Every once in a while its good to indulge in some of your alternative passions. In the spirit of new beginnings I have started this year well by brewing some mead!
Mead is a wonderful honey wine, with arguably the longest history of all alcoholic beverages consumed by man. As a way of recording my attempts at producing a fine quality drink, here are a couple of recipes for meads I’ve recently finished bottling:
Medium Sweet Mead
Makes 2 gallons.
3x 454g Tesco Pure Clear Honey
2x 340g Tesco Finest Orange Blossom Honey
2x 340g Gales Blossom Honey Clear
(2.72kg Honey in total)
1.5L hot water
4.7L cold water
4 tsp sugar, 1 tsp yeast nutrient, 2 tsp yeast
Ferment with high alcohol wine yeast for at least a week, then rack and leave for 2 weeks for secondary fermentation. Wait until all signs of fermentation have stopped, racking periodically as desired, then bottle. Ideally age the mead for at least six months in a cool place.
Medium Sweet Spiced Mead (Metheglin)
In the secondary fermentation phase add the following ingredients per gallon:
1x cinnamon stick
1 inch root ginger thinly sliced
2 tsp nutmeg
1 – 3 cloves
1 – 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
When it comes to bottling or if racking for a second time, strain through a sieve or if possible wine filter.
Medium Sweet Berry Mead (Melomel)
In the seconday fermentation phase add the following ingredients per gallon:
Roughly 3/4 L raspberry and cranberry juice.
You can tell a lot about how a mead will turn out from the aroma and and taste of the honey(s) you are using. Out of those used in this batch I have to say my preference was for the Gale’s Blossom Honey. While it is only a blended honey it was lacking the harsher characteristics of the other honeys and might well make a good base honey or starter for a new meadmaker to try. Sweeter meads have more character than dry meads, but due to a higher honey content they can also take on some of the less pleasant flavours of the honey. Therefore they probably benefit much more from the ageing process than drier meads.
From an initial taste the metheglin has a lovely warmth to it, a nice after-taste and a very unusual aroma. In terms of the quantity of spices used these are good experimental amounts, certainly enough to pick out the flavours but not so strong as to be overwhelming. The melomel is a rosé colour and tastes very fruity, not dissimilar to a fruit liquor or fortified wine.
It will be interesting to see how well they age, if any lasts long enough to find out!