Learn How to Brew Mead from Honey
by staff writer
Mead's history dates back thousands of years; it is one of the oldest known
alcoholic beverages. The ease of production and the availability of ingredients
made it a popular choice among nobles and peasants alike. If you are looking to
start a new hobby, consider brewing mead -- your friends and family will be glad
Traditional mead is made by fermenting a combination of honey, water, and yeast.
The addition of other ingredients produces mead variants. These include cyser
(mead with apples), pyment (mead with grapes), and metheglin (mead with herbs or
spices). Other additives may be used to clear cloudy mead or to aid
fermentation, but they are not required. Recipes can be easily modified to make
your homemade mead unique.
Learning to Brew Mead
Sanitation is important for every step in the mead-making process. Bacterial
growth can impart off-flavors to the mead or make it unsafe to drink. Use a
commercial sanitizer or a solution of chlorine bleach and water on all
containers and utensils that you plan to use. The sanitizing agent must be
rinsed away thoroughly or it will kill your yeast and prevent fermentation.
Honey, water, and any optional ingredients (like fruit juice and spices) are
combined to make must. The must should be vigorously mixed to introduce oxygen.
There is some debate amongst mead brewers whether must should be heated before
fermentation. Heating the must kills bacteria that could spoil your mead, but
the heat may also destroy delicate essences in the honey. Once the must is
prepared and reaches room temperature, it can be transferred into a fermentation
chamber to await the yeast.
Activate your yeast per the manufacturer’s instructions and then add it to the
must. A fermentation lock needs to be added to the chamber to keep oxygen out
while allowing carbon dioxide to escape. The yeast will begin consuming the
oxygen in the must as it multiplies. Once the oxygen is gone, the yeast will
stop reproducing and begin producing alcohol. Alcohol will be produced until the
yeast has metabolized all available sugars or until the alcohol content becomes
high enough to kill the yeast. At this stage, the mead can be transferred from
the primary chamber to a second fermentation chamber in a process called
Racking separates the mead from the sediment that is created during
fermentation. It is not uncommon to rack mead two to four times, because
sediment will slowly accumulate during slow fermentations. This sediment can
influence the final taste of the mead, so it is desirable to remove it
periodically. Once fermentation has stopped completely, the mead is ready to be
bottled. Slowly siphon the mead from the fermentation chamber into dark glass
bottles. Once the mead is bottled, all there is left to do is wait.
Much like wine, mead needs to age before reaching its full potential. Freshly
bottled mead is often described as having a "Listerine" aftertaste. This is
normal and the taste will fade with time. Make sure to keep your mead sealed and
away from oxygen and light while it is aging. After 6 to 12 months you will be
able to enjoy your homebrewed, silky-textured honey wine.
Making mead is a craft that is easy to learn but difficult to master. With as
little as $100 in equipment, you can start brewing quality mead a home. If you
would like to try your hand at making mead before investing in equipment, visit
Make Mead and learn how
you can brew your first gallon of mead for less than $10. They also offer
step-by-step mead brewing instructions, simple recipes, and advanced brewing