You now know about meads in general and its "offspring," melomel and metheglin, but are there any other variations to this great, golden, inebriating drink? There is, and it is called hydromel, but what is hydromel?
While its name could imply it is something refreshing and hydrating, it is definitely not hydrating, but it is still refreshing.
Hydromel is yet another variation of mead that has less honey flavor, and is a bit more watered down. Although, depending on how you see it, it could be either watered down mead, or simply mead that has less honey in it. However, it can also just be another name for mead. For some, though, hydromels tend to have a lower ABV, usually less than 9%.
How to make hydromel?
Making hydromel follows the same steps and principles as making mead since it is, after all, a kind of mead.
As usual, it begins with one's choice of honey, but this time, following the honey to water ratio should be on the lower end. Brewsy's recipe calls for two to three cups of honey per gallon of water, so, for hydromel, you would probably want to start at two cups or below - maybe a cup and a half of honey. From here, as normal, you will want to heat the honey/water mixture to dissolve the honey and making it homogenous. Because there is a lesser amount of honey, fermentation time will be much quicker as there is not as much sugar for the yeast to eat. Hydromel also tends to lean on the drier side, so do not expect a sweet drink.
Why is it called hydromel?
Unlike metheglin's Welsh roots, hydromel is mainly Latin in origin. Specifically, hydro comes from the Latin word hudro- (itself from hudor) meaning water, and mel meaning honey. Combined it is literally just called water honey when transliterated to English. From here, it is easy to see why it would be a watered down mead. Or, alternatively, hydromel is just the Latin name for mead.
What is the history of hydromel?
Hydromel itself most likely has the same origin as mead itself. Since it is not as fundamentally different from mead like melomel or metheglin, it is simply a variation in the quantity of a specific ingredient, in this case, honey, which uses less.
While technically subtle, it is still a bit clear what separates hydromel from any other mead. Are you perhaps a fan of drier meads? If that is the case, hydromel might be the answer.