Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made from honey, water and yeast. You can make this delightful drink at home, with enough preparation and the right supplies. However, perfecting the art does require some skill.
If you want to learn how to make mead at home, this step-by-step guide provides all the information you’ll need. The rest requires tweaking your recipe to achieve perfection. Study these steps, and you’re well on your way.
1. Give Yourself Time
Patience is key! Few things worth their salt, er, sugar fermentation, happen overnight. The bright side is, you don’t have to do much throughout each step of the process. However, the flavors require time to reach their peaks.
The most significant time commitment occurs during the conditioning and maturing phase, where you do nothing but wait. It takes two to six months for your brew to age, depending on the type you make.
Once you bottle or keg your concoction, you might want to hold off for a few additional months before consumption for peak flavor. Think of mead more like a fine wine than a beer.
2. Get Organized
You’ll need to organize all your supplies before you begin, or you risk interrupting the process to find what you need. Gather the following goods:
- A sizeable bucket: You can use one of the 5-gallon jobs sold at major department stores.
- An airlock and bung: These devices allow CO2 produced during fermentation to escape while keeping your product sealed and sanitary.
- Hydrometer: This gadget lets you know when your product finishes fermenting.
- Siphon tubing: Tubing enables you to transfer the liquid without the sediment.
- Sanitizer: This substance reduces the risk of infection, and since mead ages longer than beer, it benefits you to use it.
- Bottles or a keg: You’ll need a way to store your finished product once it’s ready to debut at your next soirée.
3. Warm Your Honey
If you have never worked with honey before, you’re in for a sticky treat. This stuff can develop sediment and crystals over time that can make pouring it challenging.
To simplify your task, put the sealed containers into a warm water bath while you complete step four. Make sure they’re sealed so that you don’t contaminate your supply.
4. Clean and Sanitize Your Equipment
What should you use to sterilize your equipment? If you have a larger budget, a jar of powdered brewery wash (PBW) works best, although Oxiclean does a similar job for less.
Can you use ordinary dish soap? Technically yes, but many will taint your brew with an unpleasant taste. If you want to do the job right, spend a little extra on the right sanitizer.
5. Add Your Mix
You can blend your honey, water and other herbs in a pot before adding them to the bucket, or you can mix them in the fermenter itself. However, it’s far more convenient to blend all the flavors by warming your brew on a cooktop.
You can add light herbs such as clover that pair nicely with hearty dishes like french onion soup and steak-and-portabella sandwiches. You can also use fruit purees to make a richer dessert-type blend.
6. Pitch Your Yeast
One trick for how to make the perfect mead at home is adding yeast at the right time. Chances are, you had to heat your mixture in a pot to blend everything thoroughly.
Wait until everything cools to 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit before pitching your yeast. Then, follow the directions for how to rehydrate dry yeast before adding it to the must, or honey-water mixture.
7. Seal and Aerate
Finally, once you mix everything, you need to seal your lid on your bucket and attach the bung or airlock. Use a no-rinse sanitizer — some homebrewers recommend using vodka — in the airlock.
It’s also a wise idea to give your bucket a few shakes. While stirring the mixture creates some aeration, this action ensures a positive blend.
8. Monitor Fermentation
This process takes approximately two to three weeks. You’ll notice bubbles in your airlock after about 24 hours, but if it slows down, it doesn’t mean the fermentation process has stopped.
After waiting for the appropriate time, you’ll transfer the mixture to a secondary container that can maintain a steady temperature over several months.
9. Bottle and Sip
Finally, once the secondary fermentation completes and your liquid clears, it’s time to get it into your bottle or keg. Then, all you have left to do is sip and enjoy.
You can serve mead at room temperature or chilled, and you can even add it to cocktails for those who dislike the heavy honey flavor.
Learning How to Make Mead at Home
Making homemade mead is an ideal pastime if you like to tip one back but enjoy getting involved in the brewing process. Now that you know how to make mead at home, get ready to wow the guests at your next party.