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Old 11-11-2011, 04:24 AM   #1
Nov 2011
carneyspoint, nj
Posts: 76
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Does the quality of honey make a difference in the final product? I bought the cheap acme honey instead of whatever name brand honey they had at the grocery store.

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Old 11-11-2011, 11:06 AM   #2
Oct 2011
Bear, Delaware
Posts: 112
Liked 5 Times on 3 Posts

Quality ingredients are important in any sort of cooking, brewing, fermenting...
Doesn't mean the mead will be bad, but it won't be the best ever.
I am new to mead making and I decided to use Costco honey for my 6 gallon show mead and my 3 gallon chocolate mead in case I mess something up. I did buy 9 pounds of 'better' (read: more expensive) honey from the brew store for another 3 gallon show mead so next year hopefully I can tell the difference

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Old 11-11-2011, 04:24 PM   #3
Nov 2008
Posts: 641
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Quality of honey is important, essential to the final product. It is the same as in cooking. A cheif is only as good as their ingredients will let him.

The type of honey you want is as close to the source as you can, that being bee keeper's or apiaries. If you check in your local area there are sure to be some bee keepers or bee farmers. Checking google helps, Honeylocator.com helps. Also, you can buy from a honey distributors that sell through the internet. Do not ignore the power of varietals but when starting out I suggest a good wildflower or alfalfa honey. It makes a great base. Buying from your local brew shop is ok, but will be expensive, so will some of the places like Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage and your organic grocery stores. Again expensive.

You want unfiltered honey that hopefully hasn't been heated and filtered many times. You also want for a specific varital to be specified, Clover, Alfalfa, and wildflower are valid basic but if the jar just says "Honey" then pass that one up. Wildflower is also sort of a code for a mixed flower honey. It can be great but it is as close as you can get to a general honey varietal. The reason for this is that Wildflower is the type of honey that the bees make when they source several different flowers and don't have a large enough single source of nector to get it, such as raspberry honey, orange blossum honey, buckwheat honey, or blueberry honey. One batch of wildflower will taste differently than another but it makes a good base. Personally I prefer alfalfa.

My sugestion, Find your local apiaries or other brewers in your area and work out a deal for honey, not only will you get a cheaper price than store bough but it will be better quality. I reciently got some Orange Blossom honey for $2.05 a pound but it was for 42 pounds so be prepared for more than one batch worth of honey. Dont worry about honey going bad, it doesnt but it may crystalize on you. Just mixing that with warm, not boiling, water will melt it again. They even found that some egyptions had honey, crystalized in a tomb that was good 5000 years later.

But trust me your pallet will thank you, so will your friends that you share it with.


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Old 11-11-2011, 05:23 PM   #4
Mermaid's Avatar
Apr 2010
Bloomingdale, IL
Posts: 666
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Definitely check out local farmers markets, anywhere you would find local produce, etc. I've been lucky enough to find local (Massachusetts) wildflower honey. It's not cheap, but it's definitely worth it. I brewed a Belgian ale last year using a lb. of this local honey and the beautiful fragrance and subtle flavor I got from it made it worth every penny.

I agree with the other posters. Taste different honeys, smell them, etc. It's like working with different grains. I've got 3 gallons of cyser going now using local cider and the same local wildflower honey (the only thing not local is the yeast).
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:12 PM   #5
robin850's Avatar
Oct 2011
sheboygan, wi
Posts: 41
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make friends with your local beekeepers. It does taste better!

after running out of honey from my own hives, i bought some from a friend for $2.50/lb for 25lbs.

"sweet deal", pun intended!

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Old 11-11-2011, 11:38 PM   #6
Golddiggie's Avatar
Dec 2010
Posts: 11,995
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+5 to using local/regional [high quality] honey whenever possible. Unless you're going to add significant amount of flavor from other items, you want the honey greatness to shine.

I'm about to actually start drinking my first batches of mead, that were started almost a year ago (right before Thanksgiving last year). I sampled one bottle about 4-8 weeks ago, and it was getting really good. Now that it's had some more time to age, it should be even better. Plus, I'll be bottling a batch that I aged on medium toast oak cubes for about 5 weeks (3 gallons of mead, 1.5oz of oak cubes). Early sampling gives it high marks.

Something else that, IMO, is important for making mead. Yeast selection and proper treatment. Read up on the processes over at the Got Mead? site to get a better idea. Just remember, there's absolutely ZERO need to heat the honey must up above 100F. I would only go that high IF the honey was pretty much solid, and I wanted to get it liquid.
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:53 PM   #7
usfmikeb's Avatar
Jan 2011
Leesburg, Virginia
Posts: 3,148
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One thing to keep in mind is what you're adding to your mead. For example, if you're making a show mead, use the best honey you can find. However, if you're going to add a bunch of other flavors to it that will cover up the flavor of the honey anyways, feel free to use regular old clover honey.

If I'm making something with strong flavors, I buy at Wegman's. If I'm making something that's going to showcase the flavor of the honey, I buy from a local apiary.

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Old 11-11-2011, 11:55 PM   #8
usfmikeb's Avatar
Jan 2011
Leesburg, Virginia
Posts: 3,148
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Also, brand name honey doesn't mean it's high quality, that's why I suggest finding a local apiary. As someone else recommended, go to a local farmer's market.

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Old 11-11-2011, 11:59 PM   #9
biochemedic's Avatar
Jun 2010
Carnegie, PA
Posts: 2,176
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The only time I've ever used anything other than local raw honey, or a varietal honey, is when I brewed my bochet -- figured there was no need to use anything special when it was going to be boiled and the flavors were largely going to be coming from the carmelization.
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