If it's your first batch of mead ever, I usually like to recommend a real simple traditional mead. I'm sure a whole bunch of people are groaning right now because I didnt say JAOM, which is the grocery store set it and forget it almost kit style of mead. Nothing wrong with it, can be very good, too sweet straight for my tastes but very good mixed with ginger ale.
If you'd like to go that route, or if you happen to also have a second one gallon jug around, where you could throw the JAOM together, toss it in a dark corner, and forget it for a couple months here is a link to the recipe and instructions.
Now if you want to learn a little more about technique, you can use your Mr. Beer fermenter, but to use an airlock instead of the manufactured vents you'll probably have to do more than teflon tape the top on, it'll require some silicone or something to close those vents up. But aerating/degassing and stuff becomes a little more difficult, you can use it as is just as well and keep things simple for your first outing.
what you'll need is....
Honey.... of decent quality, make sure it's honey, not the chinese honey syrup, look for the "true source" label, read ingredient lists, etc... don't get crap at the dollar store (yes I know someone that did that). get something you like the flavor of, if it tastes bland your mead will be bland, if it tastes good your mead can taste good. Clover and wildflower can make an ok traditional, if you can get some orange blossom that makes very good traditional.
for 2 gallons you will want probably 6.5 pounds if you like a dryer less sweet style, 7-7.5 pounds if you want a sweeter mead.
Water...... obviously 2 gallons, again if it tastes good it helps in the end result, if you have high sulfur, mineral, or chlorinated tap water, consider getting a couple gallons of cheap spring water at the grocery store.
Yeast..... for the jaom you use store bought bread yeast but for the traditional you will want to upgrade to a wine yeast. I highly recommend the Lalvin strains, they cost about $1 a packet (or sachet as they like to call them). most homebrew stores have them or they can be ordered online, the 71B-1122 strain is a great all around yeast (http://www.lalvinyeast.com/71B.asp
), It's a quick starter but not so aggrasive that it blows all of the subtle and volatile flavor/aroma components of the honey out the top of your fermenter, a little more forgiving of a temperature range, matures well, and is very tolerant of higher acid fermenting (yes honey is actually quite acidic). for 2 gallons you can get away with 1 packet.
Yeast food....honey is nutritionally deficient, and yeast needs sustinance. Depending on your budget there are a couple directions you can go for this. First is economy, get a packet of the same bread yeast used in the jaom, mix it into a slurry with a couple ounces of water and microwave it for a couple minutes, to bring it up to a boil, this kills the yeast, so when added to your mead (which will be called "must" at this point) the healthy wine yeast will canabalize it and be happy and ready to work. Or you can spend a few extra dollars at the HBS or online and order some yeast nutrient, I like the Wyeast suppliment (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/wyeas...nt-1-5-oz.html
) it is a broader spectrum of the nitrogen, B12, and other stuff yeast likes than just DAP which in essence is just the nitrogen.
Now the fun part...putting it all together
I'll assume since you probably already know some stuff about brewing, you know how to sanitize EVERTHING and have the equipment and chemicals like star san or at least a bleach/water solution available. so go ahead and sanitize your fermenter, and a big pot, and a wire wisk if you have it, and some big spoons, and funnel, and thermometer, and container to rehydrate your yeast, and hydrometer (yes you need this and if you don't have one, pause here til you get one with a testing jar, all under $10), and anything extra you think you may need plus some extra just in case stuff.
Okay...you're read to make some mead.
DON'T FREAKIN BOIL ANYTHING!! , sorry didn't mean to yell, mead induced turrets kicked in...
If you would like to warm up your water a little for ease of mixing thats fine but 80*-90*F max.
first...take a cup of your water, heat it to 105*F, add 1/8 tsp of yeast nutrient or a splash of the boiled bread yeast you made, and a tsp of the honey you will be using and mix/whisk/shake the crap out of it...then sprinkle your packet of yeast on top, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to hydrate.
next...add half the water into either your fermenter or a big pot (I recommend this, just for ease of initial mixing since the Mr.Beer fermenter could be a bit messy to use at this stage) add all of your honey to it, add 1/3 of the package recommended amount of nutrients for your batch size, or 1/3 of your boiled yeast, and mix/whisk it into submission to start getting a lot of oxygen incorporated into it.
