The simplest Mead to make, often called a Show Mead, or a Traditional Mead, contains nothing more than Honey, water and yeast (and nutrients, you need to feed your yeast!). An example would be the following:
- 12 lbs Honey
- Lalvin RC212 Yeast
- Water to 5 gallons
This will produce a dry Mead with approximately 12% ABV. Why is it a dry Mead? The yeast has the potential to ferment up to around 14% ABV. Since there is only enough honey to produce approx. 12% ABV, the yeast will not stop eating the sugar before it is all gone. With no sugar left to sweeten the Mead, it will be dry. This kind of Mead is designed to showcase the unique flavor and aroma of the varietal of honey used.
You will notice that I used the word ‘simplest’ above, not ‘easiest’. There is a reason for that. Because there are no other ingredients to add flavors into a Show or Traditional Mead, any tiny “off” flavor caused by a mistake in the brewing process will be easily detectable, particularly if the honey used was very delicate. It is therefore sometimes better to start your Mead making hobby with recipes that have some additional ingredients that will help mask some of the undesirable flavors, at least until you have learned and practiced the basic brewing skills.
So what should you start with? This is the perfect time to introduce you to the easiest, quickest, most foolproof recipe you could ever ask for.
NOTE: For more recipes that include solid, repeatable, and most importantly, expandable fermentation techniques, grab a free membership in the GotMead Forums. And if you want to ‘hang with the big dogs’, the folks who really know their stuff, upgrade to a GotMead Patron membership for only $30/year and get access to the Patron Forums, where the award winning recipes and techniques get talked about.
Joe’s Ancient Orange and Spice Mead – Modernized, by Jon Talkington, owner of Brimminghorn Meadery
I have made the classic Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead…bread yeast and all. People either love or hate it. JAOM is good for what it is and its easy for the hobbyist mead maker, but I made it this way for people to step up their skills in mead making.
The problem with bread yeast (I know Joe was going for ancient) is that its inconsistent and produces many off flavors like phenolics and esters when fermented warm so I used an ale yeast for a cleaner and more consistent flavor.
Another issue is the orange cut in pieces and added whole, you end up getting the bitterness from the pith of the orange. So I zested the orange with a citrus zester and used the juice, no whole orange in the recipe.
The raisins do provide flavor and extra sugars however they are not “yeast nutrients” as is suggested so I added yeast nutrients in a staggered fashion which will make for a better ferment.This mead makes a nice sweet spicy orange mead to sip in the autumn and winter months. Enjoy!!
- 17 to 18 lbs Honey (a lighter variety will work)
- 5 x Large Oranges (Zested and juiced)
- 12 oz. Raisins (you can use golden or dark. The darker raisins will have more of a sherry flavor) Make sure they don’t have sulfites.
- 4 medium sized Cinnamon sticks (I like to use Vietnamese Cinnamon its very sweet in flavor)
- 10 whole cloves or 1/2 tsp of ground cloves
- 1 tsp Ground Allpsice 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 15 grams dry ale yeast such as Fermentis US05, S-04, S-33 or Cooper’s Ale Yeast rehydrated with 18.75 grams Go-Ferm or Start Up rehydration nutrients. I’ve use all these yeasts with good results in mead.
Directions for mixing up the Go-Ferm and yeast.
Mix Go-Ferm in 20 times its weight in clean 110°F (43°C) water. So this would would be 12.6 oz of 110 degree water..Let cool to 104 degree F (40°C) then add the 15 grams active dried yeast. Let stand for 20 minutes. Slowly (over 5 minutes) add equal amounts of must (juice) to be fermented to the yeast slurry.
Watch the temperature difference. Do not allow more than 18°F (10°C) difference between the must (juice) and the yeast slurry.
10 grams Yeast Nutrient such as Fermaid K or Super Food added in steps.
5 grams added right when fermentation begins at 24 hours and the other 5 grams added at 72 hours.
Water to top to 5.5 gallons
Make sure all fermentation equipment is clean and sanitized. Mix honey,orange zest & juice, spices and water into the bucket (no boiling the honey) stir well to make sure the honey is all dissolved thoroughly. Rehydrate the yeast with Go-Ferm in warm water per directions. Aerate the honey mixture and pitch in the rehydrated wine yeast. Add the nutrients as needed and ferment 2 to 3 weeks at 64 to 68 degrees F before racking into a glass carboy for secondary fermentation and aging. Rack as necessary, when clear and stable the mead can be bottled. Cheers!
OG- 1.130 to 1.135 FG- 1.020 to 1.025
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- The Newbee Guide to Making Mead – Chapter 2:Honey - April 15, 2020
- The NewBee Guide to Making Mead – Chapter 6: The Basic Recipe - June 6, 2019
- The NewBee Guide to Making Mead – Chapter 5: Terminology and Calculations - June 6, 2019