You’re probably looking to try your hand at mead brewing. Maybe you’re curious about the way distilled mead is made.
Either way, you’ve come to the right place! Stick around, as this article contains the basics of brewing mead!
What is Mead?
Mead is a fermented beverage that combines raw honey, filtered water, and yeast. Mead and beer have been fighting about which one came first.
Making mead is much easier and can happen independently without much help. Mead can be made in many ways: sweet, semi-sweet, dry, fruity (Melomel), or malted (Braggot).
Each of these changes has its own unique charm. Semi-Sweets and Braggot are two popular ways.
Mead is interesting because there is no English word for the person who makes it, unlike wine, beer, and spirits (distiller). So, in English, the people who make this tasty drink are called Mead-makers or Mead-brewers.
Many people who have never brewed before are afraid of fermentation and brewing because they don’t want to get sick or make vinegar. Don’t worry!
Mead is easy to make, and there are only a few simple rules:
- Sanitize EVERYTHING
- Have patience
- When making mead, you should wash your hands often.
On paper, it’s easy to see how honey turns into alcohol, but the real magic is in the process. Different makers use different recipes.
Flavors, chemicals, and colors also change. Whether it’s your first or fifty-first batch of beer, a beginner brewer should always start by sanitizing.
If a batch turns sour, it could be caused by several things, but the most common cause is wild yeasts and air. Wild yeasts can sometimes improve the taste or give the mead a different profile.
Wild yeasts can compete with wine yeasts to produce molecules that don’t taste nice.
Microbiology is a fascinating field that can tell us much more about flavors and wine. If your batches smell like the following, you have made vinegar, and sometimes not even good vinegar:
If it smells like hay, sweaty feet, or barnyard, blame the Brettanomyces bacteria. If it has a sour, funky, and tangy smell and taste? Blame lactobacillus bacteria.
Does it taste like acid or vinegar? This is acetic acid, and wild yeasts are to blame for it.
Is there a sweet, honey, and alcohol smell? It’s mead!
You can make great mead at home if you’re patient, clean everything, and use a decent airlock.
Gravity is essentially an estimate of how much sugar is in a water solution.
Using this measurement throughout the brewing process, you can get a rough idea of how much alcohol by volume (ABV) is in your finished brew.
Here is where you will need a hydrometer. A hydrometer is a measuring tool that floats in the solution and has markings up and down the stem.
You look at the markings, which tell you your Specific Gravity, which is the weight of the liquid at the time you read it.
Follow the equation below to figure out the ABV of your final beer:
(Og – Fg) * 131 = ABV%
(ORIGINAL GRAVITY – FINAL GRAVITY) * 131 = ALCOHOL BY VOLUME%
During fermentation, you should check the specific gravity to see how the mead and your yeasts are doing. You can tell at a specific gravity reading that the ABV has reached your goal.
There are then several ways to stop the fermentation process.
There are many ways to stop the fermentation process.
Once you’ve taken your last specific gravity reading and attained your desired ABV%, stop the yeast from generating more alcohol and eating more sugar.
You could let the fermentation process run its course and reach its peak. The yeast will keep making alcohol until it reaches its limit.
Most yeasts stop working when the alcohol content is between 13 and 15% ABV. Basically, the yeast will die because there is so much alcohol, and they can’t handle that much alcohol, so they get sick.
Yes, alcohol is a poison in larger quantities. This method can make mead very dry and sometimes hard to get accustomed to.
Most winemakers, especially those who make fruit wines, use sulfates most of the time. Some people don’t like sulfates in their wine, though.
Some people are allergic to sulfates, so it would be best to avoid them at all costs. When you cook or brew, put your friends and family first.
Use Potassium Sorbate ( C6H7KO2 ). This doesn’t kill the yeasts as sulfates do but stops them from making more alcohol and eating more sugars.
Most of the time, this is the easiest and safest way to make sure your beer stays at the right ABV%. Before bottling or aging in bulk, you can also add more sugar (honey) to your wine if you don’t think it’s sweet enough.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
If you have good honey, the only thing that could go wrong with your mead is if you don’t clean and sterilize your equipment well enough. No matter what kind of home brew you’re making, you should always clean and sanitize everything that will touch the brew.
Liquids fermenting are an excellent place for bacteria to grow, and bacteria you don’t want will make your mead taste bad. There are many cleaners and disinfectants to choose from, and they are all easy to use.
Just follow what’s written on the package. It would be best to rinse everything with cold water after sterilizing and before using, whether the instructions advise to or not.
Some don’t. It’s up to each person to decide.
Related Reading: 5 Big Beer Brewing Companies in the U.S. – Check Them out Here
Homebrewing mead is not that difficult once you understand the basics. Now that you’ve understood the process through this article, you can try looking for recipes to try out!