Mead-Mkng-Tps-art – 6/23/05
“Mead Making Tips” by Byron Whited.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: Byron Whited [Byron05 at austin.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2002 8:21 PM
To: bryn-gwlad at ansteorra.org
Subject: [Bryn-gwlad] Mead making tips
Mead making tips
It is great to see so many people interested in mead making. I now wish I
had more books on the subject. But, to make up for the lack of books to
sell or give away, I thought a short message on what I could remember of my
mead making experiences might help out.
Most people who are into mead now, became interested because of an interest
in Medieval culture and/or Renaissance Fairs. Well, I started from the
other end, I got interested because I grew up in the country and worked for
beekeepers. I began making mead about 1973 and made it on and off until
There are many different types of mead, but my experience falls into to
1) "light" mead, that is mead that is brewed with the strength of beer or
ale, with a small amount of hops added for acidity.
2) "Wine" mead, that is mead that is made like wine, with about 12% alcohol
content. I had a glass of this type of mead at Scarbie and it was pretty
The equipment you need for both types is about the same:
1) a large "crock" in which to mix the honey and water
2) a 5 gallon water bottle to serve as a fermentation chamber
3) a good clean 5 or 6 food siphon hose to move the fermented mead from the
fermentation chamber to the bottles
4) a hydrometer to measure the amount of honey in the water, tell when to
bottle and to calculate the alcohol content of the resulting brew. Whole
chapters of books have been written on the use of the hydrometer. Any mead
maker needs to go to a brewery supply place and get one with an instruction
book. A good beer hydrometer will have a red line on it that indicates when
the fermentation has reached the "bottle" point.
5) And lots and lots of good clean bottles. I always used beer bottles.
6) A bottle capper and lots of bottle caps.
The advantage of making mead is the great taste. The disadvantage of making
mead, is that it has to be aged in the bottle a LONG time to get that taste.
For the "light" mead 9 to 18 months, for the "wine" mead 18 to 24 months are
needed to age the mead. This means you could be making mead for about a
year before you really get the full taste benefit of your labor.
One word of warning. Because with honey it is very easy to vary the alcohol
content of the mead, there is a temptation to make the mead as strong as
possible. The rule here is the stronger the mead the longer the ageing
process, for full flavor. And, most importantly, the more deadly the
hangover. This is why I preferred to make the "light" mead.
Now to the important topic of mixing the honey and water to get the mead
started. The honey needs to be mixed with the water completely so the
hydrometer can properly measure the amount of honey (sugar) in the mixture.
If all the honey is sitting like a big glob at the bottom of the crock, then
the hydrometer measurement will be off. I have used two method to mix the
honey, one is to put about 3 gallons of water in the crock (for about 4
gallons of brew) and then to slowly start pouring in the honey and stirring.
Most of the time going very slowly and stirring really hard you can get it
to mix. The other way (for small batches) is to get out the blender, fill
it half full of water, start the blender and slowly pour in honey. This
will blend the honey about 50/50 with the water this is poured into the
crock when all the honey is mixed with water like this, then add water to
the crock until the whole mixture has the desired ratio. Use the hydrometer
to determine the ratio. All of my mead making was very dependent on the use
of a hydrometer.
Some people boil the honey and water. I have found that you loose a lot of
the lighter taste from the honey this way, and therefore a lot of the
pleasure of drinking mead. This is just personal opinion, but I would never
boil honey and water.
If you are going to use hops, use a very small amount, like a 1 oz hops
tablet (from the brewery supply store) for the full batch of 4-5 gallons.
To dissolve the hops tablet, heat a pan of water on the stove and boil the
hops tablet, let the mixture cool and pour into the crock with the honey and
water. The hops add a little acidity, and help with the fermentation.
Yeast. For both types of mead I have used "wine" yeast from the brewery
supply stores with great results. I have made the "light" mead with brewers
yeast and that turned out OK also. Bread yeast, like you bake with will
produce alcohol, but the taste can be a little "bready".
Oh, a little aside, for the kids, and for adults that would like a alcohol
free drink, mix honey and water in the blender as above, bottle, cool and
drink like a sports drink! I made a bunch of this for a soccer team and
they just loved it. Try different ratios of honey/water to taste.
I always started my fermentation in the crock, because the first few days of
fermentation tend to be very "wild" and can produce a lot of foam on the top
of the brew. To keep unwanted things out of the crock, rip open a large
trash bag and put it over the top of the crock and hold in place with a
rubber band and some string. After the fermentation settles down siphon
into the 5 gallon water bottle and let the fermentation finish.
Before you start the process, make sure you have enough bottles for the
resulting brew! You don't want to reach the bottling point and have to
madly rush around trying to find enough bottles, get them home, cleaned,
sterilized, etc. This is the voice of experience speaking.
Bottles and labels.
I always used long neck beer bottles. At one time I went to the trouble of
making labels for them, but as I reused bottles I got very tired of having
to remove the labels put on new labels, etc. So I came up with a system of
colored dots that I put on the bottle caps. I kept a book that recorded
each batch and I put the "dot code" in the book by the batch. So I could
just look at the cap of any bottle and tell which batch it was from, how old
it was etc. Then, when I popped the cap off to drink, ta da, the label was
also removed! This worked very well for years on end.
I found that the darker "wild" honeys produced the mead that I liked the
best. It has a fuller more robust flavor. This is something to experiment
with, as tastes vary a lot. But I have never found a honey that made a bad
Anyway, those are my few tips about mead making. I hope they are of some