View Full Version : Mead: The Odyssey

06-12-2008, 11:24 PM
I really want to start making mead. I found a bare-bones recipe which looks like it was based on Joe's Mighty Orange Mead recipe. Here is the link:

Bare-Bones Recipe (http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/fast-cheap-mead-making.htm)

My main question is can you use a water airlock on a regular every day jug?



06-13-2008, 12:01 AM
"Regular every day" as in a plastic milk jug? Then no, unfortunately, since the neck is not stiff enough on most of those plastic milk jugs to form a good airtight seal with the stopper for the lock. Beware, you'll also get a lot of oxygen infiltration with one of those thin-walled plastic jugs, too, so they are good only for a short-term primary fermentation. Also be aware that the balloon method is not without pitfalls, since it tends to keep CO2 under pressure over your mead. Not a good thing long-term, as that can slow fermentation by stressing your yeast.

A one-gallon glass jug works wonderfully, though, for both fermentation and extended aging under a lock, when used with a properly sized stopper!

06-13-2008, 12:11 AM
Yeah it made me itch too, I found a place here in New Orleans called "Brew Ha Ha" that has beermaking supplies. You would think that this city was FILLED with them. If the inspiration is still with me tomorrow, Ill take a drive.


06-13-2008, 01:19 PM
Alright, I cheated. I just had to know what everyone was talking about. Went to the mainstream wineshop and bought a bottle of what this forum appears to call 'honey flavored biological waste'. Yes, you guessed it, a bottle of Chaucer's mead. I was psyched, feeling very Beowulf, when suddenly I read the reviews here and there. I plan on drinking it at my local cigar shoppe with a good maduro to retreat to.

The good news is when I make my own, I can go nowhere but UP!

06-13-2008, 08:50 PM
Just don't use the spice bag that's usually included around the neck of the bottle. :icon_puke_r:
Chaucer's is drinkable, but one you start making your own you'll literally go without before buying it again. At least I won't...

06-13-2008, 09:40 PM
Well I have two problems with Chaucer:

1. So laced with honey that when I was done I felt as if I had lipstick on. It was caked ALL over my lips. They should have NOT added the secondary honey.

2. I am a rum drinker, straight or with diet coke, so the extra sugar knocked everyone at the cigar shoppe for a loop. The sugar crash was intense.

However, I hit a snag in my Mead Odyssey. The ONLY place in New Orleans to close down has turned out to be another victim of Katrina. I want to make a gallon but I lack the proper vessel and airlock; any suggestions where I can get them?

As a side note, my native cigar shoppe loved the taste and wants more. So now I am torn between making a 1 gallon experiment or investing in a 5 gallon project, an suggestions?

06-13-2008, 10:16 PM
Found this kit online:


Any advice, this is my FIRST trek into mead, should I jump the gun and get it? Considering that the cigar shoppe I belong to wants their MEAD!

06-13-2008, 10:18 PM
Umm... internet??? :D


The list goes on... Check around the site via the search tool as well. There are several sources listed throughout the forum. There's also a listing of LHBS's here (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_sobi&catid=104&Itemid=34).

06-13-2008, 10:48 PM
Austin's is looking pretty good, but I will look thanks!

Alright apparently I have found backers who want me to do a 5 gallon mead. Now originally I was going to do Joe's Ancient Orange. Is it advisable for a unbelievable novice to start with a five gallons of mead rather than Joe's easy gallon?

06-14-2008, 11:55 AM
The first batch of mead that I ever made was 5 gallons. No worries! ;) (As long as you can lift a full 5 gallon carboy, that is!!)

The beauty of JAO is that it finishes relatively quickly, and the recipe does scale up to 5 gallons well.

06-14-2008, 12:13 PM
So much multiply by five, even the oranges? Ye gods 17 pds of honey, *shakes head* Also define quickly?

06-14-2008, 12:25 PM
2-4 months most likely. JAO is drinkable as soon as it clears, but aging definitely helps smooth it out and integrate the flavors better. It just gets better with age.

As far as scaling it goes, Go easy on scaling the bread yeast. In the 5 gallon batch I made I only used 1/2 of an extra portion of yeast and it came out just fine. You might also cut back a bit on the orange rinds. If you go with the full 5 oranges, you might consider peeling one or two of them to cut back on the pithiness a bit.

Hope that helps,

06-14-2008, 12:28 PM
'Quickly' in this case means usually very drinkable in about 90 days. Drinkable essentially as soon as it clears. It does tend to finish a bit too sweet for my taste, but it is invariably a crowd pleaser, since it is what mead is "expected" to be by those who haven't tasted much mead before. It will be sweet, but not as cloying as Chaucer's... :icon_puke_l: 17 lbs of honey is only a gallon and a half. ;D And this recipe doesn't need anything more fancy than the bulk clover honey that you can get from Costco or Sam's Club or a similar warehouse store. BTW, 5 oranges won't look like a whole lot once they're cut up and stuffed through the narrow end of your carboy -- but expect to have to clean up the outside of the glass once you're done with the stuffing.

