The Meading of Life
“Mead is the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage, known since Babylonian times. Wine made from fermented honey, rather than grapes, mead was the nectar of the gods on Mt. Olympus, the celebrated drink of poets, lovers and kings. It has long been touted as an elixir of health, fertility and longevity. The Scandinavian word for honeymoon is derived, in part, from an ancient Northern European custom in which newlyweds, for the first month of their married life, drank a daily cup of honeyed wine called mead. But despite its rich history, mead is not well known in modern times. Many people assume that mead must be very sweet, but this is not necessarily the case. Like any other wine, the flavor is determined by a variety of factors, from the quality of the initial ingredients to the handling at every step along the way. The honey base makes mead a natural for blending with a variety of fruits and other wines.” (www.honeymoonmead.net)
If one’s never tasted mead or fermented anything, then I encourage you all to give it a try. Watching the activity of an active fermentation is very cool and exciting. Your first 1 gallon batch will run you about $25 and each batch there after will be the cost of honey, yeast and water or about $10. Mead, I believe, pairs well with a light salad, fish or chicken, not all mead is sweet and can be served up dry. Of course it also goes well as a compliment to deserts or just as an after dinner aperitif.
Equipment can be found at any local homebrew shop (LHBS) or online, to find you nearest LHBS, check out the Beer Fly directory by clicking on your state and then navigating to homebrew shops.
Here’s the list:
1 gal jug $4.95
Airlock $1.10 (go 3 piece easier to clean)
Beer Bottle Brush $2.95
Iodophor $4 (no rinse sanitizer)
1 stopper that fits jug with a hole in it $1
As for your ingredient list:
D47 Yeast $1.10
Honey (3lbs) $8 (this should put you in the neighborhood of 9% ABV)
1 gal spring water $1
Here’s the process (takes about an hour, not including cleanup).
1. Wash and rinse all equipment that will ever come in contact with your must (mead before fermentation), use the iodophor to sanitize everything. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT! if you don’t you could get off flavors from bacteria. You will mix up iodophor (per the instructions) and water in a bucket and use this as your sanitizer solution for this batch.
2. Warm the honey using a double boiler concept. Put the entire jar of honey into a pot of water and bring up the temp. DO NOT boil. Your goal is to make it easy to blend and soften the honey.
3. While waiting on step 2, follow the instructions on the yeast package to re-hydrate the yeast.
4. In a larger pot or plastic bucket, mix 3/4 gallon of water with your 3lbs of honey and mix well with a sanitized metal spoon.
5. Check temp on the must if under 83ºF then pitch your yeast slurry
6. Stir it all up but don’t be super aggressive this time. Our goal is to aerate the must creating an environment for the yeast to grow.
7. Dump the bucket contents into your 1 gal glass jug
8. Fill your airlock to the line on the side with sanitized water solution, attach airlock to the rubber stopper and then attach to your jug.
9. Place jug in a dark spot/corner that is in the neighborhood of 68-70ºF. A basement closet usually is the best.
10. Wait 2 weeks. Then siphon the mead into a clean sanitize bucket, leave behind the stuff on the bottom of the jug post primary fermentation, clean & sanitize your 1 gal jug and then siphon mead back into jug, reattach clean & sanitized airlock/stopper and age the mead for at least a month, longer is better. When you’ve aged it and are ready to bottle I suggest you use swing top Grolsch style beer bottles. Mead can age anywhere from 3 months to 10 years. Then Enjoy!
For an all around great book on the subject, purchase:
The Compleat Meadmaker