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Beginners Guide to Making Your First Mead Inexpensively

Like brewing and making wine, mead making can be expensive. Glass carboys, fermenting pails, special yeasts, varietal honey, tubing, bottling, pH meters, hydrometers, etc. can all add up quickly when first starting out, and like the kids who go out and spend thousands of dollars on a cool guitar and amplifier setup to sound like Eddie Van Halen (and end up not sounding anywhere close), you might find that you don't have the time or the desire to pursue home brewing.

The recipe I will present to you today can be made using items you probably have in your kitchen and even if you don't the next time you go on a grocery run, they can be found at your local store.


Items you will need:
  • 1 gallon seal-able container preferably a glass apple cider jug

  • 3½ pounds of honey

  • 1 large orange

  • 25 raisins (make sure they don't have sulphites added as preservatives)

  • 1 gallon of water (preferably spring water)

  • 1 stick of cinnamon

  • 1 clove (2 if you must, but they are potent)

  • Pinch of nutmeg and alspice

  • 1 packet of bread yeast

  • 1 balloon

See, everything you need can be obtained from most home kitchens. You can even use a clean 1 gallon water jug; although one that has had milk in it will need to be cleaned out really well.


History:

I will not go into the history of Mead here. Rather I will point you in the direction of the Internet where a simple search will give you a lot of information. Suffice it to say, Mead fell out of popularity with the advances in wine, but over the last several years, it has been making a steady comeback. Several micro-wineries and even some large scale wineries have added making Mead to their list of offerings.


Where do I go after I make my first mead?

JOA is a simple recipe meant to make a quick, pleasant tasting Mead. You can continue to make batches whenever the mood hits you, or you can (with a small investment) purchase some specific wine and mead yeasts, varietal honeys (honey from a single source – mesquite, orage blossom, clover, etc), an airlock and start making some of your own creations.

The recipe:

Original Gravity: 1.100 approx.

Final Gravity: 1.030 approx.

Primary Fermentation: 2 months

Ancient Orange Mead (by Joe Mattioli)

1 gallon batch

  • 3 ½ lbs clover or your choice of honey or blend (will finish sweet)

  • 1 large orange (later cut in eighths or smaller rind and all)

  • 1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)

  • 1 stick cinnamon

  • 1 whole clove (or 2 if you like – these are potent critters)

  • optionally a pinch of nutmeg and allspice (very small)

  • 1 teaspoon of Fleishmann's bread yeast (now don't get holy on me – after all this is an ancient mead and that's all we had back then)

  • Balance water to one gallon


Process:

Use a clean 1 gallon carboy.

Dissolve honey in some warm water and put in corboy.

Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights – add orange (you can push em through opening – rinds included – its ok for this mead – take my word for it – ignore the experts)

Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, any optional ingredients and fill with water to 3 inches from the top with cold water. (need room for some foam – you can top off with more water after the first few days frenzy)

Shake the heck out of the jug with the top on, of course. This is your sophisticated aeration process.

When at room temperature in your kitchen, put in the 1 teaspoon of bread yeast. (No, you don't have to rehydrate it first – the ancients didn't even have that word in their vocabulary – just put it in and give it a gentle swirl or not)(the yeast can fight for their own territory)

Install water airlock. Put in dark place. It will start working immediately or in an hour. (Don't use grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away in the 90's)(Wait 3 hours before you panic) After major foaming stops in a few days add some water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don't shake it! Don't mess with them yeastees! Let them alone except its okay to open your cabinet to smell every once in a while.)

Racking – Don't you dare!
Additional feeding – NO NO!
More stirring or shaking – You're not listening, don't touch!

After 2 months and maybe a few days it will slow down to a stop and clear all by itself. (How about that, you are not so important after all) Then you can put a hose with a small cloth filter on the end into the clear part and siphon off the golden nectar. If you wait long enough even the oranges will sink to the bottom but I never waited that long. If it is clear it is ready. You don't need a cold basement. It does better in a kitchen in the dark. (Like in a cabinet) Likes a little heat (70-80F). If it didn't work out... you screwed up and didn't read my instructions (or used grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away). If it didn't work out then take up another hobby. Mead is not for you, it is to complicated.

If you were successful, which I am 99% certain you will be, then enjoy your mead. When you get ready to make a different mead you will probably have to unlearn some of these practices I have taught you, but hey – This recipe and procedure works with these ingredients so don't knock it. It was your first mead. It was my tenth. Sometimes, even the experts can forget all they know and make a good ancient mead.


Recommended Website:

Got Mead? - http://www.gotmead.com/


Recommended Publications:

The Complete Meadmaker: Home Production of Honey Wine From Your First Batch to Award-winning Fruit and Herb Variations – Available at Amazon and most brew stores for about $15

Making Wild Wines and Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More – Available at Amazon and most brew stores for about $15

Wine Maker magazine – http://www.winemakermag.com/ can be found at local book stores and subscription is available


Local Brewing Stores:

Brew Your Own Brew - http://brewyourownbrew.com/

525 E. Baseline Rd. Gilbert, AZ (480) 497-0011

2564 N. Campbell Ave Tucson, AZ (520) 322-5049

 

Brewer's Connection - http://brewersconnection.com/

1425 E. University Dr, Suite 103, Tempe, AZ (480) 449-3720

4500 E. Speedway Blvd, Suite 38, Tucson, AZ (520) 881-0255

 

Excellent source of honey (the supply stores are going to mark it up more than what these guys sell it for): Crockett Honey Company, Inc. - http://www.crocketthoney.com/

1040 W. Alameda Dr, Tempe, AZ (480) 731-3936

 


References:

GotMead, http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_rapidrecipe&page=viewrecipe&itemid=6&recipe_id=118 Last visited on 16FEB11