BTW, I was only semi-serious with my comment about hefting the 5 gallon carboy. ;) I wouldn't advise "shaking" the whole thing to aerate it, unless you happen to be built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. But I would recommend thorough aeration at the start, because yeast need that hit of oxygen to really get going and to reproduce with flexible cell walls that support vigorous fermentation. For aerating large batches like this, if you can, mix up the honey and water in a large food grade bucket. Then whip the surface of the must with a santized wire whisk to expose as much of the must to air as possible. Then add the dry ingredients and the oranges to the carboy, and pour the aerated honey/water mixture into the carboy using a large sanitized funnel.

Note the use of "sanitized." Basically, sanitize everything that comes in contact with your must as you mix this all up.

06-14-2008, 12:32 PM
Well it looks like I am going with this kit:


But that changes by the minute. I was rather disappointed at the fact that it is not a classic 5 gallon carboy. But I guess I can make 3 gallons to start- cheaper too. Also the kit comes with 6 pounds of honey can you use different honeys- as in mix two different honeys together?

06-14-2008, 05:55 PM
Also take a look at Midwest Homebrewing... this is where I got my first Kit. They have a # of choices.



06-15-2008, 01:07 AM
Ok new plan. I discussed it with the cigar mead hall and this is the conclusion we came to:

It seems that we do not want one giant vat of an experiment. Rather three simple recipes to try out in 3 carboys similiar to Jack's Ancient Orange in that they ferment in the prime carboy like JAO. And yes that is one gallon each.

1. Ancient Orange: 1 carboy, one stopper, one airlock.

2. A dry simple mead: 1 carboy, one stopper, one airlock.

3. A vanilla or chocolate mead: 1 carboy, one stopper, one airlock.

Suggestions: TWO other simple recipes to fill 2 & 3?

Thanks to the Hall!

PS: Am I over-complicating things?

06-15-2008, 09:09 PM
It has involved even more. Now the owner of the cigar shoppe by my house wants to actually do the mead experiment. We decided to turn into a friendly competition. We are both doing JAO and I am using local honey and he is doing generic store bought honey.

We are still just doing, carboys, stoppers, airlocks and a siphon. One question, after 2.5 months the mead is siphoned, is it drinkable? And must one wait for the oranges to drop?

Turns out this is fast becoming my mead log. Should it be moved? Given nothing has started YET- but oh it will!

06-15-2008, 09:41 PM
When you start a bona-fied brewlog I'd post to the brewlog sec, But don worry about it.

I recommend going with vanilla over chocolate, chocolate can be a tricky one and takes notoriously long to clear.
As for jugs 4 & 5 how about Joes Flash Pyment (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_rapidrecipe&page=viewrecipe&recipe_id=120&Itemid=6) you could also try lemon melomel (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_rapidrecipe&page=viewrecipe&recipe_id=98&Itemid=6) the dangerous cyser (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_rapidrecipe&page=viewrecipe&recipe_id=62&Itemid=6) or the cinnful cyser (http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php?topic=4249.0) (both apple cider based meads)
or you could of course make a simple chocolate mead ;) If you do I would look to find cocoa nibs at your health food store or on e-bay (youd be amazed at what you'll find on e-bay) ans skip the powder, it's clearing time is an epic I'm sure your not ready to tack on the beginning of your odyssey.

Best of luck!


06-15-2008, 10:33 PM
Hate to disappoint, but I think we are going to start with a simple JAO. One carboy, but I am considering your vanilla option. You will have to excuse my trepidation, I have never fermented anything before and there is NO brew shop here.

I thought of doing the flash grape, but I wanted something that can be done in one vessel. Is the flash grape that hard to make... The instructions are a bit unclear. But I am willing.

06-15-2008, 11:38 PM
Don't worry - we're not disappointed! ;D Seriously, you're just the beneficiary of the information overload that comes from asking a question on this forum! :laughing7: If we are overwhelming you with choices, please understand that it is just our collective enthusiasm as we all try to help.

BTW - I think that your decision to start with the Ancient Orange recipe is a good one, since most people who use that recipe are happy with it. Personally, I wouldn't do Joe's Pyment, especially if it is your first time, since in my experience it comes out rather too much like a bottle of MD Red Grape. I've made a version of it regularly years ago, and from time to time I make more, just to ensure that I have a source of red cooking mead around.

06-16-2008, 06:58 AM
...snip... I have never fermented anything before and there is NO brew shop here...snip...

I see this all the time on these forums and I just have to point out:


The last six on this list are from TX, AR and AL.

Find more at:

You're on the web, there's really no shortage of places to make purchases and ship. I do it all the time and I have a homebrew shop less than 10 miles away from me.

