Category Archives: Mead

Homebrew Alley 4

This coming Sunday at Chelsea Brewing Company, Chelsea Piers, NYC….

I have a dry mead in, which I made at the end of 2009, and we’ll see what happens.  Probably won’t win anything, but I’ll get feedback from the judges.

I’m also judging on the day.  I have to be there at 8.30 am, and get to start drinking tasting at 9.15 on a Sunday.


Last Orders Mead

I started a mead last night, using Raw Honey from Mead Orchards in Tivoli, NY.

For one gallon (US) I added 3lbs of honey.  This gave me an O.G of 1.106 (potential 14% ABV).

The process is simple.  Add honey to warm water.  Bring to the boil to sterilize the honey (received wisdom is keep above 66 degrees C for 10  minutes).  Allow to cool, pitch yeast, add yeast nutrient and ferment under airlock.  Rack when clear.

When it comes to bottling time you can choose between a sweet or sparkling mead.  If the latter is what you desire, then prime bottles with sugar and use an appropriate pressure closure.

Suzdalskaya Medovukha (Suzdal Mead)

I had Suzdalskaya Medovukha at a pickle festival a few years back, and have had it since in Moscow.  I was wondering how to recreate it, and found a recipe here.  The original recipe is in Russian, but here it is in English:

500g sugar

250g honey

Yeast and nutrient

1 tsp citric acid

water to 4.5 litres

This reckons that you should leave for 3-4 weeks under airlock.  Rack, add an additional 250g honey and then either ferment to completion of stop fermentation (using 1 campden tablet) depending on how sweet (and alcoholic) you want your mead.

Fermented all the way out this would be about 7.5%, with just the first amount of honey it would be around 5.5%

Basic Mead

Mead is an ancient drink made from honey.  If herbs are added it is Methegelin; with grape juice, Pyment; with apple, Cyser; with other fruit, Melomel.  Here’s a basic mead recipe, for 1 gallon (UK) of mead:

4 lbs Honey
water to 4.5 litres
1 tsp citric acid
wine yeast and nutrient

Add honey to warm water, and bring to the boil (this sterilizes the honey).  Cool, add yeast,  nutrient, and citric acid.  Ferment under airlock to completion, rack to allow to clear, and bottle. The whole process should take about 4-6 weeks.


I attempted to make a sourdough rye bread, but it went somewhat wrong, didn’t rise enough, and I now have a brick that I could maim somebody with.  While I’m disappointed that it’s pretty inedible, I can still turn it into something that it pleasant to drink, a Russian drink called kvas.

Kvas is a very slightly (just a touch) alcoholic drink that is widely available in Russia, and particulalry pleanat in hot weather.  It is a bit of an acquired tatste, but I happen to enjoy it, particularly when it’s fresh from the wagon in the market or outside the metro.  You can by it in bottles, but it tends to have extra sugar added to it as a preservative which makes it too sweet.

The recipe:

450 g rye bread (a small loaf or half a large one)
300g molasses, treacle, golden syrup, honey or a combination of them.
4.5 litres water
yeast (or rye sourdough starter)
2 raisins per bottle

O.G: 1.020

Dry the bread, either by chopping it into little pieces and air drying or in a low oven (130C).  Boil the water and pour over the dry bread.  When cooled to body temperature, strain into a bucket and add the molasses/treacle/honey, then yeast or starter at below 24C. Leave for 12 hours, then strain into bottles, adding two raisins to each (this provides some sugar to prime the kvas and give it some fizz).  I once had medovy kvas, or honey kvas, which could be made with the substitution of honey for molasses or treacle, either in whole, but probably better in part.

Elena Molokhovets, author of the tome once given to all Russian women when the got married, says that it will be ready to drink in 2 more days.  I’d advise keeping an eye on it, as it’s likely that a great deal of pressure will build up.  You could probably leave it in the bucket a touch longer or transfer it to a demijohn and close with an airlock, before bottling later.  If fermented out this will be about 2%, but you could drink it earlier.

Found in Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. Addition of honey to make Medovy Kvas taken from a bottle of the stuff that I bought in Suzdal at the pickle festival a few years back (they also make truly excellent mead in a variety of strengths and flavours, which is more like a beer than the western honey wine).


I had a lot of gooseberries and blackcurrants off the allotment, so I decided to make melomel – Mead with fruit juice.  It is a little expensive, as a result of the honey, but it smells really good as a fruit and honey mixture and given that I picked the fruit from my own allotment, this cost about £10 to make using organic, fairtrade honey.


3 jars honey (runny honey is easier)
250g Gooseberries
250g Blackcurrants
3.5 l water
2 tsp pectic enzyme
Burgundy yeast
Yeast nutrient

Bring honey and water to boil, then pour over crushed fruit.  Allow to cool, then add 1 crushed campden tablet (this is to kill the wild yeasts on the fruit), and 2 tsps pectic enzyme (this prevents a pectin haze and allows for full extraction of the fruit juice) .  Leave closely covered for 24 hours, then add yeast and nutrient.  Leave to ferment for 7 days, then strain into fermenting jar and fit airlock.  Ferment out, rack, and bottle.

OG: 1.090 (12%)

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