Step 1: Ingredients
~ 3/4 gallon water
3 pounds of honey
One packet of yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 of a cup of roughly chopped mint
10 key limes
One gallon jug (glass is best) with cap
One balloon (red is best)
The flavor can be almost anything you want. We have made orange/raisin (awesome) and huckleberry/cherry (pretty good) recently, be creative.
Step 2: Prepare the Flavor
Also roughly chop the mint.
Cutting up whatever fruit or herb you use helps to release the flavor.
Step 3: Add the Honey
Then add the honey.
Once the honey is mostly in the jug, it can be helpful to fill the honey jar up with water and swish it around to help get the last little bits of the honey out.
Step 4: Add the rest of the ingredients
Then fill the jug most of the way full with water. It's important to leave some air space at the top of the jug for the foam that will be produced during the fermentation.
We accidentally did the water and ingredients backwards because we were distracted by the documentation. Thankfully we remembered to stop adding water while there was still enough room to add the other stuff.
Step 5: Shake, Shake, Shake
This helps disperse the yeast throughout the mixture. The honey will mostly settle out in the bottom anyway. That's okay.
Step 6: Bubble Cap
Stretch the balloon over the mouth of the jug and poke a small hole in the balloon with a pin.
You can also use a bubble trap if you have one. They are available at your local brew shop.
Step 7: Label and wait
After about 20-30 minutes - or at least within several hours - the balloon will inflate and the mixture will start foaming. The foam is normal and is a sign of healthy yeast growth. Once the balloon is no longer staying full, cap the jug and put some place where it won't be disturbed.
The pictures below show a couple of stages along the path to finished mead.
NOTE: Keep an eye on the balloon for the first 24 hours or so. If it's threatening to pop off the jug, secure with a rubber band and/or poke another pinhole in the balloon.
***Note: The foam grew enough to lift the mint into the balloon after about 24 hours. If this happens to you, take the balloon off and push the mint back down into the liquid, rinse out the balloon and replace it. This will help keep the CO2 moving out of the jug.***
Step 8: Bottling
For bottling you'll need 4-5 wine bottles, ~ 3 feet of tubing (aquarium type), corks for each bottle, and a pan of some sort for when you accidentally spill some of the mead next to the bottle.
I use zork brand corks because they seal without need of a corking machine. You can get zorks at your local brew store or online.
Step 9: Fill the bottles
We siphon by placing the jug on the kitchen counter and having bottles ready on a little kitchen stool (and in a tray) that allows the tops of the bottles to sit below the bottom of the jug, then we suck the mead through the tube to get it started*.
Consider beforehand what you might do with an odd volume of mead. Of course you can use differently sized bottles if you have a good way to seal them, and there's nothing wrong with aging a less-than-full bottle. But if it's a really meager serving, maybe just hand a couple of shots to some friends to watch them breathe fire. (We promise it mellows beautifully)
*Some instructions recommend swishing a mouthful of scotch before siphoning. For sterilizing purposes.
Step 10: Done
When you're finished corking, you might consider labeling with the flavor and "born-on" date again, so that you know how long your mead has aged.
Wait for the mead to reach about six months old before you drink it. The longer you let it sit the better it gets. Enjoy!