How to Make Mead

June 11, 2024
by HelloFresh Tips & tricks

    Mead, a historical beverage, is seeing a revival in popularity. Also known as honey wine, mead is made through a fermentation process and has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Ancient cultures even associated the drink with vitality. It’s surprisingly simple to make your own mead at home, so if you’re looking for an alternative drink, then this handy guide to brewing mead can help.

    What is mead?

    Quite simply, mead is an alcoholic beverage made with honey rather than grapes or hops. While brewing mead involves a fermentation process similar to that of wine, beer, and cider, it falls under its own category.

    As with other drinks, mead boasts a variety of flavours depending on its ingredients, additional herbs and fruits, plus the brewer’s own process. As it’s primarily a honey-based drink, the flavour of mead can even be affected by what the bees eat.

    Differing brewing practices mean the alcoholic content of mead may differ dramatically, covering a range from 3.5% ABV up to 20% or more. Bear this in mind when drinking home-brewed mead, as you might not know its exact strength.

    What is mead made from?

    The foundation of a simple mead brew is honey, yeast (or an alternative bacterial culture), and water. Spices, fruits, or grains may also be added to the mix for delicious blends to pair with meals.

    How to make mead

    One of the real benefits of making mead at home is that it’s a simpler process than beer-making. It can be produced in just two weeks in a very warm environment or eight weeks in a colder room. This simple mead recipe requires some equipment before starting: 

    • A demijohn with airlock and bung
    • A funnel
    • A metal spoon
    • A large pan capable of holding 3 litres of boiling water
    • A thermometer 

    Note: Ensure all equipment is sterilised before use.

    Simple mead recipe

    The most important ingredient in mead is the honey, so if you are interested in high quality, flavoursome mead-brewing, it’s in your interest to find the best local honey you can get your hands on. This recipe makes around 4 litres of mead. 

    Mead ingredients:

    • 1kg of raw honey – use less for a drier honey mead and more for a sweeter drink
    • 2.25 litres of water – filtered or distilled is best 
    • 2g of champagne yeast

    How to brew mead

    1. Add the water to the pan and heat until warm. 
    2. Add the honey and stir until dissolved. 
    3. Simmer for 30 minutes without allowing the liquid to boil, scraping off any scum. 
    4. Remove from heat and allow to cool to around 35 degrees.
    5. Pour through the funnel into the demijohn. 
    6. If you’d like to add any extra herbs, spices and grains, do it now, or skip this step for a traditional mead. 
    7. Cool to 32 degrees and add the yeast.
    1. Bung the demijohn, shake, then add water, leaving 3-4 inches of space at the top of the bottle. 
    2. Remove the bung and add your airlock. 
    3. Leave to ferment for around six weeks in a cool room. In warmer climates, the mead may be ready in two weeks. 
    4. You’ll notice that within 12-24 hours, your mead starts to bubble. When it stops bubbling, it’s ready to drink or bottle. 

    Note: Always ensure your airlock remains clear throughout the fermentation process, as blockages can lead to explosions. 

    It is important to note that homemade mead does not have the same shelf life as shop-bought mead, so if you open a home-brewed honey wine, be sure to consume it within a couple of days to be safe.

    What to serve with mead

    The beauty of mead is that there’s an option for almost every dinner menu and occasion. Fruity meads pair well with fruity desserts or even spicy main courses like this Mexican-style chicken & creamy slaw with corn chips & sour cream recipe. More traditional meads are perfect for meat or fish dishes, like this Caribbean prawns & veggie couscous recipe. A good rule of thumb is the darker and heavier the meal, the darker and heavier the mead. So, a dark mead would be best paired with stews or red meats, such as this peppercorn-crusted venison & potato mash recipe. Lighter dry meads go well with chicken or salads.

    Whether you’re looking for a new project or fancy drinking something different alongside this week’s delicious dinners, mead is a great alternative to beer, wine and cider.

    All food products vary. The instructions printed on the food packaging always supersedes those printed in this article and must always be followed.
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