When making mead, one of the chief questions that always comes up is how much honey should I use in my batch? As you can guess, there’s no real clear cut answer, only guidelines on how you want your mead to turn out.
There’s a lot of different factors that go into your decision on how much honey to use. You have to consider the amount of mead you’re making, how you want the final product to taste like, how much desired alcohol you want, and what kind of yeast you’ll be using.
A lot of times, there’s recipes that call for a certain level of honey. Other times, the recipe leaves it up to you to decide a specific amount. When that’s the case, just use your best judgement and add or subtract according to what they say.
Ultimately, I consider this more art than science, so don’t worry too much about it if you aren’t exact with what the recipe says. Just brew.
To make a typical mead, it’s usually advised to put in 3 lbs of honey per gallon of mead. So for 5 gallons you would use 15 lbs. This is convenient because the store where I buy my mead offered these big 5 lb jugs of honey and I would just dump them in.
The problem comes if you want to make a heavier mead that calls for 1/2 lb servings. You could get a measuring cup out and measure exactly how much honey you put in, or you could just dump it in by eye.
What I go with
When making mead, I usually will go with using 3 lbs for a gallon. The interesting thing is what happens when you use a yeast strain meant to ferment to high levels of alcohol. When using such strains, it will ferment most if not all of the honey to alcohol.
This will lead to a high alcohol end product. Since I’m a huge fan of getting liquored up, this is exactly what I’m looking for. However, a lot of people may have this idea of what mead tastes like in their head and will be put off by a high alcoholic brew.
In this case I have found that using a weaker yeast that only ferments some of the honey is your best option. You could put in more honey, but that may just lead to more alcohol. Obviously if that’s what you’re looking for, go for it.
3 lbs/gallon works best for me.
For a 5 gallon batch of mead, use this rule of thumb when deciding how much honey to use for your batch and adjust accordingly for smaller batches.
- 12 lbs of honey for a dry mead
- 15 lbs of honey for a balanced mead
- 18 lbs of honey for a sweet mead
Type of Honey
Another thing to consider when deciding how much honey to use in your batch is the type of honey that you are planning on using. There’s an absurd amount of different honeys out there to use in mead. A lot of honeys are specialty honeys that come from one specific flower. Personally, I have found that the biggest contributor to taste among honeys are the color, and not neccessarily the specific flower, but your tastes may be more discerning. The main honey flavors out there you will come across are:
Like I said, these are the main honeys out there but you will also find a bunch of other honeys associated with specific flowers and plants. Experiment with them to find what works best for you.
Each of these types of honeys will give you a slightly different flavor but generally will always work well. Other variations to consider when making mead is what condition your honey comes in. Usually honey will either come raw or filtered. The difference here is that raw is usually a much thicker paste that looks whiter. It includes more solid material and I don’t find it as suitable for making mead because you have to heat it a bit. However, some people prefer it because of taste reasons. Experiment.
Thinking of making a mead? Check out our tutorial on making your first batch.
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