Mead is goes by various names, which include “Mead”, “Honey Wine”, “Ambrosia”, “Nectar of the gods” – and quite a few others.
This drink is correctly called one of the oldest fermented drinks, with lore going returned to the Vikings and far beyond that. There is proof that can positioned mead-making going back as far as 15,000 BC. It continues to be misunderstood, inspite of it is long history. Homebrewers and winemakers have helped to revitalize the hobby of Meadbrewing.
Homebrewers, famed for, and always intereste in experimenting with many flavors and styles, have been instrumental in bringing mead back into the world.
Now – its your turn.
To get started out in Mead Making, syou will need a few basic suplies. If you are already a Homebrewer or a Winemaker, you probably have most of these items already. As a fresh brewer its easy to get lost in all the kits and gizmos you could buy that will propel your hobby-career, but lets not get overeager. Today we start out with the basics.
Since im located in Europe, i will use metrics, though readers in the US might want to see imperial – oh well tough love.
Since this is well, my website, i will link to my local bewery store where i see it fit, no sponsoring intended.
My basic kit ( not selling, just telling) for making mead, would include the following:
Honey is the principle factor in mead making. For your first try, you can go with a cheap style of honey, but beware and make sue its 100% honey, and not mix of honey and sugar.
In most of norway that isnt the problem, but check to be sure. Some “honey” is import and sold awith honey as a PRODUCT name.. the label, rather than a natural product.
Some of the best honey i can get from the normal grocery storesis the Heather honey ” lynghonning”. Wether or not its crystallized is irrelevant. The honey with all its goodness is still there. Personally i prefer it. A few honey afficionados even select it in this state, as it’s miles easier to spread on bread or toast. The crystallization of honey is certainly an characteristic of original and natural honey. Why? Honey is a especially concentrated sugar solution. Concentrated sugar does crystallize over time – see it as a stamp of quality.
Now for the ingredients;
12 kg pure, raw honey.
1 package Safale 05 yeast
Yeast stopper ( optional if you brew in winter)
You have about 1.6 kilo of honey for 1 liter, so on this volume in recipie, 12kilo would become approximately 7,5 liter of water.
Before you start your mead making system, you’ll start off ensuring all your equipment is smooth and clean upd. anything that touches the must (unfermented honey and water mixture) have to be sanitized, this may of path consist of the brew pot. in case you are a homebrewer, you may rely on the boil to “sanitize” your brew pot. however with mead, we are able to not be boiling. So, it’s far vital to smooth and sanitize the whole lot. The golden rule should always be: Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize!!
If your honey is crystallized, you could liquify it in a hot water tub. To do this, place the sealed container in warm water till it liquefies enough to pour out of the container. For your brew pot, Heat about 10 Liter of water to about 60 degree Celcius. Then turn of the stove.
You’ll be adding the honey to this water, but you do no longer want to do that while the brew pot remains on the stove.
When poured, the honey will sink to the bottom of the cookingpot. If the pot is still on the stove, there’s a major risk of the honey burning or caramellizing at the bottom.
Many mead recipes call for boiling the honey at some point of preparation.
This was earlier performed for multiple reasons. The primary could be to remove undesirable factors from the honey, usually leftovers from the beekepe harvesting the honey.
Honey today, will rarely include this type of unwanted items. Alternative motives for boiling honey was to kill off wild yeasts and other unwanted organisms. Organisms within the honey that could later compromise the mead whilst fermenting. If this for any real reason is necessary, heating honey till over 72 degrees celcius should take care of practically anything living there- period.
Personally i avoid heating water much above 37-40 degree. I use good fresh water from my local river, ( I live in the countryside). For those that live in cities- id suggest using store-bought water.
By not heating too much, we preserve as much of the aromatics of the honey as possible. Boiling the honey may even strip it of the wonderful aromas and components that differs an ok from a fantastic brew.
So pour some 20 liters of water in a pot, and heat it to a good 35 degrees celcius. The water, plus the c.a 7.5 liter of honey ( 12 kilo) should now almost be enough for the 30 liter batch.
Pour the honey in the brewingpot. The honey will sink to the bottom. If you are as nitpicky as i am, you will want to get all of the honey out of the packing containers.
Use a ladle, (sanitized naturally- Starsan..) scoop out a little of the hot water from the brew pot and into the honey container, refit the lid and swirl around. Now, pour the last honey into the brewpot. dont let good honey go to waste….
Mix honey and water, in bacthes or in all, in the fermenting container. I like to dissolve honey and water in 2-3 batches as i dont have a full 30 liter pot to play with. In the end, the importance is to make sure honey has dissolved and mixed with water completely. You dont want any honey to sink to the bottom and not really be utilized ..
While honey and sugar is said to be all yeast need to make alcohol, its avcrually a bit more complex than that. Yeast, like all organizms fares poorly on only one nutrient. IT would want a range of minerals to thrive, its your job to make sue it does.
This is where the yeast nurtiendt come into play.
I usually boil a good cup of water along with the yeast nutrients, to make sure its well dissolved. One cup of hot water in otherwize tempered water and honey doesent do much.
This i pout into the fermentation mix, and swirl it around… At this point i try to get as much oxygene into the mix, by swirling the mix around, mixing it up ..
Yeasting occur at certain temperatures. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package of the yeast.
I am an follower of whats called starters. I dont like to simply pour dry yeast into a ready bacth of water and honey, the yeast would most likely shock, and potentially die off ( or just go into hibernation – refusing to wake up).
For this reason, i make a yeast starter by having a good cup of water into a waterbottle, and a little of the must we just made. a ration 90% water, 10% must is great.
Then i pitch the dry yeast directly into this. No shaking, just leave the bottle. After 30 minuts or so, the yeast has rehydrated, and i shake more air into the mix. I then add another 10% of the must, to help familiarize the yeast with the sugar levels in the must.
This i repeat on 2-3 hours time, and again 2-3 hours later. Every now and then i make sure to squeeze out the co2 from the bottle, and get more fresh air into it, before i vigorously shake the mix. Air is good at this point in the process. What we do here is making sure yeast and must is at same , optimal temperature.
You now know about how much yeast starter you have , probably somewhere near 0,5-1 liter. You can now fill water ( temperate ) in the must, to where you are around 30 liter. Make sure the must ( as the mix is called) gets pleny ot aeration, by stirring it vigorously. The must and the yeast should be as close to each others temperature as you can get it. The sweetness in the yeast starter should be close to that of the must also. This will ensure a good match when the yeast finds its new home.
Now you can pour the yeast into the must. Don’t do anything after – just place the lid on the fermenter, and the airlock in the exhaust hole. The fermenter should now be placed in a stable environmet where temperature is well within the ranges the yeast package state it should be. This is crucial. A mead which has fermented under changing temperatures could develop off-flavors you othrewize wouldnt have at a fermentation by stable optimal ranges.
Read more in part 2 of this process.