Mead Day 2020 is on Sunday, August 2, 2020: how do you make mead?
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First organized in 2002 through the American Homebrewers Association, Mead Day aims to improve the attention of mead like a drink, and also to promote camaraderie among mead makers. Homebrewers are urged to ask buddies and family to celebrate Mead Day by looking into making and consuming mead together.
(Traditional Mead and Maple Wine)
5-6 qts honey or 7-8 qts maple syrup (bulk grade B dark)
5 tsp yeast nutrient
15 gm white wine yeast
Hydrate the yeast and dissolve the yeast nutrient separately in warm water for 30 minutes. Mix the honey, maple syrup, or both with first hot and then cold tap water in a large open container to almost 5 gallons at your target specific gravity. Splash or spray the water to oxygenate the must so that the yeast will multiply. Pour the must into a glass carboy, then pitch in the hydrated yeast and dissolved yeast nutrient, dregs included.
Use a blow off tube for the first few days and then switch to a water trap. In a month or so, the alcohol will kill the yeast before it runs out of sugar. If not, and the mead turns out too dry, add some more honey. It is ready to drink as soon as fermentation stops.
Maple wine becomes crystal clear with a beautiful sherry color within 60 days. Mead will sometimes clarify in 90 days. If you choose to bottle the mead before it is clear, it will clarify in the bottles, leaving an unsightly but delicious sediment.
Use Bentonite (clay) to quickly clarify a mead anytime after
fermentation stops. Boil 12 ounces of water in a saucepan. While simmering, slowly sprinkle and stir in 5 tsp of bentonite. Cover and let stand for 24 hours. Add during racking. It may be necessary to rack and bentonite twice. The result is crystal clear.
Traditional Meads and Maple Wines have an alcohol content of 12-15%. Always use yeast nutrient and plenty of yeast for a strong start. The fermentation will take off with a bang and the rapidly rising alcohol content will quickly kill off any wild yeast. There is no need to sulphite, heat, or boil the must. Why ruin good honey? I have never had a bad batch of mead, except when I added acid.
Alternate version - untried
Viking Mead Recipe
Mead (Honey Wine) - 5 gallon recipe
8-10 lbs pure raw honey (for light, delicate Mead)
(or)12-13 lbs pure raw honey (for medium sweet Mead)
(or)15-16 lbs pure raw honey (for very sweet or alcoholic Mead)
4-5 gallons purified spring water (not distilled)
3 tsp. yeast nutrient (or 5 tablets) - beer brewing stores
1 tsp. acid blend (combination malic/citric acid) - beer brewing stores
5-7 oz. sliced fresh ginger root (1 finger's length)
1/4 tsp. fresh rosemary (optional, as desired) - not my fav
5-6 whole cloves (optional, as desired)
1-2 vanilla beans (optional, as desired) - nice
cinnamon/nutmeg (optional, as desired)
lime/orange peels (optional, as desired)- also nice
crushed fruit (peaches, strawberries, grapes, etc.)
1 tsp. Irish Moss (to clarify Mead)
1/2 tsp. clear gelatin (to clarify Mead)
1 packet yeast (champagne or ale yeast)
Heat spring water 10-15 minutes till boiling. Stir in honey, yeast nutrients, acid blend, and spices (rosemary, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, lemon peel). Boil for another 10-15 minutes, (overcooking removes too much honey flavor), skimming off foam as needed (2 to 3 times during last 15 minutes). After 15 minutes, add Irish Moss or clear gelatin to clarify. After last skimming, turn off heat, add crushed fruit, and let steep 15-30 minutes while allowing mead to cool and clarify. After mead begins to clear, strain off fruit with hand skimmer and pour mead through strainer funnel into 5 gallon glass carboy jug.
Let cool to room temperature about 24 hours. After 24 hours, warm up 1 cup of mead in microwave, stir in 1 packet "Red Star" Champagne, Montrechet, or Epernet yeast (or Ale yeast in order to make mead ale), and let sit for 5-15 minutes to allow yeast to begin to work. Add this mead/yeast mixture to carboy jug and swirl around to aerate, thereby adding oxygen to mead/yeast mixture.
