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  1. #1
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    opinions on mead

    Here in the next week or so I intend on placing an order with Sam's or Binny's to replenish a few things not availably locally. At the same time I would like to order a few bottles of mead. I've wanted to try mead for some time but the only stuff locally available is Chaucer's and I have a sneaking suspicion it might be better left on the shelf. Am I wrong? I would like to try non-adjunct medium dry to medium sweet quality examples of this venerable beverage.

    What should I look for in a mead? I'm assuming it's more like wine than beer. Is that correct?

  2. #2
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    Re: opinions on mead

    Chaucer's is in fact best left on the shelf. It's cloyingly sweet and pretty awful.

    There aren't many commercial examples available stateside that are worth trying. Redstone is a notable exception that's widely available, though much pricier than Chaucer's. Rabbit's Foot gets mixed reviews. I've never had it. FWIW, Lurgashall Meadery supposedly uses at least some ex-bourbon barrels for aging their mead. If you visit http://www.gotmead.com, you'll find a section that deals with commercial product reviews that might be helpful. There are forums where discussion of commercial products goes on, as well.

    If you find a good mead, it will be much closer to wine than beer. A dry mead, in particular, is like a good wine, but instead of fruit flavors minus sweetness, you'll have honey character without sweetness. More specifically, the varietal character of the honey (orange blossom, etc.). It's a unique and terrific taste.

    I homebrew mead, too, and I find some of the most exciting variants to be melomels (mead with added fruit), cysers (melomel made with apples), and metheglins (mead with spices added). But a standard traditional mead is a good starting point.
    Last edited by TBoner; 04-23-2007 at 04:53.

  3. #3
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    Re: opinions on mead

    Thanks for the link. Lots of interesting stuff on that web-site. I just ordered three bottles of "Traditional Mountain Honey wine" from Redstone Meadery. I'm hoping that'll give me a good introduction to basic mead. From there I'll try melomels and metheglins.

  4. #4
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    Re: opinions on mead

    Quote Originally Posted by ILLfarmboy View Post
    I just ordered three bottles of "Traditional Mountain Honey wine" from Redstone Meadery. I'm hoping that'll give me a good introduction to basic mead.
    That's a good choice, especially given your OP. It's slightly sweet, but not cloying or syrupy at all.

  5. #5
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    Re: opinions on mead

    Tonight I opened one of the bottles of "Traditional Mountain Honey wine" from Redstone Meadery. Chilled, actually more like cellar temperature, it went well with honey barbecued chicken and home-made scalloped potatoes. As I sit hear sipping the last of It It seems sweeter than when it was colder and I was drinking it with super. Not cloyingly sweet but sweeter than most wine I drink. The flavor is unique and quite enjoyable. A very definite honey character, especially on the nose. Perhaps not as complex as most wine but that's not always a bad thing. I can see where melomels would be more interesting. On the whole I'd prefer it a bit dryer but I can see myself drinking this stuff semi-regularly. I think I will search out something on the dryer end of the spectrum as well as a couple melomels. Redstone's "plum Mountain Honey Wine looks interesting as does their "Sunshine Nectar" made with apricots for a "dry, tart, more traditional-tasting mead".

  6. #6
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    Re: opinions on mead

    Quote Originally Posted by ILLfarmboy View Post
    Tonight I opened one of the bottles of "Traditional Mountain Honey wine" from Redstone Meadery. Chilled, actually more like cellar temperature, it went well with honey barbecued chicken and home-made scalloped potatoes. As I sit hear sipping the last of It It seems sweeter than when it was colder and I was drinking it with super. Not cloyingly sweet but sweeter than most wine I drink. The flavor is unique and quite enjoyable. A very definite honey character, especially on the nose. Perhaps not as complex as most wine but that's not always a bad thing. I can see where melomels would be more interesting. On the whole I'd prefer it a bit dryer but I can see myself drinking this stuff semi-regularly. I think I will search out something on the dryer end of the spectrum as well as a couple melomels. Redstone's "plum Mountain Honey Wine looks interesting as does their "Sunshine Nectar" made with apricots for a "dry, tart, more traditional-tasting mead".
    Well Brad the only mead I have tasted was at the BBC bar in Louisville. I wouldn’t say that I did like it very much at all. A bit sweet, a little honey, not much of any real character at all but extremely easy drinkable at around 8% alcohol. Still it s always interesting to taste something new. In this specific case it was more interesting than normal considering that mead is an old (at least I think so) Scandinavian drink and the stuff the old Vikings used to drink before they got out and cut the heads of people with there big swords.
    I am totally convinced though, that if this stuff were sold in Sweden it would be a real success among young people due to its easy drinkability.

    Leif
    Swedish lover of American whiskey

  7. #7
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    Re: opinions on mead

    One of the great things about mead is the sheer variety of possible character, given that the basic ingredients are so limited: honey, water, yeast.

