June 22, 2015

The Fine Art of Mead Making

When one speaks of home brewing the first thing that comes to mind is beer, but this ignores a whole other world of brewing that should not be forgotten. Mead making has been around at least as long as beer brewing and likely longer, no one really knows for sure. It is quite easy to make and has a wide variety of styles and additional ingredients that can be added. So it’s just as much fun to experiment with as beer. The only thing that can possibly be seen as a drawback is that it usually takes longer than beer. This is because it it usually stronger than beer and the sugars in honey are slower to ferment. Good meads will age more like fine wines, in fact they are not really considered drinkable for the first 6 months in the bottle. Like wine, you can also make carbonated champagne style meads that are simply delicious.  Why not have a few batches of mead aging while you make beer for more immediate drinking?

More on Mead form Draft Magazine:

Guess which alcoholic beverage is the fastest growing in the country, boasting a huge 150 percent leap last year? Not craft beer. Not small-batch whiskey. Not cider. While mead lags behind in popularity, subconsciously linked to “Beowulf” references and Renaissance fairs, it’s actually having quite a moment in this century. The market share’s still quite small (there are only about 240 meaderies in America), but don’t discount the trend: Mead’s breadth of flavors and textures is wonderfully broad, which means there’s much to explore and something for every palate. Here, everything you need to know to get started tasting:

What is it?
In its most basic form, mead is simply fermented honey: The essential ingredients are water, honey and yeast.

What does it taste like?
Just as it’s tough to explain what “beer” tastes like (imagine describing a bourbon-barrel- aged barleywine versus a raspberry sour), it’s equally tough to sum up mead’s incredible array of flavors. The simplest explanation is that they all have honey character. It can be dry and earthy, sweet and sticky, and even when it has bark, chai and lavender in it, honey should still be detectable. The honey varietal will vary the taste significantly, with some being dark and molasseslike, others light and fruity.

How sweet is it?
You might find mead on shelves next to dessert wines, but not all of them are suit- able for the sweet tooth. Dry meads are quite sharp in the finish, though they typical- ly aren’t bone-dry like brut Champagne; just a small amount of residual sweetness from the honey or perceived sweetness from fruit additions make it drinkable but not dessert-like. Semi-sweet meads will have subtle to moderate sweetness; it should be about the intensity of a medium-dry white wine. Sweet meads can stop just a hair short of cloying, but should never taste like syrupy, unfermented honey.

How bubbly is it?
Meads can be dead still, petillant with just a few small bubbles that stick to the glass or sparkling. Sparkling meads wear a very tall head that dissipates quickly; on the tongue it can have Champagne like effervescence.

Read the original here.

Are you ready to get started with your adventures in mead making? Here is a tutorial from the author of The Secret Art of Mead Making Revealed that will have you up and running in one day. If you can make beer, then you can make mead. In fact it’s very easy and quite forgiving.

An Overview of Mead Making

1. You mix a batch of water and Honey (typically it is 4 gallons of water and 12-15 pounds of honey. This 12-15 pounds of honey is about 4-5 quarts. Typically you heat this mixture but it isn’t mandatory.

2. You add yeast and yeast nutrition to the honey water mix. The yeast will gobble up the honey and transform it into Mead. You should add some kind of nutrient to the mixture so the yeast can grow. This nutrient can be store bought or it can be a variety of things like lemon peels and tea leaves.

3. You let it sit for a period of time. Typically about two weeks is the amount of time it takes for the initial fermentation to occur. At this stage your mixture should be bubbling nicely. You then move it to a large clear bottle so you can keep an eye on it. Keep it in this new blass bottle for another two weeks to two months until it isn’t doing anything anymore. (no more bubbling and no more activity)

4. Put it in individual bottles and store it! Depending on how much honey you put in the mixture it will be ready to drink anywhere from 3 months to a year. (Less honey means faster ready time)

That’s pretty much the whole process in a nutshell. You really don’t do much and you can even fudge a lot of this. The yeast does all the work for you! Just make sure you keep impeccable sanitation for everything because it is a foodstuff you are making and you want to make sure no external molds, bacteria or living organisms get a chance to find your mead. It will grow like crazy and you don’t want anything to grow in your mead except your yeast!

Read the entire tutorial here.

After you make the mead it needs to be aged for quite some time. At minimum it should be cellared for six months but it will keep and improve for years. How many people do you know that have a mead cellar? It’s easy to do and the rewards of having a nice supply of well made and well aged mead are considerable if only for the conversation starting factor at any dinner party.

 

 

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