Wonder how “honeymoon” became a thing? In the medieval times, a month-long supply of a sweet honey-based alcoholic drink was given to a newly wedded couple as tradition. It was believed that drinking that would bring them luck and ensure the bride’s fertility. A whole month of drinking honey-wine led to the name honeymoon. Well, if you are wondering how to make some of that good stuff today, we have a guide for you. Every day could be a honeymoon. Why not?
1. Choose a type of mead to get started
Making mead is a lot more like brewing beer— the process can be as straightforward or as intricate as you want it to be. You can make yours heavy or light or sweet or dry. You can use honey alone, and you will still get an authentic taste, but you can also spruce it up with herbs and fruits. Your mead can be low in alcohol or high in alcohol, carbonated, or non-
The 8 types of meads that you need to know include:
- Standard /traditional made: Made from 2 ½ pounds of honey diluted with 4 liters of water.
- Metheglin: This mead is made with spices including herbs and hops
- Melomel: This is special mead made with fruit juices
- Pyment/ Clarre: A Melomel made with grape juice and is also called honey-sweetened grape wine.
- Hippocras: Pyment made with herbs and spices.
- Sack mead: Mead that has more honey for extra sweetness
- Hydromel: Weak, or diluted mead
- Sack Methelgin: Sweetly spiced mead, traditionally similar to vermouth
2. Gather the ingredients and supplies
For a seamless mead brewing process, you need to have everything ready with you. We recommend starting with the simplest things you can get. You can move to sophisticated ingredients and tools when you build skills and confidence.
Ingredients for home-made mead brewing
- Honey preferably organic
- Yeast, preferably wine-yeast
Optional additional ingredients
- Flavoring acids including malic, tartaric and citric acid
- Sanitation sulphites including sodium bi-sulphites, potassium meta bi-sulphites
- Stabilizers to prevent a second fermentation
- Fruits or fruit juice
- Spices and herbs
Tools needed for home-made mead brewing
- Fermentation container
- Stainless/plastic spoon
- Hydrometer for measuring liquid density
- Siphon tubing for bottling
- Airlock for venting CO2
- Wine or beer bottles
3. Clean up your tools
The first step in making healthy and great-tasting mead is sanitization. You can use hot water or the sanitization sulphites if you can access some. Boil your tools in water or rinse with the winemaking sanitizer. This process gets rid of bacteria that could play hobs with the fermentation process.
4. Make the must
Now onto the real thing, make the mixture of honey and water (and spices if you have some). This mixture is called must, and for you to get real mead, you must get the math right. The finest mead is made at a ratio of 1:0.5 honey and water mixture. Other variations include 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, and 1:4.
Heat the water to 170°F and pour it into the brew pot. The next step is adding treated (or boiled) honey to this water. If you are making a sack mead that contains more honey than water, you will need to add the honey incrementally for a smoother fermentation process.
5. You can add spices and additives
Additives such as potassium phosphate, citric acid, magnesium chloride, and sodium citrate can be added at this point to speed up the fermentation process. If you have calcium carbonate, potassium carbonate, or tartaric acid, add it to the must.
These additives help to maintain the right pH within a range of 7-4 for proper fermentation. This step is optional. This is also the part where you can add herbs, spices, or fruit juices for flavoring. Take a temperature reading. You should be working with a must that is around 140°F hot.
6. Let it cool then add yeast
The must should cool down to room temperature before adding yeast. Some brewers like to add a measured amount of cold water to the mix at this point to help speed up cooling. Watch out not to get it over-diluted, though.
Measure the temperature of the must and add yeast when it’s cooled to around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is favored for faster yeast activation. In professional settings, a yeast energizer is often added to boost yeast activity.
7. Let it ferment
Stir the mixture and take a hydrometer reading at this point to measure its alcohol content. Seal the fermentation container or bowl in a way that allows air to escape at the top during fermentation. The fermentation process can last for about a month or two. The right temperature for the process is between 17-20°C.
8. Siphon into a new container for a second fermentation
Once the first fermentation is complete (ethanol concentration should be nearing 11.5%) transfer the mead to a second container for another round of fermentation. Leave out the sediment and let the cleaner mead sit still in a sealed container for another 2 or 3 months. After that time elapses, your mead should be clearer. Time to bottle it up!
The process of making mead may seem daunting, but you can hack it. And while you are learning the ropes, you can order a six-pack of Zzinga Honey Cider, to get your creative juices flowing. It comes with bee-friendly seeds to get your garden swarming with biodiversity. Cheers to honey bees!