When I first started home brewing I decided to make a pumpkin beer. It took me a really long time, and it ended up tasting like vinegar. When your home brewing projects turn out like shit it really sucks. The reason is because it takes about 3-4 weeks for beer to be ready. Finally when you pop those bottles and drink only to find out that all your work was for naught is a crushing blow.
I took a brake for a year mostly out of laziness. The home brewing spark was reignited one day when my friend Duke asked me if I wanted to make mead. I thought about it and of course said yes. I had no idea how to make mead or even what it tasted like, but the Duke’s enthusiasm for it was so great that I got hyped for home brewing again. So I went to his new house, dumped 15 pounds of honey in a pot, boiled it for a bit, threw some berries in, and off it went to a closet to ferment for a while. After a few months it turned out to be a smashing success!
Let’s look at the pros and cons of making mead.
-It’s super easy to make. I know you are saying it’s easy to make beer, and you are right, but mead is even easier in my opinion. When you are starting out, it’s good to get some early victories to get your confidence up. Assuming you have the right equipment, you can get a batch of mead going in about a half hour, or less! It’s basically honey, water, and yeast. That’s it! You can also add any fruit you want for flavoring.
-It’s really strong. In our initial batch, we used about 15 pounds of honey along with some berries for flavoring. It came out to about 16-17% alcohol by volume. That’s 5 gallons of mead for around 60 bucks for the honey. 5 gallons of 16% liquid is great!
-It tastes really good. Our initial batch didn’t have many berries in it because we didn’t really know what we were doing at the time, so you can barely taste them, but it still tasted awesome. This is critical because if you are going to make 5 gallons of something to drink, it helps a lot if it tastes great.
-It takes a long time to make. This is a big one. Look up how to make mead on the internet and there is much debate about how long it takes to make, but one thing is for sure, it takes months. The initial cook takes about a half hour or less, but the fermentation process takes anywhere from 3-6 months. After that many people suggest letting mead age in the bottle for months to get the best taste. Our initial batch that we did we had finished and bottle in about 3 months and it tasted pretty good. Still, 3 months is 3 months.
-It can be expensive. In terms of fermentables, high quality honey is on the pricey end of the spectrum. I bought my honey at whole foods and for 15 pounds, it cost around 60 dollars. You can get honey for less, or just put less honey in to make a dry mead, however honey is the main ingredient of mead and I wouldn’t cut costs here.
My personal opinion is that the benefits outweigh the costs when it comes to making mead. So get out there and add mead to your home brewing arsenal. Other than a glass carboy for a secondary fermenter, you don’t really need any other equipment if you already have a beer making kit.
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