Calories In Mead Vs Beer [Cost, Healthier Option & Taste]

“Bring me more mead!” I don’t know about you, but when I think about mead and ale, I think of the middle ages and traveling men in roadside inns.

But actually, ale is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages even today (hint: it’s a type of beer), and mead is also still widely available. Still, if you’ve ever thought to yourself that mead and ale were the same things, you would be wrong.

In general, ale is made with malted barley, just like mead. However, there are a few critical differences between mead and ale you should know. Firstly, Mead has a higher alcohol content than ale. The Hops in ale also gives it a bitter flavor. On the other hand, mead is made with honey, which gives it a sweeter taste. The sweet taste of mead doesn’t come without drawbacks, however, as mead is much higher in calories and carbohydrates than ale.

So let’s go ahead and dive a bit deeper into the differences between ale vs. mead!

Ale vs. Mead: Which one tastes better?

Mead has a more intense flavor than ale because ale is brewed with hops which gives ale its signature bitterness.

Meads are normally sweeter due to honey but they can also be made with spices and other ingredients in order to enhance the fruity flavors of melomel or give sack mead its strong sherry smell.

Meads also have a higher alcohol content than ale and some meads can contain up to 16% alcohol.

One of the main differences between ale and mead is that ale has hops while mead does not.

This gives ale its bitter flavor and more balanced sweetness while making it light on the palate. Mead, on the other hand, is sweeter and has a strong fruity flavor.

Ale also has more carbonation than mead due to hops which gives ale its crispness. Meads are also very earthy, which ale is not.

Ale vs. Mead: Which one is healthier?

Mead has a higher calorie content than ale. Mead contains about 273 calories per 16 oz, whereas ale only contains 204 calories per 16 oz.

Both ale and mead are high in sugar, but mead is higher because it is made up mostly of honey.

These agents contain antioxidants that protect human cells from damage and ale also contains polyphenols (plant compounds) which can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ale is believed to be healthier than mead because ale has more polyphenols and antioxidants but there is still not enough research to confirm ale’s health benefits.

Here is a breakdown of the nutritional value of ale vs. mead:

Per 16 ozAle:Mead:
Total Fat0 g0 g
Total Carbohydrates17 g72.8 g
Total Protein2.2 g0 g

Here is the full nutritional information for ale:

Total Fat0 g
Saturated Fat0 g
Cholesterol0 mg
Sodium19 mg
Total Carbohydrates17 mg
Protein2.2 g
Vitamin A0%
Vitamin C0%

Here is the full nutritional information for mead:

Total Fat0 g
Saturated Fat0 g
Cholesterol0 mg
Sodium0 mg
Total Carbohydrates72.8 g
Protein0 g
Vitamin A0%
Vitamin C0%

Ale vs. Mead: Which one is cheaper?

Mead is generally more expensive than ale because ale is made with two ingredients (water and yeast) while mead contains honey.

Here is a reference chart for a few popular mead and ale brand prices:


Dansk Mjod Vikingerness Mead, 750 ml$30.99
Sky River Mead Sweet, 750 ml$24.99
Bunratty Meade, 750 ml$16.49
Chaucer’s Mead, 750 ml$12.99


Founders Dirty Bastard Ale, 6 pk 12 oz$8.99
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, 4 pk 12 oz$11.99
Belhaven Scottish Ale, 4 pk 15 oz$13.49
North Coast PranQster Ale, 4 pk 12 oz$9.99

What is Ale?

Ale is a yeast-fermented alcoholic drink made from grain mash and water.

Traditionally ale is brewed with malted barley and adjunct grains such as corn, rice, and sugar to increase alcohol content and add flavor.

Ales are top-fermented at ale yeast’s ideal temperature range of 12 to 25 degrees Celsius (54 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit). 

At ale yeast’s favorite temperature, ale ferments quickly and has a sweetish taste with low bitterness.

How Ale is Made

Brewing ale begins with the malting process. Then comes mashing, where all the ingredients for ale come together.

The ale yeast, malt, and sometimes cereal grains are steeped in water at a specific temperature to create a sugary soup called wort.

When all the ingredients have been combined, they go through boiling for between 60-90 minutes.

This is also when the hops are added. The result is a sugary liquid.

Next, this liquid goes through primary fermentation, where ale yeast converts fermentable sugars into ale.

The ale is then transferred to a secondary vessel where it goes through maturing, which allows yeast to further ferment sugars into co2 and alcohol.

When ale has just about reached its peak flavor profile, it is bottled or kegged.

Where Ale Originated From

Ale dates back to the dawn of civilization with ale yeast being cultivated as early as 7000 BCE in Mesopotamia.

Over time, ale spread into northern Europe where ale brewers developed their own styles of ale such as porters and stouts which were invented during the Industrial Revolution.

What is Mead?

Mead is an alcoholic beverage fermented from honey, water, and ale yeast with possible additional ingredients such as fruit, spices, or grains.

