After some chat about mead making on facebook, i decided to share my basic mead making technique.
Before you start, you will need to acquire (note, you can do this quite cheaply if you shop around and aren't afraid to get 2nd hand stuff):
Sterelising liquid/ tablets.
A plastic bucket with a lid (depending on the amount of mead you want to make at any one time, you can use anything with a capicity from 5 litres, to 25 litres).
At least one demi john (i use two ...you'll see why later) with an airlock.
Some plastic tubing (with a tap on the end if you prefer).
A large plastic funnel.
Runny honey (ideally not
australian honey as most of this is made from eucalyptus pollen which apparently gives the mead a slightly odd taste).
Citric acid or any citrus fruit (i usually use oranges).
Several empty bottles (wine or beer bottles that you have empited yourself are fine for this...just remember to keep the caps!
So, once you have all the equipment and ingredients, you're ready to begin. The following makes about 1 gallon (roughly 4.5 litres) of mead.
Step 1: following the instructions on the packaging, carefully sterilise the plastic bucket and lid - you really don't want any unwelcome bacteria contaminating your brew!
Step 2: in a clean cup, put about 150ml of warm water and dissolve a teaspoon of sugar into it (this is known as a yeast starter and helps kick off the fermentation). When the sugar is dissolved, and making sure the water is only just warm to your hand, add about half a teaspoon of your wine yeast.
Step 3: while your yeast starts to react with the sugar, boil 4 litres of water and pour about 3 and a half litres into your clean bucket. Pour 4 jars of honey into the hot water ( i usually use orange blosson honey where possible but choose which every type you prefer), which is very roughly, 1.4kg of honey in total. Using the remaining 0.5litre of water (which should have cooled a bit by now) rinse out the jars to get out as much of the honey as you can, then stir with a clean wooden or plastic spoon (not metal!) until the honey is dissolved.
Step 4: Add the juice from 4 oranges (you can squeeze them by hand if you don't have a juicer...or if, like me, you just find it more fun
Note: if you're not using citrus fruit, add a teaspoon of citric acid at this point.
Step 5: add a teaspoon of yeast nutrient and your yeast starter (which should now have a nice fluffly layer of yeast floating in the water ) to the mixture and stir well. Press the lid on and move to a warm place and leave for 2 weeks, stirring occaisionally with your -very- clean spoon.
Step 6: by this time, you should be getting the smell of fermentation and the liquid in your bucket should be quite frothy. Pour the liquid from the bucket, into the 1st demi john through the sterilised funnel (if you only have one demi-john, you can simply leave it in the bucket for another few weeks, just remeber to keep lifting the lid or the pressure from the gasses released during fermentation will pop it off!) then place the empty air-lock securely in the neck of th bottle and leave in a warm, dark place for about 2 months.
Step 7: After 2 months, fermentation should be slowing down and a there will be a layer of dead yeast and such at the bottom of your demi john. Place the full demi john on a sideboard/ table and the empty one below it on, for example, a chair. Using your sterilised tubing (or siphon), suck through the liquid. At this point (and this is why i prefer to do it this way) you should get a small taste of the raw mead which will give you a rough idea of how it will turn out. Now you place your thumb over the end of the tube in your mouth (or turn the tap if you have one), then release it into the 2nd demi john. Gravity will do the rest
. Once you've transferred over as much of thre liquid as you can get, place the airlock in the top of this demi john, only this time, partially fill it with water. You should see the pressure from the fermantation gasses start to bubble slowly through. You can now return your mead to the warm dark place for upto 6 months or until you no longer see any sign of fermentation.
Note: if you decided to leave the mead fermenting in the bucket, you will need to filter the liquid through muslin or someother material to prevent the sediment all going into your demi john when you pour it through the funnel.
Step 8: once you're happy your mead is ready, sterilise enough bottles to hold the mead you've made, then siphon the liquid over as we did in step 7 (this time you get a taste of your finished product - yummy
) and this is where having a tap on the emd of your tubing makes this a little less messy
Once you're done, cap and label your bottles and your mead will be ready to drink when you are.
Note: many people leave aside a couple of bottles to mature as mead really does improve in flavour over time
And that's all there is to it
Please note: Check your country's laws on making alcohol before you do this! In the UK, you can make as much undstilled alcohol (ie: anything not classed as a spirit!) as you like as long as you don't sell it! (giving it away is perfectly acceptable as far as i am aware
Also, please drink responsibly and do not encourage those not permitted by your country's laws to drink!