Learn How to make mead
Learn How to make mead
Mead is an alcoholic beverage prepared by the fermentation of honey with water. It is available in various styles and its history dates back to thousands of years.
What is mead?
Mead, also called honey wine is a mixture of fermented honey and water. It is possibly one of the oldest fermented beverages that humans ever made as it was prepared and consumed about 4000 years ago. It is interesting to note that a mead drink was common in ancient cultures throughout the world including Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Mead is similar to wine, beer, or cider, however, it counts as a separate beverage category because its primary sugar to be fermented is honey. All you require to make simple mead is water, honey, and bacterial culture or yeast. You can also include ingredients like herbs, fruits, spices, roots, flowers, and grains as per your choice. The alcohol content of mead varies and is generally between 5 to 20%. Mead flavor ranges from extremely sweet to very dry and is available in both still and sparkling versions.
History of mead
The delicious beverage that is a glass full of mead has an extended and familiar history. It is one of the oldest if not the oldest alcoholic beverage around, having roots in ancient Greece, Egypt, India, and China. The initial evidence indicates that the mead was consumed in India around 4000 years ago.
Mead was considered a holy drink in Greece known as “the drink of the gods” and was thought to have mystical attributes. Mead was mostly used as medicine in Europe and was combined with different spices and herbs to cure different diseases. The ancient Greek culture called this flavorsome beverage “nectar” or “ambrosia” or refer it as a drink of the gods.
Luckily, mead is quite easy to make at home. In this article, we will guide you on how to make mead at home using a simple recipe. Let’s get started!
How to Make Mead: A complete step to step guide
The following is the mead recipe made from honey, yeast, and water. Using this mead recipe you can surely make your own homemade mead drink. This recipe works for both 1-gallon plastic water bottles and the plastic tub.
- Sanitize all of your equipment
The first step in making mead is to sanitize all of your equipment that you are going to use in the process of making honey mead. It would include plastic tubing, tub fermenter, and spoons. It is a good practice to use sanitizer that is standard to home brewing.
- Add honey to the water
Heat the water before adding honey to it. Also, liquefy the honey in a hot water bath if it is crystallized. To perform this task, place the honey sealed container in the hot water and heat it until it melts to a point that it comes out of the container easily.
Heat 1 gallon of water to 170°F in the brew pot. When the water is heated up, remove the brew pot from the heat source. Now combine 3 pounds of honey with the water. Keep in mind while adding honey, the water must not be on the heat source. If the brew pot would be still heating, the honey is likely to roast or burn at the bottom of the brew pot.
If you are moving forward with the plastic water bottle procedure, you will have to take out some water. In contrast, if you are using the plastic tub procedure, you just have to add the preferred amount of water into the tub and pour 3 pounds of honey into each gallon of water. The mixture just created is known as the must.
- Shake or mix the must
Now it’s time to mix the must. When using the water bottle procedure, you can mix it by shaking. For the plastic tub method, you can use a power drill with an attachment to completely blend the honey into the water. The step will take considerable time, even with the power drill, so you need to be patient. It is important to mix honey and water thoroughly. You can also use a stirring spoon if a proper blending attachment is not available for your drill.
- Check the temperature of the must
Check the temperature of the must with the help of a sanitized and clean thermometer. Before adding yeast, wait for the must to cool down and achieve a temperature between 65 to 75°F.
- Check the specific gravity of the must
Get a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of a must. The measurement of specific gravity will help you know the possible alcohol content of the final brew. The hydrometer will have its own specific gravity and the corresponding alcohol content shown on its side. If you think the mead is strong or much sweeter, you can simply add some water and check again until you achieve your desired alcohol by volume of your mead.
- Sprinkle yeast
When you have established your desired alcohol by volume or ABV, then it’s time sprinkle yeast into the mixture. One regular yeast pack is sufficient for over 5 gallons of mead. Also, you don’t have to worry if you add some extra yeast to your mead as it will just boost the process of fermentation and speed up making of your homemade brew. After adding yeast, shake or stir the mixture to confirm thorough mixing. Moreover, if you want to add spices or fruits to create flavor, then it is time to add them.
- Cover the tub and add airlocks
If your selected method was a plastic tub, you don’t have to remove the mixed ingredients from the tub. You just have to cover the tub to let it sit for fermentation. If you mixed the ingredients in big plastic water bottles, you need to install an airlock. On the other hand, with the water bottle method, the balloons can work as airlocks; just stretch the balloon over the opening of the water bottle. If you are using a plastic tub or pot, you will be required to install some traditional airlock.
- Let the mixture ferment
It is the time when you are required to allow the mixture to ferment. For the water bottle method, you will be required to wrap the bottles in cardboard or opaque paper to prevent the light from entering and affecting the fermentation process.
Now the question is how much time mead takes for fermentation? The simple answer is fermentation takes at least 2 weeks to make mead. However, if you want to get the tastiest, smoothest, and best homemade beverage, you will let it sit for some more weeks once the fermentation is complete.
Also, remember making beer at home is a complete process and not a single event. Ensure that you ferment your mead in a dark and cool place away from the sunlight.
- Rack the mead
If you are using the tub method, you are required to remove the fermented mixture from the tub once the fermentation process is done and rack the mead. Carboy and plastic tubes are used to complete this step.
- Be Patient
As we said before, the fermentation process takes at least 2 weeks to complete, but the mead may not taste like the best at that time. Give mead more time to sit without dipping into it; you will get a much better taste with time. Some people like to let the mead sit for two months. However it is not necessary, it is all up to your choice. You can check the mead from time to time to decide when it tastes best to you whether it is 2 weeks, 2 months, or somewhere in between.
Enjoy Your Mead!
Congrats! You have done the job; your delicious drink of the gods is ready to drink. Once you have bottled your mead, you are free to enjoy it. For the mead, remember the golden rule, the longer it sits, the better it tastes. Also, it is fun to keep some bottles for months or even years to check how the taste changes with the age.
Some mead recipes involve the boiling of honey during preparation. The boiling step is mainly done to remove the contaminants and unwanted elements from the honey such as debris, dead bees, and capping. However, honey today is much cleaner and doesn’t have such kind of unwanted elements. It also reduces the risk of contaminants ruining your mead drink and the honey dissolves easily when you boil it. Killing off unwanted organisms and wild yeasts that could ruin the mead, was another reason to boil the mead. It can be done without boiling the honey. Just heat it to 150°F for approximately 5 minutes can kill off any wild yeast in the honey.
To preserve the aroma of the honey, it is suggested to avoid boiling the honey. Boiling honey will take away all of the necessary flavor and aroma of honey mead.