Mead is an alcoholic drink that can be brewed with the help of honey and water that get fermented (which is similar to beer). Many people throughout the world still love this drink despite many existing alternatives to it.
Hot water, mead, and champagne yeast are usually the default ingredients used by anyone. When adding some fruits to your mead mixture, it will officially be called a melomel, but I still prefer to call it mead.
In addition, some people add apple cider instead of hot water, which will then transfer the naming of mead to cyser, and if adding some spices to your mead, this will then become a metheglin (spiced mead). We will talk about these types a little bit more, but later.
To accompany this variety of forms and names, mead also has quite an interesting history: it was highly consumed by almost any person in Europe and Asia and is thought to be the predecessor of any further created alcoholic drinks, as it is one of the oldest fermented beverages.
Moreover, some historians think of mead as the very first fermented alcohol made by people, and this fact might actually be true, as it is very easy to make mead at your home.
So if you are a fan of mead and would like to make it at your home, or if you are simply interested in finding out how it can actually be done, then please read this article!
A Little Note about the Honey
Before making your first honey mead recipe, please make sure that the honey that you will use for it is of decent quality: for that, you will need to taste this honey yourself in advance and see how it behaves a little bit after that.
Many people think that when their honey becomes crystallized, it means that it got spoiled, but in reality, this fact is really far away from the truth: the crystallization of honey is a natural process that actually protects its quality and taste. Any type of honey that is actually pure, unheated, and left for some time will become sturdier, as this will let the honey preserve its taste and stay useful for a really long time.
If you like your honey liquid, then simply heat it up, and it will return to its original state. And to avoid any wild yeasts in your mead, you can also heat the honey up before using it in your recipe.
In fact, the opposite to the initial statement is true: if your honey does not become crystalised with time, this will mean that there is something wrong with its quality.
Types of a Mead Recipe
When making your homemade mead for the first time, you might want to consider different types of it, as the mead making process will differ a little bit for each one of them, and hence, the taste will also be different.
Traditional mead (that is also called honey wine), as I have already told you above, is usually mead with the help of only good quality honey, cool water, and yeast, but it can also have different forms:
- Dry mead will not have almost any sweetness in it, with a little honey note that is hardly caught
- Medium sweet mead will have more honey taste in it with a bit of sweetness as well
- Sweeten mead is the most popular flavor of traditional mead recipes, and it will be the sweetest one yet. Some people prefer to add the same amount of honey as water (which will make either a dry or semi-sweet beverage), but I personally prefer my mead to be sweeter.
When making mead with the help of fruit juice, the mead will then be called melomel, or mulsum: basically, it is still the same mead as the traditional one, but you are also adding some fruit in this case.
The most popular types of melomel are the following:
- Cyser, which is made with the help of apples or apple cider and has a taste similar to sherry wine
- Pyment, in which grape juice is added. Its taste reminds of grape wine that is sweeter
- Hippocras. This one is made with the help of grape juice, just as the payment is, but also has spices in it
There is also hydromel, which is the most liquid and weak (in its taste) version of mead; metheglin, which also has spices and herbs in it, or sack metheglin — sweet and spicy at the same time.
The Process of Making Mead
Interested in how to make mead at home? Then please read further!
To start the brewing process of your homemade basic mead recipe, you will need the following substances and materials:
- 5 Pounds of Honey
- 1 Gallon of Water (spring water or filtered one)
- 2 Cut up Fruit, for example, oranges (and do not throw away the peels)
- 1 Bag of Raisins
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- Champagne Yeast
- Berries, which kind is up to you
- 3 Cloves
- A Jug (one-gallon size minimum)
- A big pot
- A Spoon
Either than that, you can safely adapt the recipe to your taste: for instance, if you do not like cinnamon, then do not put it into your honey mead recipe, or, if you prefer strawberries to raspberries, take the ones that you favor most. Any fruit can also be added to your mead recipe or even hops!
All in all, honey, water, and yeast will always be enough for the most basic method of creating honey wine.
The Step-by-Step Recipe
After collecting all the ingredients, you would want to start the process by sanitizing all your equipment that you are going to use, for example, spoons and pots. Do not avoid this step: all your tools should be highly sanitized before you can use them for creating mead. Otherwise, your batch of mead will be ruined.
Then you will need to pour half of your filtered water into the large pot, heat it on medium mode, and add honey to the water when it will be warm enough: we do not need boiled water for mead.
When all the honey is added, stir it for a while, until the honey dissolves completely, and only after that, you can turn off the stove. Then, take your one-gallon jug, add fruit (sliced oranges) and berries to its bottom, and pour in the honey-water mixture of yours into the jug: you can do this step with the help of a funnel.
After pouring the heated honey water into the jug, you can also pour the rest of your water, but please make sure that it is at room temperature. Thoroughly stir all of the ingredients in the jar and put the lid on top of it.
In addition, you will want to take half of the pack of yeast and warm it up (we do not need an entire batch), put it into the jar and once again close it with a lid. The temperature of your yeast might be the most crucial point that will determine whether or not your mead will be tasty: so, before putting the warmed yeast nutrient into your jug, check that its temperature is approximately 90 F(or 32 C).
