In a pot combine honey and 1½ gallons of water.
Slowly increase heat until the honey dissolves, then raise the temperature of the mixture to 170F. Steep at this temperature for 20 minutes to pasteurize the honey (without boiling, which would drive off delicate aromatics).
(Optional) If you want to add fruit to your mead: crushed, chopped or pureed fruit may be added to the honey/water mixture during the steeping process. Take care not to allow the fruit to boil.
Put a lid on the pot and move the pot into an icewater bath in order to chill rapidly. (A sink full of cold water will work adequately if the water is changed two or three times as it heats up.) Once you can comfortably touch the sides of the pot, pour the honey and water mixture into cold water in your fermenter and top off to 5 gallons.
When the temperature is below 80F add the yeast. If using dry yeast, sprinkle it evenly across the surface.
Allow to ferment at room temperature until completion. The final gravity should be around 0.990-0.994. If fermentation stops before the mead reaches its final gravity, the fermentation may be “stuck.” If you find that you have a “stuck” fermentation, there are a few things you can try. You can add Yeast Energizer, or another pack of yeast. You can also try to rouse the yeast by shaking or stirring it up.
After the fermentation is complete the mead should be clear. Sometimes it takes some time for the yeast to fall out of suspension. If your mead is not clear, but the hydrometer readings indicate the fermentation is complete, rack (transfer) to a secondary fermenter, preferably glass. If your mead does not clear after the first racking, you have two options. The first is to continue racking every couple of months until clear, or using a fining agent like Super Clear.
Bottling: There are two options available to you. Sparkling mead is bottled just like beer with priming sugar. Still mead (not bubbly) is bottled like wine, in wine bottles and corked. Bottle caps can still be used to bottle still mead.
Drinking: Some sources may recommend drinking as soon as the mead clears, while others recommend waiting years. Our experience with this recipe is that most meads improve dramatically with age (over 8 months). Your taste buds will guide you.
If you are not sure about any of the steps above, you can call us and we can talk about your options. We also carry great books on mead making.