The basic equipment needed for mead making isn’t very expensive, and usually lasts for a long time. Local Homebrew shops generally have these items in stock daily. If you have any items at home already, feel free to use them. Here is the list of items that I recommend you have in order to make mead:
- Stainless Steel Stock Pot
- Plastic Fermenter
- Glass Carboy
- Fermentation Lock and Stopper
- Racking Cane and Tubing
Now the part that you all have been waiting for, the steps involved in making your first batch of mead. You will start out making sure all your equipment is clean and sanitized. Anything that touches the must(unfermented honey and water mixture) should be sanitized.
Put a gallon of water into your stainless steel pot and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. After boiling for 10 minutes remove pot from heat and add yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, and honey. Stir the pot until the honey and water have mixed completely. Hold the must at that temperature(around 170 degrees) for 10 Minutes. Chill the must down to 80 degrees. Take a hydrometer reading. Pitch(add) your yeast into the must, stir vigorously for 5 minutes. Place the lid on your fermenter with the air lock attached. Fermentation should begin about 24 to 48 hours. 2 to 3 weeks later(or when fermentation is done) rack mead into a sanitized carboy. Let it sit another 3 to 4 weeks. Rack for the final time into another sanitized carboy and let it sit until the mead is clear(another 2 to 3 months).
Now that you have finished making your mead it’s time to bottle. For a still mead you will need to add potassium sorbate to stabilize. Mix the sorbate through out your entire batch then bottle. For a sparkling mead DO NOT add potassium sorbate. Use champagne style bottles for carbonated mead.
Here comes the hard part, letting the mead mature or age in the bottle. Mead will improve dramatically with age. Leaving it sit for 6 months to 1 year before opening is ideal. Be patient and it will really pay off. Enjoy!
Check out the Mead Recipe Kits available at Adventures in Homebrewing
How To Back Sweeten Mead
One of the misconceptions in mead making, is that mead should be sweet due to the fact that honey is being used. This is a common misconception, the reality is that a lot of the time the sweetness of the honey is usually all but gone after fermentation takes place. That is why we suggest Back Sweeting.
What is back sweetening?
Back sweetening is adding some type of sugar after your mead is already fermented to sweeten the taste of your mead. The proper way to do this, is with honey. However, we do not just dump honey into the fermenter after your mead has fermented. This will cause the fermentation to restart.
Make sure your mead is completely finished fermenting. Take hydrometer readings to confirm.
To get a nice clear mead, let the mead age until it’s clear, as the honey will cause some cloudiness. You may also use Bentonite or Sparkalloid which are agents that you put in your mead to accelerate the clearing process. However, it’s a good idea to let your mead age at this point to balance the honey with the rest of your mead.
That’s it! Enjoy your sweeter mead!
Adventures in Homebrewing