Mead Part 3 – Ingredients


Discuss the key components of the ingredients guide and what is needed to know for the Mead Entrance Exam and Mead Judging Exam. Focus should be on defining the ingredients, their attributes, and their impact on the finished product. Build upon the high-level overview of the mead making process and ingredients from the previous course using some of the more advanced topics. Sample and discuss different types of melomels, cysers, metheglins, and varieties of honey. Introduce the attendees to the Special Ingredients Guide and other recommended readings.

Reference Material

The descriptions of honey, fruit, grapes, and spices are in stand-alone document and should be referenced for detailed information about each ingredient. Please be sure to review the Ingredient Descriptions, especially the honey varieties prior to judging or taking either exam.

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. 


21 most frequently-occurring varieties were selected for inclusion on the mead exam. This means that a mead judge studying this information is likely to understand most honey varieties that are seen in actual competitions.

The honey varieties are described with the following data:

  • Floral source – type of plant blossom from which the honey is derived.
  • Location – region where commonly found.
  • Color – honey – the color of the honey in raw form.
  • Color – mead – the color of a mead made with the honey (assuming no added ingredients).
  • Aroma – the characteristic aromatic qualities of the honey.
  • Flavor – major flavors in the honey.
  • Substitutes – other honey varieties that may be used.
  • Confused with – other honey varieties that might be mistaken for the specific variety.
  • Best for – recommended mead styles where the honey could best be featured.
  • Goes well with – types of adjuncts or ingredients that complement the honey character.
  • Notes – general comments about the honey.

Note: “Wildflower” is not a variety, yet it is the most commonly declared type of honey that a mead judge will see in a competition. Wildflower can mean honey from unknown blossoming plants, or polyfloral honey from multiple sources. It often reflects the dominant wild plants in a region, perhaps Clover. It varies greatly by region and season.


The fruit varieties listed in this section came from a survey of mead competition data. The most commonly declared fruit were categorized and described.

For each fruit:

  • List a description or definition.
  • Source or region where typically grown.
  • Food or product most closely associated with the fruit (if not served raw/whole).
  • Color, aroma and flavor contributions from the fruit.
  • Generally, we are describing the color, aroma and flavor of the unfermented fruit, but in some cases how the fruit affects mead when fermented is identified.
  • Fruit have varying sweetness, acidity, tannin and fruit flavor.

Grape Varieties

Pyments are melomels made with the juice from wine grapes. Most modern wine grapes are varieties of the species vitis vinifera, which is native to the Mediterranean region and central Europe. It is a widely adapted species and is grown on every continent except Antarctica. Information on grapes listed in guide will include the following:

  • Description
  • Growing Regions
  • Product
  • Color
  • Aroma
  • Flavor

Apple Varieties

Cysers are melomels made with the juice from apples. Note that apple varieties are not specifically covered in the mead exams since mead makers rarely specify varieties of apples in cysers entered in competition. Blended cider is typically used to create cysers rather than single-variety juice. Information on apples listed in guide will include the following:

  • Type
  • Acidity
  • Sugar
  • Appearance
  • History
  • Other Characteristics


Metheglins are spiced meads, but the BJCP is somewhat liberal in defining spice for this purpose. Certainly the botanical definition of spice isn’t used, since herbs, vegetables and other flavorings fit into this category. Information on spices listed in guide will include the following:

  • Description
  • Source or Regions
  • Food or Product
  • Color
  • Aroma
  • Flavor