Saturday, November 08, 2008

Making Mead*

The medieval history professor at Troy and I have been decided to take on a new project; we want to brew mead.

Fun, yes? Exciting, yes? Just one problem -- neither of us has the slightest idea how to do it. I've been cruising the inter-web-o-net-o-sphere-thingy, and I've found lots of advice on how to do it, but I'm not sure which advice to take as a beginner. A lot of the sites seem to assume that you've been brewing your own wine or beer, and just want to add mead to your oeuvre. They have all sorts of technical advice that I'm sure is helpful for the less stupid.

Me? I've never brewed anything except tea. All I really know is that at some point I'll need honey and bottles. I also assume there will be some boiling, and perhaps some yeast thrown in somewhere. Beyond all that vagueness, I know nothing.

For my first batch, I just want to make something that qualifies as mead. I don't care whether it's any good or not -- I assume goodness will come with experience. Just so long as it can be defined as "mead" and won't make the drinkers blind, I'll be happy.

So, I'm blegging for advice. What's the simplest, cheapest way to make mead? Eventually, I'd like to move on to making it in a more authentic medieval fashion, but if anyone has advice involving microwave ovens, electric ranges, blenders, or any other completely non-medieval implements, I'd love to get it. Trying to brew really awesome mead in authentic period fashion is only a long-term goal ... very long-term.



*Note that this post is to console me after the evil gods of the internet ate one of my Morning Medieval Miscellanies, so if it seems disjointed, it's because my brain is so.

8 comments:

  1. For somebody who has never brewed before, I think Joe's Ancient Orange is probably the best way to get started with mead (a Google search will easily bring up the recipe and instructions). As long as the instructions are followed exactly, it works just fine, and except for a carboy/brewing container, it doesn't require much in the way of specialized hardware.

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  2. If you want a general guide to homebrewing (aimed at beer, mainly, but with a few mead recipes) that gives you all the details you need for brewing from the simplest type to the most detailed and "authentic", you could try getting the book "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing". We've used it for years; it's clear, and very helpful.

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  3. I made a batch in late summer using the recipe at
    http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/fast-cheap-mead-making.htm
    It was very easy and fun to do and the investment was very low.

    In the bottling taste test, it was not bad tasting, but a bit harsh on the alcohol end. I'm letting it sit in the basement until Christmas to mellow out.

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  4. I'll second Aven's rec! Also, Realbeer.com is a good resource online: http://www.realbeer.com/edu/mead/

    They have a nice one gallon recipe to try for your first batch that's pretty easy and pretty good.http://www.realbeer.com/edu/mead/makeyourown.php

    There's also HomeBrewTalk.com, a forum for homebrewers and home wine makers. And yes, there's even a forum for Mead. Most of the folk are patient with newbies and helpful when asked a question. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/ You have to register but its free.

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  5. You might consider asking your local SCA contacts. I've had some mighty fine SCA mead!

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  6. I looked into it once, and found this resource:

    http://www.gotmead.com/

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  7. If you can mix up frozen concentrate orange juice, you can make mead. Seriously. I've been making mead for a decade. It is very simple and rewarding.

    I agree that www.gotmead.com is a good and reliable resource.

    The best and most up to date book on mead making, in my opinion, is _The Compleat Meadmaker_ by Ken Schramm. The book breaks the basics of mead making down into very simple and easy to follow steps.

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  8. I have my step-by-step process from my first batch (aptly titled FirstBatch) if you want the low down. I got my recipe from a prof in Kansas who brought copious amounts of mead to KZoo a few years back. It was excellent (both his mead and mine). If you want, I will send you a scanned copy of my mead log from my first bacth. You can email me at clwilla [at] gmail dot com

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