The most common types of mead are metheglin which contains spices; melomel which is a fruit mead; and sack mead, which contains high concentrations of sugar.


How Mead is Made

Honey, water, and ale yeast are the three main ingredients needed to make mead.

It is crucial that honey be free from impurities such as pesticides and antibiotics because they can destroy ale yeast.

Brewing mead begins with boiling a mixture of pure honey and water for about an hour to remove any harmful bacteria or fungi from the mixture.

When ale yeast is added, the mixture begins fermenting immediately because mead contains a lot of easily fermentable sugars.

Mead will not stop fermenting once it has been bottled unless a chemical analysis reveals that its sugar content has dropped below a certain threshold.

This means that mead will continue fermenting in the bottle and pressure may build until the bottle bursts.

For this reason, it is important to store mead under low temperatures and away from strong light.

Where Mead Originated From

Mead was first documented around 7000 BCE when it was consumed by both ale brewers and beekeepers.

Beekeepers would return from their fields with honeycombs full of nectar and ferment them into mead while ale brewers would add honey to ale in order to give it a sweeter flavor.

Ale is excellent as a drink, but it can also make a great ingredient in your cooking! Here are a few fun recipes to try using ale:

Beer Cheese

  1. Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and saute for one minute. Stir in 2 cloves garlic, grated, and cook for an additional minute.
  2. Whisk in one 12-ounce bottle of beer and 1 tablespoon of mustard and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.
  3. Add 8 ounces of grated cheddar cheese and whisk until sauce is smooth. Whisk in 1/4 cup heavy cream and salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with soft or hard pretzels.

Recipe source: Food Network

Beer and Cheddar Soup

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat combine 1 ½ cups diced carrots, 1 ½ cups diced onion, 1 ½ cups diced celery, and 2 cloves minced garlic. Stir in 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Add 3 cups chicken broth and 2 cups beer and simmer until vegetables are tender.
  3. Meanwhile, melt ⅓ cup butter and whisk in ⅓ cup flour. Stir until light brown. Gradually stir in 4 cups milk or half and half until thickened and remove from heat. Stir in 6 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese.
  4. Combine beer mixture and cheese mixture by stirring. Add in 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, and 1 teaspoon dry mustard.
  5. Bring to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Recipe source: All Recipes

Beer-Braised Brisket

  1. Preheat over to 325°.
  2. Combine 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika, and ½ teaspoon dried thyme in a small bowl and rub over brisket.
  3. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Add brisket and saute for 3 minutes on each side. Remove brisket from pan.
  4. Add 1 ½ cups pale ale to pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Add 4 cups lower-sodium beef broth and 5 garlic cloves, sliced and return to a boil.
  6. Add brisket back to pan. Cover and cook at 325° for 2 hours. Turn over and cook for an additional 2 hours.
  7. Add 6 carrots, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces, 6 celery stalks, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces, and 2 medium onions, each cut into 12 wedges and cook for an additional hour.

Recipe source: My Recipes

Mead Recipes

Mead is also a fun ingredient to experiment with in the kitchen! Here are a few recipes to try:

Chicken in Mead Sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Fry 4 chicken wings and/or thighs in oil and butter until browned.
  3. Remove the chicken and add one small chopped onion to the oil and butter and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add 4 oz mushrooms, freshly chopped parsley, 1 tsp lemon juice, and 5 oz mead. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes.
  5. Pour sauce over chicken joints and cook in the oven for 1 hour.

Recipe source:

Honey Syrup Bundt Cake with Mead

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F and lightly grease and flour a bundt pan.
  2. Cream 400g unsalted butter. Add 4 eggs and mix until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix 2 boxes of yellow cake mix, lemon zest, ¾ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger, and ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg together.
  4. Fold dry ingredients into the wet with a rubber spatula, then use the mixer to mix it into a fluffy batter.
  5. Pour into pan and bake for 50 minutes.
  6. Make the honey mead glaze by adding ½ cup honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the honey becomes runny and then add 3 tablespoons of mead and stir to combine.
  7. Allow cake and glaze to cool.
  8. Prick the bottom of the cake many times with a fork and drizzle half of the glaze over it. Turn over and prick the top of the cake with a fork and drizzle the rest of the glaze over it.
  9. Give the cake time to soak up the syrup before serving.

Recipe source: The Tough Cookie

Final Considerations

Ale and mead are two different types of alcoholic drinks that have been around for centuries.

Mead is made with honey while ale is brewed with malted barley. Mead also has a higher alcohol content than ale.

Ale vs mead comparisons can be difficult because they can differ on several different levels, such as the level of sweetness.

But ale does have more carbonation than mead due to hops which gives ale its crispness. Meads are also very earthy, which ale is not.

In addition, both ale and mead are high in sugar but ale has a lower calorie content than mead.

Ale is believed to be healthier than mead because ale contains compounds called cardioprotective agents.

Do you have any more questions about mead vs. ale? Let us know in the comments below!

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