Try This at Home
Making Mead (Honey Wine)
An easy recipe from Jonathan Ortiz of Southwest Grape and Grain
Mead is surprisingly easy to make at home—if you’re patient. This fermented honey wine, arguably the first alcoholic beverage that humans created, can consist simply of water and honey, left open to the air for several months until natural yeasts arise and start converting sugar to alcohol. This recipe, though, involves a lot less control over the end product (and a lot less sanitation!) than most brewers want, which is why commercially produced yeasts are typically used in mead-making these days.
I recently went to a mead-making workshop at Southwest Grape and Grain, a fantastic brewing and fermenting supply shop staffed by knowledgeable folks. One of those folks, by the name of Jonathan Ortiz, was kind enough to speak with me after the event and give me his basic mead recipe.
“Mead is not necessarily as sweet and syrupy as you might think, based on the ingredients,” Ortiz told me. The flavor profile of any given batch depends heavily on how long it’s fermented and what type of yeast is used. In the recipe below, for instance, a champagne yeast is used, yielding a very dry mead. You’re welcome to use any other kind of yeast you’d like—the resulting flavors of each yeast are usually printed on the packaging, so you can shop around for what you like.
Before you embark on your mead-making journey, visit Southwest Grape and Grain to get all the necessary equipment—they even have a preassembled mead-making kit to make your life a little easier. Here are all the things you’ll need:
Two one-gallon fermentation jugs
Combination bottle filler
Two #6.5 stoppers, one drilled and one solid
Be sure to sanitize everything before you begin (you can buy sanitizer at SWG&G), and happy hooch-making.