A Little while back, the wife and I met up with a friend who runs a little shop at the local Renaissance Festival.
Neither of us had ever been to one and it was definitely an experience!
Our friend took the liberty of showing us around the entire event, and I was impressed with the jousting and swordplay and all of the shows.
But nothing impressed me more than a drink my friend picked up for me at the bar…
Now I am not a big drinker by any means, but this was one of the best tasting things I’ve ever had!
When I asked my friend what this heavenly concoction was, she said it was called a “bee sting.”
Turns out it was a glass of black cherry flavored mead with a shot of hard apple cider to add in a few bubbles.
For anyone who doesn’t know what mead is, it is a wine made from honey and water. It is an ancient drink, whose origins are lost in history. It’s often referred to as the “Nectar Of The Gods.”
The festival is over and gone now… but I still can’t get the taste of this drink out of my head.
So I started doing a little research and it turns out that this ancient drink may well be one of the easiest to craft at home.
Check out the instructions below to become a Mead Master. You just might find that it’s something that may be in your wheelhouse:
Intro: How to make Mead (Honey Wine)
Depending on your recipe, it can take as little as a month, years, or even a lifetime for it to ferment.
The recipe I will post first is GREAT for first starting out, and only takes a month or so to ferment.
Also, mead is one cheep and easy ways to gift for the holidays.
If you have ever wanted to start to brew, this is something easy and fast to try. Just don’t hesitate, you only live once.
Step 1: What is Mead?
Mead or honey wine is the oldest alcoholic drinks known to man. It is made from honey and water via fermentation with yeast. It may be still, carbonated, or sparkling. It may be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.
Unlike beers and cider, meads (being wines) are consumed in small quantities. Therefore, we make them as strong as we can. The amount of alcohol we can make in mead is limited by the capacity of the yeast we add to withstand alcohol. It is important to understand that yeast cannot live in a solution containing more than 14% of alcohol by volume. This is the usual amount that will destroy the yeast. But under certain circumstances and with suitable yeast the percentage might be as high as 18%.
On the whole, an amateur is unlikely to produce more than 16%. This is because he is unlikely to be able to carry out fermentation under scientifically balanced laboratory conditions with constantly favorable temps.
Depending on local traditions and specific recipes, it may be brewed with spices, fruits, or grain mash. It can also be produced by fermentation of honey with grain mash. Mead may also be flavored with beer to produce a bitter, beer-like flavor.
Mead is independently multicultural.
It is known from many sources of ancient history throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, although archaeological evidence of it is ambiguous. Its origins are lost in prehistory; “it can be regarded as the ancestor of all fermented drinks,” Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat has observed, “antedating the cultivation of the soil.” Claude Levi-Strauss makes a case for the invention of mead as a marker of the passage “from nature to culture.”
Step 2: Honey
Honey- is made up up approximately 70% sugar, the remainder is made up of impurities like yeast, bacteria, water, albumen (egg white is the common name for the clear liquid), and ash. But our main concern is the amount of sugar, because that is what the yeast feeds on to produce the alcohol that is desired. The yeast and bacteria are also a concern, but these are going to be taken care of while brewing.
If you use Little honey, the wine will be dry. If you use A LOT of honey, it will be sweet! Even if you want it to be sweeter, you can also add more sugar like corn sugar. If you do not have corn sugar available, cane will work.
-5g Glass Carboy. (NOT PLASTIC. Plastic can leach into your brew, even the smallest scratch will harvest bacteria even after being sanitized)
—For testing new brews, you can use a smaller Carboy. They are made in many many different sizes.
-Carboy Handle (not required, but that 5g full can be extremely heavy)
-Stopper with a hole for the Airlock or Carboy cap
-Stock pot (the larger, the better. I used a 12qt originally, but you will need a MUCH bigger one to make it easier on yourself)
-Spoon or Stirrer (NOT WOOD, wood is too porous.)
-Screen and/or Cheese cloth
-Sanitizer (odorless and tasteless is better! Personal choice would be “Star San HB” )
-Spray bottle (for easier sanitization of some items)
For Bottling and Tasting:
-with Tubing and clamp
-Bottles (CLEAN ONES)
-Caps and Bottle Capper OR Corks and Bottle Corker
Step 5: Choosing your Recipe
There are so many recipes out there, so one of the hardest things to do is just choosing one. One of the best places I have found is…