Mead, glorious MEAD!  This is one of the secret reasons that i love the Ren Faire.  I love mead.  It is a little like wine but a little different.  I dig wine but I haven’t met a mead that I don’t like  Much like run is to the pirate (and I am a pirate), mead is to the Ren Rat.

History:
Mead is also called honey wine or the drink of the Vikings.  Basic mead is a fermented combination of honey and water.  Who would have thought that something this easy would be so good.  It is believed that mead production dates back to 7000bc.  The site of this production was found in Northern China, but it seems that mead soon spread all over the world.  Mead is found in the works of Pliny the Elder and in one of the sacred works of Hinduism.  It is also known as T’ej in Ethiopia and was a very traditional drink for the people of that area of the world.

Of course, where I become interested is when it is mentioned by the Welsh bard Taliesin – around 550 ad.  Taliesin wrote the Kanu y mead or the Song of Mead.  And of course mead halls are mentioned in the epic poem Beowulf.  Henceforth the reason why mead has become known as the drink of the Vikings.  Especially in areas where grapes could not be grown, mead was one of the main beverages, whether alcoholic or otherwise.  In fact in areas where beekeeping was popular, mead became a by product.

Recipe and Mead Making:

  • 12 to 18 pounds of grade-A honey
  • 4 1/2 gallons of tap or bottled water
  • 8 grams (1/4 ounce) of freeze-dried wine, champagne, or dedicated mead yeast

Preparation:

Bring the 4 1/2 gallons of water to a boil. Well water, by the way, should be avoided because of potentially high levels of strong tasting minerals like iron. Boiling should remove harsh chlorine from municipal tap water. If you don’t own a pot large enough to hold five gallons of water, boil as much as possible. You will add the remaining water to the fermenter later.

Once the water reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and stir in all of the honey. Do not boil the honey, as it reduces the aromatic quality of the finished mead.

While the honey dissolves in the water, put a cup of lukewarm (90 to 100°F) water into a clean bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. When the honey has been fully dissolved in the water and the pot is cool to the touch (not over 80°F), pour the honey-water into the fermentation bucket and stir in the yeast mixture. Note: Cooling the honey-water should take about half an hour. This process can be accelerated with a so-called sink bath, that is, repeatedly immersing the pot in cold water in a sink or basin.

If you have not already added the full 4 1/2 gallons of water, top it off with the balance in bottled water (or tap water if you’re confident of its quality).

Seal the bucket and allow the mixture to ferment for two weeks to one month. The progress of fermentation can judged by monitoring the carbon-dioxide bubbles escaping from the air lock: When they drop to one bubble every sixty seconds, fermentation has nearly concluded. Note that is only an issue during this primary fermentation; secondary fermentation has more to do with aging and mellowing and hence is more flexible. When primary fermentation has subsided, siphon the mead over to your secondary fermentation bucket and seal it. Allow one to four months aging time. Do not open the fermenter, as this risks contaminating the mead.

recipe courtesy of Epicurious.com.

I don’t know that I recomend trying to make that much mead when you can pick up a bottle at most liquor stores, but if it works, let me know.