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I'm making this Instructable because if you're like me, you've gone to Home Brew shops looking for some recipes/ingredients/advice on making Mead, and they make it out like it's Rocket Science. I would leave with the impression that unless it were made under strict laboratory conditions, it would fail. The truth is, it's incredibly simple to make. For God sake's, it's just Honey & Water! You can certainly make mistakes that prolong it, but you have to really work at screwing it up to come out with 5 gallons of honey water that in 6 months ISN'T alcoholic.

Some people call to pasteurize the honey and water mixture beforehand. This gets rid of all the bad stuff that might be in your honey & water. I choose not to for a few reasons. First, and this is obviously going to continue to come up, Mead has been around long before Pasteurization! Not doing it doesn't automatically mean it's going to fail. Second, a lot of people don't LIKE to pasteurize it, because even though you're killing off some of the bad stuff, you're also killing off some of the things that contribute to the honey's flavor. At least for me, considering that the ONLY ingredient in Mead to give it it's flavor (for this recipe anyways) is the honey, and Mead has been made quite successfully without pasteurization, I see no need to jeopardize the flavor just to resolve a fear that something bad might take over. There probably is some wild yeast in the honey, but it is going to be greatly out-numbered with the amount of yeast we are GOING to add, that I don't think it's a likely possibility the wild yeast will take over. And finally, you'd likely need to get a 6 gallon pot to pour all this into to pasteurize it. And those pots are expensive, and take up a ton of space.


What You'll Need:
5 Gallon Carboy ($20, used)
15 Pounds of Honey (Quality matters, and if you can afford it, buy local! Clover Honey from Walmart- $40. Local Orange Blossom $90)
1 Packet of Wyeast Sweet Mead ($8)
1 Bottle of Acid Blend ($2.50)
1 Bottle of Yeast Nutrient ($3)
1 Hydometer ($10)
1 Airlock ($1)
Total = $84.5 with Walmart Honey, or $134.50 with Quality Local Honey

Optional:
1 Auto-Siphon (Optional, but totally worth it! $12)
2nd Carboy ($20, used)
About 25 750 ml bottles ($50).
Total = $82

This is one of those hobbies where you can kind of get caught up in the price of things and not realize it. Yeah, you're first batch if you go all out can cost you over $200- BUT, if you save the bottles, your second batch can cost you as little as $50!  This will make roughly 25 750ml bottles, and will wind up costing half as much as Commercially available Mead, and it is A LOT better. Most people hear of Mead and go, "Uggghh. That's disgusting! Have you ever tried it?" When in reality, they had some commercial Mead that isn't made anything like the way it's traditionally made. If you've ever tasted real Mead, made the real way, it's totally worth it.

Recipe:

Sterilize everything.

Add 15 pounds of Honey

Fill Carboy with Water for a total of 5 Gallons

Add 5 teaspoons of Acid Blend.

Take a reading with your Hydrometer
.

Add Wyeast Sweet Mead.

Add 5 teaspoons of Yeast Nutrient.

Shake the Hell out of it.

Store in warm place for 2 months!

 
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Step 1: Sterilize

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Step 1. Sterilize everything.

All of it. The Carboy, the Hydrometer, the Airlock, the Scissors you use to cut open the Yeast packet, everything. I won't go into how to Sterilize in this Instructable as it's been covered elsewhere. But it's really not as much of a pain as it sounds. You don't even really NEED to do it. Remember, Mead has been around much much longer than the idea of Sterilization has. People have been making perfectly fine Mead for thousands of years without sterilizing. But the reason it's recommended is you'll be creating an environment that fosters growth; you want the only thing growing is the yeast you add, not any existing bacteria that could take over the yeast. I want to stress that not sterilizing is not a guarantee for failure. But you're introducing a risk of it not succeeding.

Step 2: Add Honey

Add 15lbs of Honey (I used Orange Blossom)

But before you do this, remember the recipe calls for a TOTAL of 5 gallons. What I did first was took an old gallon of Spring Water (bottle had been sterilized, of course!), and poured in 5 gallons to the carboy to see where 5 gallons is. Some of you might be using a 6-gallon carboy, so it's important to know where to mark 5 gallons. Once I knew where the 5 gallon mark was, I emptied the carboy and filled it with honey!

