How to Make Mead

The process of making mead, an ancient alcoholic beverage made from honey, involves a series of steps to ensure a delicious and safe product.  These steps include the following.

  • Sanitization:  Begin by thoroughly cleaning all equipment to prevent microbial contamination.
  • Dissolve Honey:   Heat water and dissolve honey to kill natural yeast, preserving the honey's aroma.
  • Creating the Must:   Mix the honey and water to form the 'must', the base of the mead.
  • Aerating the Must: Introducing oxygen by aerating the must, aiding yeast activity for fermentation.
  • Adding Yeast and Nutrients: Starting the fermentation by adding yeast and nutrients, converting sugars into alcohol.
  • ‘Secondary’ Fermentation:  Transferring the mead to a secondary vessel for clearing and flavor development.
  • Bottling: Bottle the clear, aged mead, culminating a process that marries art and science.

Each of these steps, from sanitization to bottling, is a testament to the craft of mead-making, reflecting a tradition that has been savored for centuries.

Here is a sample recipe for a 5 gallon batch of a Basic Dry Mead. 

See link below for one gallon recipe version.



Equipment for 5 Gallon:

  • 7.8 gallon food grade fermentation bucket & lid
  • Airlock
  • 5 gallon glass or plastic carboy
  • Drilled Rubber Stopper
  • B-Brite or One Step Santizer
  • Automatic siphon starter and siphon hose
  • Optional: hydrometer for measuring alcohol levels and fermentation activity

 

 Ingredients:

  • 12 lbs Honey
  • 4 Gallons of distilled water
  • 5 tsp. yeast nutrient
  • 1 packet Mangrove Jack’s Mead Yeast OR  1 packet of Lalvin 71B Wine Yeast
  • 5 Campden Tablets (Potassium Metabisulfite)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of Potassium Sorbate

Instructions:

  1. Sanitize Everything: Clean and sanitize all equipment thoroughly to prevent contamination.
  2. Dissolve honey into about 1/3 of the water. Heat in large pot to 140 degrees.  Keep this temp for 30 minutes, being careful not to boil.  Try and keep the heat lower than 150 as the aromatic features of your honey are more sensitive at higher temps. 
  3. Mix Must: Combine the warm honey water mixture with the remaining water. Stir or shake vigorously to mix well until the honey is fully dissolved, creating what is called the "must."
  4. Aerate the Must: Only aerate the must once it has cooled to room temp, approx 65 to 75 degrees. To provide oxygen for the yeast, vigorously stir or shake the must to aerate it. This helps the yeast during the initial stages of fermentation.
  5. Pitch Yeast and Nutrients: Stir in Yeast Nutrient. Sprinkle the wine yeast over the surface of the must. You do not need to rehydrate the dried yeast.   Cover the vessel with a sanitized lid and airlock.
  6. Fermentation: Place the fermentation vessel in a cool, stable environment with a temperature around 65-70°F (18-21°C). Fermentation may take several weeks to a few months. Monitor the airlock or lid for signs of bubbling, which indicates fermentation is active.
  7. Rack to Secondary: Once fermentation slows down (usually after about a month), transfer the mead to a clean, sanitized secondary fermentation vessel, leaving behind any sediment (lees) at the bottom.
  8. Aging: Allow the mead to age in the secondary vessel for several months to develop its flavors and clarity. Semi-sweet meads benefit from aging.
  9. Stabilization (Optional): If you want to prevent further fermentation and ensure sweetness, add potassium metabisulfite (campden tablets) and potassium sorbate.  If you plan on back sweetening your mead, you must follow this step to prevent further fermentation.
  10. Bottling: When the mead is clear and has the desired taste, it's time to bottle. Use sanitized bottles and corks or caps.
  11. Enjoy: Store the bottles in a cool, dark place for at least a few months to a year to allow the mead to mature. Semi-sweet meads are often at their best after aging.
  12. Serve: Chill and serve your homemade mead in wine glasses and enjoy!

 For a printout of this recipe, and the one-gallon version, click the link below

 

Mead Recipe Sheet