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Mead FAQ
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    this is a work in progress, more will be added to it, check back often and please ask as many questions as you have.

    1: i brew beer and i know that sanitation is more important than the safety of my newborn, should i boil my honey?

    short answer, no. (also, take a xanax about the whole sanitation thing)
    honey is antiseptic by nature, bad things just can't live in good honey. by good honey, i mean pure honey from a local source. that stuff from god knows where you can buy at walmart is not good for anything, so just don't use that (some of it is honey flavored....not even real honey. if your water is tainted, then you may get an infection, so boil that if you feel you must, but the honey is clean and sanitary already. i don't know any mead makers that boil their water though. you might ask "but what about the botulism risk from honey to children under 1 year old?" yeah, that's a crock of shit too. just an fyi.

    2: I don't like mead because its so sweet

    Mead doesn't have to be sweet. i have never purchased a mead from a store that i could finish a glass of it. Most is so cloyingly sweet, if you can drink it, you end up with diabetes. that mead is backsweetened to a very sweet finish. Mead is most commonly fermented to complete dryness and many just leave it there (its delicious dry) but others still backsweeten with something like xylitol or stevia. you can use a fermentable sugar, like honey, to backsweeten, but remember that mead is sometimes aged for years and unless you are very very confident in your ability to kill yeast, they will eventually wake up and explode those bottles.

    3: Do i need nutrients?

    honey doesn't have the built in nutrients like beer, and some wine, has. So yes, nutrients are usually necessary and even though they can be made without it, if you are reading this FAQ, don't try it without the nutrients. you can try staggered nutrient additions throughout primary fermentation with fermaid O or just toss in 5 tsp of nutrient and 2.5 tsp energizer when you mix up your must.

    4:i tried a mead, but the fermentation got stuck

    this is fairly common in mead. the most common problem is aeration. it really needs to be aerated at least once during the first few days of fermentation. i shoot for around day 6, but really this depends where the gravity is at (aerate when 1/2 to 3/4 of sugar has been consumed, roughly). i highly suggest aerating again, two weeks or so in, but be gentle with this one, you just want to increase the O2 in the a little bit, without disturbing the gross lees in the bottom.

    another thing to try if aeration doesn't work, is to go ahead and re-pitch. what i typically do is re-pitch a stuck ferment with ec-1118 because its simply the best yeast for restarting a stuck ferment and at that time in the ferment it won't throw off all the bad smells and flavors that ec is prone to do (they require added age to remove)

    5:should i put it in a secondary?

    Mead requires a secondary. A tertiary isn't a bad idea either, but not necessary. get it off the gross lees in the primary after a month or so, or about when fermentation has slowed to a crawl. this does two important things.....aerates slightly and disturbs the yeast just a little, giving it a vital kick. then just let it sit for months. do your best to forget about it.

    6: how long from mixing to drinking?

    mead is a patient persons beverage. for the vast majority of yeasts, a year is the drinking point. with some yeast, like Lalvin's K1V, you can drink it in as little as 4-5 months after bottling. it does get better still with age though

    7:How much honey should i use?

    most recipe's call for 15 pounds of honey to 5 gallons of water. this will give you an abv of around 11-12%. you can go lower and just use a gallon (12 pounds) to 5 gallons of water and end up with a lower abv, but a shorter aging time. its a trade off, the higher abv, the longer the age required. i have a cyser, that was 15 pounds of honey and 5 gallons of apple juice that is in year 2.5 of aging. wont' be drinkable for at least 5 years, but its 17% abv.

    8: why make mead?

    search the history of mead for a proper answer, but the biggest one for me is that when its hot in the summer and i don't feel like sitting by a boiling kettle, you can just mix up some mead, which takes about 15 minutes, and fill that void of making alcohol. plus, this is usually the time frame when honey is abundance.

    9:isn't honey expensive?

    It can be expensive, but look for a local beekeeper (i promise you have one within few miles of your house) and buy honey by the gallon. it is much cheaper that way. around here it goes for 30-35 dollars a gallon. that's not expensive at all compared to the prices for one pound jars. also, don't rule out keeping your own bees. its not hard, and then you get lots of honey for nearly free, although start costs can be high, but that's not different than brewing equipment.

    10: if i drink mead all day long, will it give me a bad hangover.

    yes, it will crush your world and give you massive respect for drunken vikings. i don't know of any drink that gives you a hangover as bad as mead. but hey, everything in moderation....we're not frat boys, don't get slobbering drunk on it and it won't be an issue.

    11:what kind of yeast should i use?
    i prefer K1V yeast. D-47 also works well, but has strick temperature contraints. 71-B is a yeast i use frequently for meads as well. EC1118 is a common yeast to start with , but i just dont' care for the flavors you get with that (or lack therof) the yeast you use will come with experience as everyone has different tastes. just remember to keep the yeast healthy, and your mead will be delicious.

    now go make some mead!

    C_B
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 76,983
    Dude. Fantastic.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 47,867
    Nice job!
    In wine there is wisdom.
    In beer there is freedom.
    In water there is bacteria.
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 47,867
    I will never understand why commercial mead is made so sweet it will give you a nosebleed ......
    In wine there is wisdom.
    In beer there is freedom.
    In water there is bacteria.
  • JerryJerry
    Posts: 73,692
    ceannt said:

    I will never understand why commercial mead is made so sweet it will give you a nosebleed ......



