The original resource on authentic Honey Wine - THE Reinheitsgebot of MEAD!





***THE WAY (how to make)***

How to Make a World-Class Mead

Welcome to the way page, the most copied and scientifically valid method for mead making! Use of this information and republishing it or distributing it constitutes copyright infringement. Legal action will apply. Home use only. © 2007 - 2014  Douglas Remington - www.traditionalmead.com

Here is a great recipe for a 5-gallon batch of Traditional Mead (off-dry/semi-sweet.) It is quite easy to do; you just need some patience in dissolving the honey. To make a drier or sweeter/heavier Mead, the recipe will remain the same; you’re just using less or more honey. As a general rule:


9-12 pounds of honey = a dry Mead


13-14 pounds of honey = an off-dry Mead


15-16 pounds of honey = a semi-sweet Mead


17-22 pounds of honey = a sweet to very sweet Mead


OK friends, take a deep breath, and lets get started!


1. For an off-dry Mead, obtain 14 pounds of quality honey such as Orange Blossom, Raspberry, Tupelo, Blackberry, Mountain Fireweed, or Mountain Wildflower and soak it in warm water to loosen it up for 15 minutes.


2. Add 1 gallon quality non-municipal room temperature soft water (no more than 150ppm TH) to a sanitized primary fermenter, add all the honey, and stir vigorously until dissolved.


3. Add another 2 3/4 – 3 gallons (adjust to 5 gallons total must) room temperature non-municipal soft water and stir vigorously. Take an initial gravity reading with your hydrometer, and write it down in a logbook dedicated to Mead making. If you are going to sulphite this Mead initially add 1/4 teaspoon of potassium metabisulphite (or 5 crushed Campden tablets) and wait 12 - 24 hours before proceeding to step 4.


4. Add to the must 5 grams (approximately 1 1/4 teaspoons), Fermaid-K plus 7 grams (a little less than a tablespoon), diammonium phosphate (DAP) that has been hydrated in a small amount of room temperature water. If using granulated dap your volume measurement may be slightly higher.


5a. If you are using liquid yeast such as White Labs (mainbrew.com carries all the white labs strains of yeast) you are ready to add to your must; just make sure it has warmed up to room temperature for a couple of hours and proceed to step 6.


5b. If you are using dry wine yeast  follow the dry yeast hydration/preparation steps below. *


Dry wine yeast hydration/preparation


In a sanitized jar or Erlenmeyer -type flask, add 100 milliliters (I recommend 20ml water per gram of yeast used; for example, 5 grams of yeast requires 100 ml water) of non-enhanced bottled drinking/spring water (no municipal water) at 108-110 degrees Fahrenheit.


Add 5 grams (approximately 1 2/3rd teaspoons), of Go-Ferm (1 gram Go-Ferm to 1 gram yeast) to the flask, mix well, and adjust or wait for temperature to drop between 104 –102 degrees Fahrenheit.


Add your dried yeast to the flask and let sit for 7 - 10 minutes. Stir and or shake to break up clumps (sanitized chopsticks work well). Wait 15 - 20 minutes.


Add 50 milliliters of your prepared (pH-adjusted if needed) must (or approximately 1/2 the volume of hydration starter) to the flask, let sit for 15-20 minutes. Add additional must to the flask until the temperature is within 15 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit of the total must (your 5 gallons of soon-to-be Mead) and let sit for 5 more minutes. Proceed to step 6.


6. Add the yeast slurry plus 5 grams (approximately one heaping teaspoon) calcium carbonate to the must.


7. Oxygenate the must. Splashing and shaking is better than nothing, but only slightly better. A pure oxygenation system (or an air pump and stainless stone with sterile air filter) is a significantly improved form of getting the necessary oxygen to your new yeast friends; do not oxygenate for more than 1 minute if using pure oxygen, anything more has been known to cross over to the detrimental side. If using an aquarium style airpump set-up run it for one half hour. That should net you about 8ppm dissolved oxygen. If shaking or splashing to get oxygen in, do it until you get tired, and then do it some more.


8. Firmly lock your lid down on your primary fermentation bucket, affix your stopper, airlock, and spoon in water or vodka to the fill line on the airlock. Keep fermenter between 55 to no more than 75 degrees Fahrenheit (follow yeast manufactures suggested range if not familiar with strain). You should see signs of fermentation (airlock activity) overnight, if not sooner.


9. Stir daily (this gets rid of excessive carbonic acid buildup and re-suspends yeast). When 1/3 of the sugar has been used up (subtract 1/3 from your initial hydrometer reading in step 3), add 5 grams (approximately 1 1/4 teaspoons), Fermaid-K and 7 grams (a little less than a tablespoon),  of DAP (hydrated in a "thieved" sample of must or room-temp water – 1/2 cup should be sufficient,) and ferment until completion. If the Mead has fermented past the 1/2 sugar depletion (or over 10% alcohol) yeast can no longer assimilate supplementary nutrients. Therefore it is important to add the final addition of nutrients at the 1/3 mark in order to avoid residual nutrients, which could leave an unwanted flavor in the finished product.


10. Once activity has slowed or stopped (1 bubble every 2 minutes), and the gravity hasn’t changed for 2–3 days (should be below 1.018 at this point and could take anywhere from 7-20 days total) then rack (siphon) to your 5-gallon glass carboy and add 1/4 teaspoon powdered (no campden tabs!) potassium meta-bisulphite (hydrated in 1/8 cup room-temp water or thieved sample.) This will help prevent oxygen damage and spoiling. If your Mead is sweet, you may need to add additional acid to balance the extra sweetness.


11. Let sit for 3-4 weeks and rack one more time to clarify. Make sure the carboy is filled to top leaving about 1 inch to 2 inches maximum of airspace below the bung. If there is more airspace top off with some other Mead. If you have no other Mead, you can sterilize some glass marbles and add to the carboy to take up the extra airspace in the carboy. If you do not have an additional carboy, you can rack to your unoccupied primary fermenter (sanitized, of course!) and temporarily re-clean and sterilize the carboy and rack back into it without splashing. If the Mead still throws a haze you can treat it with Sparkaloid or Chitosan, then rack once again and bottle with 1/8 teaspoon potassium metabisulphite.


If there are residual sugars left (above 1.000 gravity), or you would like to make it sweeter by adding more honey back to it (1 pound of honey will raise gravity 2 brix in a 5 gallon batch – add 12 hours after sulphite and sorbate additions) you should add 1/4 teaspoon potassium metabisulphite (instead of the above mentioned 1/8 teaspoon) plus potassium sorbate (sorbistat-K) at the rate of 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon per gallon to prevent remaining sugars from re fermenting in bottles - which could cause a hazardous bottle explosion. Warning: You must use sulphite along with sorbistat-K. If you use sorbistat-K without sulphite, malolactic bacteria (and other bacteria) can “eat” the sorbate and in turn will impart a rotting geranium flavor and aroma. Sulphite inhibits the malolactic bacteria.


Let the majority of your bounty sit as long as you can, but enjoy a bottle of your “Nectar of the Gods” every now and then; it will only get better and better over the years and decades!


Advance techniques and additional thoughts:


Managing excessive acid and low Ph. Honey lacks natural buffering compounds that prevents a strong ph drift (which can occur in just a day or two) in other wines. There are several ways in addressing this. First, I recommend degassing (stirring) on a daily basis. I do it morning and night (don't fret beer guys, mead likes to be visited often) until primary fermentation is near completion. This helps keep carbonic acid from building up. Moreover, it re-suspends your yeast and nutrients which helps in your attenuation. Just make sure you sanitize your stirring device.


If you are making a high alcohol mead (16-22 pounds honey) you are more prone to ph drift, and may need to add additional  potassium carbonate, or calcium carbonate. Out of the two, I recommend calcium carbonate unless you are an advanced maker. Calcium carbonate precipitates out easily, Potassium carbonate needs cold stabilization to precipitate. If your Ph has dropped to 3.2 or less, you are going to have to add some calcium carbonate (2.5 grams per gallons lowers TA about 0.1%) and give it time to settle out (some Mead makers add it at about 3.5 Ph; I do not recommend adding more than from step 6 any unless the ph has dropped to 3.2). Just remember to de-gass before taking your ph reading because carbonic acid will throw-off your measurement.


