Making mead

Summer is most definitely here and you know what that means! Only a few months until Autumn! And what better drink for when the nights begin to darken and the days get increasingly nippy? Mead takes a while to get drinkable so I wanted to start this off in the summer so that it will be ready for the Autumn. My goal was to get it going by the end of July, so naturally I left it to the last minute and pitched the yeast on the 31st July.

The must (the equivalent of the wort for those more beer-centric personalities) for mead does not have much in the way of ingredients: just honey and water. I managed to get 2kg of good quality local-ish (about 48km away) honey from a organic supermarket for less than 20 euros. I think that’s a pretty good deal although I might have gotten better if I had bothered to shop around. One thing to bear in mind if you go out and make your own mead is that all the flavour comes from the honey and your yeast, so good quality honey is an excellent investment.

So the procedure for making the must was simple. First I got just over 5L of water on the boil in my brewkettle (yes it did break down but Klarstein sent me a new one within a week! Very impressive customer service!) and then dissolved the 2kg of honey in a large pan with some of the water (around 1-2L). Once all of that was dissolved, I rinsed out the honey jars with some of the (still warm) pre-boiled water. I did this a couple of times until I was sure I got all of the honey out of the jar.

Next I just topped up the pan of must to 5L using the pre-boiled water. Then I gently aerated the must with a sterilised drill stirrer. Note that it is important that everything that comes into contact with the must needs to be cleaned and sterilised as we will not be boiling it. After aerating for a few minutes, it was time to transfer it to the fermenter. A large funnel would have been really handy here but I don’t have one so I made do with transferring it over with a sterilised jug. In hindsight, I suppose I could have syphoned the must but my auto-syphon was in the basement and I was not.

Once in the fermenter the must was looking pretty good. Luckily I took a hydrometer reading when the temperature was still at 42 degrees, because even then it came to 1.120 which is the maximum reading for my hydrometer. Correcting for temperature using the Brewer’s friend hydrometer temperature adjustment calculator, this comes to an original gravity 1.126.

Once fully cooled (the next day) I pitched the yeast and then added nutrivit yeast nutrients at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours after pitching the yeast, degassing twice a day along the way. At one point I learnt the importance of degassing the mead properly before adding yeast nutrient as I have a minor mead explosion. Luckily, not much was actually lost as it was mostly in foam form (think adding mentos to coke). Now the fermentation is bubbling away at a slow and steady rate and I have to say, although there is still a long way to go, it is smelling pretty amazing so far, very fruity and floral.

If you’re looking to make your own mead, I can’t recommend the meadmkr.com batch builder enough. It is an excellent resource to have access to and makes the whole process a breeze. I hope you have enjoyed this post and even if you haven’t I would recommend giving mead making a go, it is quick enough to get done after work, and a fun little project to have on the go. Hopefully it will make a nice drink as well!

If you have enjoyed this post or have any questions, why not comment below? Also check out a couple of my other posts like this simple score counter for board games or this nice extract IPA I’m making.

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