Mead Through the Seasons: Summer

Brew these refreshing meads for hot summer days. The Morat and Sima brews are perfect for milder palates while Capsicumel is great for spicing things up.

| March 2019

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Getty Images/Martin Wahlborg

Once you make one batch of mead you’ll be hooked. As you develop your base recipe, chances are the urge will strike to venture into other types of mead. There are a few different ways to do this. Like grape wine, mead ranges from dry to sweet. For a one-gallon batch like the starter recipe in this book, one and a half to two pounds of honey makes a light colored, dry mead; three pounds results in a semi-sweet mead; and three and a half to four pounds will produce a sweet mead. Pay attention to the strain of yeast you use. If you want a very dry mead, use Lalvin EC-1118 yeast. For semisweet and sweet meads, Lalvin 47 is your best choice. This yeast is user-friendly and imparts great flavor that complements the honey.

The type of honey used influences the flavor of mead. Traditional mead is best made using alfalfa, clover, acacia, or wild­flower honey. Acacia honey will sweeten even the driest of meads and is a great option if you’re going crazy-dry. Just remember that crazy-dry means even more finicky yeast.

Most mead takes a long time to make, which means that as you make batches throughout the year, you can play with the flavors through honey, yeast, and additions. Save your flavored meads for the right season and pair them to impress your friends. Mead is best after aging. Make batches throughout the year using fresh items that will pack the peak of flavor into each delicious gallon.



When it comes to types of mead, there are styles that are not fla­vored in the secondary, but from the start. I’ve broken down a few of the most popular here with seasonal suggestions.

Some like it hot! If that’s you, you should brew capsicumel, mead flavored with chili pepper. Capsicumel is unexpected and delightful. Chili peppers will make it to the farmers’ market in late summer, but they are also easy to grow at home. This is a trickier recipe, so get a few plain batches under your belt before breaking out the chilies.

Capsicumel Recipe

Level: Advanced

Equipment

  • Pot
  • Primary and secondary fermentation vessels
  • Plug with hole
  • Airlock
  • Plug with no hole
  • Stirring spoon
  • Rubber gloves
  • Straining bags

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 lbs light honey, divided
  • 7-1/2 pts water
  • 16 medium-sized jalapeños (for less heat, use 8 jalapeños)
  • 1 lb golden raisins, chopped or minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 1/4 tsp grape tannin
  • 3/4 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 packet Pasteur champagne yeast
  • 1/2 tsp potassium sorbate
  • Campden tablet, crushed

Directions

  1. Mix 2 lbs honey into water and bring to boil. Boil twenty minutes, skimming off any scum that forms.
  2. While boiling, wear rubber gloves to wash jalapeños and cut off stems. Slice lengthwise and remove seeds. Place peppers in blender or food chopper with two cups water and chop coarsely. Set aside.
  3. Chop or mince raisins. Put raisins in nylon straining bag and, over primary, pour chopped jalapeños in with raisins. Tie bag and leave in primary.
  4. Add acid blend, tannin, and yeast nutrient.
  5. Pour honey water over ingredients and stir. Cover primary and set aside until room temperature.
  6. When room temperature, add pectic enzyme, cover, and set aside twelve hours.
  7. Add yeast and cover.
  8. Stir daily until vigorous fermentation subsides (seven to ten days). Wearing rubber gloves, squeeze nylon bag over primary, then discard contents of bag. Transfer liquid to secondary, top up, and fit airlock.
  9. Ferment to absolute dryness (sixty to ninety days). Rack into clean secondary, top up, and refit airlock.
  10. Rack twice more, forty-five days apart. Stabilize with potassium sorbate and crushed Campden tablet (stirred well), wait fourteen days, then add ½ cup of light, clear honey and stir well to dissolve. Taste. If heat is too strong, add ¼ cup of honey and stir well. Taste again. Add additional honey if required.
  11. Wait another thirty days and rack into bottles. Age at least six months. Will improve to two years.

Pairing Suggestions

Entrée: Avocado, fennel, grapefruit, and papaya salad

Charcuterie Board: Macadamia nuts, walnuts, red berries, salami, prosciutto, manchego, Brie, blue cheese

Dessert: Oatmeal cookies with macadamia nuts, dark chocolate, and coconut

Morat Recipe

Morat made from black mulberries can be made in summer, usu­ally late summer. You’ll get gorgeous color and subtle flavor from mulberries, creating a drink that is a little sweet and has berry notes. Morat is one of the best meads to drink young, so if you’re not patient and are ready to move from basic mead to melomel, this is the first recipe to try.

Level: Novice

Equipment

  • Pot
  • Primary and secondary fermentation vessels
  • Plug with hole
  • Airlock
  • Plug with no hole
  • Stirring spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs honey (local, but cheap)
  • 1 gallon water, divided
  • 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 packet Lalvin D-47 yeast
  • 3 lbs mulberries (cleaned, sorted, frozen; thawed overnight and crushed the night before racking to secondary)

Directions

  1. Combine honey, a half gallon of water, and yeast nutrient. Heat to 160°F and maintain for thirty minutes. Skim and remove any foam that collects.
  2. Remove from heat and cool to 80°F. Funnel into your one-gallon glass carboy and pitch the yeast according to directions. Pop on your airlock.
  3. Fermentation should start within a few days. When it has slowed, siphon into your secondary. Add thawed, crushed mulberries.
  4. Put the airlock back in and monitor. When fermentation stops, rack again and store for two to four months.
  5. Pairing Suggestions
  6. Entrée: Fried flounder with apricot sauce
  7. Charcuterie Board: Brie, mild goat cheese, quince paste, dried fruits, turkey, chicken, macadamia nuts
  8. Dessert: Dark chocolate mousse

Sima Recipe

If you like lemonade, you’ll love sima. This is the Finnish take on mead and it is seasoned with lemons. Lemons are available year round, and the Finns traditionally drink this for May Day. I prefer this flavor in summer, like lemonade. It’s important to know that sima has a very low alcohol content, so if you're mak­ing a traditional recipe, like the one I’ve included, be sure to drink it fairly quickly before it turns. This is a fizzy, refreshing mead that you’ll find yourself making regularly.

Level: Novice



Equipment

  • Pot
  • Primary and secondary fermentation vessels
  • Plug with hole
  • Airlock
  • Plug with no hole
  • Stirring spoon
  • Ingredients: 11/4 gallons boiling water
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dry Premier Cuvée yeast
  • 3 raisins per bottle (at bottling)

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. As water heats, scrub the lemons. Grate the zest from the lemons and set it aside in a small bowl.
  3. Peel or cut off the pith (the white part of the peel). Slice or chop the flesh of the lemons, removing the seeds as you go, and add to the bowl of zest.
  4. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat and add the sugars and lemon parts. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and let sit until room temperature.
  6. Transfer everything to your fermenter, including the lemon flesh and zest. Add yeast.
  7. Seal with an airlock and leave at room temperature for forty-eight hours.
  8. Fill each bottle and add raisins.
  9. When the raisins rise to the top of the liquid, the sima is ready to drink.

 Pairing Suggestions

Entrée: Grilled chicken or tofu with mango thyme chutney

Charcuterie Board: Almonds, pistachios, goat cheese, fresh buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, serrano ham

Dessert: Tippaleipä

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More from The Joy of Brewing Cider, Mead, and Herbal Wine


Reprinted with permission from The Joy of Brewing Cider, Mead, and Herbal Wine: How to Craft Seasonal Fast-Brew Favorites at Home by Nancy Koziol and published by Skyhorse Publishing, 2018






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