Mead Making Tutorial

Mead Making Tutorial

The following is one example of how to make mead at home - Step by Step Mead Making Instructio

  • Mix a batch of water and Honey, typically 4 gallons of water and 12-15 pounds (which is typically 4-5 quarts) of Honey. This mixture of water and Honey is called the Must.
  • Heating the Must is not necessary but is typically preferred as it will usually result in a clearer finished Mead.
  • You may want to put your cans or jars of honey in a pan of warm water ahead of time to heat the honey so it is easier to pour from their containers
  • Bring 1 Gallon of water to a vigorous boil for approximately 10 minutes to sterilize your water, then remove the heat source.
  • Pour your Honey into the pot of heated water. You do not need to stir while pouring your honey in unless you are concerned about it burning on the bottom of the pot, in which case an occasional stir may be in order.
  • Add your Yeast Nutrient or Energizer
  • Stir until you have a uniform honey and water mixture. You now have what is called must.
  • Pour your Must from your pot into your fermenter.
  • Take a temperature reading of your Must, it should be around 160 degrees F, a little more or less is fine as long as it is above 150 degrees F.
  • To pasteurize allow to stand at this 160 degree temperature for approximately 10 minutes before cooling. If your temperature is between 130 and 150 degrees let it sit for 20 to 25 minute instead of 10 minutes.
  • Many recipes will actually have you boil your honey.
  • If scum rises to the top of the Must skim it off as it consists of wax, bee parts, and pollen that you do not necessarily want in your Mead.
  • Alternatively, some Mead making methods will have you sterilize your honey by adding Campden Tablets or Potassium Metabisulfite rather than boiling your honey.
  • Have 3 Gallons of cold, preferably chilled. Pour this 3 gallons of water into your Must to cool it and of course to include the appropriate amount of water needed for your Mead.
  • Take a hydrometer reading of your must to you will know the alcohol level of your finished Mead.
  • As the Must approaches 80 degrees F rehydrate your yeast by sprinkling it into a quarter cup of 104 degree F water. Rehydration will take between 10 and 40 minutes resulting in a foam cap on top of the warmed quarter cup of water. When your Must is at or below 80 degrees pour your rehydrated yeast on top of the Must. This is called Pitching the Yeast. Some instructions say to stir in the yeast and other will not have you stir it into the Must. I personally do not stir mine in.
  • Put your lid on your fermenter. Fermentation will typically be noticeable in 12 to 48 hours and will take approximately two weeks to complete. Fermentation temperature should be in the 60 to 75 degree F range.
  • In approximately two weeks active fermentation will have ceased and your Mead should be ready rack into a glass carboy for secondary fermentation and aging. The racking process will leave spent yeast cells and other waste and adjuncts behind and to be disposed of. Prior to racking you will want to take another hydrometer reading. This hydrometer reading should be between 1.010 and 1.030.
  • Be sure to then place a rubber stopper and airlock in the top of your carboy.
  • After two weeks to two months bubble activity will have stopped and your Mead should have cleared with remaining dead yeast cells and adjuncts having fallen to the bottom of the carboy. You can now bottle your Mead. Using racking equipment to bottle with this sediment will be left behind.
  • If you want a still, sweet mead, you can use a lot of honey and let the mead ferment until the yeast finally gives up as yeast can only ferment to a certain percentage of alcohol before the alcohol will kill the yeast, stopping fermentation and leaving residual unfermented sugar. However, if you do this, it is strongly advised that you Stabilize the mead with Potassium Sorbate to prevent the yeast from re- starting and slowly fermenting after bottling.
  • If you want Sparkling Mead, carbonated like beer or champagne, you will need to bottle in either beer bottles or champagne bottles as the carbonation will push a wine cork our of a bottle or even worse, the bottle can explode. In order to carbonate your Mead you either need to add carbonation tablets after you have bottled but before you have corked or capped your Mead, or add approximately 4 ounces of corn sugar to your 5 gallon batch of Mead. The residual yeast in your Mead will start fermenting this newly added sugar such that capping it will result in carbonated or sparkling Mead. Adding this sugar for carbonation is called Priming.
  • After bottle aging between 3 months to 1 year your Mead is ready to be enjoyed. Typically the less honey the faster sooner you can drink your Mead after bottling.
  • Remember to take good notes during your Mead making process.

Acid may be added to the Must both to adjust the pH and to balance the sweet flavor of the honey. Yeasts prefer an acidic environment, many other micro-organisms do not like acid so adding acid will also protect the must until the alcohol level reaches a point during fermentation to protect your must.

There is a currently a debate between older practice in mead making, which tends to advise adding acid at the start, and newer practice which suggests that it be added after fermentation to avoid problems from too-low pH. Ken Schramm the author of The Compleat Meadmaker advises adding acid after fermentation.

Acid is measured in as Tartaric, or how acidic the must is compared to pure tartaric acid. For example, if the must is 0.5 percent acid as Tartaric, it is as acidic as if 0.5 percent of the must were pure tartaric acid. Inexpensive test kits will let you measure the acidity so that you can adjust it. Acid blends are a combination of Tartaric, Citric, and Malic acids. You can also get the individual acids used in blends. Each contributes a slightly different taste in addition to acidity. The natural acid in fruits and berries will also acidify the must, for which reason Melomels often need no additional acid.

Many Mead making recipes will simply say to add a packet of yeast without recommending a yeast. The following are yeasts recommended for making Mead:

  • Wyeast Assmanshausen Strain 3277 Yeast
  • Lalvin RC212 Bourgovin Yeast
  • Lalvin ICV D-47 Cotes du Rhone Yeast – For medium to dry Meads
  • Red Star Cotes de Blancs Yeast – Great for varietal honeys
  • Red Star Montrachet Yeast – Good for Melomels
  • Lalvin K1v-1116 Montepellier Yeast – Great for Meads and holds fruity flavors
  • Lalvin 71B-1122 Narbonne Yeast – Preferred by author Ken Schramm for Melomels
  • Red Star Pasteur Red Yeast – At one time one of the most common yeasts used for Meads
  • Lalvin EC-1118 Premier Cuvee Yeast – Very versatile yeast
  • Wyeast Rudisheimer Strain 3783 Yeast – Excellent choice for traditional Meads

There is no short tutorial that can replace a quality book on how to make Mead, as such, we recommend The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm


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