So recently I wrote about my experiences with making mead and experiencing with different flavour combinations, so now I figured I would share my process of how I made it.
Luckily, the base drink is simple to make, all you really need is water, honey, and yeast, if you want to flavour it there are plenty of things you can add to change the taste. For example, I have used blueberries and cherries, apples, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and star anise, I even used chillies in one batch. Mead is also light on the equipment front as well, all the fermenting is done in a gallon (5 litres) glass demijohn, but you'll also need a hydrometer to help calculate how alcoholic it is, both the demijohn and hydrometers can be bought online for relatively cheap. I have used pectinase in some of my batches, this enzyme helps break down the sugar, pectin which is sometimes produced by fruit, it will help make your mead less like syrup and more drinkable, it isn’t essential, but you can use it if you wish
To prepare mead you’ll need to make a mead wort which is a mixture of honey and water, I did this by putting the honey and water into a pot and putting it on a low heat in order to make the honey more susceptible to mixing, the mixture might change depending on how tolerant to alcohol you yeast is or how sweet or alcoholic you want your mead to be. Some say the mix should be roughly two parts water to one-part honey, basically have twice as much water as you do honey. I personally did not abide by this I used a bit more honey than water to make my wort mixture I used about three kilograms in my mead, so have had a couple of batches that were sweet, but quite alcoholic.
While the honey and water mix are starting to form a consistent mixture is a good time to prep your demijohn, this is when I put in the fruit or spices into the demijohn, I wait until the wort is ready before putting the yeast in to the demijohn and putting the wort in on top. You will need to keep a small sample aside in to order to measure the start gravity.
Once the wort is a consistent mix pour or ladle it in from the pan to demijohn and put on the airlock top when it’s full, the airlock usually comes with the demijohn and looks like a rubber bung with a series of pipes coming out of the top. The airlock is designed to let carbon dioxide out but to keep air out.
In order to eventually work out Alcohol By Volume, or ABV for short, you’ll need to need to take a specific gravity reading, this Start Gravity is one element you will need to help you work out you ABV, once you reach a stage where you feel your mead is ready to drink (any time after about a month, as most of the fermentation is done in the first month) you can take a final gravity reading. There are plenty of calculators on the internet to help you figure out the ABV of your mead all you need to do is plug in your start gravity and your final gravity and it will work it all out for you. There is a formula that you can use if you are good at maths.
Mead, like wine, gets better over time, so if you can resist tucking in after a few weeks I would absolutely recommend it, the time allows for a more complete fermentation, it also allows for the flavours to gel properly and to be come more distinct. Sime brewers go the full hog and use oak barrels to age their mead in, some use oak chippings in their demijohns as well, all in the name of adding an extra dimension to their meads flavour.
Have fun experimenting, there are so many combinations of flavours that can be put together in order to get a great drinking experience, my personal so far is a spiced apple mead, in which I used four apple cinnamon sticks, star anise, cumin seeds, cloves and a bit of nutmeg, served with an ice cube and a slice of lemon it’s a great summer drink or slightly warmer it is a great winter warmer. I would certainly recommend experimenting with some of your favourite fruit and seeing what works, I reckon that is half the fun at least.