Inevitable consequences of life:
If one has bees, one has honey
As honey production increases, one has a honey surplus
One of the fastest (and hopefully rewarding) ways to use honey is to make mead!
Mead is honey wine. Simply, it is wine made solely from honey and water just as one would make wine from grape juice and water. We purchased a wine making kit and a 'how to' book (it could have been called Mead Making for Dummies). In early December 2004 we began our training exercise (the Ragan's first mead).
We began with a gallon of boiling water and added a gallon of honey. This ratio should yield a relatively dry wine. We added nutrient and energizer to the water/honey mix ant then folded in the yeast. This we stirred for 5 minutes, sealed in the fermentation bucket and put the fermentation (vapor) lock on the top.
This will ferment for about 3 weeks. When it stops bubbling, we'll decant it into a sealed car boy (5 gallon glass jug) and let it finish the fermentation process for another several months. At that point it should be ready to bottle and in another few months we should have a drinkable product.
February 11, 2005 - It's been over 2 months since we started fermenting our honey. No more bubbles and it's time to rack the mead into a fresh carboy for the final 4 months of aging. Racking on the left and, of course, tasting on the right; Carol says it's a little on the dry side. Specific gravity is 0.997 and the acidity is 0.5%.
March 2005 - We collected a dozen commercial meads and some local brew and had an official Mead Tasting. I'd like to say the results were mixed but, in general, most meads fared poorly. Worse yet, our mead was the worst of a bad lot.
Not to be discouraged though, we decanted ours again into gallon carboys. These we flavored with honey, raspberry, strawberry and cherry.
November 23, 2005 - Finally, our first batch of mead is bottled. The best we can say is the labels look great! It was fun; we now have four cases of mead. We think the next time we'll do sweeter meads and try some melomels (fruit and honey mixed). Although these were flavored after the fact, adding fruit during the fermentation process offers some additional flavor options.
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