August 3, 2008

Mead Making

This weekend, I finally got around to making a batch of mead with the local honey I bought
while berry-picking on Sauvie Island. I've been making mead for quite a few years now, though very infrequently. This honey is darker than any I've ever seen, and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

If you've never had mead, it's a fermented wine-like beverage made only from honey and water. Lots of honey. A 5 gallon batch requires about 15 lbs. of honey. This batch is using 12 lbs of farm honey from carrot and madras flowers, plus 1.5 lbs. mesquite honey from Trader Joe's that I happened to have in the house. You can use any honey, but local will always be better than something from the big-box discount store.

I learned how to brew mead from The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, but this batch is a simpler recipe that I found in The Compleat Meadmaker. With just a quick trip down to your local homebrew supply store (you don't actually need a stock pot as big as mine!) you can be brewing mead the same day. You can even add fresh fruit like berries or pears to your fermentation, or fresh apple cider!

Unfortunately, mead takes a few months to ferment, a few more to clear (so the yeast isn't mixed in with your lovely golden beverage), and about a year to age. Sounds like a long time, huh? It's totally worth it! This is truly a nectar of the gods.

There are a couple decent meads on the market that you can try, but most are extremely sweet (even for my tastes!) and none taste anything like what I brew at home. The Sunset in Boston often has a whole bunch, (Except on Christmas day when my friends like to buy them out).


luneray August 3, 2008 at 10:15 PM  

So your homemade mead isn't very sweet?

Hmmm, maybe I'll give it a try.

Amanda August 4, 2008 at 11:12 AM  

It's sweet enough. ;)

I like sweet mead, but everything I've had in a bar has been like drinking syrup! Often, it's flavored syrup (vanilla cinnamon was pretty good), but very different from what I make at home! Mine is more like a pinot grigio kind of sweetness... Or something.

SisterDG August 5, 2008 at 7:15 AM  

Fascinating! I had no idea mead was just honey and water. Thanks for the links.

And, your stockpot kicks my stockpot's ass.

EyePopArt August 5, 2008 at 2:51 PM  

Very interesting!

Too bad I don't drink...

(It is an alcoholic beverage, right?)

Amanda August 5, 2008 at 3:54 PM  

It is *quite* alcoholic. Definitely no good for a non-drinker, unfortunately. :(

The stock pot was actually purchased by Sean so he could do all-grain beer brewing. I think it holds 10 gallons or something. I only heated the honey in 1 gallon, so it was total overkill. ;) Totally fun though, and it makes boiling over a non-issue.

Sarah August 7, 2008 at 3:52 PM  

Mead, like what they drink in Beowulf? I've never had it!! Sounds amazing...that's a lot of honey!

Amanda August 7, 2008 at 4:26 PM  

Yes, just like in Beowulf! :)
It's one of the oldest fermented beverages, although there is no solid proof as to what came first.

It is yummy, and it tastes sort of ancient. In a good way, not in a "wow, this tastes like it's been sitting in a rotten tub for 100 years" sort of ancient. Y'know what I mean?

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