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1 Gallon Batches of Mead - An easy way to get into the hobby of Mead Making

 

Home Brewing is an interesting little hobby for several reasons. First off it's not too hard to learn how to do it and secondly you end up with a wonderful product you can share with your friends and family. But it can be a bit intensive and a bit expensive to get started.

A great alternative to brewing up an enormous 5 gallon jug of honey wine mead (which makes around 25 bottles of wine) you can just brew up a single gallon. It is less expensive, much easier to do and it will give you about 4 bottles of wine.

An important note about making mead. Sanitation is very important because you are making a batch of liquid that is primed and ready to grow yeast! And it would be easy for unwanted yeast to grow in your jug so you want to sanitize everything. At the bottom of this tutorial are tips and guidelines on sanitizing so read the whole tutorial before you start!

Want to see some videos of how to make mead? I have a youtube channel playlist that currently has 21 Mead making videos here


Easiest mead ever

If you are looking for a really simple way to make your first batch of mead but not ready to buy an airlock and glass jug I have a tutorial that shows you the real cheap, and real easy, way to make a gallon with just the ingredients you see in the picture. One quick trip to the grocery store and you are brewing some mead.

 


 

1 gallon jugs of honey wine mead

Here are three batches of wine that I have brewed. You can see the difference in the color because they are from left to right) a dry mead, a medium mead and a sweet mead. The most important difference in the three is the amount of honey used. The darker the must the more honey that has been added.

 

Materials needed for 1 gallon batch of mead

Here are the ingredients and materials you need to brew up your first one gallon batch of mead.

If this is your first time brewing honey wine it will take you less than two hours to complete.

Materials and Ingredients list:

  • glass 1-gallon jug
  • 1 gallon of spring water
  • 3 pounds of honey
  • 1 package of yeast (Lalvin D47 recommended)
  • 1 air lock
  • 1 rubber stopper (solid)
  • 1 rubber stopper with a hole in it so you can place the airlock
  • a mixing bowl
  • Yeast energizer (white container with brown label) (1 teaspoon)
  • Yeast nutrient (white container with blue label) (1 teaspoon)

Some Notes about the materials

About the honey

Clover honey works very well but you can use almost any type of unprocessed honey and the amount of honey you use will determine the sweetness of the mead. If you want to make a dry mead you would use 2 pounds of honey and if you want to make a sweet mead you would use about 3.8 pounds of honey. For simplicity sake we are using 3 pounds of honey which will make us a medium to sweet mead.

About the airlock

airlock

The airlock and stopper is a very important part of the process of mead making. You cannot just make a gallon of mead and put a stopper on the top. The mead will ferment and this means that it will create a lot of gases. These gases will quickly build up and if you have your container stopped the pressure will either blow off the stopper or explode the jug outright. Literally you can end up with a mead grenade here. There will be glass and honey water everywhere. So, use an airlock. It allows the gases to escape and keeps impurities out of your mead. The picture shown here is of an airlock, solid stopper and bored stopper.

 

airlock is in place

This picture shows the airlock in place on top of the bottle of mead. The rubber stopper that is solid you will use when you are mixing the must. You mix honey and water together, put the solid stopper on it then shake it up.



About the Nutrient and Energizer

I recommend you buy professional nutrient and energizer and they only cost around five bucks per container and each container will last for many many batches of mead. This use of energizer will insure your ferment goes well, healthy and fast. You can use other materials such as orange peels or tea leaves and I will talk a bit about this in future articles.

The Yeast

I recently made three batches of 1 gallon mead. (shown in the pic) ranging from dry to sweet and I used two different yeasts. For the dry yeast I used a yeast called Premier Cuvee and for the medium and sweet batches I used Lalvin D-47. I recommend you make a medium to medium sweet mead and use Lalvin D-47. It is very hardy and almost foolproof.

Where to order these materials?

You can get everything you need from Amazon.com - I have a page of equipment and supplies right here: Mead Making Supplies and Equipment available on Amazon.com

Let's Get Started and Make our Honey Wine

Mix the honey and water

Put about 1/3 to 1/2 gallon of spring water into your 1 gallon glass carboy and then add your three pounds of honey.

