Mead: how to make alcohol in your spare time

Discussion in 'All The Things' started by TIG, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. TIG

    TIG I like GOOOOOLLLLD!




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    I just got into making mead. Its the same basic process as making wine, or beer. Mead is easier than either and has about the same amount of alcohol as wine and more than beer. It is also called honey wine in some instances.

    Ok, so how do you make mead? The TLDR version is combine honey and water, add yeast and wait. Yeast eats the sugar in the honey and pisses out alcohol. It also farts out CO2 but that is waste unless you want carbonation.

    The real instructions isn't much harder than that. With the right ingredients and some time you can get a brew that runs at about 15% alcohol by volume, or 30 proof. The great thing about mead is that you can make a "traditional" or base mead with only the ingredients listed above, or you can add all kinds of stuff to totally change how it tastes. Stuff like fruits, spices, herbs, candy, chocolate, tea, wood (oak is common) or whatever you might think will give it a flavor you want.

    So here is a basic mead recipe. I used this recipe and it cost me less than 150 bucks to get started.

    Equipment:
    2 gallon fermenting bucket.
    1 gallon carboy (glass bottle)
    Bung for carboy
    Hydrometer
    Siphon and tube
    Airlock
    Wisk
    Yeast
    3 lbs of honey
    1 or more gallons of distilled or spring water
    Sanitizer

    Optional, but wanted equipment:
    Yeast nutrient
    Yeast energizer
    Hydrometer test tube
    Other ingredients like fruit or such mentioned above.

    You can get all this online at amazon.com but the honey, water, and other organics you should get from your local area. Quality water and honey are really worth seeking out locally because they are the main parts of your brew.

    Here is what I bought
    Brew kit $48
    Sanitizer $22
    Yeast (better than what the kit gives you) $9
    Yeast Nutrient $12
    Yeast Energizer $15
    Hydrometer Test Tube $8
    Total is $116

    Honey for a 1 gallon batch of mead is about 3 lbs at around $15
    Water is free if you have good tap water, or whatever a gallon of good spring water costs lets say $5

    Total for everything is $136 from amazon or less if you shop for discounts. Don't forget the initial price is the big investment. You have enough yeast for 5 batches and the only other payment you have to make is honey and water so $20 for the next 4 batches. That comes out to $43 a batch over 5 batches. Each batch gets about 5 wine bottles worth so all told you are spending about $5.5 per bottle of mead.

    How to make the Mead:

    1. Sanitize everything you are using to make it. I mean everything. bucket, siphon, wisk, airlock, every piece of equipment that may come in contact with the mead before it becomes alcohol.
    2. Heat a cup or so of your distilled/spring water to 100-105 F for the yeast to activate in. Add the yeast to this and let sit for 15 mins
    3. Pour your 3 lbs of honey and 1 gallon of water in your bucket or carboy and mix it up so the honey is dissolved in the water.
    4. Add 1 tsp of energizer and 1 tsp of nutrient to the mix and stir it in.
    5. Pitch the yeast into the mix and lightly stir.
    6. Get a hydrometer reading and write it down along with all the other info on the mead: temp, ingredients, name of mead, date, and any other notes.
    7. Put in a cool place (mid 60s to low 70s F)
    8. Put the lid on the bucket and the Airlock in the hole on top with some water or vodka or sanitizer in the airlock to let the off gasses bubble through.
    9. Throughout the next week you need to stir the bajezus out of the mead with a wisk to aerate it. This gets the oxygen in the solution and the CO2 out. Do this about every other day. On day 3 and 5 add 1 tsp of yeast nutrient when you do this.
    10. When you open the batch to stir and aerate it take a sample and use your hydrometer and tube to get hydrometer readings. This calculator (halfway down in green) will give you the Alcohol by volume if you input your starting specific gravity and your current specific gravity. Don't add nutrient past 6% or 7% because at 9% the yeast cant use it anymore.
    Most meads start at a SG of 1.08 to 1.120 and end at a SG of 1.01 to 0.96
    11. After your week of watching and stirring, you stop messing with it and let it sit for about 5 more weeks to finish the main fermentation.
    12. At the 2 month mark you will now use the siphon to suck all the mead out of the bucket into the carboy. Take care not to suckup the sediment and dead yeast that has settled down to the bottom of the bucket.
    13. You now have mead. But, not a great mead. You want to age the mead in this carboy for a few months to a year or more. Aging helps mellow out the harsh alcohol taste and lets the other tastes come through, like the fruit or spices you added, or the flower types that the bees pollinated the honey wtih, be it orange blossom honey or wildflower or whatever.
    14. Once its aged and become clear you can bottle it if you want.

    So thats it, thats how to make mead. A real good starting place to get boned up on this is reddit.com/r/mead on the sidebar. it has lots of info on getting started and the subreddit has tons of info to help you out.

    Like I said its the same basic process as making beer and wine, only less complicated than those. Go make some yourself.
     
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  2. Cheese

    Cheese




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    Congratulations on joining the brewer's guild!!!

    Another great way to get started in this is Ciders.

    All you need is a 1 gallon (preferably glass) container, a bubbler, some beer or wine yeast (I prefer a mix) and two things of simply apple cider from any grocery store.

    Make sure that everything is very clean and dump the cider & yeast in the container, seal and watch your lovely cider ferment away. It's usually done in about 2-3 weeks at most, but sometimes it'll bubble away for 5 weeks if you don't have reason to drink a gallon with friends. Let it sit for up to 2 months if you need, or like the taste better.

    Once it's done you can pour directly from the fermenter into a glass, or if you have some clean rubber tubing you can siphon it into a growler for short term storage.
    Any local brewery will sell a growler and happily fill it with beer for a little more money.


    So drink great beer as you watch your cider ferment and then refill the growler after you're done.
    Wine bottles work well too, just don't forget to save the cork with the CORK IN THE BOTTLE after you clean it. If you let the cork fully expand, you'll never get it back in without a cork press.


    EDIT:
    Kind of a hijack, but my old brewclub and how to from the days in Korea:
    http://busanbrew.blogspot.com/
     
  3. TIG

    TIG I like GOOOOOLLLLD!




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    hmm, I usually drink ciders over beer when I am out. I will definitely have to try making some. I have all the gear to do it since I bought more supplies to make more types of mead. I should be re-racking or possibly bottling my original mead in a few weeks and might just take that carboy and use it.

    In fact I am making a cyser which is mead but instead of water and honey its apple cider or juice and honey. You can even throw in some apples to up the flavor.

    Right now I have the original mead going into its second fermentation at about 13% ABV with a possible top out at 14.5% ABV from the yeast strand I have in it. It tastes of a very dry honey wine right now. I have the gear to make 4 more batches and I will be making a cherry mead, a cyser, a bochet (burnt honey mead) that should taste of toffee and burnt marshmallows, and finally a megethelin which is mead with spices and herbs. The spices and herbs I am adding is elderbery flowers, basil, and brown sugar. RuxandraRuxandra suggested the ingredients for that one.
     
  4. Cheese

    Cheese




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    Sounds awesome!
    I used tart cherry juice and a strong wine yeast and won a Kalamazoo brewers club unofficial competition. They have monthly tastings where everyone competes for popularity and creativity, mine won popularity :)
    Another guy made a bacon porter, which was good! His creativity was in how he got all the fat out and just used the dried out meat.


    Enjoy the brewing adventures~
     

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