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1. Sanitise everything before use

2. Slowly heat your honey/water mixture

3. 1.5-2kg Honey ideal for 5litre batch

4. Fruit is ideal Nutrient for yeast and flavour

5. Useful tool - hydrometer

6. Don’t over oxygenate, have patience

7. Periodically push down Fruit

8. Minimum 6 weeks for First fermentation

9. Airtight bottles/buckets help the ageing

process

10. Honey can be added if needing to sweeting

How do we get a hold of mead these days? Why is it so hard to buy? In the past mead was more widely drank than it is now, and this might be explained by economic reasons - honey is one of the most expensive fermentables available, why not just use simple sugar? Well we could, but then we would have made wine and not mead. We can also consider the difficulty of making mead compared to wine. The yeast requires some additional nutrition beyond just sugars, they perform the fermentation more effectively when they have access to nitrogen. In the case of wine this need is met by the grapes in the must. We can choose to add fruit to our mead to help with this, but then we are making a kind of mead called a melomel and i'll write about that another time. Today we'll look at a traditional mead with no extra flavourings, just the honey, so we will need to discuss where the nitrogen comes from. Some recipes will say to throw in a handful of raisins, something I myself have done and I had no problems, however this actually doesnt offer very much N. A better idea is to take some baking yeast and boil it in a little water for 10 minutes to kill it. Yeast are cannibalistic, so the brewing yeast you use will scavenge the nitrogen they need from the dead hulls of the boiled baking yeast. Enough of the boring stuff now, lets get into making some mead.​

You will need anywhere between 1.5-2kg of honey for your 5L, and only a few grams of yeast. Brewing yeast is usually sold in wee packs that are ideal for this. I will be using Lalvin 71b yeast, this typically hits around 14-15% abv. Take your honey and mix it with warm water, this will help get it mixed up good. Don't go too hot or you'll scorch the honey flavours away. When its mixed up good and around room temperature pour into the fermenting bottle and then add your yeast, don't fill all the way to the top though, leave some space in case it foams up. Now you'll want to shake it up a bit to get lots of oxygen into the must. The yeast will use oxygen while they reproduce in the first few days. Place an airlock on the bottle and put it somewhere dark with room temperature. Step one is done. After 24 hours you should hopefully be seeing the first bubbles in your airlock. At this point you can take your baking yeast, for this quantity of mead we'll want around 10 grams however using more won't do any harm. Put it in a pot and cover with a small amount of water, not too much or you'll dilute the mead. Boil it up for about 5-10 minutes and keep stirring it during this. Then cover the pot and allow it to cool. You will be adding this to your mead but first you will need to stir the mead carefully before you add or it could foam over. Replace the airlock and return your mead to the dark.

 

At this point we can leave the mead alone, forget about it for a while. The longer the better but give it 6 weeks at least. When the bubbles in your airlock have stopped the main fermentation is done, you can drink it now if you want. I like to siphon away the liqiud from the top into a new bottle here and leave behind as much of the yeasty cake at the bottom of the old bottle. I'll leave my mead in the new bottle for as long as it takes to be clear, and siphon again when the rest of the yeast settles, if it takes too long to clear i'll keep it in the fridge for a few days. When it becomes clear i'll bottle it, but if it has gone completely dry i might backsweeten by adding honey little by little until it tastes how i like it. Following these steps should yield you just over 4 litres of delicious mead, you will want to leave a little on the bottom with the yeast cake but this is a worthy sacrifice - as we all know that the gods love mead. Once bottled you can drink any time, however young mead can be very sharp so it is best to allow it a little time to age. Next time we'll discuss some more of the boring process stuff and we'll look at another recipe, and i'd love to hear any of your ideas for a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask me, and good luck with your brews, skål!

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