Starting a Mead Club
What is Mead?
Mead is a wine that comes from a base of honey and water. Many types of mead can be derived from this basic definition, but we'll cover a few here, more details to come in a future mead-fanatic HubPage:
- Metheglin -- A spiced mead.
- Cyser -- A mead made with apple juice rather than water.
- Melomel -- A mead made with fruit juices (or fruit) with possible inclusion of spices.
- Pyment -- A mead made with added grape juice.
There are more varieties that have emerged over time, but we'll leave that for a more advanced article. For now, we'll stick with the basics.
Some might be interested to know that the Alcohol content of mead generally ranges from 7-22%; however, my latest visit to the Union Station Fermentation shop in Ogden, Utah revealed that they were able to coax a particularly fine brew to an astounding 29% -- or so the rumor has it.
Would you be interested in joining a local club to share your brewing experiences with other enthusiasts?
Homebrewing is better with friends!
Homebrewing is fun and it's very exciting to try new recipes. The results of each batch are eagerly anticipated even long after you've become a seasoned brewer. Why is it that so many people can feel so impassioned about a hobby like this one? I imagine it has to do with our age- old traditions of brewing beverages at home. Before modern sodas and mass-produced factory beers, the beverage scene was a lot different. People used yeast to create carbonation and fermentation and different strains of yeast created different variations of the same recipe. It's a rich culture that has been shared for millenniums.
The key to a successful brewing adventure is to enjoy the process, to learn from each brew, and to strive to do better with each progressive batch. Over time you'll find the true enthusiasts will come out of the woodwork and share the experience and their knowledge with you. In the meantime, there's a growing community of online mead-making forums and groups you can engage in. I've personally found the people on reddit.com/r/mead to be a very enjoyable and experienced sort.
The video below is one I came across while looking at homebrewing videos on YouTube. I chose to show it here to demonstrate how fun it can be discussing your latest brew projects and making new batches with friends. These guys and gals are all gathering together to make beer, but the same can be done with mead and other wines as well.
Share your enthusiasm for homebrewing with a brewing club!
How can I get started?
Getting started with home-brewed mead is incredibly easy. Since mead is, by definition, a wine made from honey, one doesn't need to smash or juice fruit prior to fermentation for the simplest batch with stellar results. A couple pounds of honey, some fresh spring or tap water, yeast, and a container with a make-shift airlock are all you need to make the simplest of batches. And since making fruit or spiced mead is so easy, you might just find yourself jumping right in to something a bit more "complex" in flavor. If a quick and easy project sounds like something you've been looking for, you might be interested in this Hub about Making Milk Jug Mead on the cheap and easy! It's super fun and well worth the minimal effort.
By now, you can probably tell that this is a topic that I feel particularly passionate about. The truth is, though, that I'm not a big drinker. But I've been interesting in the brewing process ever since my 7th grade science teacher had us brew a simple wine as an experiment. Of course, we weren't allowed to partake of our creation, but watching the experiment progress was fascination enough for my young interests.
If a class of 7th graders could brew a simple batch of wine, how hard could it really be? It's simple, really, and mead is no different. The most important aspect to remember is sanitizing your equipment to avoid strange bacteria infesting your brew. It sounds scary but the process isn't altogether difficult. In fact, a simple mead recipe requires only honey, water, and yeast. There's no need to incorporate fruit or spices at first if that idea seems a bit intimidating.
It should also be noted that making your own brew can be much cheaper than going out to a bar or pub. So what could be better than picking up a hobby you're sure to enjoy and then sharing the product of that enjoyment with some friends? Cheap, regular meet-ups can provide countless hours of kinship and camaraderie.
Sharing the fruits of your labor.
Utah homebrewing law strictly forbids the sale of homebrewed alcohol. Still, there's nothing wrong with giving away samples of your finest brews. My Blackberry Bliss mead was a fine gift for many of my wine-loving friends and family this year. The feedback alone was enough encouragement to keep me thinking of future batch possibilities.
Be careful, though, I've already got grundles of requests for more of my delectable berry mead.
In that regard, it's best to start forming your brewing club from those who appreciate your brews and express an interest in getting started on their own. What better way to fulfill those refill requests than to get your friends started on duplicating your recipe?
Another thing to consider when brewing mead is the consequences of such a fun hobby. Consequences?! Well, when you enjoy the brewing process as much as I do, you end up with a heck of a lot of alcohol. That might not be such a bad thing, I suppose, but sometimes you want to taste a bit more of a variety than you can brew. This is where a mead club really shines. Friends who enjoy brewing together can also enjoy trying more recipes without having to stock the racks and store so many bottles for the full duration of the aging period. You see, a fine mead isn't consumed when it is young. If you're making batches of three to six gallons, the bottles start to add up quick.
A mead club isn't just about hobbyists drinking together. It's about making friends and enjoying the excitement of the brew process with other folks who can appreciate your enthusiasm. It's about trying new recipes and sharing your successes, along with your defeats. A mead club is about people coming together to learn how to brew better, with both old tricks and new.