Yesterday, I decided to attempt brewing my first batch of mead. Mead is wine made from honey and may be one of the first fermented beverages made by man. There are hundreds of recipes available, but I wanted to try something easy for my first batch. This mead is made from only water, honey, and yeast. I got this recipe, and everything else I have learned about mead, from "The Compleat Meadmaker" by Ken Schramm. It was a very entertaining book and provided excellent instructions, even for someone with no experience. It is available on Amazon.com at: The Compleat Meadmaker.
Anyone can make mead, but the most important thing is to have everything very clean. You don't want foreign bacteria or yeast to get into the mixture and interfere with the brewing yeast that causes the fermentation. I started by sanitizing a seven gallon fermenting bucket, a couple of spoons, a candy thermometer, and hydrometer in bleach water.
While that was sanitizing, I brought one gallon of distilled water to a boil and let it boil for ten minutes. Then I added 15 pounds (5 quarts) of wildflower honey. After turning off the heat.
The type of honey makes a big difference on the final product. Think of it like the grapes that go into wine. Each batch will be completely unique.
Once the honey was mixed in, the mixture became "must", which is mead before the fermentation process begins. I let the must sit for about 20 minutes between 130 and 150 degrees F. While this was sitting, I activated the yeast packets by letting the yeast sit in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. The yeast is the second most important ingredient. Yeasts will affect the taste of the mead, the sweetness, and the alcohol content.
After the must had cooled down enough, I added it to three gallons of distilled water in the fermentation bucket, pitched in the yeast, and stirred it up to provide oxygen. Then it was just a matter of sealing the bucket and putting in the air lock so gases can escape but nothing can get in.
This must will go through a primary fermentation for about two weeks. Look for updates soon!
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