Mead Part 1 – Review of the Mead Style Guidelines


Discuss the key components of the program and outline what is needed to know for the Mead Entrance Exam and Mead Judging Exam. Focus should be on defining what mead is and how it differs from other beverages. A high level overview of the mead making process and ingredient should be covered. Sample and discuss different types of meads and varieties of honey. Introduce the attendees to the Mead Style Guidelines, the Mead Scoresheet and, common descriptions and terminology used during judging.

Reference Material

Introduction to the Mead Style Guidelines and the Mead Style Guidelines detail the attributes, characteristics, and descriptions for all types of mead. This section contains an overview of what is contained in this guide and is not a substitute for the guide itself. The style guideline is a good starting place to get an idea of mead styles and features and an excellent resource as you continue through this program. Be sure to cover the uniqueness of each style as well as the items in the introductory section of the style guidelines. 

Key Points / Discussion

The following are a list of key points and discussion items that should be covered during the course. Encourage discussion among the attendees and if possible send out the reading list ahead of time so that the attendees can review the material in advance. 

Important Attributes

  • Sweetness – Mead may be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.
  • Carbonation – Mead may be still, petillant, or sparkling.
  • Strength – Mead may be categorized as hydromel, standard, or sack strength. Strength refers to the alcohol content of the mead (and also, therefore, the amount of honey and fermentables used to make the mead).
  • Honey variety – Some types of honey have a strong varietal character (aroma, flavor, color, acidity).
  • Special ingredients – Different styles may include fruit, spice, malt, etc.

Standard Description for Mead

  • Appearance – Clarity may be good to brilliant. Crystal clear, reflective examples with a bright, distinct meniscus are highly desirable.
  • Aroma – The intensity of the honey aroma will vary based upon the sweetness and strength of the mead.
  • Flavor – The intensity of the honey flavor will vary based upon the sweetness and strength of the mead.
  • Mouthfeel – Well-made examples will often have an elegant wine-like character. The body can vary widely, although most are in the medium-light to medium-full range. Body generally increases with stronger and/or sweeter meads, and can sometimes be quite full and heavy.
  • Overall Impression – A wide range of results are possible, but well-made examples will have an enjoyable balance of honey flavors, sweetness, acidity, tannins, alcohol.
  • Ingredients – Mead is made primarily from honey, water and yeast. Some minor adjustments in acidity and tannin can be made with citrus fruits, tea, or chemicals; however, these additives should not be readily discernable in flavor or aroma.

Vital Statistics

  • OG: hydromel: 1.035 – 1.080 standard: 1.080 – 1.120 sack: 1.120 – 1.170
  • ABV: hydromel: 3.5 – 7.5% standard: 7.5 – 14.0% sack: 14.0 – 18.0%
  • FG: dry: 0.990 – 1.010 semi-sweet: 1.010 – 1.025 sweet: 1.025 – 1.050

Competition Entry Instructions

  • Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (still; petillant or lightly carbonated; sparkling or highly carbonated).
  • Entrants MUST specify strength level (hydromel or light mead; standard mead; sack or strong mead).
  • Entrants MUST specify sweetness level (dry; semi-sweet or medium; sweet).
  • Optional Requirements: Entrants MAY specify honey varieties used, as well as the source and season of the honey. If honey varieties are declared, judges will look for the varietal character of the honey.
  • Category-Specific Requirements: Some categories require additional information, particularly in categories other than traditional mead.
  • Defaults: If no attributes are specified, judges should evaluate the mead as a semi-sweet, petillant, standard strength mead with no varietal honey character and no special ingredients. 

M1. Traditional Mead

  • M1A. Dry Mead
  • M1B. Semi-Sweet Mead
  • M1C. Sweet Mead

M2. Fruit Mead

Mead made with fruit is called a Melomel, although some melomels also have other names (Cyser, Pyment).

  • M2A. Cyser – melomels made with apples (generally cider).
  • M2B. Pyment – melomels made with grapes (generally from juice).
  • M2C. Berry Mead – melomels made any fruit with ‘berry’ in the name would qualify.
  • M2D. Stone Fruit Mead – melomels made with stone fruit, such as cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and mangoes.
  • M2E. Melomel – This is a subcategory is for fruit meads made with any fruit not associated with any other fruit mead subcategory, or with a combination of fruits from multiple fruit mead.


  • M3A. Fruit and Spice Mead – mead containing one or more fruits and one or more spices.
  • M3B. Spice, Herb or Vegetable Mead – 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.


  • M4A. Braggot – mead made with malt.
  • M4B. Historical Mead – historical or indigenous mead that doesn’t fit into another subcategory.
  • M4C. Experimental Mead – mead that does not fit into any other mead subcategory. This could apply to meads that blend multiple mead subcategories.