Hope that helps,


06-16-2008, 08:54 AM
Hmm I emailed the local apiary in Breaux Bridge. He told me that the local honey I was thinking of using is

a mixture of several honeys... clover, willow, tallow, privet and maybe some others. I guess it would be labeled wildflower.

Could I still use it for the JAO? One great thing that happened is that he invited me to his apiary to sample the product and get a batch of a light honey is currently producing.

And you know what, I m getting the itches to make Joe's Grape Mead. But since this is my first time, I am trying to be conservative on both effort and resources...

Thanks, to the Hall.

06-16-2008, 12:15 PM
I'm pretty sure you could use just about any type of honey in a JAO. That local wildflower sounds good to me, if you're unsure than try to find a way to sample it before hand--if it tastes good to you, than so will the mead.

JAO is a great first timers recipe, well endorsed.
Look around for 1 gal glass jugs elsewhere, apple cider season in not til the fall but it's great time to pick up a few gallons.

06-16-2008, 02:39 PM
4 carboys, siphoning, stoppers, and airlocks ordered and on their way. Now it is my job to buy the 'software' for the job.

06-16-2008, 11:33 PM
Pretty serious oops, forgot to order the sanitizer. Is there a household product that does it just as well. Shipping for JUST sanitizer appears to cost more than the sanitizer itself. Any advice? I checked hardware stores and nada.

And is it true? Is Bleach a no no?

06-17-2008, 05:52 AM
I've used bleach in the past with no ill effects - just don't use too much.

- GL63

06-17-2008, 08:39 AM
One teaspoon to a gallon I presume?

06-17-2008, 10:09 AM
Actually, for a sanitizing solution, bleach is OK at one TBSP per gallon. It is just more of a pain to use than the no-rinse sanitizers.

Leave all the surfaces you're trying to sanitize in contact with the bleach solution for at least one full minute, and make sure that you rinse everything enough to remove ALL hints of chlorine odor. That usually means either rinsing under a hot water tap for quite a while, or using pots of water that have been brought to the boil (to avoid transfer of any undesirable organisms from your rinse water) and rinsing through at least 3 water changes. Sodium hypochlorite (the active ingredient in bleach) tends to tenaciously stick to most food grade plastics, and the chlorine that it can then release into your must if there is any left behind after rinsing, will really muck up the flavor.

06-17-2008, 10:15 AM
To me Joe's Grape Mead tasted like cheap grape flavored wine at the suggested finish date. So I just left it in the basement for a few months. At about 8months I opened another bottle and it was a whole different experience. Its still got a little of that grapey flavor but now it really tastes good. I may have to make another gallon of this cheap and easy mead just so i can keep some on hand.

You can use bleach as a sanitizer. It is actually very good at sanitizing, however it has a very negative effect in the mead/wine/beer. So when using bleach you must be sure to rinse fully after the sanitation. The problem with this is it does provide for an infection vector through the rinse water. It is unlikely this will cause a problem but it is less "safe" than using a no rinse sanitizer.

It is a good idea once you get your first batch under way to start on your second batch. It takes quite a while to have mead ready to drink so it is good to have several in the pipeline. This makes it easier to wait for the mead to mature and makes it less likely you will run out. If you are going to be sharing this mead with a few people it is a very good idea to make larger batches. 1 gallon of mead will probably only last 1 session with a few friends. With 5 gallons you can have an early tasting and still have plenty to save for later sessions and to taste as it matures. Even a JOA should last years in a bottle if stored correctly.


06-17-2008, 10:21 PM
Craig, I would love to make 5 or even 10 gallons of mead. I would like nothing more. But I want to insure that I make it right. I can assure you that the minute I am sure we are doing it all right. I am on my second batch. If we deem that it is not worthy it is not. I may wait another month to start another JAO or ???

08-09-2008, 09:45 AM
The strange liter bottle experiment cleared a few days ago, this morning I siphoned it into a 750 ml bottle. While I plan to bring the bulk of it to the cigar shoppe (numerous brew logs of that exist), my wife and I tried a shot glass of it, sipping and smelling softly.

The moment I sipped the orange and cinnamon caressed my nose and palate, the honey forming a solid base underneath. The taste, in that moment Odin lifted his patch and showed me what lay beneath- then let me lick it!

I honestly would have never thought it tasted like that- like nothing that has ever passed my senses. All those that laughed at me for making one little bottle you are right! Blast if I did not have more. Well there are 8 gallons brewing at the shoppe. But the first cherry-popping sip is just incredible.

Frankly, I barely know why people bother drinking wine, quite frankly. Though I have to admit drinking as much of this as wine would no doubt blast away the next couple of days- there is no such thing as sweet hangover!

Thanks for the advice, and happy the experiment worked. Considering I expected it to fail, Gods was it a success!