Mead, Beer and Wine – Knowing Them Apart

The drink of Vikings, mead is back with a bang. As a drink, its reputation spans generations and is the stuff of legends, literally. However, it is understood that Vikings have no monopoly over good old mead. Known as honey wine, mead stands out as something of a hybrid between wine and beer. There is no such thing as a simple mead recipe, after all. The truth is far from it.

Mead lovers have ensured that mead has respectably made a comeback and with the popularity in sales across the country, it seems like the drink is here to stay. Naturally, you need to first understand mead’s primary backbone. Then you need to know how it stands apart from both beer and wine. Here is a structured analysis.

Beer Brewing Story

Mead, Beer and Wine - Knowing Them Apart
  • Beer draws up its taste from the use of hops, barley, yeast and water. The beer making process sees sugar extraction and fermentation using the ingredients mentioned. This gradually converts the sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The process begins with heating, drying and cracking grains of barley. 
  • Then some heavy duty soaking activates the enzymes in barley. Once this step, called mashing, is over; the makers move on to boiling the wort (sugar laced raw beer). Post this, the addition of flavors takes place. After some more cooling, yeast helps ferment the liquid to lend it a final avatar called beer!

Mead Making Story

Mead, Beer and Wine - Knowing Them Apart
  • Explore how mead is manufactured, and analyze the differences. The primary ingredients here are water, yeast and honey. Honey is thinned using water to form a dilute version called must. Customization of taste is done at this stage using fruits or even veggies. 
  • Post this, yeast clubs up with oxygen for fermentation. After this, the mead is left to rest for long spans that run in months or even years.
  • While both these drinks come in varied styles, their flavors are distinctive. Mead has a cider-laced undertone dominated by fruity taste. It ranges between dry and sweet. Beers range between malty to bitter to even roast-y. Some are even crispy and hoppy

Wine is just Fine

Mead, Beer and Wine - Knowing Them Apart
  • Wine is said to be a fine drink. With lots of variety and flavor, wines are a tough nut to crack when it comes to analyzing quality. Then again, wine is starkly different from mead even though the fruity undertones sometimes seem common depending on the wine/mead in question.
  • The crux of wine is grapes. Period. Wines need very specific conditions for manufacture while mead is not selective in such contexts.
  • Wine production is a complex process. It involves harvesting grapes in specific climatic conditions. In the easiest way, it can be stated that wines come to be post crushing of grapes and involve aging grapes, in some cases. Yeast isn’t a preferred medium for fermentation in most wines.
  • Variants of wines are categorized as per region of origin, toastiness, sweetness and dryness. Wines also see huge taste alterations due to the levels of fullness, tannins and acidity involved. 


Mead is a drink that is easier to store and lasts longer, in comparison with wine. Despite the comparison, mead is gradually becoming an everyday drink, of late. Price point wise, mead beats both beer and wine. The only thing is that you need to adapt to mead. It is a robust drink but lovers of mead swear by it. Overall all, the three drinks have their loyalists. The peculiarities of each make them so exclusive that comparing among these seems paltry! Let us finally raise a toast to mead for holding its own against the popular cousins.