…and I think we might name this batch, “Oh, Honey!”
There are as many “correct” ways to make Mead as there are Mead-makers, so there is no one “RIGHT way” to do it. Some recipes will have you boiling your honey. Other recipes will tell you NOT to boil your honey, as you are doing a serious disservice to the bees. Me? I have a killer book of wine recipes and chose to follow the dry Mead recipe therein: (I doubled the one gallon recipe and used a pound more honey based on the recommendations from the guy at our supply store. YMMV.)
- Six lbs honey
- 1 gallon plus 4 cups hot water
- 2 Tbs Malic Acid
- 1 Tbs Tartaric Acid
- ½ tsp Tannin
- 1 ½ tsp Energizer
- 2 Campden tablets, crushed
- 1 pkg Red Star Champagne yeast (this packet says it will do up to five gallons, and I am only working two, so I used one package.)
1/3/15, Saturday: I stirred hot water into the honey to dissolve honey. (I poured the water into sterilized pots and brought them to just shy of boiling.) This can be done in the primary fermentation bucket. Added remaining ingredients EXCEPT yeast. Stirred. Left 24 hours. (Starting SG was 1.120)
1/4/15, Sunday: After 24 hours I pitched my yeast by mixing the Red Star Champagne yeast per the package directions with warm water to activate. Let sit no more than 30 minutes, then added equal amount of mead must. Let stand till about doubled, then pour, evenly, over top of must. Cover. (Except that the mixture didn’t increase in volume like it did when I made starter for the HHNF Red. But, ok…pressed on…)
1/5/15, Monday: The day after pitching my yeast, I stirred and checked specific gravity. In my case, NOTHING happened. SG didn’t change. At ALL. It remained 1.120. Dammit.
I dissolved a packet of Lalvin RC212 in four ounces of water (temp about 108 degrees F), let sit for about 25 minutes and then added four ounces of must to make a starter. Again, unlike grape must yeast starter, this did not double (let alone triple) in the measuring cup. I pitched the yeast starter again. I covered the primary and walked away.
1/6/15, Tuesday: We stirred today and it is bubbling, like a soda bubbles after you open the top. Sort of. Checked specific gravity. YES! It moved a little. It is now at 1.110. I read where you can add a handful of raisins (I’m going to use golden raisins so that the color isn’t altered) to increase the sugar to get that yeast working well, because sometimes honey is hard to get along with if you are yeast. Apparently there are properties in honey that can be a bit resistant to yeast, and I’m okay with that…It’s a learning experience. And am I ever learning. Puts shame to my fourth generation status, however. 😉
So here what happens to a barely bubbly mead must when you throw in a handful of golden raisins, y’all:
I have also decided to spice this virgin batch of mead with orange peel, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. I used a small square of cheese cloth, tied a knot in it and dropped it into the must. 🙂
1/7/15, Wednesday: On the fourth day, which was a day after our must started to ferment really well after adding raisins, I stirred in the morning before going to work and sampled a drop or two off of the spoon. How delightful! It was crisp and not too sweet, and the orange-spice did not overpower the flavor of the honey. Oh, boy, this is going to be GOOD! After work, I stirred again, and checked specific gravity, which was down to a very respectable 1.090. At 1.030 we can rack into the carboy.
1/8/15, Thursday: stirred again, checked SG, which was 1.060. Removed the bag of orange peel and spices, as I worried too long would render a bitter aftertaste.
1/9/15, Friday: stirred, checked SG, which was 1.040.
1/10/15, Saturday: Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! SG spot on at 1.030, so my first batch of mead is officially racked and the airlock is bubbling beautifully! 🙂
2/12/15, Thursday: re-racked and sampled. This tastes like it will knock you on your ass if you aren’t ready for it. Will check for lees sediment at the bottom in about six weeks and should re-rack again.
3/6/15, Friday. Taste test. WOW! Strong. Not bad, but will be re-racking again over the weekend to get it off the lees. Okay…that and it’s missing SOMETHING, and I hate that I can’t put my finger on what it is. I’ll keep you posted…
3/7/15, Saturday. Decided to back sweeten this batch, so added 3/4 tsp of potassium sorbate and 1/3 of 1/4 tsp of potassium metabisulfite to just shy of the two gallons in the carboy. Will let sit for two days, will then re-rack and back sweeten with honey on Monday evening. Going to start a one gallon batch of sweet mead this evening.
3/14/15, Saturday. (Johnny’s birthday, Pi Day and Steak & BJ Day) Bottled the dry mead and had a wee bit left over after putting it into 7 bottles. MMMMMmmmm! 😉 Our ending SG was 1.010, for an alcohol content of 14.44%. I found a really neat calculator that takes the math out of it right here. That was a life saver. We’ll let the corked bottles sit for a day before putting the shrink wrap on them. Labels are on order and should arrive next week.