|Mead and Other Honey Beverages
|Home Brewing Recipes
Baker Street Ales Associate Brewer
the crossroads of the beer world
First of all there are many beers that include honey in their
recipe. Dundees honey brown lager first comes to mind, as well
as many holiday ale recipes.
But when you use only honey, water,and yeast you are making
mead. There are also different kinds of mead whose names are
derived from added ingredients fermentable or not.
The closest to a honey beer would be Braggot which is made
from honey, barley, hops, ginger and yeast. I never brewed one,
but I tried a bottle of Old Danish Braggot once. It was light in
body but heavy In flavor with a high ABV. The style, Braggot, is
quite an old drink, reaching back to the 12th century in Ireland.
Braggot is simply made by blending spices and herbs with mead
and beer, to produce a strong concoction with uncommon
I once brewed a Pyment which is a form of a Melomel which is a
form of a Mead. All right it sounds confusing. But when you add
fruit to a Mead it becomes a Melomel. And if the fruit in the
Melomel was grapes then it is called a Pyment. Enough of this
crazy talk,back to my Pyment.
We really didn’t know what to expect because we had never
tried this before. We started by boiling 13 lbs of honey and 5
gallons of water (and a half ounce of saaz hops- uh oh now what
do we call it?) for twenty minutes.
Then we cooled the wort and hand squashed 14 lbs of wine
grapes into juice and added it to the fermenter. Then we pitched
in Belgian Ale yeast.
It was a lot of sticky work but luckily it was well worth it in the
end. We allowed the wort to ferment for a few weeks and then
bottled half without priming, and the other half with the addition
of corn sugar and Champagne yeast.
The result yielded two distinctively different beverages. The
unprimed or “still” Pyment was much like a wine in flavor and
character. The carbonated version was very light in body yet still
full of flavor and carbonated like a fine champagne. After a year
in the bottle both had held up well.
There are many types of honey available to brewers and each will
lend it’s own flavors to your Mead. The flavors depend on the
bees' diet, such as clover, blackberry, and wildflower. You can
also add spices in which case…..you guessed it…another name..
you are making a Metheglin. By the way, I recommend you invest
in good honey. It's the key ingredient so quality really counts.
So if you consider hops to be a spice or herb, then we actually
made a Mead that was a Melomel that was a Pyment that was a
Whether your mead will be sweet or dry depends on the quantity
of sugar available for fermentation relative to the alcohol
tolerance of the yeast. Thirteen pounds of honey for a 5-gallon
batch will make a mead that has about 10% ABV, which is also
about the tolerance of most ale yeast. Twenty pounds of honey
can produce a 16% (or greater) ABV dry mead with champagne
yeast or a very sweet 10% ABV sweet mead with ale yeast.
For your first dry mead, I recommend using 15 pounds of honey
and champagne yeast. For sweet, 17 pounds of honey and an ale
yeast. Add water to make 5 gallons.
Here are three final things to remember.
1.It takes patience to make mead because it follows its own time
2.The very first racking should come after the airlock has settled
to less than 1 bubble every thirty seconds -and then wait a few
more days or even a week. Then rack it off into a new container.
3. Every batch of mead is different and maturity will depend on a
lot of factors The best way to know when your mead is ready is
simply to use a hydromete.r
Do your research and plan ahead. Then enjoy the fun of creating
your own form of the beverage.
Good Brewing and Cheers!