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.
Cyser is—you guessed it—mead made with apples or apple juice. This is an interesting way to enjoy a twist on cider. It can be made in fall during harvest and enjoyed any time of year, but of course fall and winter are best.
Cyser RecipeLevel: Novice
- 1 gallon glass carboy
- Stopper with hole
- Ingredients: 1½ lbs clover honey
- 1½ lbs wildflower honey
- 1 gallon cider
- 2 Campden tablets
- 1 packet ale yeast
- Mix everything except the yeast.
- Let sit in fermenter with airlock for twenty-four hours.
- Add yeast.
- Rack to secondary when fermentation slows.
- Allow to age at least three months. Six months of aging is optimal.
Entrée: Grilled lemon oregano chicken or lamb, Indian food
Charcuterie Board: Aged cheddar, aged Gouda, goat cheese, spiced mixed nuts, pepperoni, Soppressata, raisins
Dessert: Lemon pound cake
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