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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.

Equipment

  • Primary Fermenter (preferably glass, but food grade pail works in a pinch)
  • Secondary Fermenter (preferably glass)
  • Large Spoon
  • Large Brew Pot
  • Glass Cup - for yeast
  • Funnel
  • Hydrometer & Thermometer
  • Airlock & Stopper
  • Syphon & Hose

Basic Ingredients

  • 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 or Montrachet
  • More honey - .5 lb per gallon for later sweetening

Basic Process

  1. Clean and sanitize your equipment.
  2. Clean your water by boiling it, if needed.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour your must (the honey water) into your primary fermenter, and top up to the desired batch size.
  6. Let this cool naturally to about 70F. This will take roughly 3 hours for 1 gallon batch or 12 hours for 5 gallon batches.
  7. Rehydrate your yeast in a cup of clean 105F water for 15 minutes.
  8. Take your hydrometer reading of the must, and record for your records.
  9. Add your rehydrated yeast.
  10. Close up your primary with your bung and airlock.
  11. Place your fermenter somewhere it can stay at about 70F (typically about room temperature)
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Once it has cleared, you can add some sanitized honey water to sweeten your mead, and bottle it (in sanitized bottles of course).
  15. 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.
  16. Crack a bottle open and enjoy!

Chemical Additives

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.

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