More often than not, we end up buying something that never ends up seeing the light of the day. Generally, this happens a lot with alcohol as the bottle gets stowed at the back of the cellar. Since this article is dedicated to mead, let us talk about this fantastic and quite expensive alcoholic beverage.
Owing to the high expense of honey, it can be daunting to find an old bottle of mead and worry about its shelf life. You wouldn’t want a single drop of an expensive drink to go to waste, would you?
Don’t worry. Your money will not go down the drain the next time you bring a bottle of mead home. Even though it has a limited shelf life, the right storage solutions can retain the quality. Without further ado, let’s begin!
Mead: Taste, Texture, and Everything Else
Mead is an organic alcoholic drink that is made out of fermented honey and lots of water. This honey makes it sweet, and anyone who loves sweet drinks would love it.
It is neither beer nor wine; it is in itself one of the most expensive beverages made using organic ingredients. Talking about how exactly it tastes largely depends upon its production process and the ingredients added to it.
The real mead somehow tastes like a glass of sweet wine. The texture of mead resembles sherry with a tone of honey.
So basically, it is completely fine to consume until your mead tastes sweet, looks, and smells like honey. But make sure it is not sweet as honey; if your mead simply tastes like honey, it is not at all a read mead.
Mead is available in both classic and lighter forms. Classic mead contains more amount of alcohol as compared to the lighter version.
The interesting fact is that classic mead gets better with age and likely won’t spoil when stored accurately. Just make sure it is stored sideways, as you want to prevent the cork from drying out.
You rarely get drunk with mead, and so it is a perfect party staple, or after a long day of work when you just want to chill and not get drunk.
Does mead go bad, or is it a forever staple?
Sadly yes, mead does go bad despite lots and lots of preservatives added to it. But luckily won’t go bad sooner, as it has a pretty long shelf life depending on its type.
Since lighter mead has a lesser amount of alcohol as compared to classic mead, so is its shelf life. Luckily, commercially manufactured mead does not go bad quickly, and even if it does, you will easily know it.
This is because the flavors start to deteriorate slowly, and before going bad, you would surely hate its taste. When they are stored in a tightly sealed container, they won’t go bad that easily with an ample amount of preservatives.
However, with homemade mead, things are a bit different. Depending on the process that you follow, or the ingredients added to it, the mead’s shelf life would vary. It is likely to go bad sooner, and hence it is advisable to consume it as soon as you can to avoid wasting your favorite beverage.
Since most of its shelf life depends upon its storage, let us know the best ways to store your mead to avoid spoilage.
Best ways to Store Mead
Since mead is considered similar to beer, wine, and cider-based drinks, people can easily get confused about its storage condition. And so here’s what you should know!
So if you have an unopened bottle of mead, you can store it anywhere in a cool, dry place. Just make sure it is away from direct sunlight or a heat source.
You should know that even if you have mead in a dark bottle, it doesn’t provide any kind of protection from direct sunlight. So make sure you store your bottle of mead in a dark place. A kitchen cabinet or pantry would be just perfect.
In the case of an opened bottle of mead, things are no different. You just need to make sure it is tightly sealed. If you like it chilled, store it in the fridge. Refrigerating your bottle of mead, even if it has been opened, will keep its flavors intact for a longer duration.
Since darker mead contains a higher amount of alcohol, it would be acceptable anywhere and won’t be a big storage issue. It is generally most stable and can be fine at room temperature.
Most brands even offer storage conditions, so you can follow them to make them last longer.
But anyway, keeping your bottle sealed is mandatory, as air can degrade the original flavors. However, mead can still go bad after some time, and knowing how to tell if mead has gone bad is necessary. So here’s what you should know.
How to tell if mead has gone bad?
Due to the higher amount of preservatives added to mead, it won’t quickly go bad. It goes through a long procedure during production.
