Brewing my own mead (beer advice welcome too)

Due to the restrictions on search I could only find one or two threads on this, and I suppose I wanted more general advice.

I’m thinking of making mead, and google has thrown up a large amount of advice, some of which is common to all sites, eg. the importance of sanitation, but there seem to be disagreements on other matters.

For example, one site recommended using a balloon with a hole in it to allow the gases from fermentation to escape, while others suggest purchasing a specific device.

I was wondering if any homebrewing dopers would point me towards sites whose advice they agree with, and share any particular tips?

I’ve brewed lots of mead. Absolutely essential equipment include a carboy, and a pea trap. That is that sqiggly thing you stick in the cork to allow gas out. Other than that, remember to use a champagne yeast so you can get the most bang for your buck.

I’ve found that wild honey from an apiary tends to be better than bulk honey, and that raw is far superiour to pastuerized. I also like to experiment with flavor additives. mead is easy, quick and fun to make. If you want to get specific, feel free to PM me.

I’ve never made Mead (although I plan to make a batch this year), but I’ve been homebrewing for a couple of years now.

Northern Brewer has some good basic documentation for mead making (written by an employee there who has won Meadmaker of The Year from AHA once or twice). They also have a Mead forum on their messageboard.

Airlock, highly-attenuating yeast, lots and lots of time. Mead takes a goodly amount of time to get great. Like a year or two. I’ve won over a dozen awards for my mead, so ask away if you have specific questions.

First of all, mead is dead easy to brew, but investing in proper equipment really pays off (its not that expensive). Get a air-lock device, the same kind the wine home brewers use, and don’t be stingy with the honey.

Using a balloon (or worse, a condom, as Ive seen recommended on Youtube) will get you prison-grade swill. If thats fine with you, go ahead. It will be drinkable, and get you drunk. If you want something that actually tastes good, get some real equipment.

We have two 25-litre batches maturing nicely right now, we will probably bottle them sometime in the next month, they were originally brewed about three months back.

A friend of a friend has some old equipment that he doesn’t use anymore, so no holed-condoms for me!

I always got good results with Red Star champagne yeast. Other brewers I knew mentioned using some types of ale yeasts, but I never got around to trying those. The best “general” advice I can give you is to be thorough in cleaning your equipment. Sterilizing the carboy and airlock prior to use will keep unpleasant things from growing on your must. Nothing puts a brewer in a bad mood like discovering a thick layer of mold on top of your mead.

The single best mead I have ever tasted was a friend’s Raisin-Sherry mead. It was 19 years old when I sampled it. Heavenly. The recipe was very basic: a sweet, heavy mead (lots of honey), a few pounds of shredded raisins, and sherry yeast. Then a metric buttload of aging.

Start here:

Read all 13 chapters - they’re short.

You’d do well to have a basic “ale pale” bucket fermentor and carboy for secondary storage like these:

or a kit with handy extras

Oh, and yes - you must use airlocks.

You absolutely need to clean AND sterilize everything that comes into contact with your must (the wort in mead terms). This includes cleaning and sterilizing your bottles when you get to that stage (decent mead can take at least four months).