So...finally have these things going...hopefully I'm using them correctly
Homebrew 101: Something for that Sweet Tooth
January 22, 2015
One of the predicaments I’ve encountered on the blog is trying to find ways to make this home brewing stuff interesting to those of you who aren’t brewers and who may not have the time or level of interest in making your own beer. I have found that allot of that feedback also ties into the reason for a previous post I had done as I continue to hear people say “I’m just not really a beer person” (which I believe disqualifies you from Colorado citizenship, our governor brews after all…). After some thought and searching for a way to peak everyone’s interest I thought it might be best to feature something that is both extremely easy to make and likely to be enjoyed by everyone….mead. Yes, this ancient and scrumptious beverage is surprisingly easy to make yourself and will get you some major bragging rights if done correctly.
Since mead is less common than beer or wine it’s probably important to highlight just what this stuff is for the uninitiated. In its most simple form, mead is drink made by fermenting honey the earliest known existence of which has been documented in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia around 7000 B.C. I’m not going to drone on with a history lesson in this post, but if that is something that is of interest to you I’d recommend Wassail! In Mazers of Mead by Robert Gayre if you can find a copy. As far as modern mead goes, we actually have quite a few really good meaderies in Colorado, especially those on the western slope near Fruita and Grand Junction (they get some pretty swell honey over them from all of those peach and cherry trees). Of course the point of this post is to show you how easy it is to make your own so rather than give you a list of suggestions, I’m going to give you a crazy simple recipe to try:
What You’ll Need
1 gallon of honey (I prefer to get the local stuff but the giant tub from Costco will work just fine)
½ gallon of orange juice – NOT FROM CONCENCTRATE!
1 pouch Wyeast 4021 – Champagne yeast
4 Gallons of water
A few big bags of Ice (or your back porch if you’re in Laramie…)
That’s all you need!
Feel free to remove or replace the orange juice with something else you prefer of course
2 x 6 gallon Fermentation bucket or carboy (available at any brew supply shop)
3 piece airlock (also a stopper if you are going the carboy route)
(All of the stuff above can be found in a standard home brewing starter kit or if you buy them individually it should cost about $40)
Boiling Pot (minimum size 2 gallons, preferably not used for cooking previously)
What to Do
Activate your yeast pouch by breaking the inner nutrient supply (i.e. smack it really hard)
Fill boiling pot with 2 gallons of water and heat to 190 degrees
At 190 degrees, remove pot from heat and stir in honey and juice
Return the pot to the burner and heat to 190 degrees for 20 minutes, during which skim any foam and particulates from the surface occasionally
After the 20 minute timeframe move the pot to a large sink or bathtub filled with ice and allow to cool to at least 75 degrees (you can also use a wort chiller or chilling plate if you have them)
Once the Must (unfermented mead) has cooled use your auto syphon to transfer from the boiling pot to your bucket/carboy
Top off with water until you have a total of 5 gallons in the fermentor
Pitch the contents of your yeast packet into the must and gently swirl the fermentation vessel
Add the lid/stopper with the airlock in place and place in a cool dark location
Keep an eye on your airlock, when it has stopped bubbling (generally 2-4 weeks) use your auto syphon to transfer the mead from the primary fermenter to the second bucket/carboy and seal with stopper or sanitized lid.
Allow the mead to sit in secondary for an additional 2-4 weeks
Poof, that’s it!
The hardest part of all of this is playing the waiting game while the yeast goes to town on the honey and juice, but I promise it’s worth it. Another silver lining to the simple process of making mead is that it is remarkably similar to brewing beer with malt extract, so if you find you enjoyed making something tasty you can use all the same equipment from your mead adventure to make other equally good brews.
So, now that you have the basics on how to make a mead I have a challenge for you (ah crap, it just got serious…not really) I challenge any and all of you to make a batch! If/when you do feel you are welcome and encouraged to share pictures of your mead and what you decide to call it! Of course if you are willing to share some with me, that works too. Cheers everyone!
You can’t attach a tap handle to a faucet without this important piece. What are the things in the picture below called? (and no, it’s not the screwy on bit)