Metheglin: Spiced Mead [Defined + How-to Guide]

by Karl | Last Updated: May 25, 2021

In general, alcohol is pretty simple and can be flavored using whatever you like.

So, metheglin, which is a spiced mead, should come as no surprise.

It uses a SUPER simple recipe and if that sounds interesting, read on to find out what metheglin is and how to make it!

How to Make Metheglin

If you’re a long-time melomel (fruit mead) or beer home brewer, you’ll find that this process is a little simpler than that. Although you may find another recipe, this is a standard mead recipe:

Ingredients

  • 12 to 18 pounds of grade-A honey
  • Determines whether you get a dry or a sweet mead – less honey means dry, MORE means sweet.
  • 4 1/2 gallons of tap or bottled water
  • Make sure not to use distilled water because the yeast needs the minerals to properly ferment.
  • 8 grams (1/4 ounce) of freeze-dried wine, champagne, or dedicated mead yeast
  • Just make sure you DO NOT use bread yeast. It will still work but will make your drink taste overly yeast-like.
  • Some recipes call for yeast nutrient. If you’re only using honey as the sugar in the recipe then you will need to use a yeast nutrient.

Procedure

  1. Boil your 4 1/2 gallons of water. This will sanitize your water making it potable and helpful for fermentation. If you don’t have a pot big enough start by making a half portion.
  2. Once the water is boiled, remove it from the heat and stir in your honey. Do not boil this mixture.
  3. In a separate clean bowl, allow your yeast to activate in lukewarm water.
  4. Once the honey water is at about 80ยบ F, move it to your primary fermenter and stir in the yeast.
  5. Seal your fermenter and allow fermentation for at least 2 weeks.
  6. Once the primary fermentation has subsided move it to your secondary fermenter. It’s best to fill using a siphon so that you keep everything clean and sanitized.
  7. Seal your secondary fermenter. At this stage, you’re allowing your liquor to mellow and develop in flavor.
  8. Once you think it has matured enough, rack them into clean, smaller bottles. Keep them AIRTIGHT and in a cool, dry, dark place.
  9. You can continue to rack them but just make sure to keep your bottle clean!

Making the Metheglin: Adding Spice 101

Now that you have your mead recipe, you may be wondering, where do the spices come in?

Metheglin is pretty forgiving for a home production process.

As strange as it may sound, if you’ve ever made tea, then metheglin is pretty much as straightforward as that.

Ginger is one of the most popular spices used in metheglin but you don’t really need special recipes. Use what you like.

Preparing the Spices and Herbs

Choose the spices you want to use. You can use pretty much whatever spice or herb you want.

You have options of:

  • Ginger 
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon
  • Peppers or the seeds of peppers
  • Hops
  • Lemongrass
  • Licorice root
  • Rose petals
  • Mulling spices
  • Juice
  • Nuts of various kinds

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Cater the drink to your tastes! Whatever you think of can likely be added to it.

Just be careful and consider that if you wouldn’t make tea with it then don’t use that herb or spice.

You can prep the spices and herbs and get them more aromatic by heating them in a large pan for a few minutes before you mix it into your drink.

Adding Spices and Herbs

If you’ve never added herbs and spices to your mead before, start small!

Make your first batch with half of your brewed mead first, then when you’re comfortable with the flavor and amount of spice you can start building up.

The simplest way to add herbs and spices into your mead is by adding it during the secondary fermenting stage.

This will allow the spices proper brewing time in the liquor.

How Long to Leave the Spices and Herbs

Like we said before, it is pretty similar to infusing tea, and you don’t leave teabags in the water forever, right?

Well, we hope you don’t because… you’re not really supposed to.

The same goes for metheglin. Try to keep your herbs and spices brewing in the bottle for NO MORE than 2 weeks. After that, the spice may start to break down and rot and that will ruin the taste of your mead.

Mead brewers will tend to use a muslin cloth filled with their blend of spices so that it’s easier to strain them out of the bottle once the metheglin flavor has been developed.

What Is Metheglin – A Sweet Mead or Spiced Mead?

Mead is considered one of, if not, the oldest alcoholic drink in the world.

Traditional mead is made by fermenting honey and water and can be mixed with a lot of different ingredients.

That said, over the course of a couple of thousand years, people have found different recipes for mead.

The way that craft beers give way for new flavors and methods of making beer, is the same with mead too!

In this case, metheglin, which is spiced mead is made with, surprise surprise, SPICES!

Like hot mulled wine that is usually drunk during winter, you can use cloves, cinnamon, ginger, lemon even herb variations to flavor metheglin.

What Does Metheglin Taste Like?

Since its main fermented ingredient is honey, mead has its own distinct flavor. It can be comparable to fruity, sweet wine, or possibly hard cider.

If you’ve used ginger, lemon, clove, vanilla, nutmeg, etc. – then it will taste just like that.

Expect that if you like drinking ginger tea, you’ll enjoy ginger alcohol.

Is Mead a Beer or Wine?

It’s neither and both. We know, why can’t we just give a straight answer?!

But honestly, the versatility that mead has makes it similar to beer and the process of fermentation is like wine making too.

It’s in its own category of “honey wines” where you find subcategories depending on what ingredients you add and how you choose to make it.

Is Honey Wine the Same as Mead?

Again, yes and no.

Technically, mead isn’t wine because it isn’t made with grapes as the base. Mead is made with honey as the base giving it its own category in the world of wines.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you know more about metheglin and how easy it actually is to make.

Now go and make your first bottle and get creative with your own recipe and blend of spices! Happy brewing!

Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.