Traditional meads are awesome and really allow the quality of the brewer and the ingredients to shine in an unadulterated way. Further, good quality traditionals provide an excellent base mead for melomels, metheglins, etc.
My favorite way to make a complex mead is to start with a traditional and let it ferment to completion. Then afterward, start mixing in fruit purees, spices, or whatever might sound good. One thing that makes mead so fun is that one can do almost whatever they want with it to create something interesting.
I generally use a ratio of 3 lbs of honey per gallon of water. This is generally considered a medium sweet blend. The honey can be scaled up or down depending on the desired outcome, but I’ve found that this ratio provides the best range of results.
- 3lbs Blueberry Honey
- Honey style doesn’t really matter, but different ones will impart different flavors
- 1 gallon of water
- If making five gallons for example, scale accordingly.
- Also, what I usually do is base my water volume off of my target OG. Typically with this mead I go for 1.110 OG, and add water to the honey until it’s met.
- 1 L or so of a yeast starter.
- I follow Ken Schramm’s procedure for making a yeast starter. In a 2L soda bottle or erlenmeyer flask, add some DME, honey, and water, then heat to sterilize. Cool to 70 F and pitch yeast. Place an airlock and let sit overnight or so.
- Having a hearty yeast starter, in my experience, is really important for making quality mead. Honey isn’t easy to ferment for yeast, so having a huge colony takes a lot of stress off.
- Combine the ingredients into a proper sized carboy and stir, shake, etc. until everything is well mixed.
- Ensure the mix is proper yeast pitching temperature (between 60-70 F or so) and pitch the yeast starter
- Add an airlock and let it go. With a good yeast starter the airlock should see activity fairly quickly
Lemon Nutmeg Mead
Modern recipe! Ready in approx. one month.
I found this recipe when looking around for SCA Mead recipes. This one was originally called SMoY Mead (Sir Michael of York, who’s the one that created this recipe), but for simplicity’s sake I generally just call it Lemon Nutmeg Mead.
This is a mead that pretty much everyone loves. It’s light, fizzy, and incredibly flavorful. Further, it’s really easy to make.
On my next iteration of this recipe I’m going to skip the skimming part all together and simply heat the honey a bit to steeping temperature for the lemons and nutmegs. I think it’ll be less maintenance up front and yield similar results. We shall see…
- 1 Gallon Water
- 2 Lemons
- 2.5 lbs Honey (I like Blueberry Honey from Fruitwood Orchards a lot. Really flavorful.)
- 3 nutmegs, chopped
- 1 pkg Ale yeast
- Since the intent of this is fairly low alcohol and a really quick turn around (1 month), using ale yeast works best. I prefer Safale S-33 for this one.
- Add the honey to one gallon of water and bring it to a boil.
- Skim off the foam that boils up, and keep boiling until it stops foaming, approximately 30 minutes.
- Slice or juice the lemons and add along with the nutmeg.
- Mix well, turn off the heat and let stand covered until cooled to yeast pitching temp
- Pour into a gallon jug and add the yeast
- Ferment two weeks, then siphon into bottles
- Let the yeast continue to do their work a bit in the bottles in order to carbonate the mead
- After two weeks in the bottle, refrigerate them
- This is especially important because the yeast will continue to ferment and pressurize the bottle. Too much pressure will cause explosions. I prefer using swing top bottles for this reason.
Period French Bochet
From a 14th Century French book.
More details soon. I need to dig up my documentation.
Period French Cider
This is a pretty simple recipe. Essentially, crush apples into juice, then ferment. Then drink. Done. See the more detailed documentation on the documents page.
- 6 gallons of pressed apples from local orchard
- This orchard uses many different apple varieties and combines them all. Similar to what medieval brewers use.
- Yeast - Any cider or ale yeast will do
- Pour pressed apples into appropriately sized carboy
- Ensure proper yeast pitching temperature, then pitch
- When fermentation finishes, bottle.
Black Currant Mead
I’m fairly certain that this is the best mead I’ve ever made. Maybe as a very close second to the Lemon Nutmeg mead. The process was pretty straightforward and something I did kind of on a whim, but it ended up working really well.
The mead was tart and slightly sweet, and really dark in color. It had a substantial black currant flavor with a distinct honey aftertaste. It was quite well balanced and really an incredible drink.
- 3 gallons Traditional Mead
- I started with this as a base. It was about 6 mo old when I racked it.
- 49 oz can of Vintner’s Harvest black currant puree
- 3 gallon carboy
- Pour black currant puree into sanitized three gallon carboy
- Rack mead on top of the black currant until the carboy is full
- Place an airlock on top and let the secondary fermentation finish.
- Since the alcohol content goes down because of the addition of the black currant, the yeast will revive and consume the black currant sugar
- When fermentation stops, bottle.
- This was ready to drink immediately and was effectively only 9 months old at most. Three gallons was not enough.