Saturday, August 5, 2006

Brew 23 -- Orange Blossom Spice Mead

This is an old favorite of mine. The spices and the orange blossom honey make a great Christmas mead. Further, since this is National Mead Brewing Day, I decided to take lots of pictures. They're at the bottom.

First, here's the recipe I used:
Date of Brew: August 5, 2006
Date of Bottling: Not yet!

  • Honey
    6lbs Orange Blossom Honey
  • Spices
    2T freshly crushed allspice
    1t freshly ground ginger
    0.5C golden raisins
  • Water Treatments
    2 Gal Water

Number of Gallons: 2.5
Original Specific Gravity: 1.085
Expected Final Specific Gravity: 1.0
Expected Alcohol Content: 11.3\%
Yeast: White Labs Champaign Yeast, which didn't work (It was past the expiry date, I think that's what went wrong), and Red Star Bread Yeast, which started fermentation very quickly.
Quantity: 5mL of White Labs, 2 T of Red Star
Time of Pitching: 18:15

How to Make Mead

Making mead is very easy. If you are thinking about getting into brewing, and are concerned about the complexity, this is the easiest starting point.

You will need, at a minimum...

  • a fermenter, such as a 3 gallon carboy.
  • an airlock and stopper,
  • honey,
  • something to use for yeast nutrient
  • sanitizing fluid,
  • and yeast.
Life is easier if you also have...
  • a hygrometer, to measure the specific gravity of the brew. This allows you to tell how much alcohol is in your final product. This, of course, is optional. If you like how it tastes, you've done what you set out to do!
  • oxygenation equipment, to oxygenate the must (unfermented honey solution). You could just shake up the fermenter after you add everything; that will probably be enough. Using an oxygenation system will lower the risk of contamination, and take less time.

First, you need to get out your equipment. Here is the fermenter, (a three gallon carboy), 6 lbs of Orange Blossom Honey, and the yeast.

You also want some sanitizing fluid. Really, the only two non-negotiables in homebrewing are 1. start with good ingredients, and 2. cleanliness is Godliness. Any bacteria that get into your must/wort is going to have a party, so make sure not too many get in there.

Now, add the honey to the fermenter.

You may want to rinse out the honey jar to get the remaining bits.

Next, take a sample. You need to measure the specific gravity to know how much alcohol is in the final product. Don't worry if you don't have the equipment for this; it will still taste just fine.

Here I am reading the hygrometer. It's at 1.085. You should drink the sample, or throw it out. Never return a sample to an unfermented wort; you risk contamination that way.

After adding other ingredients, I added the yeast.

Then I forced oxygen through the must to give oxygen to the yeast cells. You usually don't really have to do this, but it helps the yeast.

Finally, you add an airlock. You want the carbon dioxide to get out, but you don't want anything outside (oxygen, which will spoil the mead once it has fermented; and bacteria) to get in. I'm putting Soju in it, a kind of Korean vodka. It's sterile, and if some of it accidentally gets inside the mead nothing bad will happen.

Now all I need to do is wait....


calcspar said...

You make it sound so trivial.

You know that I assisted a friend with beer making, and it just seemed long and involved (and he didn't go to the trouble that you go to). The long process and my inexperience gives me pause.

But this just sounds trivial.

I'm curious as to where you obtained your orange blossom honey. I have fond memories of an orange blossom honey, and I'm wondering whether yours has the same source...

Mattox Beckman said...

You're right. It is trivial. Brewing beer is the most complicated of the brewings; mead is the simplest.

I get my honey from
Here is their 3 lb carton but they have other sizes, too. If you're really interested, I could put together a "shopping list".... click it and you'll have your own mead in about 40 days. :-) Of course, with mead, the longer you let it sit the better it gets (to a point, anyway).

Louis said...

I shared this with some friends today (Saturday). Comments: Sweet. Strong. orangy (surprise).

Louis said...