Make Mead Like a Viking
While attending the Great Atlanta Beer Fest, I had the opportunity to sample my first pour of mead. That particular variation on the ancient honey wine was developed by Monk’s Meadery in Athens, GA. It was intense. Sweet, dry and boozy, it seemed the perfect dessert drink and I was pleased to find a simple sweet mead recipe kit at Northern Brewer. When the next hankering came for a taste of mead, I decided to make my own.
Making mead isn’t quite like brewing beer. In fact, there’s very little stovetop action involved. In this recipe, at least, there were also fewer ingredients and steps to the process. The honey and water are poured directly into the fermenter. Yeast and additives top off the mix and into the fermentation closet it goes! In a few months, you have mead.
One of the best tips in the kit was to soak the honey container in a hot water bath to loosen up the syrup and easily get most of the material out of the bottle. They also recommend boiling a small amount of water and pouring that into the container to loosen up the remaining stuck bits of honey. It worked like a charm.
What didn’t work like a charm was the fermentation. After a month in the primary, I noticed that my fermentation stalled at around 5%. To combat this, I moved it out into the hallway, slightly raising the temperature, and began agitating the must on a twice-a-day schedule (or whenever I happened to walk by). After a few days, this jump started the process. At the end of my three month primary, I was up to 11% ABV. I put it in the secondary and it cleared up into a beautiful hay gold color. I chose to follow the instructions and not carbonate the drink, making a “still” variation.
The mead tastes great and always takes me back to my first sample from Monk’s Meadery. It’s a perfect conversation starter with friends and beer geeks that have never branched out into mead and it is ideal for sharing. That high ABV can be tasted with a mild alcohol burn which complements the wildflower honey sweetness. Northern Brewer makes a super easy to follow kit and a solid introduction to making mead. I’m looking forward to branching out with different yeast strains, fruit additives and honey varieties in the next year.