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Old 09-30-2009, 05:34 PM   #1
Apr 2009
Posts: 19

So! I got a 5-gallon pickle bucket from work yesterday...and I thought I'd try my hand at brewing a mead. I don't have any pictures on me at the moment, but I thought I'd ask some general questions here to try and get my leg up on the pile.

It came with a lid, which, at far as I can tell, has a pretty good seal. However, I would need to drill a hole in it for the airlock. I was thinking I could drill a hole in the lid, run a tube through the hole into a bowl of water or sterilizer or something, and seal the tube-lid connection with some clay or something? Is that a good idea?

Also, has anyone used a pickle bucket before? This thing smells fairly strongly of pickles, and I imagine I should get rid of that smell before I brew. Any tips?

I am planning on using 3 gallons of honey from a local honey farm. Should I ask the bee-master any specific questions about the honey?

And...hmm. That's all I can think of for now. Any tips for a first time meadmaker are very much appreciated, though.


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Old 09-30-2009, 06:12 PM   #2
cabledawg's Avatar
Oct 2008
North Carolina
Posts: 141
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

I have toyed with the idea of reusing food buckets as fermenters, but with all the risk saving a few bucks over just buying a new one just didn't sit right with me. I buy a new bottling bucket and fermenter about every 6-9 months depending on how many time I brew. I have been told that buying two new buckets every 6-9 months was over kill but hey that is one less thing to worry about. I brewed my first mead last night. It was very simple and even the SWMBO got involed. Here is the recipe I used.
Only change I made was the yeast.
Good luck

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Old 09-30-2009, 07:14 PM   #3
Nov 2006
Posts: 4,289
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Ok, let's start.

3 GALLONS of Honey is something like 36# of honey - which is way way too much for a 5 gallon batch. Typically 12-20# would be used.

The pickle bucket - I would not use at all. If it even remotely still smells of pickles (even after a dozen cleanings, getting that out is likely going to be impossible) it's going to affect your mead. Second, it would be ok for primary, but for long term storage, you want to 1) minimize headspace and 2) no oxygen permeability. While I'm sure some people do keep meads and wines in buckets for aging, it's something I'm personally against.

If you're going to drill a hole, get a lid grommet from a homebrew store and put a standard airlock in there. While the "hose thru the hole" might work in primary while it's offgassing a ton of CO2, for long term storage, it just cant be trusted.

A bucket and a carboy from the store is like $50 or less and well worth the investment considering your ~15# of honey will end up being $50+. If you lose a $50 investment in the honey, you might as well have just bought the right equipment the first time.

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Old 09-30-2009, 07:23 PM   #4

I agree that using a used pickle bucket would be a recipe for disaster. If you want to go used, and I have many times, go to a bakery or donut shop and get a pail that's had commercial icing in it. You don't need a lid for the primary fermentation. I use a towel secured with bungee cord. After about a week I rack the mead to a glass secondary and fit with an air lock. I do, however, drill a hole about three inches from the bottom of the pail and install a plastic spigot for racking. Make sure it isn't leaking before making the mead though.

Use about half of that three gallons of honey for a 5-gallon batch of mead and get yourself a hydrometer so you can get a precise measurement on your original gravity.

Buy Ken Schramm's The Compleat Meadmaker or go to and do a little reading before you begin. It'll save you a lot of time and wasted effort in the long run.

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Old 09-30-2009, 07:28 PM   #5
Apr 2009
Posts: 19

I'm glad I asked. Thanks for the replies! It looks like my mead endeavor might have to be put on hold for a little bit...

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