Beer vs Mead - What's The Difference?

Bottles of mead

What Is Mead?

Mead is not considered to be wine, beer, or cider. Instead of using grapes like you do for wine or grain like you would for beer, honey is used to make mead. As different is as beer is from wine, mead is a completely different category.

This table compares different types of alcohol and the main ingredient use in fermentation.

Alcoholic Beverage Fermented With
Beer Grains
Wine Grapes
Cider Apples
Mead Honey
Sake Rice

Sometimes mead is often mistaken for honey wine or honey beer. While honey wine and honey beer are indeed types of wine and beer, they are respectively made with grapes and grains and probably infused with honey at some point.

Is Mead Sweet?

One of the biggest misconception is that mead is going to be sweet because it's made with honey.

Most people don't realize that honey is one of the most fermentable sugars. Honey a very, very simple sugar. It can completely ferment dry.

If you're making a beer for example, you typically can't completely ferment a beer dry, so beers are going to be much sweeter than most meads are simply because of the sugars that are left behind.

The reason you need hops in beer is to balance the sweetness out. If you want mead to be sweet, you actually have to stop the east from eating through all the sugar in order to leave some residual sugar behind.

So yes, mead can be sweet, but not all meads are sweet.

Video Interview with a Mead Maker

Below is an interview with Ryan Ludwig, the founder of Rebel Hive meadery in Reading, PA. Ryan defines what mead is, compares it to wine and beer, and describes the taste.

FAQs About Mead

Below you will find some frequently asked questions and answers about mead.

Is Mead Beer?

No. Mead is not considered beer. Mead is fermented with honey whereas beer is fermented with grains.

Is Mead Wine?

No. Mead is not considered wine. Mead is fermented with honey whereas wine is fermented with grapes.

Is Mead Sweet?

Sometimes. The sweetness of a mead depends on how much sugar is left behind during the fermentation process.

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