It's also important to stress that the type & quality of honey you use makes a big difference. I've had good tasting Mead that was made from the Walmart Clover Honey. But if you can get it from a local Apiary, it's totally worth it. There's already plenty of websites dedicated to the benefits of local honey vs store honey, so I won't go into it. And I don't want to give the impression that if you use Store honey it won't taste good. The difference just goes from good to WOW!

Step 3: Fill with Water

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Fill Carboy up to the 5 gallon mark with Water.

Step 4: Add Acid Blend

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Add Acid Blend

Add 5 teaspoons (1 teaspoon per Gallon). After this, you're going to want to mix up the honey & water. This is probably the hardest part. Because we didn't boil the honey and water together, it's going to take a lot of shaking to get it to mix up. And it weighs about 60 pounds. And it's probably a little slippery from all the water you poured in it. What I did was laid it on its side, and rolled it around so the honey spread out throughout the carboy. I would do this a few times, then shake the whole carboy, then repeat.

Step 5: Take a Reading

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Take a reading with your Hydrometer.

The first thing I did was check that my hydrometer was accurate by testing just water and making sure it read 1.00. If you don't have the auto-siphon, this will get a little messy. Fill the tube that comes with the hydrometer with the honey-water mixture (called must, btw). Take and note your reading. This is important if you want to find out exactly how much ABV your Mead has later on. You can also use this Calculator: http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16 to find out about what your target final gravity should be and %ABV to expect. It was a bad angle from the picture, but my reading was a hair over 1.10.

Step 6: Add Yeast

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Add the packet of Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast to the mixture. I assume you read the instructions on the packet on how to prepare it. If you didn't, go read the directions and let it sit out for 3 hours in a warm room before adding. You can use other yeasts, but this Instructable is for this kind. Besides, it's way easier than making a starter!

Step 7: Add Yeast Nutrient

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Add 5 teaspoons of Yeast Nutrient. Yeast doesn't exactly "thrive" off honey, and any help you can give it to grow and be healthy is good for the Mead.

Step 8: Shake the Hell out of it!

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For a good 5 minutes, too. This will continue to mix the honey up and get the yeast to spread out, while aerating it. I recommend sitting down with it on your lap so you don't risk dropping it!

Step 9: Let it Sit!

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Find a warm place (about 70 degrees) to let it sit. The warmer it is, the faster the fermentation (although some say the quality tends to be worse). The colder it is, the slower it is going to ferment. I usually wrap my carboy up tightly in a horrible Snuggie I for some reason own. You're generally allowed, and sometimes encouraged, to continue to give it a good shake once a day for 3 days. But after that, for the love of God man, leave it alone. The airlock will start bubbling usually within the first 24 hours. That means the yeast is working and turning the sugar into alcohol. Don't freak out if you don't see any movement in the airlock right away. The most common reason for no activity is usually that it is stored somewhere too cold. If you know it's at least 70 degrees, and after 3-4 days still haven't seen any activity, you can either add more yeast nutrient and wait a couple more days, or repitch some new yeast. I've heard that Mead Yeast is one of the weaker varieties of yeast, and you can sometimes get a bad batch. Assuming it has started to show activity, just let it be. It should take anywhere from 8-10 weeks for it to slow down. When it slows down to about 1 bubble every 30 seconds, you can do a couple of things. If you're really impatient, you can add Potassium Sorbate, which will kill the remaining yeast, and add a clarifying agent to clear up the mixture. After a few more days, you can bottle it. If you bottle it without adding the chemicals, you run the risk of the yeast kicking up again, except this time with no airlock to let out the CO2. Exploding bottles! The more preferred method is to siphon the mead out of the carboy into a second carboy, taking care not to suck up the bottom where all the sediment has settled, and letting that sit and age. Aging can take anywhere from 4 months to a year, even more. The longer it ages, the better it gets. A rule of thumb is that once the mead has clarified, it is ready for racking (bottling). Good luck!

Step 10: Finished!

6 months later, I racked into some nice Bellissima bottles and made up some nice labels. It finished really clear, and is a hair on the dry side, but otherwise delicious! I decided to add these so you know what it looks like when it's finished!
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Gunter18714 days ago

Awesome!!!

mulready1 year ago

I really like your instructable and i am current doing this one. its been fermenting for about 2 weeks now. i've been looking at different forms etc about mead and alot say for a really nice batch let it age for half a year to a year or longer. i'm wondering does it still age the same when you put it into smaller wine bottles or would it be better to just leave it in the carboy for the year if i wanted to do this with a batch in the future? thanks again for the great instructable!

jimbles (author)  mulready1 year ago

Thanks, I'm glad you like it! When aging, you want the least amount of oxygen coming into contact with the least amount of mead possible. So the most efficient way is to bulk age it in the carboy, after you have racked it off any lees and it is totally clear. Although you can age it in bottles too, there's nothing wrong with that. All that being said, 90% of how it's going to end up tasting happens within the first month after fermentation has ended. Some great, though subtle, flavors develop over time, and imperfections can mellow. But I am not an advocate of waiting a year before you try it. 1-2 months will get you almost all the way there. Good luck, and enjoy!

liteluvr1 year ago

FWIW, there's a little gadget that you can attach to a power drill and slip down the neck of your carboy, that when the drill is running, acts essentially like a paint stirrer. The 'vanes' on the thing are swiveled so that when the thing isn't spinning, the vanes drop and make it easy to get it back out of the carboy neck. It makes a huge difference in either aerating or mixing your contents.

jimbles (author)  liteluvr1 year ago

Yup! In all my Instructables after this one I include that gadget. Best purchase I ever made.

Phiske1 year ago
I'm working on a mead experiment right now. But I am a noobie. Last year I did a one gallon JOAM that turned out good. So...I did a five gallon batch of plain mead (12lbs of honey $22 in Ecuador!) I let it ferment for 2 weeks than racked it onto fruits in 5 seperate 1 gal. jugs. Blackberry, pineapple, passion fruit (yum), orange ginger, and plain. It's been almost 2 more weeks and fermentation has visibly stopped in the pineapple and blackberry. ( I didn't know about the punching down of the fruit cap until yesterday!) So I'm gonna rack it again soon and take a hydrometer reading. Any suggestions at this point in the game?
jimbles (author)  Phiske1 year ago
Sounds great! I wouldn't worry about punching down the fruit. The yeast will find the sugar, and the flavors will get extracted. It sounds like you're doing well, I don't think you need any help from me. Good luck! Let me know which turns out to be your favorite!
inblack1 year ago
Hey i find your instructable very nice! Im really interested to try to make this drink but i have a question since i never tasted it: Is this a sweet drink?
jimbles (author)  inblack1 year ago
Thanks for the compliment. It can be sweet. It can also be dry. Think of mead like a wine. Now if you want the "nectar of the gods" experience, stop the fermentation early with some potassium sorbate at around 4-6% abv. This will leave a lot of residual sugars and be delicious!
Iv just racked my first batch and it tastes great thanks for the instructable i look forward to it being ready. second batch went on today :D its so fun.
kthane2 years ago
Over here in New Zealand we have (in my opinion and many others) the best honey in the world (Manuka). No mead I have tried comes close to the stuff made in New Zealand, but unfortunately barely anyone over here drinks it, so there's only one brand that makes it here.

I am sooooo keen to bang out a wicked batch of my own Manuka mead!!
Javin0072 years ago
Here's yet another reason to get your honey from a bee keeper you can trust:
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-honey/#.UcMvvKzgd8E

And as I found out just recently (I mention it in my BBQ 'ible) even buying your honey locally doesn't guarantee that it's real honey. You really need to know, and be able to trust your honey supplier. Many "local" bee keepers are buying fake honey from overseas, and selling it as their own.
jimbles (author)  Javin0072 years ago
If it looks like honey, tastes like honey, and ferments like honey, I don't really care what they call it. But most mazer's know which are the good brands and which are the sketchy. Thanks for the PSA just the same. Hopefully it saves someone from buying something that can't ferment because it uses unfermentable sweeteners in the knock-off "honey".
Animal13 years ago
I recently made a potato wine and after a few months maturing it tastes fantastic nice little winter warmer with a kick using turbo yeast to get it to about 22% cant wait to make some more soon as I get chance p.s I have never made anything b4 this was my first time.
jimbles (author)  Animal12 years ago
Nice! I've recently heard of a process called "jacking", or freeze concentrating. You stick it in the freezer, and the water freezes leaving you with something like twice the amount of alcohol. I'd be curious to see the kind of kick you'd get with a wine that high in alcohol!
Jacking as you call it, works because of the fact that different ethanol and water concentrations have different melting points. Ethanol has a lower melting point than water, so if we take two mixtures (on mass basis)

A: 80 % water 20 % ethanol
B: 20% water and 80 % ethanol

The first will have a higher melting point (closer to 0 degrees Celsius). In the jacking process , gradients occur which cause certain parts to freeze up. But in essence you're throwing away ethanol. Which also happens with distillation but that can achieve a much higher purity.
jimbles (author)  Wit Knien2 years ago
They say you also run the risk of getting a huge hangover if you jack (or freeze distill, freeze concentrate, fractional freezing, whatever terms and misnomers people like to use), because you're keeping a lot if the impurities (ethyl alcohols, etc.). But since they are already in the wine, if you plan on throwing back the whole bottle you're going to ingest the same amount. 1 jacked 375ml bottle of wine (likely even less) will have the same impurities as the 750ml it came from.
cwoodruff3 years ago
Thanks for posting! I've brewed beer, cider, and even some hard lemonade, but I'm excited to give mead a try sometime soon. As a hint to novice brewers who may be wary of investing in the equipment, a 1-gallon glass carboy works great for making test batches. Plenty of grocery stores sell apple juice in them (Whole Foods and Sunflower Market come to mind), and you can just make a 1/5th batch to see how you enjoy the process of brewing, and the taste of the brew.
tseyer3 years ago
could you use a filter pump for a fish tank as an auot-siphon? A new and sanitized one of coarse.
obax173 years ago
I have a general question, it's more about brewing in general. What's the reason for having a narrow-necked jug to ferment in? Is this just to make it easier to seal, or does the narrow neck affect the fermentation process in some way? I have access to some wide mouthed glass jars, and wondered if I could use those to ferment in, rather than seeking out a large carboy such as the one you used. I'd like to try this on a smaller scale, but am having a hard time finding a smaller glass jug (eg. 1 gallon).
jimbles (author)  obax173 years ago
Airlocks fit inside a cap called a bung, that fits over the small opening. It's pretty universal, so its usually a lot easier to use that than to custom make something for a mason jar. You'll need some sort of airlock otherwise the carbonation will build up and you have an exploding bottle of mead! You also want to minimize the amount of oxygen, which is another benefit of the tappered top. If you google one gallon carboys you can find then for less than 5 bucks. I just bought a few myself. Also, if you're scaling down the recipe, use around 3 pounds of honey per gallon. Good luck!
obax17 jimbles3 years ago
Thanks for the reply! I was actually thinking of using a balloon with a pinhole or two as an airlock (of sorts), a method I've seen on at least one other instructable. This mead-making thing is something I've wanted to try for a while, but I'm on an extremely tight budget, so free is always better than even $5. That being said, if I end up having success and/or want to keep this experiment going, it'll definitely be worth the investment of some proper equipment. I'm still doing some figuring and research and such, so I may end up going for a proper jug in the end, if only so that there's less of a chance of me ruining the batch and thereby wasting the ingredients...
jimbles (author) 3 years ago
Just an update to this- here is what it looks like all bottled and dressed up with labels. Finished pretty clear and a little on the dry side, but very delicious!
DSCN2961.JPGDSCN2953.JPGDSCN2950.JPG
I used to make arrow to the knee jokes
But then I realized I would be a lot warmer and a lot happier with a belly full of mead.
Alderin3 years ago
Very near my plain mead recipe, only I use 18 pounds of honey, English Cider yeast, and stop fermentation JUST before it ferments to dry, which leaves a nice hint of sweetness.

Mead is a VERY forgiving medium for brewing, with vast flavor possibilities depending on type of honey, type of yeast, when fermentation stops, what spices are added and/or what fruits are added (and when), and even what kind of container is used for aging (stainless steel tank, glass carboy, oak barrel, hard maple barrel...)

After learning this, I was completely floored that this wonderful beverage somehow faded from view for so many years.

Anyway, kudos for a great Instructable!
awesomely easy instructable. posting a link for said sterilization wold makes this perfect. thanx for the info
There is not much to sterilization. I use an oxygen based "one step" sanitizer. It comes in a powder form. You add 1 tbsp per gallon of water. I like to use about 3 gallons hot water. Then you soak or fill anything you wish to sanitize with the mixture.

