What is Mead? Basically, Mead is wine made from honey. Mead is a great first project for a novice wine-maker because it is made from only a few ingredients and the process is simple.
For a very basic Mead recipe, only honey, water and yeast are needed. This mixture, called ‘Must’, is fermented until the yeast converts the sugars in the honey to alcohol. Once converted, a new product is born – Mead.
Ingredients for making Mead can be bought anywhere, even at a local grocery store. This is often a good option for the first time home brewer as grocery products are inexpensive, allowing for some freedom to experiment while not having to worry about losing a large investment if the batch goes south. It’s a good way to get your feet wet with Mead. After some success with these products, begin stepping it up a notch and spend a little more for your Mead supplies. While cheap products can produce vast quantities of palatable Mead, higher quality products are even better. Use cheaper products to figure out what you like in your Mead, then invest in better quality versions for a drink you’ll be proud to serve.
When buying honey, you’ll note different varieties, such as ‘Clover Honey’ or ‘Alfalfa Honey’. The variety name comes from the flower from which the honey bees collected the majority of the nectar. As bees seek out any available flower, this is only a best estimate. A beekeeper will know where the largest flower supply is for their hive, and thus, determine the variety of the honey. Each nectar embodies its own subtle flavors, so you may want to taste a few to decide what honey you like best.
While a basic Mead can be made from just the three main ingredients, almost anything can be added for a more interesting and complex wine. Fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and plants are a few of the most commonly added ingredients for brewing Mead. Mead makers and home brewers have added a multitude of recipes, new and old, to the internet. There are no hard and fast rules for what can be put into your Mead. Let your taste buds be your guide. Gather a few of your favorite fruits or spices and experiment. Foods and spices can be used fresh, frozen, dried or canned, whole crushed, juiced or any way in between. It is a good idea to do a little research, however, before adding anything to your Mead for safety’s sake. You will want to remove pesticides and preservatives from fruits and vegetables to the extent possible. Note that some herbs, flowers and plants can be toxic.
The world of the internet is a great place to learn about making your own home brewed Mead. With a simple search of the engines, you’ll benefit from a multitude of knowledge from veteran Mead makers and home brewers, both their successes and their failures (and that’s good knowledge to have, too)!