Instructables

Fire Mead

Picture of Fire Mead
2013-01-06 17.35.39.jpg
Mead is a sweet and delicious honey-based fermented beverage from eons ago. It was drunk by the Vikings and even older civilizations for it's intoxicating and preserving properties. Mead can age for a very long time, some ancient stories tell of 40 year old meads. There are many varieties of mead from ancient times and this one could fall under a few categories. It could be a metheglin, or spiced mead. It could be a melomel because of the fruit. The best one though, is a capsicumel, made with chilies.

This capsicumel recipe is a sweet and spicy one brewed with honey, ancho chilies, spices and citrus. It has a good kick on the first sip but after that it's fruity, spicy and sweet.


Image: A 1 gallon carboy of Fire Mead fermenting away, A glass of Fire Mead.
 
 
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Step 1: The Recipe

Fire Mead

Ingredients

1 kg blackberry honey
3 black cardamom pods
6 cloves
2 dried ancho chili peppers
1 cup plain black tea
3 small blood oranges
1 pkg Lalvin EC-1118

Equipment

1 sanitizing vessel
lots of sanitizer
1 - 2 x 1 gallon (3.78 L) glass carboy or other fermenting vessel
1 funnel
1 big metal spoon
1 coffee mug
1 brewing pot
1 pair of scissors
1 airlock setup
1 siphon hose, at least 4 ft in length
11 beer bottles and caps (or 5 pressure-capable 750 ml wine bottles and corks)

Notes on Ingredients and Equipment

Blackberry Honey: Any sweet honey with a nice fruity flavour will do, but blackberry is just sooo good.*

Black Cardamom Pods: Other cardamoms can be used as a substitute but they won't give it a nice smoky flavour.*

Blood Oranges: Try to get blood oranges because they have a certain intensity and tang, but any other sweet and sour orange will work great. *

Sanitizing Vessel: This should be solid and large enough to hold all the equipment you need for each step of the brewing process. I use a big Rubbermaid container.

Sanitizer: Make sure you read the instructions for your sanitizer and get something food-safe. You can use unscented household bleach diluted to 4ml per Liter of water (1 tbsp per gallon) but make sure you rinse it really well or the mead will taste off.

Carboy: Any fermentation will do as long as it's nonreactive, BPA free and foodsafe with some kind of one-way air release valve or a hole that will fit an airlock setup.

Coffee Mug: Doesn't have to be a coffee mug but it should be big enough to hold yeast and a cup of warm water. This will be your yeast starter vessel.

Airlock Setup: Usually a 3-piece thing that fills with water only lets the CO2 escape and no contaminated air into the brew. The important thing is that no contaminated air gets into the mead. A simple balloon with a pinhole in it covering the top of the fermentation vessel works well.

Beer or Wine Bottles: These must be capable of withstanding the pressure of a carbonated beverage, no bottle-splosions here! If you choose to use wine bottles get ones with swing tops or champagne corks with cages.


*Don't listen to me about the ingredients, do whatever you want with your own mead and then post awesome recipes in the comments!


Image: My first brewed batch of Fire Mead.
Just a warning about the cloves: According to the author of "The Compleat Meadmaker," (page 139, if you want to know) cloves in mead will have a numbing effect. on your tongue. He recommends using just 1 to 2 cloves for a 5 gallon batch.
shizumadrive10 months ago
Metheglin has so many variations i'm constantly amazed. Ancho chiles is another new and interesting version I never heard before.
eash1 year ago
This looks amazing. What is the purpose of adding sugar to the bottle?
kizz246 (author)  eash1 year ago
The yeast sill start fermenting again and create C02, which will make it fizzy and bubbly! You don't need to add sugar to the bottles. If you don't add sugar it will be a still mead. Make sure you have a pressure proof bottle (like a beer bottle) if you're going to make a sparkling mead!
Epoli1 year ago
Would canning jars work for this? And would simply closing them be enough, or would it need the standard canning methods?
kizz246 (author)  Epoli1 year ago
A great question!

A canning jar would be fine during fermentation, but be sure not to use canning methods, just close it and then loosen it 1/2 turn for air allowance. This is not a one way valve for air, though, and would be a more old fashioned method and a bit more prone to spoilage. I definitely wouldn't can the final product unless you don't want to make it sparkling, it will explode from pressure.

When you can something you create an airtight seal which prevents bacterial growth and is bad for the yeasties. The little guys actually need quite a bit of oxygen during the beginning of fermentation so that they can reproduce and make an army to make the alcohol.

If, say, you got some sulphite and put 150 ppm in your mead when it was done fermenting (follow the directions on the package) then that would kill the yeast and you could let it sit for 24 hours to get rid of the excess sulphite. Then you could can them without adding extra sugar, as there would be no more yeast left to pressurize the can. The mead wouldn't be sparkling though.
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