Making Mead (honey wine), A Simple Recipe
Author: James Sangster
How to brew honey mead, short and sweet.
** 15 lbs of honey in 5 gallon batch makes good sweet but 20 lbs of honey is like cotton candy. I like to use the pasteurized processed clover honey from Sam's Wholesale club or Wal-Mart. I've tried different honey with varying result. The honey makes a dramatic difference in the body and flavor of your mead. Pasteurized and processed honey negates the need for campden tablets as long as you're not putting in anything else that may be contaminated with bacteria. Use good filtered water too. It really makes a difference. I use a Britta filter.
INGREDIENTS for each gallon of mead to be made:
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. (about 26 - 32 fl. oz.)unprocessed honey (dry to semi-sweet)
Water to one gallon (Specific Gravity - 1.085 - 1.105)
1 tsp. Super Ferment (or 2 tsp. regular "nutrient")
2 tsp. acid blend (or 3/4 tsp. tartaric acid & 1 1/4 tsp. malic acid)
1 tsp grape tannin
1 campden tablet* (crushed- or substitute 1/8 tsp. sodium metabisulfite)
1-2 pkgs. wine (e.g. Premier Cuvee, Champagne, Cote des Blancs, Sherry) or mead yeast
1. Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the yeast and the campden tablet. Stir the must until the honey and additives are completely dissolved. Cover the pail to keep out dust and air with the large plastic sheet.
2. Crush and dissolve the campden tablet in 1 oz. of warm water. Add this to the must and stir well. Cover the pail again and tie down the plastic sheet. Let the must stand for one day, stirring several times.
*ALTERNATIVE: Heat honey with an equal volume of water to 180°F and let stand for 15 minutes to pasteurize. (DO NOT BOIL!) Cool and add remainder of water before proceeding to next step.
3. Rehydrate the dried yeast by sprinkling it into 1/2 cup lukewarm (95 - 100° F) water in a sanitized jar and cover for 20 minutes. (If using "Mead" yeast, prepare a starter 48 hours prior to using.) Add the yeast "slurry "/starter to mixture. Re-cover the primary fermenter and allow fermentation to proceed for 30-40 days or until foaming subsides.
4. Syphon the mead into a sterile glass jug. Avoid the transfer of sediment and aeration as much as possible. Be sure the mead completely fills the jug - into the neck. Attach a fermentation lock and allow the fermentation to go to completion (.995 - 1.020 S.G.).
5. One week after fermentation has ceased, syphon the mead into another sterile glass jug. Again, avoid the transfer of sediment and aeration. Crush, dissolve and add 1/2 campden tablet per gallon to the mead. Allow the mead to stand for one month in a cool dark place and repeat "racking" process. If at the end of three months, the mead is clear - bottle it. If it is not clear, repeat this step every month until it is clear and then bottle it. The mead may be sweetened to taste with additional honey, if desired, after stabilization (1/2 tsp. potassium sorbate & 1/2 campden tablet per gallon).
Note: All equipment should be well washed and sterilized with a solution of sodium metabisulphite. Fermentation temperatures should be no lower than 60 degrees F. or higher than 80 degrees F.
For an interesting variation, try adding a 6 oz. can frozen juice (e.g. orange, apple, cranberry) and cut back on the acid blend by 1 tsp.
Ratio for different meads - (parts by volume honey: parts by volume water)
DRY: 1:4 (2 1/2 lbs. honey per gallon)
SEMI-DRY: 1:3 (3 lbs. honey per gallon)
SWEET: 1:2.5 (4 lbs. honey per gallon)
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR MAKING MEAD
Large Plastic pail or earthenware crock (primary fermenter)
One gallon glass jug (secondary fermenter)
Fermentation lock & drilled rubber stopper
5 " Fifth" wine bottles and corks per gallon
Large plastic sheet
About the Author
James enjoys a myriad of hobbies from computer gaming, paranormal research, web design, teaching & adult training, natural healing & herbalism to making his own wine and beer. He is an avid home brewer and has been for many years specializing in traditional honey and fruit based wines. More recently he has begun serious study into beer recipes and methods and plans on producing a series of beer videos on youtube to match his "super simple winemaking" videos that are so popular on the site.
Project websites include: