Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mead Making

Most of you will know that mead is a significant drink in the McMillin clan. Mead is basically a honey wine made only of honey, water and yeast. Brian's father has been making it for about ten years now and Brian and I started a batch not long before leaving for Australia. We'll be bottling it when we go home for a visit next summer. And while we have found one nice mead that is made in Australia, it still doesn't compare to the one's we make at home. Now the flavor of your mead is basically dictated by the type of honey you use and what Australia does have are some unique varieties of honey. The two we've decided to try are snow gum and leatherwood. Particularly looking forward to leatherwood as it is an amazingly fragrant and delicious honey.

Yesterday we started the two varieties with our friend Joshua. The day began at 9:30am with a visit to a local beer and wine making shop to purchase the supplies. We already had the honey but we needed large glass bottles, yeast, a funnel, an instrument to test the sugar levels and some other bits and pieces.

Here's your mini lesson in mead making. First, clean and sanitize everything. Here I am washing out the demijohns which will be used for the entire process of fermenting the mead.

Next you dissolve the honey in warm water (guaranteed to be sticky but tasty business). We used 15 kilos of snow gum honey in one batch and 18 kilos of leatherwood honey in the other.

Pour the diluted honey into the bottle.

Stir vigorously.

Test the sugar levels. We wanted about 17% sugar which we hope will yield a mead with about 5% sugar after fermentation and about 12% alcohol. Add water until sugars are at the appropriate level.

Then add mead yeast, stir again and top with a rubber stopper and bubbler that will let CO2 escape but prevent nasties from entering during the fermentation process. Park your bottles in a cool dark corner and check back often to make sure the yeast are eating the sugars and belching away. In a month or so we'll rack the mead i.e. filter it off the dregs of yeast which have settled at the bottom. We'll do this several times and in a year or so we'll have eighty some litres of amber colored goodness!

P.S. Thanks to the Bramahs for letting us park our mead in their basement!

1 comment:

  1. Jenn,
    In your Christmas package, not only was my yeast - I had also included appropriate quantities of Yeast nutrient, magnesium sulfate and yeast hulls - measured out to the milligram for your batches and some sodium metabisulfate tablets. Also another package of a mixture of malic acid, citric acid, tartatic acid, and tanic acid in the appropriate ratios for addition after fermentation - as needed to taste.
    Darn those customs people.