The Real Reason Mead Can Be So Expensive

Mead, or honey wine, as it is often called, has long been idealized and glamorized in Medieval tales as a libation for the likes of the miller to woo his love interest in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, to serve as a noble drink for the Knights of the Round Table, or as an after dinner drink for Gandalf the Grey in The Hobbit (per Elspeth Payne). Even Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has been known to sip on a glass of this spirit, reports While the tradition and lore of imbibing mead has been around since 3000 BCE, as Eater tells us, fast forward to present day and mead is having a moment, becoming hip and trendy. Thrillist notes the number of meaderies is on the rise. In the last 10 years, they've grown from 150 to 500, with another 200 awaiting federal license approval.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, some people might be wondering what mead is. As Rob Adams, meadmaker at GoodRoad Ciderworks, told the Charlotte Observer, "Mead, in its simplest form, is an alcoholic beverage made with honey and water, then fermented with yeast. It can range from sweet to dry. It can also be traditional (just honey, water and yeast), or it can include fruit, vegetable, spices, herbs or malted grains — like beer."

If you go to purchase a bottle of this craft brew, you may notice it can be expensive. And if you're wondering why, we're with you.

Honey is expensive to ferment

The price of mead varies, based on a range of factors that include the cost of using local ingredients and the price of honey. Yep, honey can be expensive. Per the Wall Street Journal, the average cost per pound for honey is $4.69, and this price has had a steady uptick of 25 percent since 2013. According to, the process of making mead can require up two gallons of this liquid gold sweetener. You can see how things can start to add up to produce a bottle. Moreover, meadery co-founder Jennifer Herbert told Delish that fermenting honey can be more expensive per pound than hops, grapes or barley. But Herbert also noted mead makers have quickly adapted to find other cost-cutting measures to bring their spirits to market at an affordable price so fans of the drink can enjoy it. 

If you are in search of a bottle of this ethereal alcohol, you can try Moonlight Meadery, which has over 40 varieties and has won many accolades for its mead, or for a local retailer, check the websites of the American Mead Makers Association or visit Got Mead.