2018-12-11 at 9:56 am #29002
So … you’d like to try making a mead, but are not quite sure where to start? My hope is that this short article will help.
Certainly one can go to most any of the home brewing stores, and purchase a kit for making mead. That should come with everything you’d need to make a mead. The problem is that there are often items in kits that are really not all that necessary. So my goal will be to make this a very minimalistic list of what is needed to get started making a batch of mead.
In a nutshell you will need the following:
- Honey – roughly 15 lbs depending on your recipe
- Wine Yeast
- Yeast Nutrient
- Hydrometer jar
- Food grade mixing/fermentation bucket (Needs to hold more than 5 gallons)
- A five or six gallon carboy
- Big stirring spoon
- siphon hose
- air lock and stopper for the carboy
- Beer bottles and caps to hold five gallons of mead
- Bottle capper
Start by washing and sanitizing anything that will come into contact with the mead. That means initially the mixing bucket and your big stirring spoon.
Then place your 15 lbs of honey in the mixing bucket, and add water to bring the solution to about four gallons.
Make sure the honey is completely dissolved, and take a sample of the honey water solution using the hydrometer jar. Float the hydrometer in the solution to measure the sugar content. In particular, the hydrometer should be marked with a “potential alcohol” scale. This indicates how much alcohol your mead could potentially end up with depending on the amount of sugar currently in the solution.
At this point you can add water to adjust the potential alcohol to where you want it to be. Adding water lowers the sugar concentration as well as the potential alcohol. I tend to target around 10 – 12% potential alcohol by volume (% ABV). You can go higher, but yeasts often start to be stressed at 15% ABV, and usually have a hard time getting into the 18 – 20% ABV range.
Once you have the honey water solution mixed, add yeast nutrient. There are different blends of nutrients so follow the directions that came with the nutrient you have.
At this point you can add your yeast package, and sit back and wait. The fermentation should begin in a day or so. The liquid starts to bubble and often foams up. You’ll need some extra space in the mixing bucket to allow for stirring as well as foaming during the initial fermentation.
Once the initial first fermentation begins to subside, clean and sanitize the carboy, and then transfer the liquid to the carboy using the siphon hose. Try to siphon the liquid off of the sludge leaving that in the bottom of the bucket. To sanitize the siphon hose I boil it in hot water for 10 minutes. Install the air lock on the carboy, and let it sit in a cool, dark place for some time.
In a month or so the liquid should be mostly clear. This is your mead. At this point you can rack (siphon) the clear liquid off of the lees (sludge) into another carboy to age longer, or you could clean and sanitize the beer bottles and bottle it. That all depends on how you want to store and age your mead.
This will get you started with a simple, plain, dry mead. From here you can imagine adding more or less honey, different types of honey, and flavoring agents to your hearts desire. Mead can be made in many many different ways, and there are lots of recipes out there.
Here’s a link that summarizes much of what I’ve just described
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