Many of the same FAQs that apply to beer and wine making also apply to mead. However, there are some rather unique aspects to mead making that are not necessarily obvious, even to the experienced brewer. Hopefully, those are the issues we can address here.








Q1: How hard is mead to make?

A: Not hard at all. In fact, the recipes are generally simpler than most beers, and there is no acid balancing required as in wines. Of course, there are differences in technique depending on personal preference; but overall, mead is the simplest of the homebrewed beverages. Probably the single most difficult part of mead is having the patience to wait it out through primary and secondary ferment. Honey is a complex sugar, and the yeast takes longer to break it down in primary. Then in secondary, it takes much longer to clear than a typical wine.






Q2: Iíve heard that honey doesnít ferment. Apparently, thatís not trueÖ?

A: While a common misperception, itís not that honey wonít ferment. Yeast makes alcohol by eating sugar and producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. The sugar in honey is more difficult for the yeast to process. Think of it as a ďhigh fiberĒ diet for yeast. While it does result in a slower ferment, there are techniques and additives that can help speed up the process.



Q3: Does honey have to be boiled to make mead?

A: Probably our most frequently asked question. The answer is simple. Yes and No. Boiling is one technique. Boiling or pasteurizing the honey causes it to give up impurities such as wax residue, proteins, and hive parts. By heating the honey, you will get a finished mead that is clear, light bodied, and sterile. By fermenting the honey without heating, the proteins and residues will cause the mead to be slightly cloudy. However, it will be a fuller bodied drink with a stronger honey and/or floral character.



Q4: I followed the recipe, but the yeast isnít doing anything. Why not?

A: There are a number of reasons why yeast doesnít start. The liquid may have been too hot, the yeast may be old/stale, there may be residual sanitizer in the fermenter, or the yeast may have just had trouble (see Q2) with the honey. With the exception of residual sanitizer, the solution to these problems is the same: Get a fresh packet of yeast and toss it in the mead. There are some techniques for helping it along: hydrate it in sterile water for 15 to 30 minutes, add a spoonful of sugar to get it started, and/or add a spoonful of yeast nutrient (available at home brew supply stores) to help it along. If the problem is residual sterilizer, stir the mead violently to aerate it, then let it sit for 24 hours and start with fresh yeast.




Q5: What kinds of fruit can I use to make melomel?

A: Any kind at all. Iíve even seen pickle mead (although I donít recommend it.) If you enjoy citrus fruits, there are some acid reduction techniques for orange and grapefruit melomel that improve the end result.




Q6: What kind of spices can I use to make metheglin?

A: Any kind at all, although the most common ones are cloves, ginger, cinnamon, or coriander. Iíve also used vanilla and mint leaves, although the mint leaves didnít turn out quite like I expected. Another common herb is tea Ė added right before bottling. The vanilla adds an excellent counter-flavor to cherry melomel.





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