by Jason Harris
Did you ever wonder what the first alcoholic beverage was? Chances are it was mead. Revered by the Vikings and sipped by the ancient Greek gods, mead is an alcoholic beverage created by mixing honey and water and fermenting with yeast.
More recently (in the sixteenth century), mead gave birth to the term honeymoon. Tradition has it that the bride and groom should consume mead (honey) for one month (one moon) after a wedding if they want their first-born to be a son. Additionally, mead has long been attributed with aphrodisiacal powers, so you may want to consider mead as the next beverage slated for your fermenter.
Most beer or winemakers already have the necessary equipment to make mead. We recommend stirring 12 to 15 pounds of honey into water to total 5 gallons of liquid. To this, add a mixture of yeast nutrients and fruit acids and boil briefly, from 1 to 15 minutes. After the boil, cool the mixture, and add your yeast. The mead will ferment for two to four weeks before beginning to clear. The most challenging part of mead making comes after the mead has fermented and cleared: the aging process. Although most prehistoric mead makers probably guzzled their mead concoctions within the first week or two after collecting their honey, our personal experience tells us that aging mead at least nine months to one year will give you a much smoother and more enjoyable beverage.
Keystone Homebrew stocks a large selection of honey including: alfalfa, clover, orange blossom, tupelo, wildflower, and buckwheat, each of which has a distinctive flavor from the flower’s nectar. Your yeast selection can affect your mead as well. Some suggest wine yeasts, such as Cote de Blanc; other mead makers prefer yeasts specifically designed for mead, such as Wyeast’s liquid yeast cultures for sweet and dry meads. No matter which yeast you select, pick up a bottle Jason’s Mead Kit–available only at Keystone Homebrew–an award winning blend of nutrients, fruit acids, and clarifier designed for 5 gallons of mead. Finally, to help you explore the magical world of mead, we carry a great new book, The Complete Mead Maker by Ken Schramm.