    Because they think the people buying it are dumb (and they are). "It's made from honey, it's going to be sweet." You don't want to confuse people with a dry mead so you make it really bad and sell it really green, and no one is happy.
    "Again?"
    CurlyFat's 60,000th post
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 47,867

    ceannt said:

    I will never understand why commercial mead is made so sweet it will give you a nosebleed ......



    Because they think the people buying it are dumb (and they are). "It's made from honey, it's going to be sweet." You don't want to confuse people with a dry mead so you make it really bad and sell it really green, and no one is happy.


    just wrong......... makes me want to go commercial...
    In wine there is wisdom.
    In beer there is freedom.
    In water there is bacteria.
  • JerryJerry
    Posts: 73,692
    ceannt said:

    ceannt said:

    I will never understand why commercial mead is made so sweet it will give you a nosebleed ......



    Because they think the people buying it are dumb (and they are). "It's made from honey, it's going to be sweet." You don't want to confuse people with a dry mead so you make it really bad and sell it really green, and no one is happy.


    just wrong......... makes me want to go commercial...


    Just do it!
    "Again?"
    CurlyFat's 60,000th post
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    sadly, i have seen and heard of nearly a dozen meaderies starting up and then pooping out in the last 5 years. folks think it will be as popular as a regular winery in wine country, and its not.........not yet anyway....
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    http://www.moonlightmeadery.com/

    I've heard good things about this place, listened to an interview on the Brewing Network. All sorts of mead available.
  • JerryJerry
    Posts: 73,692

    sadly, i have seen and heard of nearly a dozen meaderies starting up and then pooping out in the last 5 years. folks think it will be as popular as a regular winery in wine country, and its not.........not yet anyway....



    There is one near me that makes crap. Green mead with chunks of yeast in it. Really popular for some reason. I guess it's the "local" thing that's working for them.
    "Again?"
    CurlyFat's 60,000th post
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 47,867
    Folks are amazed at my mead .... nothing like the commercial stuff they had .... several have suggested I go thru the pain and anquish of getting the appropriate permits ...
    In wine there is wisdom.
    In beer there is freedom.
    In water there is bacteria.
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 47,867
    If only I had more room.......
    In wine there is wisdom.
    In beer there is freedom.
    In water there is bacteria.
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    hey @benvarine
    here's one that is opening soon in our neck of the woods (sort of)
    http://www.hellbendermeadery.com/index.html
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606

    hey @benvarine
    here's one that is opening soon in our neck of the woods (sort of)
    http://www.hellbendermeadery.com/index.html



    Nice, looks interesting. Do they brew beer too? Didn't seem so on the site, but the mead master does have a lot of brewing experience.
  • BenvarineBenvarine
    Posts: 1,606
    My last batch of mead turned out clear, when aged and stored on their side they were fine. When turned upright I noticed some sediment stirring about. That part seemed normal all considering. But, some of the sediment was in long stringy looking shapes. Like thin worm like things. It did not effect the taste, but it does not look very appealing. What's the deal?
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    must be worms living in your mead......

    that's sediment. the only way to not have any of it ever, is to filter your mead. you can minimize it by giving it a long seconday (~5 months past clear) and keeping the siphon well off the bottom. still, if you age it for a fews years, some will probably show up. its normal and actually very healthy, if slightly unsightly.
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 76,983
    You should probably add what kind of honey to use to the FAQs. Just sayin'
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    thought for sure it was in there....although.....you and i have the power to edit all these posts......conspiracy! i'm being set up!
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 76,983

    thought for sure it was in there....although.....you and i have the power to edit all these posts......conspiracy! i'm being set up!



    I honestly thought you might just edit it in there then call me out.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 76,983
    Oh, thought of another question here.... Water? I'm going to use bottled for this. My well water is very hard and tastes very much like well water (I like it, no one else does). I doubt that would be any good for the flavor profile but what do I know....
    Is either RO ok for this? Or just filtered spring water? Pros/cons?
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    C_dubbs said:

    Oh, thought of another question here.... Water? I'm going to use bottled for this. My well water is very hard and tastes very much like well water (I like it, no one else does). I doubt that would be any good for the flavor profile but what do I know....
    Is either RO ok for this? Or just filtered spring water? Pros/cons?


    i've always just used my tap water, which is slightly softened well water.

    most people don't bother with RO water and i personally hate it (because its dead water).
    i would suggest buying regular bottled water if you wanted to, but make at least one batch with well water as long as it doesn't taste really minerally. just so you know what it makes. pretty much, as long as your water isn't mucking up all your glasses with cloudy crud, and it doesn't reek of sulfur or something, it should be just fine.

    it won't taste bad.
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 46,373

    pretty much, as long as your water isn't mucking up all your glasses with cloudy crud, it should be just fine.



    mine does. way too much calcium. would i just cut it with some DI water like i do for beer? and what target level would be best for cyser? softer like for pilsner/cream ale or more towards mid range like for an english brown?
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    depends what your shooting for, but traditionally it would be mid range.