Making Honey Wine (Mead)

Mead glorious mead! One of mankind’s earliest brews. The refreshing sacrament of dead Vikings in Valhalla. This honey wine is a delicious, sweet drink.

Yeast doesn’t metabolize honey particularly well so some yeast nutrients from your local brew store can help. Yeast nutrients are the bodies of dead yeast cells (among other trace nutrients), which the live yeast cannibalize to go forth and multiple.

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon/16 cups of water
  • 1.3kg of honey
  • Yeast nutrients: 1/2 tsp (optional but recommended)
  • Wine Yeast (ideally sparkling wine yeast – I use Lavalin 1116)

Recipe:

  • The ratio for mead is typically 1 gallon of water to 1.3 kgs of honey. You could fill a full 19 or 23L carboy but I stuck with a 1 gallon recipe for my first brew to cut down on cost. Honey is rather expensive after all.
  • Rehydrate your yeast as per the instructions on the packet.
  • If the honey isn’t flowing, warm it up.
  • Mix the gallon of water progressively with the honey to ensure it’s dissolved into the water.
  • Add the yeast nutrients and yeast and mix.
  • Depending on the ambient temperature, the fermentation should be complete in 2-4 weeks.
  • After the fermentation appears complete (no more bubbling), add the mead to bottles. You can drink it young or age for an extended period of time (months to years).

Notes:

Honey contains botulism spores, which are difficult to destroy even with heat. The spores can grow into bacteria that produce a fatal toxin, especially in low acid environments with sufficient moisture.

Mead has an unfriendly pH level so the spores shouldn’t become bacteria. Nevertheless, like honey, toddlers and people with deficient immune systems should never consume mead (you shouldn’t give these people alcoholic beverages anyway but that’s another matter). The spores can survive inhospitable environments only to grow into the bacteria in the gut of people with weak immune systems.

All of this being said, you take your life into your own hands when consuming unpasteurized homemade products. I’m no health expert and I don’t play one on the Internet. You always take your own chances when producing your own food and drink.

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