View Full Version : When's the mead ready?

10-09-2011, 08:35 AM
I decided the first batch I'll make will be a simple medieval style mead, consisting of honey, water and yeast, based on a 14 century recipe I found.
It was getting all fizzy for the first two days or so, and now the fizzing has receded, but it's still there.
How do I know when to switch a container and serve?

PS, the mead is in an open and covered-with-a-towel metal container (not the best idea, I know).

10-09-2011, 09:45 AM
Also, it should be said that the recipe said it'd 1-3 days.

10-09-2011, 09:55 AM
Well...what was your recipe? What yeast did you use? Any additional sugars? Do you have a hydrometer? What EXACTLY did you do and how long has it been on?

A hydrometer reading will help most of anything, because then the answer is-the primary fermentation is down when the specific gravity stays static for a prolonged period. (I use at least a week of no change, sometimes two if it's been a problem ferment)

Or you can use the mead calculator, a handy dandy link on the left hand side of the page, to figure out an approximate original gravity, ABV, so on and so forth. You can use the yeast tolerance and the OG to figure out where your yeasties SHOULD poop out according to the SG, but don't trust that till you have no static change for a while.

If you have no hydrometer and are completely guessing with no airlock...um, much harder. Some ferments are over in under 5 days, some, really sucky ferments, can take almost 2 weeks. And I've got one or two that have a completely static SG with no change whatsoever for two months, and it still has visible signs of fermentation. (My lemonade and 5 gal coffee come to mind, both are still bubbling)

If you really have no other way to check, wait two weeks, and then move it to secondary...but I'd get an airlock and seal on that as soon as possible. Without the blanket of CO2 being produced by an active ferment, you're opening up the mead to oxidation and spoilage organisms with the towel. People who do the open ferment like this use the hydrometer daily to keep track of the process.

Btw, welcome to the addic...er, HOBBY!

10-09-2011, 10:04 AM
Mead is ready whenever you want to drink it, but from the sounds of it what you've got going is a quick-type faire recipe that gets thrown together just in time to get a little alcohol buzz with some residual sweetness around the campfire. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but most of us make mead that takes months if not years to make, so asking us when it's ready to drink is likely to get the answer "2012 or 2013.". :eek:

Chevette Girl
10-09-2011, 10:06 AM
As Soyala said, we need your recipe and you need a hyrdometer. Looks like you've made what we refer to as a "show mead" (just yeast, water and honey) which can often be difficult fermentations because honey doesn't have a lot in the way of nutrients for yeast growth, so even if you do run your numbers through the mead calculator, no guarantees your yeast will get the job done, you'll never know what they're up to until you check with a hydrometer.

As long as it's bubbling, you're OK to leave it covered with a cloth, some people do their primary fermentations with no airtight cover and no airlock, but Soyala's right that you don't want to let it oxidize if it's NOT an active ferment. If you give it a gentle stir with a sanitized spoon, does it fizz up?

And as Wildoates said, it's done when you want to drink it, but be warned, some people get serious digestive issues from drinking anything with an active yeast population and if there's any activity AT ALL, you can drink it, but don't bottle it in anything sealed where pressure could build up, wine bottles can explode from the pressure of continued fermentation and it's dangerous.

Welcome to the forum!

Medsen Fey
10-09-2011, 10:52 AM
We need more details to give you definitive information, but if you are making an old recipe with nothing but honey, water and yeast (know as a "show mead" these days), it is likely to be long time before it finishes. This kind of fermentation can last for months. At this point, I'd encourage you to stir up the mead good, then rack it into a container with an airlock on it, and then let it do its thing.

And Welcome to GotMead!

10-09-2011, 11:46 AM
I used only slightly expensive regular pure honey, 2-3 years old regular bread yeast and sink water, and nothing else.
It's been on for about 3 days now, constantly fizzing.
When stirred with a spoon, it hissed at me.:o
I don't have a hydrometer.

I do have an improvised, home-made airlock that's supposed to be fastened to place with tape and have a tube to get the pressure in to a little water it holds.
I also have an old, big glass bottle, but it's both too big for this little amount (testing) and really dirty. If this batch'll work, I'll make a bigger one to be in that bottle. I really can't think of anywhere small enough for this other then those small drinking yogurt thingies, and even then, I'd need more then one.>:(

It is still bubbling, but only a tiny little bit.

