This is a semisweet melomel, or fruit mead, flavored with cherries, that finishes around 12 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). It’s a great mead for beginning mead-makers, because the added fruit avoids many of the problems associated with making mead from only honey.
Yield: 1 gallon.
Fermentation TimeFermentation Type: Alcoholic
Primary Fermentation: 10 to 14 days
Secondary Fermentation: 1 to 2 months
Total Time: 2 to 3 months
- Carbon-filtered tap water, or good bottled water
- 2 pounds sweet cherries
- 1/4 teaspoon wine yeast nutrients (such as Fermaid K)
- 1/2 teaspoon diammonium phosphate (DAP)
- 31/2 pounds honey
- 4 ounces frozen Concord grape juice concentrate
- 2-1/2 grams Lalvin D-47 yeast
- Measure out 1 gallon of water and pour into a bucket fermenter. Mark this level on the outside of the bucket with a permanent marker. Empty and sanitize the fermenter.
- Rinse the cherries and cut each one in half with a sanitized knife on a sanitized cutting board. Don’t remove the pits. Place the cherries in a nylon steeping bag, and set aside until Step 5.
- Mix the yeast nutrients and DAP together, and put the mixture in a labeled zip-close bag (or any other convenient, resealable container).
- In a large pot, heat roughly 32 ounces of water to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the honey into the pot, and stir until dissolved. Pour the honey water into the fermenter, and then add enough additional water to reach the 1 gallon mark.
- Place the frozen grape juice inside the steeping bag with the cherries. Lower the bag into the honey water and tie it off loosely, dangling the knot over the edge of the fermenter.
- Move the steeping bag aside, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the yeast nutrient mix onto the liquid surface.
- Let the honey water cool to below 85 degrees. Add the yeast, and swirl the steeping bag to distribute it. Wait about 15 minutes for the yeast to rehydrate. Seal the bucket and attach an airlock. Let it sit at room temperature, or about 72 degrees.
- For the first several days when fermentation is evident, open the fermenter daily and punch the cherries down below the must surface with a sanitized potato masher or spoon. When vigorous fermentation is evident, remove the lid and add another 1/2 teaspoon of mixed yeast nutrient. Reseal, and let fermentation finish. Stop punching down the cherries when fermentation is no longer evident from bubbling in the airlock.
- Once bubbling in the airlock stops, let the mead sit for about 7 to 10 days.
- Sanitize a 1-gallon jug and racking cane (or tubing, if fermenter has a spigot). Open the fermenter and gently lift out the steeping bag. Spin the bag lightly to push out whatever liquid will easily flow out of the solids. Don’t try to wring every last drop of liquid out.
- Rack the mead to the 1-gallon jug and affix an airlock. Let the mead sit about 1 month in a cool, dark place. Then, start checking its clarity every 2 weeks or so. When it falls clear, bottle it. If a lot of sediment appears initially, you may need to re-rack to another sanitized gallon jug to speed clearing.
To learn more about the history of mead-making and the techniques used in this recipe, check out Modern Mead-Making.
Chris Colby is the author of Home Brew Recipe Bible and Methods of Modern Homebrewing, and a contributing editor for Beer and Wine Journal. He lives with his wife and their cats in Bastrop, Texas. Find him on Twitter @ColbyBrew.