When we talk about herbal meads, we don’t mean herballike cannabis (although there has been copious talk on the internet about that). We’re really talking about mead that’s made using herbs or spices, such as a metheglin. While a metheglin was traditionally created to have medicinal value, nowadays, it’s usually just meant to refer to a mead that contains spices or herbs, but no fruit (like a melomel). If you’re in the brewing game, you won’t have to go far for these delicious ingredients: they may be growing right in your backyard.
Meadowsweet mead is a very traditional herb that traces its roots in mead back centuries. In fact, its other name is even mead wort.
To add meadowsweet to a mead, you’ll want one ounce of the herb (flower and stem included!) for every gallon of mead you intend to make. You’ll need to dissolve your honey in hot water, and then steep the meadowsweet in the cooling liquid once it’s off the burner.
This mead will come out dry. If you want to add some sweetness to it, use a gently flavored fruit or vanilla. Something too sweet like strawberry or pomegranate will overpower the sweetness of the meadowsweet. Instead, try something like peach, pear, or papaya.
Lavender is all the rage right now, from hipster coffee shops and bakeries to perfume makers. But did you know it makes a bomb infusion for mead, too?
Lavender is pretty strong– a lot stronger than some of the other herbs on this list. Use half an ounce per gallon with this flavorful friend.
Lavender goes well with the subacid flavor of berries, like raspberries or blackberries. If you’re feeling extra fancy and really want that purple flair, try it with huckleberries.
Dandelions? Like the ones that grow EVERYWHERE in the spring? Yes, you can brew with those. In fact, dandelion wine is a very popular summer drink in some parts of the United States– and it, like so many of the others listed here, has an ancient history.
When you make dandelion mead, you don’t want anything green to go into your carboy or bucket. You just want those sweet, tender, yellow petals. Why? That green part is super bitter and no matter how much you love bitter stuff, you’ll still want to throw the whole batch in the garbage.
To make one gallon of dandelion mead, you’ll need about three quarts of dandelion petals. You’ll need to boil a gallon of your preferred brewing water, then steep the flowers in that water for three days. Once three days are up, throw it in your carboy with your honey and yeast and let it sit until clear. You may want to rerack this one after fermentation is complete to get those flower petals out, too. If you want to add fruit to this one, we suggest a citrus, like lemon, orange, or even grapefruit.
I’m a mint fiend. If there’s a mint option of something on a menu, I will probably choose it. On top of that, it’s one of the easiest herbs to grow, and one of the easiest ones to add to a batch of mead, because it will enhance any other flavor.
A lot of people suggest using an extract instead of actual mint leaves because the actual leaves will become more and more subtle with the growing alcohol content. That’s up to you– we’ve found, however, that complimenting it with a citrusy fruit, like lime or grapefruit really does the trick.
I recently tried an elderflower cider for the first time, and it’s piqued my curiosity about this flower. Shortly after that, I got my hands on some St. Germaine’s (which is an elderflower liquor!) and now it’s priming itself to be my next experiment.
Elderflowers have a very delicate flavor, which are more noticeable when used alone. But if you’re not a crazy big fan of its flowery taste, try adding elderberries or elderberry syrup.
Here in Florida, basil grows like crazy. It loves our cool winters and hot summers. I grow it primarily on my balcony in a pot, and I still end up with way more than I need for my tomato sauce and pesto requirements. So how about throwing it into a batch of mead?
Just using basil alone will probably make this mead smell like an Italian restaurant, so we suggest you round out the flavor with a tart fruit, like strawberries, blackberries, or rapsberries. You can also add a split vanilla bean or some vanilla extract to help mate the fruit and the herb together. As with all of these herbs, fresh is better than dried– don’t even think about using dried basil here. You will lose 70% of the taste!
Every kid knows that clover flowers make the best crowns. But they also make a pretty dope mead, too! I found this gorgeous recipe on Game of Brews and it’s jumping right up to the top of my To-Try list.
Supposedly the Celtic druids used red clover flowers to ward of evil and witchcraft, and Chinese herbalists say they’re good for colds and purifying the blood. They’re also used world-wide for afflictions of the skin (like eczema) and respiratory problems (like asthma), and even cancer prevention. I don’t know if any of that’s true or not, but for those of us with chronic aliments, hey, it’s worth a shot. Even WebMD says it’s cool.
Yarrow is the beloved plant of Achilles, which means it’s made for warriors. In Scandanavia, it’s called jordhumlewhich means, ‘earth hop.’ Like regular hops, they can be bitter to eat, but they are often used in the brewing of ales. And like the red clover mentioned above, yarrow is a really amazing first aid herb. It helps clot bleeding, lower blood pressure, get rid of menstrual cramps, and can even be made into a tea to help sweat out a fever. Achilles used it during the Trojan War to help his wounded men.
As yarrow has a bitter taste, it’s best to use it with other herbs, including any wildflowers you might have on hand. You’ll want to brew this one into a tea before you add it to your mead, but keep the yarrow and any additional flowers in. A citrus fruit, like oranges, limes, or grapefruit will also help numb the bitterness without affecting the hop-flavor.
Like basil, hibiscus grows like crazy here in Florida. But if you don’t live where hibiscus grows wild, you can buy it in bulk at grocery stores like Whole Foods. Or you can buy hibiscus tea just about anywhere and use that for your mead. Rose of Sharon is also a type of hibiscus, and many brewers swear it tastes better (and is easier to locate for most people outside the tropics).
No matter what you use, don’t go overboard. Hibiscus isn’t toxic, but it can be overpowering. Experts suggest reracking and clearing out the hibiscus after two weeks to a month.
Have you ever made a methgalin? Tell us your recipe in the comments or ping us on social media! We’d love to hear about your creation.