How to Make Mead
Mead is very simply honey, water, and yeast. You can add other fruits,
vegetables, and spices to augment the flavor profile of your mead. You
can also use additives to make your yeast work faster or more efficiently,
to preserve your mead. There are recipes available to you to take some
of the guesswork out of making your first batch and the batches that follow.
The following are some general guidelines and links to other mead making
resources, so you can go to any depth of information you desire.
- Primary Fermenter (preferably glass, but food grade pail works in
- Secondary Fermenter (preferably glass)
- Large Spoon
- Large Brew Pot
- Glass Cup - for yeast
- Hydrometer & Thermometer
- Airlock & Stopper
- Syphon & Hose
- Honey - 2-4 lbs per gallon of mead
- Enough clean water to bring your batch up to the desire size
- Yeast packet - Champagne or Pris de Mousse
- More honey - .5 lb per gallon for later sweetening
- Clean and sanitize
- Clean your water by boiling it, if needed.
- There is some debate about boiling your honey, some people boil it
for 15 minutes or bring it up to 140F for 25 minutes to just kill off
any wild yeast. For more information about the relative merits of boiling,
please visit this guide.
- If there is any scum that forms on the top of your mixture, skim it
off and discard. The scum is made up of proteins that will haunt your
mead later, so it is best to remove as much as possible.
- Pour your must (the honey water) into your primary fermenter, and
top up to the desired batch size.
- Let this cool naturally to about 70F. This will take roughly 3 hours
for 1 gallon batch or 12 hours for 5 gallon batches.
- Rehydrate your yeast in a cup of clean 105F water for 15 minutes.
- Take your hydrometer reading of the must, and record for your records.
- Add your rehydrated yeast.
- Close up your primary with your bung and airlock.
- Place your fermenter somewhere it can stay at about 70F (typically
about room temperature)
- In 5-7 days, when your mead has reached a specific gravity of about
1.020, it needs to be racked to the secondary, leaving the spent yeast
of primary fermentation behind.
- A good rule of thumb is to now rack your mead once a month until it
has cleared. For lower gravity meads this may take a couple months,
for the higher gravity meads it can take from 6 months to a year.
- Once it has cleared, you can add some sanitized honey water to sweeten
your mead, and bottle it (in sanitized bottles of course).
- Let your mead continue to condition in the bottle, for another 2 months
to a year, again depending on the original gravity of the must.
- Crack a bottle open and enjoy!
As with wine, the fermentation can be helped by balancing the acid
content, or adding yeast nutrients. GotMead has a Guide
to these additives and rules for their addition that you might want
to check out. When in doubt add some lemon zest to your honey water
before pasteuizing, and that should give you enough acid to help the
yeasty-beasties get to their work.
Fruit, Vegetables & Spices
The mellow flavor of mead is the perfect substrate for other flavors.
GotMead has a nice
Guide to the various fruits, vegetables and spices you can add to
your mead as well as rules of thumbs for how they should be cleaned,
processed and at which stage of fermentation they should be added.