After writing about mead yesterday, I decided to make one. Here’s how I did it:
Ingredients for mead:
- 1 gallon (12 lb) of wildflower honey
- 5 gallons water
- 5 tsp diammonium phosphate (aka “DAP”)
- 5 tsp cream of tartar
- yeast (I used Red Star’s Premier Cuvee)
Basic mead making equipment:
A fermenter, stirring spoon, 3+ gallon stockpot, and a hydrometer are needed today. A 5-gallon carboy, 1-gallon jug with drilled bunges to fit, airlocks, siphon hose, and racking cane will be needed later. This is available at any homebrew/winemaking shop.
Procedure – how to make mead:
All your equipment (fermenter, stirring spoon, stockpot) should be clean. It’s also a good idea to sanitize your equipment by immersion in boiling water or sanitizing solution. You can buy a commercial sanitizer at any homebrew shop, or make your own. Measure one gallon of honey and dissolve into 2 gallons of water. In the photo, I’m pouring honey from a 5-gallon bucket into a stockpot. The stockpot has markings at the 8 quart and 12 quart levels. I filled it with hot (just off the boil) water to the 8 quart line, then poured in honey until it reached the 12 quart line. So I’m using the stockpot as a large measuring cup. I used hot water so that I could dissolve the honey more easily.
Next, fill the fermenter. In the photo at left, I’m pouring the 3 gallons of honey-water into my fermenter. After that, I dissolved the DAP and cream of tarter in a little water and stirred it in. Finally, I added 3 gallons of cold water and gave the whole thing a good stir.
Take a sample to measure the specific gravity with your hydrometer. Make a note of this so you can compare it to the specific gravity of the fermented mead and estimate the alcohol content. Here I measured the SG as 1.080, which means the potential alcohol is about 11% by volume. A pH measurement can be useful too, but the total acidity that winemaker’s often measure is much less useful in mead.Once you’ve taken your sample, you can pitch the yeast. I made a starter the day before with about a quarter cup honey dissolved in a cup of water with a pinch of DAP and cream of tartar. This gave my yeast a head start, and I poured the starter into my fermenter after I drew my sample.
It’s vital to stay focused and diligent. Due care must always be taken to perform each step with rigor and precision. Never forget the seriousness of your task 🙂
Update 5/28/07 – clarifying the mead with bentonies
Update 11/8/07 – aging the mead in oak
I racked off the bentonite sediment and onto some oak chips. I also adjusted the acidity.
Update 1/27/08 – different ways to make mead
There are many different ways to make mead, and in June 2007 I briefly discussed three of my other meads as well as an apple wine. I bottled all four that day, including some of the first mead I ever made, a mead in honor of Brother Adam, and the most wine-like mead I ever made.
Update 3/23/2009: Bottled – the mead tastes great!
This is a simple recipe that turned out great – the only hard part was waiting. It was definitely worth the wait, and I would recommend this recipe to anyone interested in, or curious about, mead.
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