Mead Made Easy: Notes for Beermakers

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Mead can be brewed just like beer, except it uses honey instead of barley malt, and is often unhopped. There are a couple differences to note, though.

Fruits should never be boiled. Doing so will set the pectin, and you're apt to get something more closely resembling jelly than mead. Also, boiling will drive off some of the more delicate flavors present in the honey, so you want to keep it short. Honey won't support bacterial growth the way barley malts will, as it's a super-saturated solution of sugar, so it doesn't need to be boiled. Although there are some bacteria in natural honey, they won't usually cause problems. Boiling just makes it easier to dissolve, and drives off the chlorine that you'll find in city-water. Heck, if you pay attention to sanitation, you can mix up a mead without even heating the water (you should either use spring water or well water if you're not going to boil the water to drive off the chlorine, though). The important things to remember are sanitation and aeration. The must needs to be aerated so the yeast can be fruitful and multiply during their aerobic stage. Not aerating your must enough gives anaerobic bacteria an advantage over the yeast. Lack of sanitation lets the little buggers into your brew in the first place.

Another big difference from beermaking is that honey doesn't contain many of the nutrients that barley does, which yeast need in order to survive and make alcohol. In many cases, recipes will call for yeast nutrient, which supplies what the yeast need. These nutrients are also present in fruits.

Next is a recipe that does include boiling and hops, but only a minimal amount of each.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:09:07.