A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

My Second Attempt at Mead

Not content with just having one batch of mead brewing at a time, over the weekend just gone I decided to start a second larger, more adventurous batch.

Though a simpler recipe this mead will be more challenging to make and take a lot longer. The recipe for this batch is just honey water and yeast (plus some yeast nutrients). Also with this batch I am not just following a recipe but deviating slightly and fingers crossed for a good result. I did do a little research before diving in the deep end and got a rough idea of how much honey to water I need to be using. With this I have used approx 6kg of honey diluted in water to make up to about 25 litres. I am using wine yeast due to that being the only yeast available in Wilkinsons! The original recipe I am loosely following asked for champagne yeast. The original recipe also asked for "acid blend" to be added, being unsure what this was and also not seeing this in Wilkinsons I decided to leave this out and hope for the best. Also I'm not sure in ancient times these extra additives would be available! One additive I have bought is Campden tablets, these are used to stop fermentation, I will probably use these as mead has a tendency to stop fermenting and then start again. This causes bottled mead to become dangerous due to risk of fermentation restarting and making the bottles explode! This mead I am making will have a higher alcohol level than my previous mead as it uses a yeast with a higher tolerance, I'm not sure how strong it'll be but am expecting it to be between 15% and 17%. Due to this there will be a much longer fermenting period, approx 6 months. Also this batch will need racking. This is done when there is a layer of sediment in the fermenting vessel and is done by syphoning off all the mead to leave the layer of sediment behind. This is done because this layer of sediment can effect the taste if left in too long. When it has been racked a little extra water is added to bring the level of mead back up to original volume and then it's left again to continue fermentation. Further racking may be required if more layers of sediment collect but hopefully not too many times. When fermentation has finished, and campden tablets have been added to make sure it is fully stopped, then it's time to bottle the mead. I have started saving empty wine bottles and will buy some new corks closer the time they are needed. When it is bottled it can then be left to age but no doubt I will crack a bottle open before it has had any time to age. With 25l I should have plenty of bottles to leave and forget about so they can age. I have read somewhere of mead that has been aged over 10 years but highly doubt I'll be leaving it that long before drinking!

At the moment my smaller batch of mead is bubbling away steadily after having a fast start and my larger batch is going quite vigorously after only been in for a few days, causing a loud bubbling noise approx every 3 seconds. Though I find this a very satisfiying sound it does get rather annoying after a while so will be moving the mead to another room soon. The first mead has developed a thick layer of sediment but the recipe says no to racking so I will resist and wait while march to open it!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

My First Attempt at Mead

In the past few days I have started to brew my first batch of mead. The recipe I have chosen to follow is for Jao The Ultimate Beginners Mead.

I have chosen this recipe due to it's simplicity and how quickly you get results. This mead is ready in little over 2 months. The research on the net I have done prior to making this brew always tries to steer away from using bread yeast but this recipe is designed for it. Using this yeast instead of more alcohol tolerant yeasts does produce a weaker mead but still 12% isn't bad! The honey I am using is not from my own bees (as I still haven't acquired any yet) but has been supplied by a family member in bulk and with any luck this will not affect the outcome too much. I am making approx 3.8 litres but if successful will probably make a larger batch in the future. At the moment fermentation seems to be happening quite happily with the airlock bubbling every minute or two. If I've followed the instructions correctly I should be tasting the mead as early as march and will post my thoughts on the taste as well as the views of anyone else who tastes it. Just need to get some bottles for when the mead is ready so I can store some rather than just drinking it all at once!!

Below is a few images. The first is the demijohn with all ingredients inside and airlock on top. The second is covered in black bin bag to stop too much light getting in, ideally it should be kept in a dark cupboard but I have to keep it in living room due to winter temperatures and living room being only room that is consistently warm. The final picture is a close up of the air lock.