Cesare wrote:How does it compare to a barleywine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barleywine
Obviously this doesn't have the grains or hops so those flavors won't be there.
Barleywines, wheat wines, and sake (rice wine) are completely different than honey wine (mead) and fruit wines. The former are beers (although the case for sake as a beer is debatable), whereas the latter are true wines. The main difference being that honey, grapes, and other fruit are natural sources of fermentable sugar, whereas grains need some sort of enzymatic activity to convert their starches to sugars.
English-style barleywines are somewhat sweet, as they tend to focus more on the flavors that are derived from the malted barley, whereas American-style barleywines tend to overload on the hops. If you were to age an American barleywine for a few years, the hop flavors and bitterness would begin to fade, and it would start to resemble an English barleywine.
As far as the manufacturing process goes, mead and barleywine have some similarities, mostly due to their high starting gravities (which is a measure of the amount of sugar available to the yeast before fermentation). High-gravity worts and musts need to be oxygenated thoroughly to allow for adequate reproduction by the yeast, thus allowing for proper attenuation (dryness). In mead, yeast nutrients are also added, but they aren't usually necessary for beer because the grains provide plenty of nutrients.
Most beers are allowed to ferment as fully as possible; any residual sweetness is usually the result of unfermentable sugar (from higher mash temperatures) as opposed to an interrupted fermentation. With mead and wines, sweetness is usually obtained by interrupting the fermentation, either with sulfites to kill the yeast, or with distilled alcohol (as in fortified wines).
Regarding the finished product, malted grains have a very distinct flavor; think Whoppers brand candies. Hops will also add another dimension of taste/flavor that won't show up in any other beverage. Mead will have residual flavors from the different types of honey used (similar to how different grape varieties yield different flavors in wine).
There is also braggot, which is a blend of mead and beer, melomel, which is a blend of mead and fruit wine, and metheglin, which is spiced mead. These blends can happen before or after fermentation; the effects on the final product are negligible. I am unsure, however, if mead mulled with spices is considered metheglin.
Hope this post clarified rather than confused the matter....