Now add the Energizer and Nutrient

Pour two cups of spring water into your glass mixing bowl and add 1 teaspoon of energizer and 1 teaspoon of nutrient to it. Stir it up well and add it to the honey and water mix.

Shake the Mead

Put the solid rubber stopper on the bottle and shake the mead mix gently to get it homogenous.

Now Let's Activate our D-47 Lalvin Yeast

Heat two cups of spring water on the stove to between 104 and 109 degrees fahrenheit. This is warm and not hot. If this water gets too hot you will kill the yeast.

Clean your mixing bowl while you are waiting for the water to heat. Then when the temp of the water is right pour it in your mixing bowl then pour 1/2 of a package of yeast into the water. Do not stir it yet. Just pour it in and wait 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes is up give it a gentle stir so everything is homogenous then pour it right into your jug of honey water.

fill jug to 1 gallon

Now add more spring water to the jug until it is full. You will have left over spring water because the honey has taken up some space in the jug of course. It should be 1 gallon when it looks about like this picture here. To make sure of where the one gallon full mark was I had originally poured a full gallon of spring water in the jug and made a mark with a marker. Just so I could be sure of what the one gallon mark was. Now I just filled to that mark.

Put the rubber stopper on your bottle and shake it vigorously for five full minutes. And at intervals take the cork off to let it breathe then continue shaking. It is important to shake it well for five full minutes because this aerates the must. This aeration is important for the growth of the yeast.

put the airlock on it

Fill the airlock about half full of water, put it through the rubber stopper then put it firmly on the bottle.

That's It! You are done

Check on it tomorrow and the day after. It should start bubbling nicely as the yeast comes alive and starts processing the honey into wine.

Caring for your Jug of soon to be Mead

Now set the bottle aside in a cool and dark place and check on it every day or two. Within a day the airlock should start bubbling and in a few days it should be bubbling briskly. After around 2 to 3 weeks the bubbling will slow down to less than one bubble every five seconds and there should be a thick sediment on the bottom. This sediment is dead yeast husks and totally normal. But you should get the mead off of that sediment to prevent off flavors. This process is called Racking.

Racking The Mead

You siphon the liquid into a new jug that has been sterilized and leave all the junk behind. Put the airlock on your new jug and set it in a cool dry and dark place for another 5 to six months when it should be ready to drink. Mead takes a long time to age so the longer you wait the better. If you can hold off for a year you will be surprised at how good it can get.

Want to see some videos of how to make mead? I have a youtube channel playlist that currently has 21 Mead making videos here

Note and update: I have written a guide to the absolute easiest and cheapest way to make 1 gallon of Mead. All it takes is a trip to the grocery store and there is no need to buy a specialized item like an airlock. You can have a batch of mead brewing today! Make a gallon of mead the fast, cheap and easy way

 

Addendum to this tutorial on mead making:The importance of Sanitation

One of the most important aspects of mead making is sanitization. It is very important that you sanitize everything when you are making mead. Let me explain why!

When mixing up your honey, water and other things you are making a food environment. It is a place loaded with nutrients for yeast and that means it can be easy for other types of unwanted yeast or bacteria to quickly grow! It's almost like a little incubator :) What you want is to make sure no outside yeast or cells develop other than the yeast you pitch. This means you should sanitize everything that comes in contact with your new batch of mead including the jug, spoons and measuring cups.

Doing this sanitizing will add a litte extra work but it is well worth it. It greatly improves your chances of making a wonderful tasting mead.

The Nuts and Bolts of Sanitizing Mead:

I have a video you can watch that will help you understand sanitation here: Sanitization of Mead

I use store bought wine making chemical for sanitizing and you can easily get around this by using Chlorine Bleach and here is an article that will help you: Using Bleach for sanitizing food equipment In summary:

"about one tablespoon (1/2 fluid ounce, 15
ml) of typical chlorine bleach per gallon of water is the maximum
that should be used for sanitizing food contact surfaces, according
to federal regulation".