Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Drink of The Gods!

Mead. Zeus drank it. Hoards of rampaging Vikings drank it. Now you, too, can revel in the glory of mead. Mead is honey wine, the first known fermented beverage. Ever. It has historically been a very common way to booze it up - and by common, I mean pretty much every culture has made and enjoyed some type of mead. Sadly, with the industrialization of alcohol production, it's pretty hard to find commercially made mead. Lucky for you, you can make your own at home. I recommend you try making cider or wine with fruit before you make mead, because it can be a tricky one.

This recipe is for cyser, or apple mead. I like apples in my booze. You could use a different kind of juice to suit your taste. 

What You Need:
All the equipment listed in my basic cider post.
An additional fermentation vessel. I use the glass jugs that the juice comes in with
An additional air lock and stopper. 
Honey, 10 cups
Apple juice (with no preservatives), 2.5 gallons
Water, 5 quarts
Black tea, 5 cups
1 package of champagne yeast
5 teaspoons acid blend (available at your FLHBS)
5 teaspoons yeast nutrient (also available at your FLHBS)

Heat the water and stir in the honey,  along with the acid blend, yeast nutrient, and tea. I forgot the tea until the last minute and added it afterward, and it turned out ok - so there is room for error here. Stir the honey until it's dissolved, and simmer for five minutes. Turn the heat off and let it cool down to body temperature, then add the honey mixture to the juice and yeast in the primary fermentation vessel. Snap on the lid and airlock and let the yeast do the work.

After two or three weeks, transfer the mead to the secondary carboy. After that, it's a matter of months, really. I left my mead in secondary for about three months.

Clearing ... clearing ... clearing ...

Wait until there are no bubbles coming out of the airlock for at least five minutes at a time before bottling. Wait to drink until six months - at least! - after bottling. Mead really improves with age, so have patience. I want to know what my first mead will taste like in ten years! Of course I had a taste during bottling (that's just standard operating procedure), and I will admit it tasted plenty drinkable to me already. I'm trying not to think about it.

Nothing says "home" like a cupboard full of mead.

For a much more thorough explanation of the mead making process, the history of mead, and the effects of different types of honey on mead, visit Mead Made Complicated. Wiki also has a fairly decent page on mead.

If you are lucky enough to live near Boulder, Colorado, please do pay Redstone Meadery a visit. They are an amazing local meadery and I love them so much I want to marry them. Don't tell my spouse.

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