First of all, we LOVE mead. Like, would keep our own bees so we could make our own mead kind-of-love.
Mead comes in a wider variety than you might expect. All are honey-based, but that’s usually where the similarities end. Some meads are sweet and thick, like after dinner liquors; others are drier and spicier. Some meads, although still honey based, acquire their primary flavors from fermented fruits, or the casks in which they are aged. As such, you can find meads flavored with apples, pears, peaches, ginger root, whiskey casks, or rum casks.
Mead can be served any time of day, on its own, or with a meal. Most meads are best served at room temperature, but some of the sweeter, lighter varieties are also nice slightly chilled.
Lurgashall English Mead is an excellent introduction to the beverage. It has a simple sweet honey flavor that is full bodied and easy to enjoy. Lurgashall’s other meads are also very good and easy to for a beginner. Typically, they cost around $21 a bottle in the US, and 8-10 pounds in the UK.
One of our personal favorites is Lurgashall Tower of London, which is aged in scotch barrels. The taste starts with spiced honey, has a hint of the best scotch flavors, then finishes with straight honey.
If you are feeling more adventurous consider anything by Dansk, especially their Viking Blood. This is a rich, serious, hearty mead that scotch drinkers will like. Another favorite is The GI. Dansk Mjod, which has a lovely ginger flavor. These are high quality and cost around $25.
A word to the wise where fruity meads are concerned: Some, especially the cheap ones, are reminiscent of cough syrup — too rich, and too sweet. The Redstone brand is fairly safe, although you are probably safest getting a straight honey mead that almost everyone will love. That said, I recently had a Honey Garden blueberry mead that was out of this world. Also, B. Nektar’s Wildberry mead is what humans taste like to vampires: intoxicatingly delicious.
Iqhilika is a South African mead that comes in bizarre flavors, such as coffee and fig. Again, interesting to try, but probably too big a risk for newcomers to the world of mead.
Overall, I highly recommend the Viking Blood, the Lurgashall, and the Honey Garden/B. Nektar if you are opting for something fruitier.
AVOID Chaucer’s mead; it’s horrible. Shame, because it has a great name and a pretty label. Unfortunately, Chaucer’s is the mead your local liquor store is most likely to carry. Don’t buy it, even if it is your only option.