What Happens When Honey Ferments: The Honey Mead

Honey Mead is an alcoholic beverage obtained by ethyl alcohol fermentation of diluted honey in different proportions. Honey Mead is a valuable drink known since prehistoric times and its production and consumption are preferred by private organizations and individuals in various countries of the world, especially in Western-European countries. Therefore, honey Mead is of economic importance. In many countries of the world, wines with different types and different sugar ratios are produced by using different carbohydrate sources such as juices (apple, cherry, plum, pomegranate wine, etc.), rice (sake) and honey.

Liquor wines are produced with the addition of alcohol, sugar, and molasses into some wines, and aromatized wines are produced by adding various herbal drugs and spices. Although it is technically possible to produce wine by means of spontaneous fermentation, it is possible to use wild yeasts as starter culture by activating a certain amount of grape, and also to use selected liquid yeasts in the form of liquid or powdered yeast after reproducing the selected pure yeasts. Commercial or industrial yeast strains are highly preferred due to their ease of use and long-term retention.

Especially the use of active dry yeasts is becoming one of the most used methods in winemaking technology. While this application reduces the risk of wine deterioration, it reduces the formation of some yeast metabolism by-products, which are desired to be formed and increase the sensory properties of the wine. During the fermentation of alcohol, various factors affect the development of yeasts and the course of fermentation. These; The type and amount of raw materials used in fermentation, the type and amount of yeast, the substances added to the fermentation medium are specified as temperature, pH and technical conditions during production.

The effect of these factors can be found by determining the total and number of live yeasts, the amount of biomass, the production of CO2 and the sugar that can be fermented. In order to determine the optimized conditions that control fermentation, the effect of pH, temperature, honey amount, inoculated yeast amount and yeast feeder amount on fermentation were investigated. In biological processes, the determination of production conditions for maximum product yield is essential to achieve effective results.

Further Information About Honey Mead

History of the Honey Mead

People obtained the first drink by diluting the honey made by wild bees into tree hollows. In the following years, honey mead is known to be produced with some weeds and fruits. The most realistic evidence showing that honey mead dates back to very old times is the drinking cups in North Germany found in 100 AD. Especially in the regions where wine grapes cannot be grown easily in Northern Europe, honey mead was consumed as a very popular drink until the Late Middle Ages. Then, it was started to be produced in the 15th century under control.

Honey mead is one of the oldest fermented drinks in the world. As it is understood from many sources and cave paintings, people obtained the first drink by diluting the honey made by the wild bees into the tree holes. In subsequent studies, it is seen that honey wine is produced by sweetening with some weeds and fruits. The most realistic evidence that the history of honey mead, which has entered the literature as Med, dates back to very old times, is the drinking vessels found in North Germany in 100 AD. The presence of pollen grains, barley, and yeast in these containers confirms this view. Also, honey mead was part of the religious ceremonies of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings. It was believed to have magical, healing effects and increase fertility. In fact, the concept of “honeymoon” that we use today has emerged from honey mead.

In some European countries in the 12th century, married couples consumed honey mead in the first month of their marriage in order to maintain their relationship and increase their fertility. If honey was well prepared and of good quality, it was believed that the couple would have boys. It is understood from the fact that honey mead is a drink liked and sought after by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, especially in the works of well-known philosophers such as Plato, Plutarch, Theocritus, and Pliny. It was proved that honey mead was fashionable in Central and Northern Europe in 334 BC and even a drink was produced by mixing honey and barley.

Honey mead found an important place in France, Spain, and Portugal after Greece, and then spread to Northern Europe. In the 1600s, it was consumed significantly in England. Since the years of 1700-1800, honey mead production has decreased greatly all over the world. The first two reasons for this are that the first honey prices are high, and the second is that sweet wines such as Sherry and Madeira are trendy in Europe and America. Although it has lost its economic and commercial importance to a great extent today, honey mead is still a popular and interesting drink in Northern Europe, Central Europe, and Baltic countries. Poland stands out as the most important producer of honey mead, while France, Spain, Portugal, and the UK are other important producer countries.

In summary, honey mead is an alcoholic drink obtained by fermentation of diluted honey in different proportions. Its typical color varies from clear yellowish to dark brown depending on the color of the honey it is produced from and its alcohol content varies between 8-18%. In addition, it is produced in different colors, flavors, and hardness depending on the source of honey used, its properties, the ratio of honey and water used, and the time when fermentation is terminated. Depending on the bottling process, foamed or foaming honey mead is also produced.

Honey Mead Types

Honey mead is not classified according to the name of the honey it is made from, but according to some additives added to its content during the making (Pursley, 1999). Traditional Honey Mead name is used only for honey mead which is made with honey, water, and yeast, sometimes with a small amount of acid added to balance the sensory properties. Metheglin is a kind of honey mead made by adding herbal drugs, spices, and cinnamon. The word “metheglin” is derived from the word Medicine in English.

Melomel It is a kind of honey mead produced by adding fruit or juices to traditional honey wine. Cyser is a special kind of Melomel made with apple or diamond juice. Pyment is a special kind of Melomel made with grape or grape juice. Hippocras is a special type of Pyment mead made with the addition of Spices. The sack is the name given to honey mead, which is described as very sweet and hard, produced using more honey than usual. Hydromel is a honey mead with a higher proportion of water than normal and which is characterized as a weak character.

Mythology of Mead

The first alcoholic drink that is known in mythology, Hydromel – Honey Mead is defined as “The Drink of the Gods”. The first signs of Honey Mead are found in cave paintings dating back 3000 years. Vikings, Gauls, Ancient Greeks consumed this drink heavily. Drunk as a special liquid in the Asterix movies and books that everyone knows is also Hydromel. It is indispensable with its antioxidant, relaxing and excellent aphrodisiac effect. It was consumed extensively until the 18th century. With the spread of grape wine, it was replaced by grape wines towards the end of the 18th century.