We shake some around in our carboys before use and before storage. We also run it through our auto siphon and any other tubing. And everything else gets a soak in it.

I respect the authors views but I thoroughly sanitize everything that contacts the Mead/Beer/Cider.
jimbles (author)  silveravnt3 years ago
Thanks for the comment and easy instructions! That's exactly how I sterilize everything (there's even a couple of pictures). I should clarify that I'm not against sterilization. But there seems to be 2 schools of thought- those who believe if you don't sterilize everything, it's doomed to fail. The other school says (and I think a little more realistically) that you are introducing a risk for it to not work, but it's not a definite that it will fail if you skip it.

I'd recommend it, and that's why I did sterilize everything. But I'm not going to say it's necessary, because plenty of people do manage to make perfectly good homebrews and skip this step. Particularly the people who INVENTED it lol!

So just to make clear for everyone: I recommend you sterilize everything (if it wasn't clear). I'm just making a distinction between it definitely failing versus introducing a risk of it failing. I'd sterilize, but it's your batch of Mead! Have fun everyone!
joen3 years ago
RE. Bottles It's been a while since I have made beer and I had success with going out dumpster diving or in my case ally trash can diving and getting used beer bottles to use for bottling your mead. They are not that hard to wash out and you will be using them again and again any way. Most beer making instructions say to stay away from twist cap bottles but I never had any trouble with them. Also, used plastic 2 liter and 3 liter carbonated beverage bottles worked well. And you don't have to buy caps for them. I don't drink beer any more but beer brewing and mead brewing is a lot of fun and a great reward to boot!

Enjoy.
silveravnt3 years ago
Great instructable. Thank you for noting that some if not all of the equipment can be bought used. I've found 6 gal carboys at surplus stores for $15. Who knew the army was into brewing. Just kidding, I think they formerly held acid of some kind.

Also there is no need to ever buy bottles. You can reuse beer or mead bottles you bought commercially. This is especially easy if they have the swing tops. But you can also buy new caps and a capper for normal style pop tops. You should not try to recap a screw top bottle
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Jar Sqwuid3 years ago
Hey, juuuust wondering. I had some absolutely to die for blackberry mead in Cornwall. I was wondering how hard it would be to make it with blackberries? Or if you would know the process?

Thanks!
jimbles (author)  Jar Sqwuid3 years ago
It sounds delicious! I can only make an educated guess at the process- a lot of people will add fruits like oranges or raisins. They add to the flavor and give nutrients to the yeast. But sometimes they'll add them after the primary fermentation is done, so it only adds to the flavor. Here's a recipe I found on homebrew,com:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f80/blackberry-mead-melomel-95583/
Good luck!
Thanks so much :D My dad and I love mead, and he loves blackberries so maybe he'll love this! Haha great tutorial by the way, you really made it easy to understand. I'll be recommending it to friends!
jimbles (author)  Jar Sqwuid3 years ago
Thanks you! And good luck with the Blackberry Mead!
I agree that mead is very simple and there's really no need to pasteurize the honey. However, heating it up a bit does help it flow more freely from whatever container it comes and will make it mix with the water more readily.
jimbles (author)  TARDIS In A Teacup3 years ago
Especially if you heat it up and add a gallon of water. Much easier to pour into the carboy. Thanks for the tip!
This is great! Also, you win the award for best use of a snuggie.
jimbles (author)  jessyratfink3 years ago
Thanks! Here's a pic of that snuggie being put to use!
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ironsmiter3 years ago
Instead of all the shaking...

Well, I helped once.
The trick we used was (sterilized) drill bit extensions. 2, 12" ones, with the set screw type connector.

On the business end of that, was mounted a beater paddle, from an old hand mixer that JUST fit through the carboy mouth. it was a tiny mixer, used for making mixed drinks, not the larger cake batter style. those are too large to fit through the carboy mouth.

2-3 min with a cordless drill, and that sucker was MIXED.


I suppose a small stainless whisk would work too, but might be more "fun" to mount in the extension.
ModlrMike3 years ago
Couple of questions:

Is it possible to over pitch the yeast? I have some 1 gal carboys that I want to use as test batches, but I don't want to use too much yeast if possible.

If I can't get mead yeast, can I use wine or champagne yeast?
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