This is a download link (no other available) for the recipes I'm using: www.greydragon.org/library/13thCenturyMead.doc

And thanks for all of the quick responses and greetings!

Medsen Fey
10-09-2011, 12:21 PM
How large of a volume do you have?

10-09-2011, 01:28 PM
Not very much.
I put half a cup of honey with two cups of water, and a bit of yeast.
I really don't know how to measure it.

I don't actually have any equipment except for that home-made airlock.

Medsen Fey
10-09-2011, 02:03 PM
Ok, so it is a very small volume.
What I would suggest is pouring it into a PET plastic soda bottle. You can cap the bottle and as the yeast continue they will pressurize the bottle making it become firm when you squeeze it. You can then open the bottle and release the pressure. When it stops pressurizing the bottle, it is done (or stuck). At that point you can stick it in the fridge to drop the yeast and and clear it quickly. After that point, it will be finished and can be consumed.

The key is that newly-made mead usually isn't very good to drink. Most meads need a year or more of aging to develop smoothness and better aroma and flavor. You didn't make enough to really allow that so you aren't going to be tasting this at its best, so don't judge it too harshly as it is only a baby.

10-09-2011, 02:06 PM
Okay, nevermind.
It started fizzing so little (if at all) that I couldn't hear it over the air flowing in the container, so I poured it into a glass jar. Should be ready about tomorrow, according to the recipe.
Any last tips?

And thanks for the help, everyone!

Dan McFeeley
10-09-2011, 02:30 PM
I remember this one -- Tidmarsh Major was a regular poster on the venerable Mead Lovers Digest while he was working on the manuscript.

A link to the folio is here:


Link to the site for the Reynold's manuscript is here:


Although Tidmarsh's notes say it was done in three days and then rested for a day, I'd suggest being careful with putting it into a sealed container, even if it looks still. That's pretty fast for a mead fermentation and without a hydrometer reading, you can't be sure if it's really done.

My very first mead was something like this -- I came across a mead recipe in an old 1800's book titled "The Whitehouse Cookbook," a collection of recipes of all kinds that had been used in the White House, including fermented beverages. I'd never made anything fermented before, guessed and oopsed my way through it using a crockpot for the fermenter, but it worked. It also tasted harsh and astringent. :-)

Good luck and keep us posted!


10-10-2011, 03:47 PM
The mead is now ready! I put it in the fridge for about 9 hours.
It tastes really weird, bit yeasty. It's tastes funny, but it definitely have alcohol in it.

I'm definitely not discouraged, but what exactly did go wrong? ???

And thanks for all of the help! :D

Medsen Fey
10-10-2011, 04:14 PM
Probably nothing went wrong. Newly fermented mead tastes yeasty and bitter or harsh until it has aged for months or years most of the time. This was mentioned in my previous post and by others in this thread.

If you want a mead that will taste good much sooner try Joe's Ancient Orange.

10-10-2011, 05:08 PM
I second joes ancient orange (JAO). Easy to make, hard to screw up, and tastes pretty darned good after just a few months. (But amazing if you wait a few more!)

Chevette Girl
10-10-2011, 05:52 PM
+1 vote for Joe's!

It's relatively safe even if you don't have a hydrometer (although we will still suggest you get one if you're going to continue exploring the world of fermentation ;D)

10-10-2011, 07:22 PM
However, even JAO's are recommened to age at MINNIMUM of 3 months, not 3 days after fermentation is done.

Nothing went wrong with your brew, you just kind of...threw what you had together and drank it way too fast. The yeast may have even still been active, so I'm sure it did taste 'yeasty'.

My last tip? Read the newbee guide! It's there for a reason! And use tested, true recipes, not something obviously very old recipe with absolutely no tasting notes! However, many many of us found a random recipe online, in a weird pagan book (raises hand), or from just someone 'in the know' threw it together, and when it seemed to be going really weird, googled mead like crazy and found this site! So...yeah, you're doing it right!

Welcome to Gotmead!

10-11-2011, 07:43 AM
Thanks for everyone's help!

I'll definitely try Joe's next, and was actually about to start with that, but decided against it once I found a (seemingly) simpler recipe.

I'll definitely read the NewBee's Guide too.