Mead is an ancient drink, thought by many to be the first fermented beverage. The earliest meads were likely accidental fermentations with wild yeasts, but eventually developed into organized, intentional mead making. The earliest styles were likely sweet drinks, often mixed with fruit juices or flavored with spices. Mead became the drink of choice in northern Europe and remained popular until improved brewing techniques provided a cheaper, more consistent beverage, and cane and beet sugar replaced honey as a sweetener.
So what exactly is the difference between beer, wine, and mead? All alcohol is produced by the fermentation of sugars; the base sugar and the method by which it is extracted is what determines the difference. Mead is fermented, diluted honey. One of the biggest misconceptions about mead is that because it is made from honey, it is sweet. It actually carries a wide variety of taste because it varies in sweetness, ranging from sweet, semi-sweet, and dry (not sweet). Flavors in mead can also vary with the addition of fruits, juices, and spices, or even combinations of these. Just like grape wine, mead can vary in flavor and aroma depending on the types of honey used.