View Full Version : First attempt at mead

05-01-2006, 03:24 PM
Well, I've brewed a couple beers which turned out well, and I am going to be brewing my first mead soon.

I just ordered a 3.5 gal. platic fermenter, two one gal. glass jugs, a couple new airlocks, 3 lbs honey, a liquid dry mead yeast, a traditional dry yeast pack(Fermax yeast nutrient, acid blend, and tannin), and two oz. of blackberry flavoring.

My plan is to brew a two gal batch, but split it into the two one gal jugs for secondary, so I can add the blackberry flavoring to half of the batch(the website say add two oz. flavoring to a 5 gal batchof beer, or 4 oz for a more intense flavor, so I think I'll add something like 1/3 of the flavoring).

I don't know exactly how to brew the mead, but here is the way I am planning to brew it, based on my experience with beer and what little I've read about mead.

I'll mix the 3 lbs. honey with 2 gal of water and bring just to a boil(for sterilization), next I will cool the mixture down to around 80 deg. and pour it into the primary fermenter, attempting to get as much air mixed in as possible. I will then add the mead pack, and the yeast, seal it and add the airlock. At two weeks I will rack it to the secondaries, adding the flavoring to one of them. I'm not sure how long I am supposed to keep them in secondary, a month? And how long in the bottles? It's a fairly low gravity mead, so I'm hoping it won't have to age a year.

Any corrections or advice would be appreciated, and if I think of anymore questions I'll post them.

05-01-2006, 04:58 PM
I won't claim to be an expert, but if you use 3 pounds of honey to 2 gallons of water, you'll have a starting gravity of approximately 1.054....that's a real small mead. You could get away with using your favorite ale yeast, because the liquid dry mead yeast will probably strip that mead down to bone dry and it may still take a while to become mellow and tasty.

If it were me, I'd either A) follow your stated recipe, using a neutral ale yeast (Nottingham comes to mind) and ferment it to completion, flavoring in the secondary, and bottling after at least 3 months in secondary, -OR- B) use the ingredients that you have, but dilute the honey to make a total of one gallon. Then follow the steps that you noted. This will take a little longer to mature, but you will have a better representation of what a mead is like.

(Speaking of which....have you tasted a mead before? It's very different from the beers that you've brewed, I guarantee.)

As for other questions, you will find there are as many ways to make mead as there are to brew beer. Personally, I would not boil the honey at all (I don't do that to mine). My procedure: I boil the water for 15 minutes, and while that's going on, I add the honey to the plastic fermenter. Then, after the boil is done, I pour the boiling water onto the honey, and stir to dissolve. The residual heat is enough to knock down most microorganisms, yet you won't boil off as many of the aromatics (compared to boiling.)

Also, making a yeast starter will ensure that you are adding a large quantity of viable yeast...that is another piece of insurance to make sure that no nasty bugs start up in your mead (and that applies to brewing beer as well.)

You'll keep this in the primary until it's finished. You'll need to check the gravity after airlock activity ceases....there is no magic time to keep in the primary (or secondary for that matter.) Meads age better in bulk, so keep it in the seconday for as long as you can tolerate...I know, that requires patience. (I don't have it either!)

The best way to create a little more patience is to get a second batch of mead going while the first is still maturing. (Or, in cases like me....make sure that there is always a 5 gallon fermenter filled all the time.)

I'd also recommend that you give the classic "Joe's Ancient Orange" recipe a try. It's a great way to break into this art, and is a fast mead, so you can enjoy your results sonner.

Welcome to the obsession!

05-01-2006, 05:23 PM

Here's my advice.

Remember that sanitization and sterilzation are two different things. It's only necessary to sanitize your equipment and anything that touches the must. As mentioned below, mead making is a bit different than beer brewing.

I use the no-boil method because by heating the honey you will kill off the enzymes and protiens, along with most of the floral and varietal aromas that impart complexity and structure to your mead. I've found that the flavor, aroma and overall product are much more complex, structured and retain more of the honey character and wonderful aroma using no-heat when I make mead.

Make sure your sanitization methods are done right, and then use water warm enough to dissolve your honey (90-100F is fine) Get yourself a Lees Stirrer that you can attach to a power drill. Lees stirrer is available here (http://morewinemaking.com/product.html?product_id=19688).

Once you have your honey COMPLETELY dissolved then add your Mead Pack (whatever that is, I think probably nutrients and such)) and mix that in as well. At this point you can airlock the fermentation vessel. You have the option of removing the airlock daily to stir the mead with the Lees Stirrer you have purchased in order to give your yeasties a fresh supply of Oxygen which is critical to the development of strong, healthy and hungry yeast during the first few days of fermentation. If you are going to aerate remember to sanitize your stirring equipment that you'll be using to stir.

Next, let's look at that recipe. As mentioned by brewboy that's a pretty light mead. I'd suggest that you consider going about 6 lbs of honey rather than 3. Generally sweeter meads take less time to mature than drier meads. Again, the must in meads is generally much higher gravity than with beers. Typically my starting gravities are at least 1.120 and higher. I do this because it gives volume/weight to the mead itself. Not in the sense of how much there is, but how it feels in the glass and in the mouth.

