Can Mead Go Bad?
Mead can go bad if it is not stored properly or if it is past its expiration date. Mead will also spoil if it is exposed to heat or light for an extended period of time or if it becomes contaminated with bacteria or other microbes. It is important to store mead in a cool, dark place and to keep it sealed tightly to prevent it from going bad.
While professionally made mead does not go bad, the beverage does experience flavor degradation over time, so much so that it becomes unpalatable to drink. Commercially made mead does not go down in quality, but the flavor deteriorates with time to the point where it is no longer enjoyable to drink.
Mead does have the potential to go bad, but due to the higher alcohol content, if bottled without opening, the mead will keep very well before going bad. As long as you tightly seal the bottle, high-alcohol meads keep very well, even when unrefrigerated. As long as there is no damage to the cork or the cap, keeping your unopened bottles of mead in a cool, dry place is sufficient to keep the beverage in optimal quality.
Proper storage for mead requires cool, dry space, far away from direct sunlight, as well as a secure facility capable of withstanding falls or impacts on the bottles. It is best to store your mead the same way as an unopened bottle of wine, and yes, this means far away from the sun, in a cool, dark location. The best place to store your mead is in the refrigerator, as this will prevent the mead from becoming oxidized and damaged from the sun. Properly storing your mead, regardless of if you opened your bottles, helps to provide the best shelf-life possible for your beverage.
When you are storing an opened mead in a cabinet, be sure you tightened the seal on the bottle to prevent oxidation. Once you put your bottles into a cooler, the bottles should stay there until your Classic Mead is at room temperature. Once you have opened your classic mead bottle, use it within 6 months if you are keeping it in a pantry, or 8 months if you are keeping it in the fridge.
You do not have to store a bottle in the refrigerator if you plan on using it in just a couple months, as there is a lot of alcohol. If you intend on drinking light meads in short periods, then you are okay with keeping it in the refrigerator. If you are keeping mead frozen in unopened bottles, you are free to keep it indefinitely.
In general, though, it is not recommended to store unopened bottles of mead for longer than a couple years. Another time it is recommended to store a half-full bottle of classic mead in your refrigerator is if you know that you are not going to finish it in 3 months. Once you crack the bottle, most breweries suggest drinking the classic within 8 months, while lighter beers are recommended for a couple weeks.
Generally, lighter meads will be at their best before this point, although you are fine drinking meads for a couple weeks past that date. When it comes to meads, they have a drinking optimum age, just like wines, at which point they stop being so enjoyable to drink. Different types of meads may have other shelf life, but can be kept for quite some time when stored correctly. This is because fermentation processes are different, and lighter meads that have less alcohol in them will make their shelf life much longer.
You may need to check your best-by date in the event that you own a lighter mead bottle, because it will retain its quality for several months past the best-by date. After opening, commercial meads can be kept from several days (light mead) to a few months (classic mead) and will keep their best qualities. While mead may still be drinkable up to 6 months later, the flavors might not be as pleasant as they were for that period.
As a mead ages in its bottle, it gradually smooths out, allowing certain notes to rise to the forefront while others fade. If kept cool and dark, the mead will age just as well as a wine, and will become richer as time goes on.
If the mead has become carbonated prior to fermentation, then that is not too bad, but should be cooled down and consumed quickly. Because the mead has such high alcohol content, it does not go bad fast, but it needs to be stored properly in order to make the most out of the mead. Storing is necessary because there is a one-week window to drink a lighter mead because of a faster alcohol oxidation process with lower alcohol. It is best to pour small amounts of mead and test everything is fine before serving it to guests if it has been sitting in storage for an extended period.
Mead that has been sitting in your refrigerator or pantry in an open bottle might not taste the same as fresh mead. Please be aware that mead quality diminishes over time, and consumed mead that has been opened and stored in the cupboard for over a year may not taste as good as it once did. Regardless, if made with a low-quality yeast or using incorrect techniques, the mead is likely to taste worse and will have been made badly.
If mead has added spices during brewing, flavors can fade over a year and result in the mead tasting bland, but that does not mean that mead is unsafe to drink. If you want a mead that maintains a good taste over the course of months or even years, purchase a classic mead that has a 15% to 20% ABV. Like most fermented, non-distilled beverages, mead eventually turns, although some meads can mellow over years. If you pick up a sample of any particular mead once a year, or every six months, you will notice it has reached peak age.
How long is bottled mead good for?
It is possible to preserve the best flavour of mead for around three to six months when it is well taken care of. It is true that alcohol can still be consumed after these periods, but the flavour may lack the appeal it had during these times. There is a tendency for lighter meads (those containing less alcohol) to be less stable than heavier ones. Drink it as soon as possible after it has been opened, ideally within a year or two.
How long can mead sit out?
Our classic meads can last three months or more when kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator. We recommend storing our lighter meads in a cool place away from direct sunlight if you intend to keep them unopened for 1-2 years.
Does Honey mead expire?
Mead can keep its best flavor for 3 to 6 months if stored properly. Of course, it can still be consumed after these periods, just like other alcoholic beverages, but the flavor may not be as appealing. Lighter meads with less alcohol are less stable. It is best to consume it within the next year or two.