Mead Making 101 (A Short Course) By: Andy Hemken Bee & Mead Guy Big Bend, Wisconsin Despite what you have heard, mead is the easiest alcoholic beverage you can make in your spare time. Not perfect, but easy. Beekeepers are Natural Mead Makers Chuck, Tony & Paul At the club yard Mead Worlds oldest fermented beverage Newlyweds drink mead during the honeymoon (first 30 days) to insure fertility Made from honey, water & yeast Mead is the root for other beverages Takes two years for the good stuff Is relatively simple to make with basic tools and materials Cleanliness is next to godliness Why am I so thirsty when I had so much to drink last night? “Other” Meads Honey = mead Grapes = pyment Apples = ciser Fruit = melomel Malted grain = braggot Herbs or spices = metheglin Distilled mead = mead brandy Mead brandy + honey = honey liqueur Mead Ingredients Honey Water Spring water is best / no distilled, mineral, or chlorinated Yeast Mead will mirror the honey Dry / liquid / slap pack Other Fruit (freeze & thaw) / nutrient powder / etc Yeast feeds on the sugars, and creates carbon dioxide and alcohol as waste products. Equipment Starting Mead Honey Do not boil or heat the honey Mix water & honey to dissolve the honey Freeze & thaw fruit to unlock the flavor Water Fruit or Additives Yeast nutrient Check the specific gravity – Important / progress Yeast Prepare the yeast ahead of time / add last Record everything – start / each racking / finish Starting Mead - continued 1 gallon / 3 gallon / 5 gallon / 6 gallon batch; or more Primary fermenters Bucket / fancy containers Temperature; 60° - 80° Keep everything sanitized Active fermentation may take a week or two – look at the bubbles Recipes 15-20 pounds of honey for a 5 gallon batch Add water to make up starting gravity 10-20 pounds of fruit, depending on sugar content 10 grams of yeast nutrient Ciser or pyment, use fruit juice instead of water You are shooting for a balance of honey and flavor – don’t over power your mead Everyone has their own preferences Common Fruit in Mead (fresh or juice, hand picked, store bought or bartered) Raspberry Cherry Black Currant Blueberry Strawberry Blackberry Cranberry Apples Grapes Documenting the Process Write everything down You can recreate a great mead You can tweak a so-so mead Record what works and what bombed Keep the record with the mead Label your meads when bottling See internet blogs for troubleshooting hints The Process Storage of your working meads Racking: removing sediment Keep the vapor lock full of water Eventually the mead will get clear Oxygen is very bad for mead Mead may be drinkable in several months, but will be better at 18-24 months Meads should continue to improve with age Racking and Sediment Your Mead Area (my mead area) •Dark •Clean •Constant temperature •Store your stuff Bottling Your Mead Clean bottles, just like your honey containers – they hold something you worked hard for Can use wine, beer or other bottles Last racking before bottling Bottling bucket Corks – different kinds Create a good label; lots to choose from Specific Gravity – What is it? Water is 1.000 fruit juice is more / alcohol is less Specific Gravity Starting gravity = 1.080 – 1.120 Final Gravity Mine can be 1.170, depending on amount of honey Dry; 0.990 – 1.010 Semi-sweet; 1.010 – 1.025 Sweet; 1.025 – 1.050 These are guidelines Beer and wine websites have calculators Oops -or, what the heck happened to my mead? Use honey to sweeten a dry mead Blend a dry mead with a sweet mead May need to add acid, tartaric, acid blend Mead may go sparkling; not a bad thing Never throw out a mead; play with it Bragging Rights Contests and judging can be a way to get constructive advice. Take a chance! Iowa Homebrew Clubs A sample of sites Homebrew clubs are a great way to meet people, learn how to homebrew, and sample really good homebrew! Ames, IA - Ames Brewers League Burlington, IA - Burlington MOB (makers of Beer) (319) 850-7143 Cedar Falls, IA –CRAZE (319) 269-3080 Cedar Falls/Waterloo, IA - Cedar River Association of Zymurgy Enthusiasts (319) 273-2047 Cedar Rapids, IA - Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts Cherokee, IA - Cherokee Brewers (712) 225-8160 Clear Lake, IA – North Iowa Wine Club (515) 357-2290 Corning, IA - Adams County Brew Crew (AC/BC) (641) 202-6823 Davenport, IA - MUGZ2 (563) 326-9113 River's Edge Fermentation Society (563) 320-9621 Denver, IA - Brewers of Bremer County (BoBCo.) (319) 560-2736 Des Moines, IA - Iowa Brewers Union (319) 290-7610 Iowa Homebrew Clubs More samples Raccoon River Brewers Association (515) 277-3231 Dubuque, IA - GotMead International Brewmasters (563) 556-4265 Elkader, IA - Turkey River Utopian Brewers (TRUBs) (641) 782-0986 Glenwood, IA - Keg Creek Homebrewers (712) 527-7273 Iowa City, IA – THIRSTY (319) 337-5742 Marshalltown, IA - MASH - Marshalltown Area Soiety Homebrewers (641) 751-8598 Milford, IA - Okoboji Homebrewers Guild (712) 330-0465 Monroe, IA - Cenosilicaphobia Brewers (641) 259-2017 Northwood, IA - Iowa/Minn. Society of Brewers (IAMNSOB) (507) 325-1276 Oskaloosa, IA - Oskaloosa Beer Brewers (641) 676 5434 Schleswig, IA - Schleswig Wine & Bier Club (712) 643-5333 Sibley, IA - Yeastie Boys (712) 461-1113 Sioux City, IA – RASCALS (712) 258-0691 Surf the internet to find homebrew clubs Questions? Any Questions at all? Time to go out and make some mead!