The physically hardest part of any honey mead recipe would be to shake your jag: you should do it quite intensely and at least for a few minutes. Then, an airlock and rubber stopper should be put on the jar and you should let the mixture rest for a few hours, or even for a whole night. An airlock is a must because it lets the air escape the jar for the fermentation to start.
What is Next?
When you will see some bubbles appearing in your jar, then the time has come for you to find a cool and dark place without any direct sunlight for your mixture to start the fermentation: it is longer than that of a usual beer, which is why the mixture should be fermented for about a month.
You will understand that the mead is ready to be tried out when the bubbling stops. However, some people prefer to let their mead rest for a period of time that is longer than one month, as it is known that mead is better when it is older.
And when you are sure that your mead is ready to be bottled, you will have to choose how you would like to do so:
- If you want your mead to be still so that no carbonation is needed, you will need to add Potassium Sorbate to your mixture before and only then bottle it.
- However, if you want your mead to be sparkling, you will need to avoid adding Potassium Sorbate and bottle the initially fermented mixture without any additional ingredients.
After bottling your mead, the hardest part comes yet again: waiting. When in bottles, you will want your mead to rest for at least 6 months, with a year-long waiting period being the ideal situation.
Making Your Mead Sweeter
Many people believe that as honey is added to their honey mead recipe, the resulting drink will be sweet as well. However, it will not be so in reality: this happens because of a long fermentation process that takes away almost all of the sweetness that the honey has brought to the drink.
Those people that prefer their dry mead to be sweet will also need to go through the process called back sweetening.
Back sweetening allows you to add some type of sugar to your mead after it has already been fermented: most people will simply add more honey to their mead, but it needs to be done in a proper way, as simply putting the honey directly into the bottles will restart the fermentation, and who wants that?
So, as with mead that is not additionally sweetened, you have two choices: still and sparkling sweeter mead recipes:
- In the case of a still mead recipe, wait for the fermentation to completely end, add one half of a teaspoon of potassium sorbate per one gallon of mead, and stir it. What potassium sorbate does is stop any sugar added afterwards from converting into carbon dioxide and alcohol in a manner that does not ruin the yeast.
- If a sparkling and carbonated mead recipe is in your preference, then I will suggest you use a homebrew kegging system. What kegging does, with the help of its CO2 containers, is a carbonation process of your mead to the level of your choice that does not use your yeast for that. This way, when adding additional sugar, the yeast will not ferment any further and you still get your favorite sparkling mead in the end!
After that, you can easily add any type of sugar you want, but we recommend you use honey: the amount and sweetness of a beverage that you will bottle remain up to you.
If the process of brewing mead is still not clear to you, you can watch the videos suggested by us below:
How to Make Mead Without Haze?
The easiest and most efficient way to make sure that you will get clear mead is not to rush the fermentation process and let your mead do its job for as long as it needs to. Do not bottle your mead before its time!
However, if you see that your homemade mead has a haze, it means that suspended yeast particles got in the way. And to clear your mead from them, some additives will be needed: they will bond these yeast particles together and take them out of your drinking mixture.
Here is what you can use to remove the haze from your mead:
- Gelatin, Isinglass, and Sparkolloid: these additives are positively charged, which means that they will attract negatively charged particles of your yeast to themselves: for example, the gelatin will connect with tannins, isinglass will have much impact on slight hazes, and sparkolloid, while it will need some preparatory work before it can be used, is the most effective one when it comes to stubborn particles of your yeast.
- Another reason why you might have haze in your mead is melomels located in pectin. To break these bastards, you will need to use Pectic Enzyme and heat it up, so it will take the form of a gel. A temperature of approximately 180 F will be needed for that, and you can add the result together with yeast into your mead.
- Bentonite: this is a negatively charged supplement that will attract yeast and protein to itself, and it has a form of powdered clay.
- You can also use acids, such as Citric, Tartaric, Malic, and their blend to make your mead tarter and balance the sugars in your drink. Citric acid is made out of citrus fruits, Tartaric is received from grapes, and Malic acid is found in apples.
Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ
How to make mead at home?
Quite easy, I would say! You would need a few ingredients for that, such as honey, water, yeast, raisins, oranges, berries, hops, and cinnamon sticks, as well as some mead equipment: a jug, a pot, and any other cutlery decently sterilized before use.
And to learn about a mead making process for your own home and mix all of the ingredients together, you can read an article above, where I state step by step what should be done by you and your mead equipment!
Is it legal to brew your own mead?
As long as you are not selling it without permission, it is absolutely legal to brew some mead for yourself! Nobody would prohibit you from making mead to drink at home, as nobody could forbid you from cooking for yourself and your close ones.
How long does mead take to ferment?
There is no concrete number of days that will be needed for the fermenting process of your mead, but in general, it will take no less than a month of your time.
The mead is ready when you do not see any bubbles on its surface, and, as everybody says, the longer it rests, the tastier it becomes!
How alcoholic is homemade mead?
As you are making mead recipes in your home, we cannot tell you for sure what amount of alcohol content there will be. All in all, we are not professionals here.
It is said that the amount of alcohol that your mead can contain differs from 6 to 20 ABV, as it depends on your fermentation bucket, process, and amount of time taken for it.