Already Make Wine? Why Not Try Meads Too

Already Make Wine? Why Not Try Meads TooIf you make wine, making mead is a cinch. People have made mead for more than 9,000 years. The process is as simple as ever. Required supplies are so common that you might have them on hand right now. At worst, a person might need to run to a grocery or hardware store. Honey usually represents the biggest expense. Time input is small, since a batch of mead may ferment in 2-1/2 to 4 weeks. A patient person might give it more time to ferment, around 6 months, and be rewarded with a finer drink. Either way, the aging time is totally hands-off and doesn’t require the maker to exert one iota of effort in helping the mead along.

How Mead Compares with Wine and Beer

Although it is aged, mead isn’t technically a wine. Wine is most often made by fermenting grapes; classic mead is made by fermenting honey and water with yeast. Like beer, mead is normally pasteurized. However, mead’s alcohol level is usually higher than beer. When it comes to taste, most good mead is reminiscent of white wine. Just like wine, mead can be made sparkling, dry, sweet, or mulled with spices. On the other hand, some mead makers incorporate hops into their mix, giving the final product a beer-like finish.

Gathering Supplies For Simple Water Jug Mead

The most cost effective way to start is with the most classic version of mead. The ingredient list consists of one gallon of water, 3-5 cups of honey, and roughly 2-1/2 teaspoons of either brewing or baking yeast. Using 3 cups of honey will yield a drier mead, while 5 cups of honey will produce a sweet mead. For those who don’t want to invest much money in their mead making adventures just yet, gather up a gallon-sized plastic water jug and its cap, a mason jar, food quality plastic tubing, funnel, and a large cooking pot. The tubing diameter isn’t critical, as long as it is small and flexible enough to pass through a hole made in the plastic jug cap; its purpose is to allow gases to escape. For bottling the mead, beer bottles and caps can work fine for short term, cold storage. For lengthier storage, proper corking and bottling is really the best way to go.

Preparing and Sterilization

The yeast called for in mead, bread, and beer making is a helpful, living organism; all other bugs need not apply. To help the yeast do its thing, yeast’s unwanted competitors should be neutralized. Sterilize everything that will come in contact with the mead. Some dishwashers have a sterilizing feature, or some items could be boiled. The water and honey will be boiled together for at least 10 minutes. Just be sure not to boil the yeast itself. Yeast is delicate and can only take temperatures up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or possibly 130 degrees in some cases. Keeping the yeast alive and sterilizing everything else helps to assure not only a drinkable mead, but a safe mead.

Prepare the jug by poking a hole through the plastic cap. The hole should be smaller than the tubing. Insert tubing through the hole. The seal should be so tight around the tubing that nothing can escape around it. This is critical, as unwanted bugs could contaminate the mead if gaps exist. Push the tubing through the hole only far enough to stay put, but not far enough that it will touch the mead itself. The long end of the tube should end in a mason jar filled with water. As the mead ages in the water jug, gases will be allowed to escape through the tube and into the jar of water. This method keeps contaminants from falling into the mead. If gas is not allowed to escape, the mess that follows the explosion will not be pretty, nor easy to clean, nor well understood by the loved-one who does the bulk of the housework.

Making Mead

The above is really the hardest and longest part of the process. The water and honey should already have boiled for 10 minutes. Cool this mixture to 110 degrees or to room temperature. Pour about a 1/4 cup or so of this mixture into a sterilized bowl with the yeast. Allow it to set for 5 to 20 minutes or until the yeast mixture looks bubbly and frothy. This step allows one to prove that the yeast is alive and working. Pour the yeast mixture and then the honey water mixture into the gallon jug. Cap the jug, making sure the tubing doesn’t touch the liquid inside the jug. Place the long end of the tubing into the mason jar of water. Store all of this in a temperature stable location, where it will remain in the 60-85 degree range during the fermentation process. Other than looking at it occasionally to make sure things are going well, that’s all there is to do. After the fermentation time is over, a sampling party might be in order. Otherwise, the mead should be bottled and stored.

A classic mead is easy for anyone who has already made wine or beer. In fact, even beginners should have no trouble mixing a modern batch of this ancient and honored drink. The costs can be very low. The bulk of the hands-on time, which is minimal, is spent gathering materials. The true process of making the mead is quick and should be absolutely painless. The reward for patience while waiting out the fermentation, however, should be liquid bliss.