What kind of yeast are they including with this kit? Is this the Wyeast Dry Mead Yeast? I'd consider a different yeast personally because I have had very inconsistant results from the Liquid Dry Yeast from Wyeast. Also I'd suggest that you use the nutrient but not the acid, skip it for now as you won't really need it in this recipe. here's (http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,103/topic,3735.msg31741#msg31741) a link to a previous thread about the Wyeast Liquid Yeasts.

For your first mead I'd suggest that you should rack when all activity in the airlock as ceased, rather than on a schedule. Is this a Mead Kit from a homebrew store, or is this something that you put together yourself? If it is a kit, then I'd suggest that you follow the instructions in the kit to the letter. If not, then you have room for some flexibility in how you make it.

Ask more questions,


05-01-2006, 05:29 PM
Thanks for the tips, I'll go with your suggestion of adding boiling water to the honey, instead of boiling it all together.

I had read somewhere that 1 1/2 lbs of honey per gallon of water was a good starting point for brewing mead, but running it through the mead calculator, it comes out to only 7% ABV. I'm thinking of purchasing some more honey, and boosting it up to about 5-6 pounds per gallon.

I have tried a few different meads before, several store bought varieties, as well as a couple homebrewed varieties at some festival I went to a while back.

As far as keeping myself busy while I'm waiting for the mead, I purchased ingredients for two 5 gal. batches of beer at the same time, so I'll have something interesting to drink in around 5-6 weeks.

05-02-2006, 12:35 AM
Before all else, good luck in your first mead ;D
First decide what kind of mead you want: sweet, dry or in between. Then look at your yeast's alcohol ceiling--> what is the maximum %ABV of the yeast before it quits. For example,D-47 has an ABV of 16, K1-V an ABV of 18%. If you wanted a sweet mead and were using K1-V, you would use a little more honey in the must than if you were uding D-47. The whole idea is to provide a little extra sugar so that the yeasties quit before eating up all the sugar leaving your mead dry.
As a rule, about 3 lb honey per gallon of water will work, just keep in mind that the honey will add to the final volume of the mead.

Hope that helps,

05-02-2006, 07:00 AM
Once again, thanks to everyone for replying.

I am going to be using Wyeast Dry Mead 3632, even though it seems to have gotten some bad reviews, the only other thing I'm going to have around is a British Ale yeast for my beer, and a yeast I am going to try to culture from the sediment on a bottle conditioned Belgian Wit styled beer.

I can find descriptions of the yeast's profile, but none of them seems to have any information about the alcohol tolerance. This is what the Wyeast website has to say:

"Best choice for dry mead. Used in many award-winning meads. Low foaming with little or no sulfur production. Use additional nutrients for mead making. Mead, Fruit Mead, Herbal Mead, Dry Ciders, Cysers."

Most other sites just quote various parts of this description, and none of them gives any of the usual information that I typically see in descriptions of beer yeasts(attenuation, flocculation, optimal fermentation temps., etc.).

05-04-2006, 03:55 AM
I'm thinking of purchasing some more honey, and boosting it up to about 5-6 pounds per gallon. I'm one of the furthest things from a mead making specialist, but I would recommend against using five to six pounds of honey per gallon.

You'll probably end up with alcoholic syrup instead of mead.

Like everyone keeps saying -- three to three and a half pounds of honey per gallon is fine.

You definitely to not want to use five or six ppg, especially if you're wanting to make a dry mead.

05-04-2006, 10:18 AM
That was a typo, sorry about that. What I had meant to say was 5-6 lbs of honey for my 2 gallon batch.

05-04-2006, 12:53 PM
Here's a simple rule of thumb, one that took me a couple batches to figure out. (Sometimes I'm a little slow.)

12 pounds of honey is approximately 1 gallon.

So, if you are going to use 6 pounds of honey, only add it to 1.5 gallons, and then you will have the "3# per gallon" ratio.

I've never used the yeast that you have, so I can't comment on it. In general, wine yeasts seem to work the best, and are generally much less expensive. But after you make your mead, let us know how it worked.

The other thing I learned (quickly) is that there are a LOT of excellent, and very knowledgable mead makers in this forum. I spend a lot of time just reading threads, gaining valuable information every day.

Enjoy the obsession!

05-17-2006, 11:01 AM
Here's a little update, I took everyone's advice and made a one gallon batch of the JOA recipe.
I started the JOA about a week ago, yesterday I started another one gallon batch of mead using the dry mead yeast, and 3lbs, 4oz of organic honey(24 oz blueberry honey, 12 oz wildflower honey, and 16 oz orange blossom honey). I didn't add the mead packet(yeast nutrient, acid blend and grape tannin), because I didn't want to add the acid unless it needed it. I'm going to hold onto it and add it along with more yeast if it looks like I've got a stuck fermentation.

At the moment however, both seem to be bubbling away quite nicely, no problems that I can see, and I've got my Hobgoblin Ale clone in secondary, which will be ready to bottle next week, so I've got something to keep me busy while I wait.