Place run-off tube in stopper of bottle, with other end of tube in large bowl or bottle to capture "blow-off" froth. Let mead sit undisturbed 7 days in cool, dark area. After initial violent fermenting slows down and mead begins to settle, rack off (siphon off) good mead into clean sterilized jug, leaving all sediment in bottom of first jug. Attach airlock to this secondary carboy. After 4-6 months, mead will clear. During this time, if more sediment forms on bottom, good mead can be racked off again to another clean sterilized jug.
When bottling, in order to add carbonation, add either 1/4 tsp. white table sugar per 12 oz bottle, or stir in 1/2 to 1 lb raw honey per 5 gallons mead (by first dissolving honey with a small amount of mead or pure water in microwave).
The ageing of mead? how long to wait between bottling and drinking?
You made mead with fleischmanns?
Well, it will ferment. But it's going to taste like crotch. Fleischmann's is a strain of yeast that gives off a very, very "yeasty" taste - which is awesome in fresh bread. But not so great in mead.
There are two ways to make mead. Fresh or crisp (aged). Fresh mead is drunk when it's still foaming, during high krausen. You ferment for about 5 to 7 days, then pour a tall, wooden mug with a thick, frothy head. This is how the Vikings drank their mead. The problem is that you can't bottle and transport a high-krausen mead, the bottles will explode. Most mead today is crisp, or aged mead, which is more like a wine. It can be fizzy like crisp cider, or it can be without CO2, like a wine.
What you have right now is fresh mead. Pour a glass and try it out!
For your next shot at mead, here's a few tips. Honey has a lot of undesirable components. Things like dirt. Wax. Bee body parts. Dead aphids. Things like that. Because of that it's preferable to do a two-stage ferment. Your first fermentation should be in a carboy with a blow-off hose to discharge the high krausen foam and get rid of waxes and other floaties like bee chitin. Irish moss should be used during the first ferment to encourage precipitation of proteins and dirt.
After about ten days or when the krausen falls, you transfer to a fresh carboy - leaving the bottom quart of sediments behind. If you want fresh mead, which is my favorite. Drink it now.
For crisp mead, start your secondary ferment. Add a fresh teaspoon of Irish Moss or use isinglas. Aerate the mead really good at this point. Without enough O2 put back into the mead, it is likely to skunk from bacteria instead of continuing to ferment.
Secondary ferment should be like wine - at least four weeks, eight to twelve is better. Use a lagering ferment for mead - meaning you want a cool environment around 60F or a little cooler. A mud-floor basement in the wintertime was the traditional method used by the Celts and Finns. Of course they used lambic yeasts, not lager yeasts. Then bottle. I prefer Grolsch style bottles, but a lot of folks use wine or ever beer bottles.
That gets us to yeast choice. Lots of people use champagne yeast, which is fine for crisp mead. It's okay, kind of bland taste if you ask me. I like to use either Bavarian Lager yeast, or White Labs Sweet Mead/Wine Yeast.
The mead you have there is a little rich on honey. I prefer to use 2 or 2.5 pounds per gallon. Yours should ferment to about 14/16% alcohol within two months, with beer yeast. Bread yeast goes dormant at a lower alcohol level than beer yeast, but I don't recall the line. You should get at least 10% thought. It might also make you blind.
One last tip from the peanut gallery. I made my first mead and cider around the age of 15 using almost the exact same formula you have here. Mussellman's Apple Cider and Flieschmanns, honey, even tried fermenting potatoes to make vodka. By the age of 17 I bought my first homebrew kit, they had just been legalized back then. Lots of folks didn't know that home-brewing was illegal in the USA until the 80's.
Today we have the internet and towns have a lot of home brew stores. It is fully legal to sell yeast to a person of any age. It is also legal for a person under the age of 18 to brew beer, at least it's legal in my state. Just not possess or drink it.
So next time, buy decent yeast. 75% of the taste of a beer is in the yeast.
Mead making; still fermenting on day 13?
Impatient youth. I bottled mead after a year and got chewed out for being in too much of a hurry. Start thinking of ways to explain the "bottle bombs" to your parents. Bag them too, so you don''t get glass shards and mead all over your room.