Mead, often celebrated as the “nectar of the gods,” is a storied beverage that has captivated humanity for thousands of years, standing as one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in history. But what is mead, exactly? This guide will immerse you in the enchanting world of mead, revealing why this time-honored drink is experiencing a resurgence in today’s beverage culture.

Is Mead a Beer or Wine?

Fundamentally, mead is a fermented drink made from honey, water, and yeast. Its character can echo traits of both beer and wine, depending on the added ingredients and fermentation techniques. At Sap House Meadery, we craft meads that lean towards the complexity of wine, alongside draft meads with a lighter, seltzer-like quality, and barrel-aged varieties that rival the depth of fine spirits.

When you visit our Ossipee, NH, tasting room and pub, you’ll encounter an array of mead styles, each offering a unique taste experience.

How is Mead Made?

Mead-making is an art form with ancient roots and a detailed process. Here’s a glimpse into the craft:


    • Mixture: Honey and water are combined to form a “must.”

    • Fermentation: Yeast is introduced, setting off fermentation. The yeast consumes the honey’s sugars, producing alcohol.

    • Racking: The mead is moved to a new vessel post-fermentation, leaving sediments behind.

    • Aging: Flavors mature during aging, which can span months to years. Our Barrel Program takes this further, with extensive aging in fresh and pre-spirited barrels for nuanced flavors.

    • Bottling: Once aged to our exacting standards, the mead is bottled for your enjoyment.

Our mead makers at Sap House Meadery pour their expertise and passion into every batch for an exceptional tasting experience.

Is Mead Gluten-Free?

Mead’s gluten-free status is one of its many charms. Made from honey rather than gluten-containing grains, it’s a natural selection for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Our meads are crafted to be gluten-free, including our “Pie” series with certified gluten-free oats. For our barrel-aged meads, we ensure a gluten-free process, but for those with severe sensitivities, we recommend caution due to the barrels’ histories.

How Old is Mead?

Mead’s rich history dates back to around 7000 B.C. in Northern China, with its legacy woven through countless cultures and myths. From the Vikings to the Celts, mead has been a cultural staple, even featuring in Norse mythology as the Mead of Poetry, which bestowed wisdom and poetic skill.

Mead’s presence in ancient texts, from Greek philosophers to the Indian Rigveda, highlights its historical importance. Globally, from Ethiopian ‘tej’ to other regional variations, mead has been a unifying libation.

While mead’s popularity ebbed with the rise of beer and wine, its historical significance and unique flavor profile, championed by producers like Sap House Meadery, have ensured its lasting appeal.

Why is Mead so Expensive?

Mead’s cost reflects the labor-intensive nature of honey production, requiring extensive floral fields and bee labor. Unlike grapes or barley, honey’s production is subject to environmental factors and bee health.

At Sap House Meadery, we use premium honey and artisanal methods, resulting in smaller, quality-focused batches. Our commitment to craft over industrial efficiency also influences the price.

Is Mead Better for You than Beer or Wine?

Mead has long been associated with health benefits, thanks to the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in honey. Some of these benefits persist post-fermentation, offering a potentially healthier alternative when enjoyed in moderation.

Is Mead Sustainable?

Sustainability is intrinsic to mead. Beekeeping encourages biodiversity and pollination, crucial for ecosystems and agriculture. Supporting meaderies like ours indirectly supports bee populations and environmental health.

At Sap House Meadery, we prioritize sustainability, from local honey sourcing to eco-friendly production practices, ensuring our mead is as good for the planet as it is for the palate.

What is mead? Whatever you can imagine.

Mead transcends being a mere beverage; it’s a historical voyage, a celebration of fermentation artistry, and a tribute to nature’s splendor. Whether at our original Ossipee location or our forthcoming North Conway tasting room and restaurant, our dedication is unwavering: to share the rich tapestry of mead with the world.

So, when you next ponder, “What is mead?”, think of it as a drink with a profound legacy, cultural depth, and the magic of nature. To truly grasp mead’s essence, pour a glass and indulge in its history with every sip. Cheers!