equal intensity or even individual identifiable. The 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). Standard description applies for remainder of characteristics.

Mouthfeel

Standard description applies. Some fruits and spices may contain tannins that add a bit of body and some astringency, but this character should not be excessive.

Comments

Often, a blend of fruits and spices may give a character greater than the sum of its parts. The better examples of this style often use spices judiciously; when more than one spice are used, they are carefully selected so that they blend harmoniously with the fruit and with each other.

Characteristic Ingredients

Standard description applies. See the various Fruit Mead descriptions, as well as the Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Mead description for additional details.

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 types of spices used, (although well-known spice blends may be referred to by common name, such as apple pie spices). Entrants MUST specify the types of fruits used. If only combinations of spices are used, enter as a Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Mead. If only combinations of fruits are used, enter as a Melomel. If other types of ingredients are used, enter as an Experimental Mead.

Commercial Examples

Moonlight Kurt’s Apple Pie, Moonlight Mojo, Moonlight Flame, Moonlight Fling, Moonlight Deviant, Celestial Meads Scheherazade, Rabbit’s Foot Private Reserve Pear Mead, Intermiel Rosée.

M3B. 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.

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).

Aroma

Depending on the sweetness and strength, a subtle to distinctly identifiable honey and spice character (dry and/or hydromel versions will tend to have lower aromatics than sweet and/or sack versions). The spice character should display distinctive aromatics associated with the particular spices; however, note that some spices (e.g., ginger, cinnamon) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., chamomile, lavender) — allow for a range of spice character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The spice character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and inappropriately overpowering (considering the character of the spice). In a blended spice mead, not all 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.

Flavor

The 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 spices may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive (although some 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. Meads containing more than one spice should have a good balance among the different spices, though some spices will tend to dominate the flavor profile. The 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). 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. Warming spices and hot peppers/chiles might impart a warming or numbing impression, but this character should not be extreme or make the mead undrinkable.

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 subtly; when more than one spice are used, they are carefully selected so that they blend harmoniously. A mead containing only culinary spices or herbs is known as a metheglin.

Characteristic Ingredients

Standard description applies. If spices are used in conjunction with other ingredients such as fruit, cider, or other fruit-based fermentables, then the mead should be entered as a Fruit and Spice Mead. If spices are used in combination with other ingredients, then the mead should be entered as an Experimental Mead.

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 types of spices used (although well-known spice blends may be referred to by common name, such as apple pie spices).

Commercial Examples

Moonlight Wicked, Moonlight Breathless, Moonlight Madagascar, Moonlight Seduction, Redstone Vanilla Beans and Cinnamon Sticks Mountain Honey Wine, Bonair Chili Mead, Redstone Juniper Mountain Honey Wine, iQhilika Africa Birds Eye Chili Mead, Mountain Meadows Spice Nectar.

M4. Specialty Mead

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.

M4A. Braggot

A Braggot is a mead made with malt.

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.

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 if the mead is carbonated. 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).

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.

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.

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.

Characteristic Ingredients

A braggot is a 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 Experimental 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 Experimental Mead style.

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 base style or beer or types of malt used. Products with a relatively low proportion of honey should be entered as an Alternative Sugar Beer.

Commercial Examples

Rabbit’s Foot Diabhal, Rabbit’s Foot Bière de Miele, Magic Hat Braggot, Brother Adams Braggot Barleywine Ale, White Winter Traditional Brackett.
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