Make Mead: Mead The Fourth Be With You
It's an issue of resources. I live in a dry country so access to quality natural ingredients can be difficult. I cannot go to a wine vineyard, apple orchard, honey farm to get quality juice to homebrew.
It was also somewhat by chance that I chose to make mead. I saw a large container of local honey in the grocery store, and after some quick calculations figured out that it was cheaper by volume than the SueBee Honey sold right next to it. I was shocked, quality, local honey that was less expensive than commercial chain brand honey! Moreover, the container was 2.5kg worth of honey compared to a 1kg bottle. Value for money!
Secondly, there aren't liquor stores in a dry country. So, when you are in the mood for a beer it's not easy to acquire. William Cowper wrote "Variety is the spice of life, That gives it all its flavor" in his poem "The Task." Experiment and diversify is what I did, creating cider, wine, mead, and melomel. That way I had a choice of drink to match the mood I was in.
What about BEER?
Why not make beer? Beer is somewhat more complicated than mead. For beer you need grains, malt extract, large pots, and mesh cloths, take steps to boil the wort, let it cool. From there it's about the same.
For mead it's simple: mix the honey and water, add the yeast. Done.
About this Mead
This particular mead's final alcohol by volume (ABV) measures in at around 15%. It is a semi-sweet mead with a citrus finish. The spices give the mead body and subtle flavor profiles that give off a warm mouth feel.
The recipe makes around 18 liters (<5gallons) and takes around 9 weeks to ferment. Honey is a complex sugar and takes time to break down, you will see bubbling occurring meaning that the yeast still has sugars to consume.
After bottling it is best to allow the mead to age for several weeks minimum. I've slowly consumed a bottle at a time over the span of a year and each time it gets better, more mellow, more homogenous, less harsh on the tongue.
The title "Mead The Fourth Be With You" has no connection to Star Wars, but it just so happened that I bottled this mead on May the Fourth, world Star Wars day.
Make sure all equipment is sanitised with Star San before
- Star San
- 18 Gallon Carboy (5 Gallon) x2
- Homebrew spoon (long spoon able to combine your water and honey mixture)
- Airlock and bung
- ~18 bottles (1 liter)
Initial Fermentation Stage:
- 9kg honey
- 1 Package (8ml) vintner's harvest aw4
- 14 liters purified water
Secondary Fermentation Stage:
- 6 valencia oranges, scrubbed, washed, and chopped into wedges
- 4 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- Sanitise all equipment that will hold or come into contact with the mead. Sanitising rids your brewing process of wild yeast that may taint the taste or brewing process. I recommend Star San. Don't worry about the bubbles, they have no effect on the outcome. If you don't have access to Star San like those living in dry counties near-boiling water is an acceptable alternative, be cautious not to shatter glass containers with hot water. Soap does not kill bacteria though, so don't rely on simple cleaning.
- Make the honey more fluid by warming it up. Boil a large pot with an inch or two worth of water. Place honey containers into the hot water, let rest.
- Place yeast into a sanitized bowl with a small amount of water to hydrate while you complete the other steps.
- Add water to a 5-gallon carboy with room for honey to be added.
- Add honey to water. Leave a decent amount of headroom otherwise, your mixture will overflow.
- Add hydrated yeast to honey and water mixture.
- Optional Step: If you do have a hydrometer this will allow you to measure the alcohol content of your brew. Place the hydrometer into the mead and record the reading labeling this number Original Gravity (OG).
- Fit the airlock and bung in place. Add a small amount of water to the airlock.
- Ferment until bubbling subsides and is barely visible. Roughly 4 to 5 weeks. This completes the initial fermentation stage.
- Sanitize carboy, airlock, bung, and siphon.
- Rack mead, by using the siphon, making sure to leave any yeast sediment behind.
- Add flavors: Cut oranges, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Allow the mead to fully stop fermentation. You should see no bubbles being formed.
- Optional Step: Use your hydrometer again to measure the Final Gravity (FG). Input the recorded numbers and sum is your Alcohol By Volume (ABV). (FG – OG) x 131.25 = ABV %
- Bottle. The mead will age similar to wine. So the longer you allow it to mature the better.