Subject: Meads & mead-making
Date: 1989-09-29 21:36:00 GMT
I noted 's recent request for mead-making info, but haven't had time to
respond until now.
Below you will find my basic recipe for making mead. First, however, some
basic tips and information.
Meads come in several basic types: meads, metheglins (spiced meads), and
melomels (meads made with fruit and/or fruit juices added). Many of these,
especially the melomels, are "species specific" (as it were). For example, a
cyser is by definition a mead made with apples or apple juice.
Use unblended honey when making mead, and raw honey if at all possible. Thus,
unless there is someone with an apiary in your neighborhood, the best place to
get honey is at a health food store or roadside stand. If the honey has bits
of wax, or other particulate matter in it, that can be strained out before
cooking. Do NOT, under *any* circumstances, use "blended to death" honeys,
like "SueBee". Remember: the taste and character of the honey you use will
be the principal determinants of the taste and character of your mead.
Please note that meads don't need any malt added, for *any* reason. Apart
from altering the flavor and character, there are quite enough fermentables
present already, thank you! :-)
Use a white wine yeast in brewing mead; "Montrechet" is recommended. *Don't*
use ale or lager yeast; the end result will most likely be exploding bottles!
Most mead recipes call for the addition of some citrus juice or tea (tannin).
This is important, as it balances the sweetness, preventing it from becoming
cloying. This is the same reason caffeine is added to many sodas.
The molecular structures of the sugars involved in meads are different from
those found in brews. Thus, meads can take anywhere from a few weeks or
months to several years to age properly. And, they won't taste very good if
one isn't patient; the time is necessary.
When adding honey to hot or boiling water, STIR CONSTANTLY!! Otherwise, the
honey will go straight to the bottom of the pot, where it will caramelize,
scorch, and otherwise ruin the whole thing. KEEP STIRRING, until the honey is
You will notice, in mead recipes, instructions to skim off any scum that forms
as the mead heats up. This is very important, as that scum is the equivalent
of the krausen in beer. Apart from the nasties in it that can contribute to
hangovers, there are nasties in the scum that can adversely affect the flavor
and appearance of the finished mead.
The length of time mead is allowed to ferment is the other principal factor in
determining not only the final alcoholic content, but how dry _vs._ how sweet
your mead will be. Remember: mead is not necessarily a sweet drink! Also,
meads can be sparkling, or still. It's all a matter of individual preference.
A word of warning about mead hangovers: they are the stuff of legend-- and
rightly so! The combination of high alcohol content (relatively speaking) and
high sugar content are perfect for the induction of the Ultimate Hangover.
One author I've read on meads, in an attempt to convey to the reader the
potential severity of a mead hangover, referred to the Biblical story of
Judith and the Holofernes. The author pointed out that Judith saw to it that
the Holofernes got thoroughly drunk on mead, waited until they had slept
awhile, and then had the Hebrew army attack-- beating on their shields! As
the author put it: "What else could the Holofernes do but throw down their
arms and accept slaughter with gratitude?"
Personally, I consider this description of mead hangovers to be both apt and
Anyone with questions about mead-making can contact me at the addresses below.
The recipe for basic mead follows.
Yours in Carbonation,
Univ. of Fla.
BASIC SMALL MEAD
NOTE: All equipment mentioned below is assumed to be either well-cleaned or
sterilized, as needed.
In a 1 gallon enamel pot, simmer the following until the infusion is done to
taste: 2-3 whole cloves, lightly cracked; 2 sticks of cinnamon, broken up; 2
thin slices peeled fresh ginger root. Add 2-4 tsp. orange peel (how much
depends on the honey-- with orange blossom honey use less, for example) and
simmer a little longer.
Add enough water to bring the volume up to 3 quarts. Bring back up to a
simmer. Add 2 lbs honey, stirring constantly. Some of the warm water can be
ladled back into the honey container to rinse it.
DO NOT BOIL! Continue to simmer at a moderate rate, skimming off any white
scum that forms on the top. If the scum is yellow, the heat is too high.
Once no more scum forms, turn off the heat, place the lid on the pot, and
The next day, strain out as many of the spice particles as practicable. Pitch
the yeast. Replace the pot lid; the condensation on it will form a seal.
Twelve hours later, rack the mead into a gallon jug, leaving the dregs of the
yeast. After racking, top off the jug if needed, filling it to the base of
the neck. Take a piece of clean paper towel, fold it into quarters, and put
it over the mouth of the jug. Secure with a rubber band. Allow to ferment 36
hours. If the paper towel becomes fouled during this period, replace it with
After 36 hours, taste the mead. If it is still too sweet for your taste,
ferment longer. Repeat this as necessary, until a desirable level of
sweetness/dryness is achieved.
Place mead in refrigerator for 8-12 hours, then rack into a fresh gallon jug.
Seal new jug tightly, and place in refrigerator to carbonate for 12 hours.
Once the mead is nicely carbonated, add 1/4 cup of vodka or grain alcohol to
the jug to kill off the yeast. Rack into a fresh jug again, seal tightly, and
place in refrigerator for 3-4 days.
The mead may then be bottled; Grolsch bottles work extremely well for this
This is a "quickie" mead, drinkable in 2 weeks. However, it does improve
considerably with age, and letting it age for at least a couple of months
before drinking is recommended. This mead is excellent chilled.
The posts that comprise the Homebrew Digest Searchable Archive remain the
property of their authors.
This search system is copyright © 2008 Scott Alfter; all rights reserved.