A word on perfection: One of the curious things about Mead is that it seems like there are a million different ways to do it. One site will tell you to do it this way, while another says to do it another way. The fact is that there is no defined way to do it.
When I first started to make mead it took me a couple hours just to prepare because I was reading so much conflicting information on the subject. To boil or not to boil? Fruit in the primary or the secondary? Once I started it was really easy and I was feeling like an idiot for taking so long.
The lesson here is to just get started and don’t worry about being perfect. I know you are worried about doing a bunch of work and investing money on honey, only for it to turn out like garbage, but don’t be. If you have the base ingredients, I’d say the most important thing to consider is sanitation. Luckily with sanitation it’s not very complicated. In case you are wondering, my first mead came out great and tasted spectacular. I’ll make this initial tutorial as simple as possible. So with that, let’s get started!
-Mix a batch of honey and water together in a container. If you are just starting out this is usually a 5 gallon bucket which is what comes in most standard brewing kits. Depending on how you want your mead to turn out, you would put in about 12-18 pounds of honey. There’s a big debate over whether to heat your honey water mixture or not. I usually do, but if I’m strapped for time I’ll just dump it in and get going.
-Add yeast and some type of nutrition to the mixture. This is where the magic happens. Yeast eats sugar and poops out C02 and Alcohol creating Mead. The nutrient is used here to ensure that the yeast is as healthy as possible for a quick and complete fermentation. Nutrient can come from a number of things like many fruits used in the primary fermentation or bought at the store.
-Have the mixture sit and let the yeast do it’s work. Usually you would have an airlock connected to your fermentation vessel to ensure no air gets in, but the C02 gets out. Depending on what ingredients you have in your primary fermenter and the temperature, this could take from 2 weeks to a month.
-After initial fermentation is over you would then transfer to a secondary glass fermenter called a carboy. Store this in a dark place with a towel or bag over it to keep it from the light. This will take about 2 months.
-After the 2 months are over, get out your bottles and fill them with mead. I have used both wine bottles and champaign bottles, either will do. Store the mead in the bottles for however long you want. My friend Duke usually starts drinking his right away, but the mead gets better with age, so make a managerial decision. Once everything is bottled, it’s often nice to spruce up your creations with some custom labels. Now would be the time to do it.
If this sounds daunting, don’t worry, it’s extremely easy. The more you do it the faster it will be, it’s just a matter of getting familiar with the process. Like I said, the first time I did it, it took me a few hours. Now I can do it in about 30-45 minutes depending on if I boil or not. These are not hard rules. You can add or subtract anything with this process to your liking. The only real hard rules are that you have to have water, honey, and yeast. Again, I would stress sanitation because it’s really easy and it can make the difference between a good mead and 5 gallons of horrible liquid you have to dump. I recommend using star san, but there are other less expensive options if you feel so inclined.
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