My first Simple Mead isn’t done yet, so I’m not sure how it’s going to ultimately turn out. That’s enough of a success story for me, so I went ahead and started another batch of a simple mead. This time, I used some different yeast and some different techniques, to contrast with my first effort.
I was thinking about doing something more complicated, like a bochet (caramelized honey mead) or some kind of melomel (mead with fruit/juice), but it occurs to me that I still don’t have a good baseline understanding of mead making. Since I’m not versed in the basics, I can’t attempt an improvement or complication on the recipe with any confidence. What I need to do is stick with the basics, for now.
Simple Mead 2
- 1 Quart Honey 
- Water 
- Yeast nutrient
- Yeast 
Sterilize your fermenter and all equipment. Add the honey to your fermenter . Add water to bring the total volume up to around 1 and a quarter gallons of must . Put on the lid and shake vigorously to aerate. Add your yeast and yeast nutrient to the must. Cover the fermenter and attach the airlock.
Let sit, in a warm room for 3 weeks or until primary fermentation is complete . Rack to a secondary fermentation to age until its ready to drink.
When primary was complete, I racked to secondary stealing a sip along the way. The mead is definitely young, though noticeably smoother and less harsh than the first batch.
Because my first racking of the prior batch was so sloppy, I needed to rack again to tertiary. I tasted it again along the way, but even after two months my Simple Mead 1 is harsher, less floral and has a little less honey character than this second batch is on the way into secondary. I suspect that the “Sweet Mead” yeast just produces a result that is smoother out of primary. I may stick with that (or, at least, steer clear of the Champagne yeast) for the next few batches.
Here is a picture of the two batches, Simple Mead 1 on the left and Simple Mead 2 on the right.
- I used a combination of left-over “Local Honey” from my first batch and some crystallized clover honey from the back of my closet. The honey and a little bit of water used to loosen it up, came out to just over a quart by volume. I didn’t weigh the honey and don’t have a hydrometer, so I can’t tell you exactly what the sugar content or starting gravity is.
- I used bottled spring water.
- The yeast I used this time was WLP-720 “Sweet Mead” from White Labs. I didn’t realize at the time, but the vial I bought was after it’s sell-by date. I made a small starter with water, honey and a dash of nutrient, and allowed to sit out, covered, overnight. By the next morning the starter was bubbling and active, so it was ready to use. This yeast has an attenuation of 75% or more, so I am expecting the finished product to be quite sweet.
- I heated the honey up in a double-boiler arrangement to get it loose enough to pour. Some recipes require the honey to be boiled, but I’ve been advised not to heat the honey hotter than 165°F for risk of losing quality.
- I wanted a little bit extra, because I lose a bit on every racking. When it gets into secondary, I’m sure I’ll have much closer to 1 gallon.
- It took well over 3 weeks for this batch to finish primary, and even then I’m not convinced that it was 100% complete, but I had a limited window of time to rack it, so that’s when it happened. I suspect the Sweet Mead yeast is just a little bit less vigorous than the Champagne yeast and other yeasts I’ve used for other things.