Production Stages of Honey Mead

Honey Mead is an alcoholic drink obtained by fermenting honey. Although honey mead is not known much, it is one of the oldest fermentation products and wines. It was used as a ceremonial drink in pre-Columbian America. Honey mead is also a drink used in the rituals of the Celkites, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings, and it was consumed by mixing it with grapes and other fruit wines during the Romans. It has developed especially in places where viticulture is not done.

A great interest in honey mead has always been maintained in Eastern European countries. Two types of honey meads are produced by a honey cooperative in Krakow, Poland, using traditional methods of the past centuries. These are 16% alcohol Dwojiniak and 12.5% ​​alcohol Trojniak. Honey mead is a fermented drink made from honey and water, and its main ingredients are honey, yeast, water, and other additives. The type of honey used in the production of honey mead affects the flavor and color of the final product. As it is known, the floral source of honey constitutes the sensory features of the product. The invertase enzyme synthesized by bees turns sucrose in the nectar into fructose and glucose, and glucose into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide through the glucose oxidase enzyme.

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae can be used in honey mead. The chemical composition of the water to be used in honey wine is also important. For example, high chlorine content causes taste distortion. Distilled water is not used since it does not contain the necessary minerals for yeast in honey mead production. One of the additives to be used in honey mead is acids. The acids in question are malic, tartaric and citric acid. Another additive is antioxidant, antimicrobial and clarifying sulfur. It can be used as sodium bisulfate or metabisulfite. 10-20% juice or fruit puree is used to produce honey syrup containing fruit.

Some spices and herbal additions are also made to honey mead. These are added as an extract or directly. When added directly, it should not be kept in the mixture for more than 24 hours. If kept more, bitterness occurs in wine. It is possible to produce honey mead in two ways by boiling the honey and without boiling it. The boiling process is a more applied method in the industry. The other method did not find much support due to the fact that fermentation was not sufficient and clarification was difficult although it contains advantages especially for the prevention of aroma and vitamin loss. The fast boiling process allows the proteins to be precipitated and clarify, while the formic acid in honey is separated.

Although there are some differences in various methods, the production stages of honey mead are as follows:

Dilution ➙ Fermentation ➙ Transfer ➙ Rinsing ➙ Ripening ➙ Bottling

If the honey-diluted water must is left to natural fermentation at room temperature, the end product will not be very satisfactory. To make quality honey mead, pleasantly light-flavored honey, yeast and a few additives such as acids and nutrients are needed. The fermentation event is a complex, multi-step biochemical process. In order for this transformation to occur, there are many enzymes and yeasts can produce these enzymes, so that nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. in the environment. must be sufficient.

The yeasts added to the cider first reproduce by using the oxygen in the environment and some sugar. At this stage, only yeast cells are produced. Oxygen is required for large amounts of yeast cells. As the number of yeasts increases during the fermentation phase, oxygen is consumed and the yeasts provide the energy they need by breaking down the carbohydrates in the prepared must. Thus, after various reactions, glucose is converted to ethyl alcohol.

Making Honey Mead at Home


  • 4 liters of water (if you buy a 5-liter pet, you use it in the canister)
  • Honey 1 kg (use the cheapest flower honey, get real honey)
  • Yeast 1 teaspoon (bread yeast, pure yeast for example)
  • Aquarium hose 1 meter (to be used in airlock and siphon)
  • Lemon (half a lemon is enough to regulate acidity)


  • Heat the water, even boil it. Melt the honey in water.
  • Wait until the mixture warms up. Squeeze half a lemon, mix.
  • Add the yeast and shake.
  • Drill the lid of the container as far as the aquarium hose can pass.
  • Thread the hose through the hole 4 – 5 cm and close the cover. At this stage, the hose should never touch the mixture in the canister, even better if there is a 5 – 6 cm gap between them.
  • Put the other end of the hose into the glass filled with water. Thus, we will have made our airlock. While there is no air intake from outside, CO2 will be able to come out from inside.
  • Roll the place where the hose joins with the cap and plaster it nicely against leaks.
  • Raise the canister to ferment for 7 days in a place free from sunlight (where possible, without light).
  • After one week, a precipitate will form at the bottom of the canister. Swing the hose into the canister without touching it to the sediment and transfer the wine to another container by flushing. Wash the first drum, refill the wine after cleaning and re-lock the air. You will do this 3 to 4 more times. You will continue until no air bubbles come out of the hose.
  • Make the last transfer in glass bottles and leave it for 2 months. Ready to drink. Bon Appetit.

Best Mead Kits That You Can Buy Online

  • Mead Making Kit (Price: $16.32)

  • HomeBrewstuff One Gallon Nano-Meadery Mead Starter Kit (Price: $62.20)

  • HBS Nano Mead Making Kit (Price: $25.74)

  • Hydrometer & Testing Jar Kit by MiTBA – Test the ABV, Brix & Gravity of your Wine, Beer, Mead & Kombucha accurately! Triple Scale Hydrometer + 250ml Plastic Graduated Cylinder + cleaning brush & cloth (Price: $12.97)

  • HomeBrewStuff One Gallon Nano-Meadery Premium Mead Kit (Price: $77.33)

Savaş Ateş

I like eating honey a lot. We have a huge interest in bees and how they make honey. I have visited honey farms. I have talked to a lot of honey sellers. I read a lot of books about them. I want to share my knowledge with you.

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