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What Temperature Should Mead be Served At?
Just like wine or beer, there is an ideal mead temperature...though this can vary. There's a correct serving temperature, fermentation temperature and also a correct storage temperature. There are some people who are starting to keep a mead cellar, as quality meads can age well, just like fine wines.
What are the right temperatures? It turns out there is a right mead temperature for each.
Mead Serving Temperature
The correct mead serving temperature is subject of some debate. Though it is completely it's own class of beverage, and the number of mead styles is fantastically diverse, mead is closer to a wine than a beer in many ways. Thus, many of the same conventions - especially serving temperature - apply to mead.
For instance, a light and crisp mead is very popular in summer and should be chilled to accentuate these qualities and to be refreshing as an escape from the heat, but should not necessarily be iced so that it becomes too cold for the palette to pick up on its flavors. Conventional serving temperatures for white wines is between 45 and 55 degrees. Ideally, they should be stored at room temperature but chilled before serving; a good 90 to 120 minutes in the refrigerator will do the trick.
For darker, heavier meads, following the same recommendations as red wines is a very good guideline. However, 70 degrees is about as warm as you want to allow it to get, so you may consider no more than an hour in the refrigerator if a mead has been stored above this temperature.
Mulled mead, much as mulled wines, may be enjoyed hot, though it should never be brought to a boil. A temperature around 140 degrees is about as warm as it should be brought to.
Ideal Temperature For Mead Fermentation
For the home mead maker (or mazer, as they are known) the ideal temperature for mead fermentation is a very good concern to have, as too high of temperatures will likely kill the yeast. Conversely, too low of temperatures will likewise interfere with the fermentation process.
Most mead is made with wine yeasts, with champagne yeast being one of the most popular, though there are exceptions with some recipes. That being said, the home mead maker should adhere to the best temperature ranges for fermentation for the yeast strain that they are using.
In most cases, slightly below room temperature is best, no more than 70 degrees. Some strains of yeast, however, require lower temperatures, such as lager yeasts, which work best at temperatures of 50 degrees or lower.
Best Temperature For Mead Storage
Just like long-term wine or beer storage, the best temperature for mead storage is about 70 degrees, so room temperature for most people. However, just as with storing wine for long periods, extreme fluctuations in temperature should be avoided, as temperatures above 70 degrees can negatively impact the mead.
As a result, you want to store your mead in a dark, dry location that is neither too hot nor too cool. A cabinet indoors is a good idea; better still is one temperature controlled, just like for wine storage. Excessive temperature swings and excessive oxidation by sunlight can cause mead to skunk, just as the same can occur with fine wines and ales. If you plan to store mead for long periods (nothing wrong with drinking it as soon as possible, though!) then some sort of planned storage is a good idea.
In most houses, about room temperature should be fine. However, people who don't have air conditioning may want to consider temperature-controlled storage to ensure quality.