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A Good Beginner Recipe

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wild

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As Mead Day comes closer I thought I'd give it a try. Are there any good beginner mead recipes to start from? I must confess that I do have a sweet tooth and also enjoy sparkling meads. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Wild
 

Janx

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The combination of sweet and sparkling is a tricky one. Any residual sugar in the mead will tend to want to continue fermenting dry. So, if you bottle it sweet, it'll be bottle-grenade time.

But there are sweet champagnes, so there must be a way. And champagne is naturally carbonated. I'd guess it takes some pretty precise gravity measurements and knowledge of what alcohol content your yeast dies off at.

Sorry I can't be of more help. I always make very dry meads, so sparkling is just like what you do with beer. I'm very interested to see if anyone knows more about how sweet/sparkling would be done.

Cheers :D
 

digdan

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When I carbonate sweet mead I use wine bottles, and "loosley" cork them. This way the cork will blow before the bottle, but I have never added sugars during bottling(As long as its not a sack, sweet meads seem to be constantly fermenting).

The foolproof way is to keg your mead and pressure carbonate, or use a Tap-a-draft system.
 

palecricket1

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sparkling mead isn't quite what I would call "beginner's" material. But if you want to give it a try, go for it. A basic recipe is 1 part water to 4 parts honey, and if you want 1 part fruit. A good place to start is with an orange melomel. Make sure to use either fresh squeezed orange juice or clear juice that doesn't have any of the "fruit-cal" junk in it, unless of course you want to harden up your water with calcium hydroxide. Tropicana is a no-no. As far as honey goes, try orange blossom honey to capture the true essence of the orange, or you can also try clover, wildflower, or my personal favorite, lime. Avoid buckwheat, which is a common beginner's mistake (mead wasn't meant to taste like hay). Bring the water to a boil and then allow it to cool slightly so it isn't steaming before adding the orange juice. When it cools to around 80 degrees or until you can bear to put your [sterile] hand into the water, then add the honey and stir to dissolve it. Pour the must through a FUNNEL (don't siphon it) into the carboy so that you get it oxygenated. If you feel the need to further oxygenate it, beat it with a sterilized whisk or an egg beater for a bit. You should add just a little tannin since the orange lacks it. Pitch the yeast or add the starter and you're good to go. When it's dry, rack into a secondary and age it until it's crystal clear, then bottle it. If you want a sweeter mead, use a sweet mead yeast or one with a lower alcohol tolerance. Or you can stabilize with sorbate and sweeten with more honey (let it sit in the carboy a few more weeks so that if it restarts the fermentation it's no big deal). To carbonate it, put just a little sugar on the bottom of the bottle and rack the unstabilized mead ontop, but keep in mind that it will be dry. For a sweet carbonated mead, you'll have to force carbonate it with a CO2 cannister.

PS don't loosely cork your bottles; it's just asking for trouble. Use thicker bottles like those for champagne and beer and then wire down the corks. Bottle grenades aren't a problem if you just make sure you don't overprime your bottles or for a still mead that your mead is stabilized.
 
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wild

wild

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Thanks for the info palecricket1. I still haven't decided which flavored mead to make. It will ether be an orange melomel that you mentioned or a vanilla. But I would like to make a traditional also. I've been offered an evening of mead training by one of our clubs members and am really looking forward to it.

Questions:
  • I've heard of adding honey later if I think it's too dry. When is this done and with how much?
  • How can you tell when it is safe to bottle a sparkling dry mead without using a hydrometer?

Thanks
Wild
 

Beertracker

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Q: I've heard of adding honey later if I think it's too dry. When is this done and with how much?

A: It's always a good idea to add your honey along with additional nutrients in increments esp. when making a sweet mead. If you're just sweetning a mead, then add (after sulphiting & removing yeast) 1lb. at a time which will increase your SG by an avg. of .006-.008 points.

Q: How can you tell when it is safe to bottle a sparkling dry mead without using a hydrometer?

A: Use preservatives such as Sodium Metabisulfite (Campden tablet), Sodium Benzote and/or Potassium Sorbate. I recommend using forced CO2 for carbonating meads. ;)
 

palecricket1

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one thing I forgot to add: when you are adding the honey to the hot water, it's 80 degrees Celcius. Very important because at 80 farenheit, you won't kill off foreign bacteria and yeasts. 80*C=180*F

Beertracker said:
Q\ Use preservatives such as Sodium Metabisulfite (Campden tablet), Sodium Benzote and/or Potassium Sorbate. I recommend using forced CO2 for carbonating meads. ;)
Can you really use sodium benzoate in mead? I always found it lended a distinctly chemically flavor to any foods I've ever had it in. Not sure if that would be true in mead as well though.
 

Beertracker

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Can you really use sodium benzoate in mead? I always found it lended a distinctly chemically flavor to any foods I've ever had it in. Not sure if that would be true in mead as well though.
I use it all the time in my homebrewed root beer recipe and I've used it before in a Melomel or two w/o any noticeable flavor, but I prefer not to use anything. ;) Sodium benzoate is on the FDA's approved list of additives for the brewing industry, but that doesn't mean it won't kill you! :D
 
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