It never hurts to go back to one’s roots. A basic mead well done will let you do just that.
Much of this recipe is based on the basics taught in Ken Schramm’s book ” The complete meadmaker“.
While the craft of mead making has evolved a bit since Ken wrote the book, the basics described within to give a great base for anyone to become a great meadmaker in their own rights.
Original gravity: 1.1000
Final Gravity: 1.000
Aim for an OG at just around 1.100
As always – sanitize EVERYTHING.
Boil about 6 cups of water, and add 1/2 teaspoon of nutrient along with 1 tbs of malt extract. This being said –whichever nutrients and / energizer you use – make sure to follow the manufacturers directions !!
Let this boil for 5 minutes. Add half a cup ( 1 dl ) of honey to the mix, stir and remove from the heat. Make sure the honey and nutrients are completely dissolved.
Cover the mix and let cool to room temperature (20-degrees Celcius)
Pour the water-mix into an Erlenmeyer flask ( 1000ml) or similar. If you don’t have an Erlenmeyer flask, just use whatever you have that works similarly.
If you have an oxygenator, this is the time to turn it on … Alternately- put a stopper in the flask and shake it vigorously. Afterwards, take out the stopper and cover with tin foil. Make sure air can get in, but bugs cant…
Allow the starter to work its magic for a days time .. Shake it to induce more oxygen every 2-3 hours …
Increase honey saturation until its close to your intended OG in the must.
In order to preserve as much of the native characteristics of the honey I use. This will also give you that special flavor that could set your mead out from others – especially if you use local honey.
The No-Boil method has been used for thousands of years and has little of few side effects. Trust me.
Firstly- prepare all your equipment.
Then – add the honey to your primary fermentation bucket. Make sure you get the exact weight into the fermentation bucket.
Heat water to no more than 45degrees celsius – and add this to the bucket.
Personally, I would suggest heating honey in a water bath – to around 35 degrees, and adding fresh water ( heated to 35 degrees) into this mix.
Mix the two till the honey is completely dissolved. In this process swirl, the must well, thus adding oxygen to it. This will help the yeast later on.
Normally this would be where you add spices if you were making a Metheglin, but as this particular recipe is an original, we will not do anything but culture the lovely honey flavor.
At this point, the must is almost ready for the yeast. IT can still be a bit too high in temperature, so at this point, we check its temperature. The optimal temperature for this must, given the Yeast strains D-47, is 20 degrees Celcius. If the must is higher than this – take a break. Have a coffee.. or tea .. or if you have a particularly successful mead from a prior project – drink that.
When the must have reached 20 degrees Celsius we check the gravity. This is a measure of the sugar content in the mix. We aim for 1.100 in this brew, so if it is under – add a little honey till the gravity is just right.
Then pitch it into the must. We are set for launch.!
Cover the fermentation bucket, add the airlock, and leave it for tomorrow…
The brew should also be aerated, Not only the yeast starter ( which by now you have made well, and has an SG close to the must here – around 1.100 ). The first few days it is therefore important we areate the brew This also has the (intended) effect where we force the must to release CO2. This is called degassing. Stir the must and allow Co2 to rise to the surface. This WILL cause foaming, so be careful not to agitate the must so much it foams over – its just such a waste … When the foaming stops, continue stirring. This will add oxygen to the must, and keep the yeast happy and healthy. Do this the first 3 -4 days. Alternately, after degassing you can put in an aerator stone and pump in air for 5-10 minutes. During this time you should see quite a lot of activity in the yeast. The combination of oxygen and good nutrients will cause it to spend much if the nutrients fast. If you are using Staggered Nutrition scheme, then follow directions there to make sure your yeast perform admirably.
Allow the fermentation to run its course. this can take from 2 weeks to several weeks. The best way to see when fermentation is complete by one of two methods.
1. check for bubbles – when they only “pop” 1-2 times per minute you should be good. This, however, is a fairly non-exact method.
Your fermentation bucket could be leaking and fermentation still very much be active…
2. Measure SG. Afte 2-3 weeks, when you see the activity in the airlock is significantly reduced, such as with point 1 above – measure SG. This is the only way to make sure fermentation has reached the end.
In this recipe, our target FG is around 1.000, so if you measure ( using a Hydrometer )FG and find it to be just around 1.000 – you’re good to go
When FG has been reached, rack the mead from your fermentation bucket and (preferably) over to a glass carboy.
if you want to add clarifying agents, this is the time to do so.
Put a stopper in the carboy, and an airlock in the stopper (with water and Starsan or equal). Place the carboy in a place no one ever goes, but where YOU have good access to it for later bottling. This will be a test of your ability to withstand temptation…
You can visit your new baby as many times as you like, but resist removing the stopper or opening the carboy. We don’t want to introduce any oxygen at this point…
Over the span of the next month, the remaining yeast will die off and should form a layer of lees on the bottom of the carboy. This will also clear up the brew. Let it bulk age. If you can leave it for 6 months – even better.
I tend to rack this again after 6 months of aging. If I’m lazy I will rack it into another glass carboy, cork it, and just leave it for a few years. If I’m out of carboys ( and that happens ) I will bottle the mead.
That in itself can be a good exercise. Try to resist tapping your long-awaited mead onto 5-liter plastic containers. It’s just not doing the mead its deserved respect – and, plastic CAN – if not correct PE quality- over time let oxygen into the brew. Nothing is as sad as when you realize your long stored mead has oxidized and gone bad …
Just as with wine, we bottle our good meads. I will not go into the mechanics of bottling- there are many good videos on this on youtube.
After bottling, I usually let the bottles stand right for a few days, till the cork has its surface dry. Then I dip it in wax or beeswax. If you’re feeling for it, you can order bottle sealing wax, and use that.
Much credit to Ken Schramm and his fantastic book ” The Complete Meadmaker”