    Even within straight mead (i.e., no fruit, sugars, other fermentables, spices, etc.), there are dry, off-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet honey wines (much like other wine). These designations go by different names, but it sounds like what you had, Leif, was none of the above, as (with few exceptions) meads were traditionally closer to 11%+ abv. But, as with many beverages, some dumbing down has occurred to make the beverage more marketable (given the limited number of producers and relatively limited availability of mead in the US, this is particularly necessary with mead). An 8%, easily drinkable, sweet honey wine is basically an easy way to get drunk, and - based on what I've tasted and attempted to make - not all that good nor that easy to achieve. In other words, it's designed for young people and/or for getting drunk. Do you happen to remember the brand name?

    At any rate, mead seems unique to me in this regard: if you want to taste truly world-class examples in the United States, you need to find someone who makes their own (or buy a bucket, some yeast, and some honey). For a time, I worked part-time at a homebrew supply shop. Customers would bring us samples of their brews on occasion, and we had a significant number of members of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms). Basically, Renaissance festivals are a bit too commercial for men and women with this level of passion for ancient things (particularly rites, rituals, religion, and fermented beverages). Some of the meads of every stripe that I got to taste from those amateur brewers were among the finest beverages I've ever consumed (some, on the other hand, were among the most vile, wretch-inducing things I've ever smelled or tasted). Comparatively, with few commercial producers and a limited market, the commercial meads I've had rarely measure up.

    Which is not to say you shouldn't sample them. I'm glad you like the Redstone. I haven't had the Sunshine nectar, but the variety they make with juniper berries (name escapes me) and their blackberry melomel are great (incidentally, those two are also quite good vatted 1:1 as a beverage or as a marinade for venison).

    If you find Redstone a bit sweet, don't go near Chaucer's.

    Do, however, feel free to sample a sack mead (very sweet, very high alcohol) from a homebrewer who knows what he/she is doing. I don't like many sweet beverages, and I don't like much at once of even the best sack mead. But damn if it doesn't perfectly complete any meal in the world.

    Let me know how the Sunshine Nectar is. We don't get it around here, but I can actually order mead from out of state, unlike liquor.

  8. #8
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    Re: opinions on mead

    Quote Originally Posted by nor02lei View Post
    Still it s always interesting to taste something new. In this specific case it was more interesting than normal considering that mead is an old (at least I think so) Scandinavian drink and the stuff the old Vikings used to drink before they got out and cut the heads of people with there big swords.

    Leif
    I have to admit one of the reasons for wanting to try mead beyond a desire to try new things is its history. Yes, Norsemen of the Viking age would have been familiar with it. I have always wanted to attend a Renascence festival or a Nordfest (we have them hear to) but I never have. My interest was sparked many years ago when a Grade School teacher, while teaching us about Jamestown, the first English settlement in the new world, told us many of the Indians related stories that their ancestors had passed down to them of "men with hairy faces and hair the color of the sun coming from the North" Most likley settlers from L'anse aux Meadows making their way through the St. Lawrence seaway and down along the coast.

    Anyhow, It's too bad your experience with mead was disapointing. It's too bad, like T-Bone said, many beveraged are dumbed down by making them week and overly sweet. White Zin springs to mind.


    Quote Originally Posted by TBoner View Post
    But, as with many beverages, some dumbing down has occurred to make the beverage more marketable (given the limited number of producers and relatively limited availability of mead in the US, this is particularly necessary with mead). An 8%, easily drinkable, sweet honey wine is basically an easy way to get drunk .
    At 12% I found the "Traditional Mountain Honey wine" to be very easy drinking. Over the course of a meal and a little quiet time with the wife in front of the TV I killed the bottle, save for the half glass my wife drank. She didn't care for it. But then again she doesn't like honey that well. I would almost never do something like that if I were drinking a Shiraz or a Cab.

  9. #9

    Re: opinions on mead

    This thread has been very illuminating. I think I had chaucer's as the only mead I've ever tried, and I found it sweet and uninteresting.

    Joel
    "Oh Bother!" said Pooh as he slapped another magazine in his AK-47...

    http://vinesnwines.blogspot.com

  10. #10
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    Re: opinions on mead

    Quote Originally Posted by ILLfarmboy View Post
    Here in the next week or so I intend on placing an order with Sam's or Binny's to replenish a few things not availably locally. At the same time I would like to order a few bottles of mead. I've wanted to try mead for some time but the only stuff locally available is Chaucer's and I have a sneaking suspicion it might be better left on the shelf. Am I wrong? I would like to try non-adjunct medium dry to medium sweet quality examples of this venerable beverage.

    What should I look for in a mead? I'm assuming it's more like wine than beer. Is that correct?
    Mead is best, in my opinion, when it is the spiced variety. There are many on the market, but I would tend to look for those in the higher alcohol content range.

    I find I drink mead only in colder weather, mulled, and maybe with additional cinnamon sticks and/or allspice added at the time of heating.

    It takes the place of a gluwein; or port when the mood strikes; and I therefore go for the mid to sweeter styles.
    "One Scotch, One Bourbon and One Beer!"

 

 

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