Mead has gained a lot of popularity over the last decade or so thanks to an uptick in availability and presence in popular TV shows. But what is mead, and how is it made? With just a few tools and ingredients you can actually create this ancient alcoholic beverage in the comfort of your own home. Let’s take a look at what mead is and what makes it such a unique drink.
Mead is a type of wine made by fermenting honey. Unlike traditional red or white wine, which uses grapes as a source of sugar for yeast, mead uses honey as a source of sugar. The most basic type of mead only calls for three ingredients. Honey, water, and yeast. However, there are several other ingredients you can use to spice up the mead and add flavors to your taste.
Most commercially available mead will be on the sweeter side, but mead can be made to be as dry or sweet as you prefer your wine to be.
Making your own mead is surprisingly simple once you break down the entire process into easy to digest steps. The very first thing you’ll need to do is gather some necessary supplies and ingredients. The best way to start off is by making small, one gallon batches, which will provide three to four finished bottles of mead.
In regards to equipment, you’ll need a handful of items, the majority of which can be used again and again in future batches of mead.
All of these supplies can be found at just about any retail or online homebrewing supply store as well as Amazon. You’ll likely also find starter kits available which include these items as well.
The most basic mead requires the fewest number of ingredients. It is called a traditional. As you add other ingredients such as spices or fruits, the mead’s style changes. In grape wine, the style is often defined by the variety of grape used to make the wine. In mead, the ingredients you use dictate the style.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make a basic traditional mead:
A wide selection of wine yeast strains and yeast nutrient brands are available online and at all homebrew supply stores.
Now that you have all your ingredients and equipment on hand, it’s time to make some mead!
Now it’s time to bottle your mead. Sanitize your auto-siphon, bottling bucket, and your bottles. You can buy brand new wine or beer bottles, or simply wash and re-use amber pry-off beer bottles or wine bottles of your choice. (The YEBODA 12 oz Amber Glass Beer Bottles linked above do not require you to own a bottle capper or purchase individual caps). Do not try to cap the screw-off style beer bottles. The necks are very weak and the glass may break.
Take a final gravity measurement of your mead using your hydrometer. It’s likely somewhere between 1.000 and 1.010 if you used three pounds of honey. Search online for an ABV calculator. There are dozens of these tools online. Simply put in your starting gravity reading that you took in the beginning and the new gravity reading you just took. It will figure out the ABV for you. No math required.
Carefully siphon the mead into the bottling bucket. Then carefully fill the bottles to just an inch or so from the top. Affix the beer caps or corks using either a wing capper for beer bottles or a simple lever corker for wine bottles. If you bottled the mead in beer bottles, store them upright. If you bottled the mead in wine bottles, store them sideways. Your mead is now ready to share, enjoy, or continue aging for a later date.
Making mead is a fun and easy hobby that’s incredibly rewarding. As you get better at it, you can begin to experiment with different ingredients and there’s no limit to what you can create. Happy brewing!