Port Strength, high alcohol Mead. If you are making a higher alcohol mead, you will need to add more go-ferm, or go-ferm protect (1.25 - 1.5gram) at yeast hydration (1.5 grams per gallon) and more nutrients (7 grams fermaid and 10 grams dap is a good start), possible 1/3rd or more as much and a high-alcohol tolerant killer PDM type yeast. If you are trying to make a port strength mead (16-21 abv), you should not add all the honey up front. I would start with 12 pounds, ferment to dryness and keep adding a pound every day or so until it won't ferment any further, then add additional honey to sweetness (4-12 brix). I have done this allot and my record so far is 24% abv. It will require additional aging.


 Total finished acidity should be between .55 to .75 for a dry to off-dry Mead. Fermentation supply shops have inexpensive acid test kits that you can use to determine acidity. If total acid is below .55 your Mead can taste flaccid. 3.8 grams (slightly over 1/2 teaspoon) tartaric acid per gallon will raise acidity by .1% (3.4 grams of malic acid will do the same.) Acid blends may give different results. If the Mead has more residual sugar you may need to bring the acidity above .75 - add to taste, 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Do this acid adjustment immediately after primary fermentation (at first racking.) The numbers are only a guideline; your palate is the final judge. Click HERE for an acid/de-acid and weights and volume calculator.


A long time. Mead has a reputation of taking a very long time to taste good. If you follow my procedures your Mead will taste great much sooner (if using a known quality honey.) The reason is usually because a lack of nutrients and how the yeast is managed. If the yeast are not happy and cannot do their job effectively (just as you wouldn't if you were starved of nutrition) then they make off-flavors (and won't fully ferment out) that take a long time to mellow out, if at all.


First nutrient addition. Some authorities on yeast and fermentation sciences advocate adding the first nutrient addition to the must after first signs of fermentation. Their reasoning is twofold. Reason one. By withholding the nutrients until first signs of fermentation, wild yeast and bacteria that are present (there will always be some) will not profit from those nutrients and thus it is less likely the “bad guys” can do harm. My philosophy is to add “professional” levels of yeast to begin with, which in turn will completely overwhelm unwanted microbes. Moreover, your newly added yeast won’t have to wait to be fed, and that leaves the good yeast at an advantage. Dried wine yeast is quite economical; use 2 or 3 packs, but remember to adjust Go-Ferm (or GO-FERM PROTECT for a very high sugar must) and hydration water for the extra yeast. The second reason for delaying adding nutrients to the must before signs of fermentation is that the yeast cell walls may not be fully formed and the addition of DAP can potentially harm the wall of the yeast. This is more likely to occur if you do not use the go-ferm hydration. If you follow my hydration technique this will not be a problem at all.


Supplementary and healthier yeast. If you would like to increase yeast viability even further you can: add more yeast as stated above (I usually use 3 grams per gallon of must) or make a yeast starter. Take a glass jar (do not purchase a plastic bottle) of pasteurized white grape juice (I do not recommend apple cider juice for a high gravity mead) available in many health food stores, and (make sure there are no preservatives – many plastic jugs of juice have preservatives, which will kill your yeast) pour off 1/3 to 1/2 of it, and add your Go-Ferm treated yeast to that, grow it 12-24 hrs, and then pitch it in your must.


According to Chris White from White Labs Yeast Company, a yeast starter will not really increase your yeast population much unless the starter is at least 2 liters; it just makes them better fit for the main fermentation. A 2-liter starter should only double the yeast cell count.


* If the dry wine yeast hydration/preparation steps seem intimidating, then you can just add your packages of yeast per the manufacturer's directions and call it good. However, your fermentation time will take longer, your attenuation will most likely not be as complete, and your Mead’s flavor may not be as good. You may even notice objectionable off-flavors and aromas as well. Also, make sure your thermometer is accurate!