Mead - Wine for All!
If you've made it to this Hub you have an interest in making mead. Mead is an alcoholic honey-wine usually consisting of and alcoholic content of about 8%-20%. Unlike other varieties of wine mead is easy to create and fun to experiment with. There's really no limit beyond your imagination.
Mead has been created for consumption for a very, very long time. Evidence of mead fermentation has been found dating back to nearly 7,000 BC, and perhaps even farther back than that. Along with it's deep roots in human history mead has also found a home in modern literature, specifically fantasy novels and RPG video games. It is not uncommon for characters to request a mug of mead to help rest after a battle or even to prepare themselves for adventure.
Mead is as rich in these types of literature as it is in flavor. Our project today will be a Lime/Mint mead. The process is quick and easy and very fulfilling. this batch will make about 4 bottles of wine and the cost in comparison to purchasing wine is quite good. The best part is your are making it with your own hands and when you are done and share it with your friends you can feel proud of your creation!
My motivation and a note
My motivation for making mead came when I moved to Pennsylvania. I had lived in California my entire life when you could easily, and cheaply, drive to a grocery store and buyer, beer, wine and hard alcohol all in one location. In PA, it's not that easy. Some grocery stores might sell beer, but you have to buy it in certain areas of the store that are separate from where you buy groceries. Hard alcohol and wine are sold at separate locations and in general they are all more expensive than what I would have paid in CA.
My solution, make my own alcohol. Obviously I cannot make hard alcohol since distilling your own is illegal in the United States, but I have been able to create some delicious meads as well as hard ciders. Many people have the idea that these processes are difficult, which is one reason we don't make it ourselves. I am here to destroy that myth, making you own mean, cider or beer can be fun AND easy.
I want to share my recipe and experience to allow other people to give this fun and tasty hobby a try. Sure, in the beginning you have some definite time frame problems. Cider can take weeks to be completed, beer upwards of a month, and mead will easily set you back seven months before the final product is complete. But if you enjoy your creations and and have fun with the hobby, you can create a consistent flow of unique and delicious alcohols all create by your own hand.
I urge any who are of legal age (this post is meant for those over the age of 21) to give this a try. If you discover you don't enjoy it, or that it takes too much time, there is not loss! You will still have a batch of mead and there is no obligation to do more. But if you are like me, you will be back for more!
Note: Although it will be mentioned a few times throughout the instructions I need to emphasize that sanitation is key to this process. Bacteria or other agents can create funky flavors and ruin your creation. Because of this please make sure you understand proper sanitation techniques, always wash your hands and tools and be safe. Sanitation is easy to forget as you delve into the process, but it is essential to your final product!
I have included a really good and easy video from youtube regarding sanitation. Contaminated product won't make you sick, but it won't taste good either!
How to Sanitize Your Equipmemt
Preparation is easy
|Prep time||Ready in||Yields|
4 wine bottles
Remember, the ingredients and process are just a beginning. As you experiment and become more advanced you can create you own flavors of mead and really have a good time with it. Ultimately that is the whole point of this Hub. Have fun! Making alcohol is a fun process and sharing your creation with friends and family makes it even more enjoyable!
Please let me know at the end of the Hub what you think and what you have created!
- 3/4 Gallon Water
- 3 pounds Honey
- 1 packet Yeast, or 2 1/2 tsp
- 5 regular limes or 10 key limes, cut into quarters or smaller
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup Mint, Chopped
- 2 tbsp Raisins
- 1 gallon jug (can be glass or plastic, my first batch I made with a plastic jug but have since invested in 1 gallon glass carboys)
- 1 Balloon with holes poked in it (you can also use a bubble trap will with water or vodka, they are cheap at local brew shops or online)
- 4-5 empty wine bottles
- ~ 5 feet of clear plastic tubing (1/4 inch is what I use)
- A way to cork bottles. There are many ways to cork bottles but I have found the easiest to be Zorks. You can find them online for fairly cheap and they make you life much easier.
- Cut up the limes and chop mint. Limes must be cut small enough that they will fit through the top of your jug. If you plan on using the jug again, make sure they are also small enough to be removed once fermentation is complete. Set aside with raisins.
- Pour honey into your jug. It's not all going to come out so add some warm water to the honey jar and swirl it around and pour the water honey mix into the jug. The jug will probably be close to half full now.
- Add limes, mint, raisins and yeast to the jug.
- Add water to the jug, but leave 2 - 3 inches at the top unfilled as that air will be required to assist with fermentation. Note: You can but purified water at the store, but if you have good tap water that will work just fine as well.
- Cap the top of the jug and shake well for a few minutes to make sure everything is property mixed. The honey will still settle to the bottom but that's normal.
- Removed the cap and put the balloon or bubble trap on top of the bottle, label your jug with the flavor and date and store for fermentation.
Notes regarding fermentation
- Your mixture should start fermenting in a couple hours. If you used a balloon with poked holes in it, you will see the balloon inflated. If you used a bubble trap you will see it start to bubble.
- Keep and eye on your mead for the first 24-48 hours as this can be a period of intense fermentation. If you used a balloon ensure that it is not in danger of popping off or getting clogged.
- Check in on the mead every day or two to make sure that it is still bubbling. You will allow fermentation to complete it's process before bottling. Once bubbling has ceased your are ready for the next step (this will be roughly 2-3 weeks).
Congratulations, if you have made it to this step fermentation is complete and you are ready to bottle and officially label you creation. Like all steps in the process, make sure you have propertly sterilized your instruments by sanitizing in a dishwasher or by soaking in a bleach/water mix and rinsing thoroughly.
I transfer my mead by manually siphoning. There are many other ways to do this, but for the purposes of this Hub I will describe my process.
- Place your open and completed mead on your counter top.
- Put a chair directly underneath with pan on the seat.
- Put sanitized empty bottle in pan.
- Insert clear plastic tube into mead as far as it will go WITHOUT disturbing the sediment at the bottom. Our goal is to remove as much liquid as possible without transferring and of the sediment at the bottom of the jug. If you are comfortable proceeding by yourself, go for it, however having a second person to assist can help.
- Siphon the mead. This is easy, suck on the other end of the plastic tube. As long as you are below the jug the mead will flow downward. Pay close attention to the liquid in the tube as you want to insert the tube into the empty bottle BEFORE is starts spilling into your mouth or the floor. NOTE: I have seen it suggested that you gargle with scotch or various other alcohols prior to siphoning. I support this for sterilization and the consumption of scotch.
- Fill you bottle to the base of the neck and quickly but carefully move your tube to the next bottle in line.
- Continue until mead is completely siphoned.
- If you purchased Zorks corking is easy. Press the Zorks down on top of the wine bottle until it clicks into place. You might have to put your body into is it takes quite a bit of force to get them in.
You're done! Be Creative - Or Not ...
Now that you've finished your mead label your product! You can be creative with this. Many people print out lovely custom labels to put onto their concoction. Or if you are like me and have masking tape and a sharpie that will work as well.
Once labeled you have finished the easy part of the mead process. Sure, if seemed like a of steps and three weeks of waiting for fermentation, but you are not done. Now the waiting game has begun. Store your mead in a safe location and let them age for at least six months! I know it's tempting to just want to drink them right away. They are alcoholic at this point but if you drink them now you will not be happy. Mead just gets better with time, so start your timer and wait it out, I promise you will not be disappointed!
The great part about mead is that you can make it without all the flavors or mix up the flavors with other fruit as well. I like the mint/lime mix but you can be creative. You also have six months of waiting to do, so go ahead and experiment with a new batch. Mead is not a difficult skill to attain, but it a fun, enjoyable and tasty one!