Ok.. A New Mead
As mentioned earlier this evening, I decided to start a new Mead. Mead takes a good long time to age to be enjoyed thoroughly – minimum of one year. In fact, I started a mead over a year ago and will continue to age it before serving to others for at least another six months.
However, using this recipe, I do find this mead to be a bit on the “thin” side as far as taste. This evening, I decided to increase the number of pounds of honey by almost 50%, and I was aiming for a specific gravity of at least 1.090. Using Lalvin EC-1118 yeast, this should provide a dry mead. An even higher specific gravity would be fine as well and indeed, increasing the amount of honey to 20 lbs and then adding enough water to just go over the 23 litre (5 Imperial gallon) mark, I ended up with a specific gravity of 1.110. A touch higher than what I was aiming for – but within range that things can be fixed later if need be.
I didn’t check acidity – I’ll worry about that later. I’m too tired now .
I’m not sure exactly how much water I’ve used by volume for the 20 lbs. of honey but basically what I did was use a kitchen scale that uses a large wide mouth plastic container for placing material in to be weighed. Five pounds of honey by volume takes up a full volume amount of the plastic container – and five pounds of honey combined with two lots of water that can be carried by the plastic container is about enough for my biggest pots to hold.
If you read the recipe, you’ll realize that the honey should be combined with twice it’s volume of water and then boiled for awhile, and the foamy bits skimmed off.
So I have two large pots and therefore went through two separate events of boiling the honey/water, each event using two pots.
So, making mead this way is time consuming as far as one evening goes. You really do need to boil the honey/water mixture for at least half an hour and skim off the foam that appears on top. As you skim off the foam, you should end up with mostly just a boiling liquid. The foam will contain wax and impurities and the mead will clear much better the more foam that is skimmed.
A few other suggestions: Using liquid honey, if you can get it in a large enough size, will save you time!! My honey is not liquid, so I spent much of my time trying to carve up the hone in the large pails of it that I had and then spooning it out onto my kitchen scale. Makes for very sticky fingers. Which is ok.. if you like honey… and don’t mind sticky fingers
I have a very large “spoon” type of implement with holes in it – not sure what it is called… but it is simlar to what you might use for spooning out vegetables from boiling water. Except, mine has a very wide (about 4 inches across?) surface, with very little lip to it. This works well for me. But.. don’t worry too much if all you have is a ladle or some other type of serving spoon… don’t worry if you skim a little bit of the honey/water mixture. This ain’t rocket science, where you have to have everything exact.
Hey.. don’t forget that you’re boiling this mixture – it’s going to need time to cool down before you pitch your yeast! Hot temperatures can kill yeast. To get my must up to just over five gallons, I needed to add about two gallons of cold water – and it was still way too hot to add yeast. Use that time to proof your yeast in the orangejuice and yeast nutrient mixture. Heck, you could even just let it cool overnight to room temperature, and you’ll be fine.
Anyhow, if you’re interested in mead making, be prepared to experiment. Be prepared to realize it should take at LEAST a year before you have something that is enjoyable.. and even then.. it might be longer.
If you really want to make mead and melomels, prepare to spend a little on honey… experiment… try some different things (my next experiment will be decreasing the pounds of honey.. probably to about 18 pounds approximately, and using a yeast developed for sweet mead – I’ve got some yeasts that I want to try and see how things turn out as opposed to others that I’ve tried in the past).
And in the meantime, go buy some mead from the local liquor store. You might not even like the stuff that others like! And that’s ok.
But.. a bit of trivia… do you know that the term “honeymoon” and mead are related? The term “honeymoon” comes from an ancient tradition of some peoples, where newlyweds would drink “honeyed wine” or mead everyday for the first month after being married.