Pour this mixture into your fermenter if its not there already. Top it off with the remaining water (remember to leave a little space at the top for CO2 to escape and your cup of rehydrated yeast) in that fermenter probably 2 inches from the top will serve you well
take a sample.... taste it if you like, it'll just be real sweet honey water but will give you an idea of what the subtle honey characteristics will be later as well as a way to see how much the flavor changes and developes. also use that sample to take your OG hydrometer reading, check it, double check it then WRITE IT DOWN.
Now mix your yeast that has been soaking in its warm bath into a nice homogenous slurry, pour it into your must and mix well. put your Mr. Beer lid on, set it someplace that will stay around 66*F-68*F preferably and leave it be.
anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours later you will hear it working, listen close, it's doing it's thing, and remember, mead, especially a traditional, does not go balls to the wall like a beer will, so if you don't start seeing all kinds of foaming or krausen don't panic, mead ferments in a slightly more mellow or relaxed way (later when you get into adding other stuff to your primary, that can be another story but for now, nice and easy).
About a day after you pitched your yeast, take the top off and with a sanitized spoon start to slowly swirl the must, it'll start to bubble some like it you were stirring a soda or beer up, once you get it working start mixing more vigorously, you're getting the suspended CO2 out and getting some more oxygen in, this makes yeast happy, you started slow because you want to prevent a geyser of must from pouring out the top on you. once you have given it a good stir, wait a minute and do it again...now take either another 1/3 of your boiled bread yeast or 1/3 of your nutrients mixed with a little warm water to make a loose paste or slurry, add that to your must and give it another mix. put your lid back on and let it relax again.
While all of this is happening go to the store and get yourself a couple gallons of juice in glass jugs or if you prefer go get some gallon jugs of wine, if you don't have anything to use as secondary fermenters, this is the most economical way to get some.
On day 2 take a sampling to get a hydrometer reading, what you are looking for is a change of 1/3 in the sugar consumption, for example if your OG was 1.12, you are looking for something in the range of 1.08, that is when you are going to add your final 1/3 of the nutrients or boiled bread yeast. Until it reaches that point, you are going to just to the stiring (degassing or aeration, the term is different depending on who you talk to) at least once a day, 2-3 times is even better. If you get a particularly healthy batch of yeast and tempatures, consumption, alignment of the moon and mars are just right and it goes a little past 1.08 in the first couple days, don't panick, it'll be ok.
So now you have made it to the 1/3 point, added all your nutrients, been mixing and stirring...what now? nothing, leave it alone, don't play with it, don't fiddle with it, just give it some time. Every few days if you like take a hydrometer reading, when it reaches the point that it stops changing, meaning three consecutive readings a day between each are the same, you know primary fermentation it done. this can be in a week from pitching your yeast to a few weeks. yeast works at its own pace not by a calendar.
So now you're ready for a secondary fermenter (those jugs would come in real handy now), if you wanted to get creative now is the time. I recommended one gallon jugs for secondary because it gives you the ability to rack into one and leave it as a simple happy traditional, just sanitize, rack your mead into it (leave minimal headspace) airlock and set it to age and clear (someplace cooler in temp. than you fermented at, or even a brief stay in a refridgerator will speed the clearing process up) for your second gallon, you can get tricky, add some fruit or spices, I like cherries and vanilla bean myself, but you can go with your favorites. I recommend freezing, thawing, freezing and thawing the fruit, that helps break it down and also kills off anything you wouldn't want like wild yeast in your mead. Add it to the fermenter, rack your mead onto it and airlock, just be prepared it will potentially start fermenting again as you have added more sugar for any remaining yeast to eat.
I like to give the fruit/spice additions at least a couple weeks, you can go as long as you like, best bet is to taste it every now and then, see when the flavor level reaches what you like. Don't be discouraged if the mead doesn't take fabulous at this point, it may be drinkable but with time it will become amazing.
Once you have racked off your fruit and given all of your mead time to become crystal (as in you can read a newspaper through it) clear, it's time to decide whether you want to bottle it or leave it bulk to age, there are lots of different thoughts on that matter, you will have to experiment and see which you prefer.
don't forget that jug of jaom you have hidden away, by this point it should be crystal clear and an amazing golden orange color and ready to play with.
Good luck and welcome to mead making, sorry if the post is long winded and boring, I was trying to cover as many of the "faqs" up front, and as always don't be afraid to ask questions a long the way, there are many styles of opinions on mead making, this is just mine, and I by no means am an expert...have fun with it and please remember, no matter what you make or how you make it or who tells you is the right or wrong way to do things, if you like what you make, despite others opinions, that is all that really matters.