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Oct 01, 2014

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Why not make your own?

Mead: Gift of gods, drink of kings

Vicky Rowe

If you have never had mead, then I'd like to recommend that you try it! Mead can be as dry as a fine champagne, and as sweet as a dessert cordial. There is a mead for nearly everyone, and meaderies in many of the U.S states, and all over Europe. Check out the Commercial meads section of Gotmead.com for a list of meaderies worldwide, and give it a try!

If you're more of a do-it-yourself type, why not try to make your own? Mead is easy to make, and really only requires clean tools, honey, yeast and water. So make your list, and lets get going! You'll need:

  • Wine yeast. Champagne yeast will give you a really dry mead. Montrachet will leave a bit of sweetness, and Sweet Mead Yeast will give you a dessert mead. You can get these at a brewshop locally or online.
  • A gallon jug (glass) or a 5 gallon plastic pail, food grade, with a top
  • An airlock - get at the brewshop
  • 12-15 pounds of honey
  • clean water (I use well water, if you have city water, you may want to use bottled water)

    Recipe for a 1 Gallon Batch of Mead
    3 lbs honey
    3 qts water
    1 package wine yeast

    Sterilize all your equipment, first of all. Cleanliness is important to ensure your mead does not become contaminated. A mild bleach or iodine solution works well. Be sure to rinse your equipment well!

    Heat about half your water to boiling in a large pot. Use glass or stainless steel, to avoid adding a flavor to the mead. Take the water off the boil, and add most of your honey, reserving about 1 pound for later sweetening. Stir until the honey dissolves, and pour this mixture into your fermenting vessel. Add the remaining water.

    When the must (the mixture of honey and water) is cooled to below about 80 degrees Farenheit, pour in your yeast and agitate the mixture vigorously to mix in the yeast and give the must lots of oxygen.

    Install the airlock, place the mead in an area that will maintain a more or less constant temperature of 70-80 degrees, and wait.

    You should notice your airlock start to bubble in a day or so. It will do this for a month or so. After about a month, siphon (don't forget to sterilize!) the must into another container (glass is best), and airlock again. At this stage, feel free to use a sterilized turkey baster or other siphoning device to sneak a taste. Add sterilized honey-water if you would like to sweeten the mead at this time. Sterilize the honey water by stirring honey into boiled water, and letting cool before adding to mead via siphon or funnel.

    Watch your airlock, and when the bubbling has slowed to less than 1-2 bubbles per minute, you can either store for bulk aging, or siphon into sterilized bottles. I personally use beer bottles with caps or champagne bottles. These are good choices, because if your mead isn't quite 'done', it can continue to ferment and either blow a cork or shatter a wine bottle, which isn't constructed to handle pressure like champagne and beer bottles. Another good reason for beer bottles is that the serving size is smaller, and you are less likely to have leftovers. If you're worried about presentation, then get a nice carafe or decanter, and present your mead in that!

    Don't forget to taste your mead while you're bottling, or when you get ready to bulk age. Depending on the honey and yeast used, and temperature you ferment at, your mead may be ready to drink shortly after bottling, or it might need to age for a while.

    Either way, enjoy your newfound skill, and rejoice that you can make a mead at home that outperforms a great many commercial products, and lets you continue the age-old practice of making mead, a tradition dating back more than 3,000 years.

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