From the HBD Archive
From: (Mike Sharp)
Subject: A basic mead recepie
Date: 1989-11-29 13:12:10 GMT

Well, someone asked for a "simple" mead recepie.
This one was my first. Its every got beginner's directions.

(for the first timer)

1 Notes
This recipe is a composite of two recipes from the 16th century
cookbook, "The Closet of Sir Kenelme Digbie, Opened". One recipe
calls for oranges and orange peel; the other calls for lemons
and rosemary. My particular variation uses the lemons and rose-
mary, but this is mostly a matter or personal preference. Other
variations use star anise or raisins instead of citrus fruit.

You can get the ale yeast at New England Winemaking Supply
in Framingham (on Route 9); they will do mail order if your
purchase exceeds $25, but the yeast costs less than $1 a packet.
As with baking yeast, don't try to stockpile the stuff. Keep it
in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

The winemaking store also carries spare bottle caps and bottle
cappers. The best capper to get is the one that looks like a
corkscrew; it costs about $9, but is MUCH easier to use than the
cheaper kinds.
Make sure your champagne bottles are AMERICAN bottles; European
ones don't fit the bottle caps. Nearly every novice brewer finds
this out that hard way. If you don't have 24 champagne bottles,
Grolsch beer bottles (the ones with the ceramic tops) work just
fine. You don't have to cap them, either.

If you intend to transport your mead, make sure you keep it cold
at all times. The stuff has a nasty habit of exploding if it
gets too warm.

2 Equipment Needed

o 5-gallon enamelware canning kettle with lid (DO *NOT* USE
o measuring cup (preferably Pyrex)

o funnel (plastic or glass; NOT METAL)

o 12" square of loosely woven muslin

o 3 small plates
o 24 American champagne bottles

o dishwasher detergent
o paper towels

o potato peeler or sharp knife

3 Ingredients

o 9 pounds of honey (generic is okay)

o 5 gallons of water (use bottled water if your tap water
doesn't taste good)
o 2 oranges or lemons (or 3)

o 2 cinnamon sticks
o 1 T whole allspice

o 1 T whole cloves
o 1 T ginger root, peeled and sliced (or 3)

o 1 T rosemary (optional)
o 1 packet of top fermenting beer or ale yeast

4 Step One - Brewing

1. Set the kettle on top of the stove and put four gallons of
water in it. Turn the stove on high; it will take a while to
come to a boil. Put in the honey, then add more water until
the level is about an inch from the rim of the kettle. Let

2. Once you have the liquid started, peel and slice the ginger.
Wash the oranges or lemons and remove any blemishes from the
skins. Use the potato peeler or knife to peel the fruit; get
all the coloured part of the peel and none of the white part.
Save the peel.

3. Once you have removed all the coloured part of the peel,
section the fruit and remove the seeds and membranes and save
the fruit pulp in a bowl.
4. As the water boils, a light brown foam will rise to the top.
This is beeswax that was dissolved in the honey. Skim it off
periodically. When the foam becomes thick and dark brown,
skim it one last time and add the ginger root. Cook for 15

5. Next, add the allspice, cloves, cinnamon and peel. Cook for
10 more minutes.
6. Turn off the heat. Add the fruit pulp (and rosemary, if
you're using it), then cover the kettle.

5 Step Two - Primary Fermentation

1. Let the honey-water mixture (called the MUST) cool to about
85 degrees F (usually overnight).
2. In the morning, open the package of yeast and sprinkle it on
top of the must. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

3. Sterilize the slotted spoon by pouring boiling water over it.
Use the spoon to stir the yeast into the must.
4. Put the cover back on the kettle and wait about three days.
The must will be ready for bottling when it begins to smell
like alcohol. This usually takes three days at 70-80 degrees
F; it might take a little longer at lower temperatures (maybe
about a week).

6 Step Three - Preparing the Bottles

The bottles should be as close to sterile as possible when you
use them; therefore, don't perform this step until you're ready
to bottle the must. You might want to wear rubber globes for
this step; the soap solution can be fairly caustic. Try not to
splash yourself with it as you work.
1. Fill your bathtub with the hottest water possible. Add 1 cup
of dishwasher detergent, then add the 24 champagne bottles.
Let them soak 1-2 hours.

2. Remove the bottles from the bathtub. Place them all in the
dishwasher. DO NOT ADD SOAP TO THE WASHER. Run the bottles
through a complete wash cycle.
3. If you do not have a dishwasher, rinse each bottle out three
times with very hot tap water and use as soon as possible.

4. Inspect each bottle before using to make sure that it is ab-
solutely clean. The bottling process will use 16-20 bottles;
it's always useful to have extras just in case.

7 Step Four - Filling the Bottles

Give yourself a lot of room and about two hours for your first
bottling operation. It's generally a good idea for you to cover
your work area with a large Turkish towel or a few layers of
paper towels.
1. Pour boiling water over the following; the slotted spoon,
the measuring cup, the funnel, the muslin, the plates, the
capper, and the bottle caps.

2. Wash your hands in the hottest water you can stand.
3. Place the muslin square in the funnel, and place the funnel
in the measuring cup. These go on one of the plates. Place
the plate near you on the work surface.

4. Place the bottle capper and the strainer with the bottle caps
on another plate.

5. Use the slotted spoon to skim all the fruit pulp and spices
off the top of the must.

6. Take your first bottle and inspect it for dirt. Place it next
to the kettle in the bottling area.
7. Poke the muslin with your finger so the cloth forms a hollow
inside the funnel. Place the funnel inside the bottle.

8. Use the measuring cup to dip into the must, then pour the
must into the funnel. Let the liquid filter through. Keep
adding must to the funnel until the liquid level in the
bottle is about an inch from the top.
9. Remove the funnel and place it back onto the plate inside
the measuring cup. Wipe the mouth of the bottle with a clean
paper towel.

10.Handle the bottle caps by their edges only. Place one on top
of the bottle, then clamp it down with the bottle capper.
Turn the bottle about 90 degrees and clamp again.
11.Move the bottle to a clean, dry place out of the line of

12.Repeat this procedure until all of the bottles are filled.

8 Step Five - Secondary Fermentation

1. Allow the bottles to ferment another three days. When the
yeast cap inside each bottle starts to break up and sink, the
fermentation is complete.

2. Put the bottles into the refrigerator and age at least a week
(preferably two).
3. Open the bottles VERY SLOWLY.

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My addition hints --
These things really can explode if you let them get warm.
I had one blow up on July 30, 1989 at 4:30 AM & I'm still
finding pieces of the bottle. The last piece was found
a few days ago ~10/30/89. However, the kitechen
does smell **WONDERFULL** when this happens so not
to worry. (once there in your fridge you don't have to
Use bottles with paper labels. (For my first batch I used
Labbats bottles w/those #$%@^ foil labels)
Open ******VERY****** slowly. This recepie makes some **HIGHLY**
carbinated stuff. If you open it too quickly you'll
get a spectacular mead volcano similar to what you'd
get after shaking a champagne bottle for 5 mintues.
(no sh*t!) Don't bother trying to pour it into a glass.
All you'll get is 5-6" of head & 1/2 inch of liquid.
You might want to let it ferment a little longer to
avoid this problem -- I kind of like it this way.

--Mike Sharp

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