But sometimes, improper storage, weather, oxidation as well as time can lead to spoilage. So if you have found an old bottle of mead that was long lost or had been sitting in your refrigerator for quite a while, it is advisable that you give it a quick check.
When mead goes bad, you will notice a slight color change. Although it is rare, it can happen. So look for any kind of color change. If it seems fine, you can give it a try.
Apart from color change, when mead spoils, you will notice a difference in its texture. If it is too creamy or even water-like, consider it an indication of spoilage. In terms of taste, bitter-tasting mead is a complete no-no and can surely make you sick.
Sometimes when mead spoils, it can also give a bad odor or a rancid smell. So if you notice any such things, it is a clear indication that it has gone bad, and you should avoid it.
But as we have already said, mead won’t go bad all of a sudden. It takes time, and it generally goes bad after it’s past its shelf life.
Shelf Life of Mead
So the shelf life, or say how long it lasts, largely depends upon the variety of mead you own. There are different types of mead available in the market and so are their shelf life.
Classic mead contains a higher proportion of alcohol and so lasts a bit longer than lighter mead. If you own an open bottle of classic mead, it will likely last for a few months or sometimes even a year when stored accurately.
But a lighter mead contains less amount of alcohol and so will likely have a shorter shelf life. The best way to keep a check is through its best-by date. Whether you have a lighter mead or a classic one, both of them are at the peak of their flavors when stored accurately and are not past their best by date.
That does not mean it becomes undrinkable. You can still have it for the next few months. Just make sure it smells good, its texture is right, and so is its color.
So basically, classic mead, once opened, should be used within six months when stored out and within eight months when refrigerated. Lighter meads are at the peak of their flavors for seven days once opened and can be consumed within 6 months.
However, we often recommend finishing lighter mead as soon as you open it, as the flavors might soon deteriorate due to lesser alcohol content and preservatives.
With homemade mead, it’s a bit different. Just make sure you keep it in an air-tight container, and it is consumed as soon as you can.
Alternatives for Mead if it Goes Bad
If you have a party to host, but you run out of mead, you can use the following alternatives:
- White wine
- Strong pale ale beers
- Honey + Rosemary
- Home Brewed Mead
FAQs About Mead
Do all meads get better with age?
Sadly, not all types of mead get better with age. Some can go bad pretty soon. Your bottle of mead needs to have a natural cork to make mead better with age. When the cork is not good, your mead will likely get no better as it ages and will end up going bad.
To learn about the variety of mead you invest in to make the most out of it.
Can mead develop sediment at the bottom?
Yes, your mead is entirely safe to drink, even if it has developed sediments at the bottom of the bottle. Mead is still at the best of its flavors, and you can surely enjoy it. Sediments are safe, and even the best meads in the world will often have them, so don’t discard them.
What is mead made of?
Mead is made using honey and is a fermented drink like a glass of wine. Water and honey are mixed and are left to ferment with the help of yeast. This eventually increases its flavors as well as shelf life.
Mead is thus one of the most organic beverages you can enjoy!!!
Final Notes on Mead
You have come a long way, and this clearly shows your love for your long-lost and newly found bottle of mead. Although mead comes with some amazing flavoring content ranging from fruits to spices, it all will likely last for a year and not more than that.
So it is always better to consume it as soon as possible to make the most out of it. Although both classic and lighter mead is perfectly fine at room temperature, storing them in a refrigerator, if possible, preserves their flavors for a longer duration.
Until you notice any kind of change in its original color, texture, taste, and smell, mead is completely fine past its expiry date for almost 8 to 10 months. When mead goes bad, you will likely end up hating its flavor, so that won’t be a big of an issue.
So check its best by date, and plan your next cocktail party or enjoy your self-time with your favorite bottle of mead.
Gina P. Shudnow is the brain behind all our scientific research. She is a Registered Dietitian who has been in the field for over ten years. Her nutrition tips have helped several people overcome health issues in the past. She strives to make everybody healthier without compromising on their food diet.