This is how I make mead.
Step 1: Calculate honey needed.
[Desired alcohol content in percent] x [fixed factor 19] = >> [Required amount of sugar in grams per liter] x
[desired batch quantity in liters] = >> [Required total amount of sugar in grams] divided by [fixed factor of
800 g / sugar content of honey kg *** ***] >> = total demand for honey in kilograms
I have fermentation barrels of 31 liters. Those I fill with 25 liters of mead starter. Hence my calculation:
16% x 19 = >> 304 g/l × 25 l = >> 7600 g / 800 g/l =>> 9.5 kg honey (approx.)
Step 2: Heat honey.
Although the honey can also be heated only to 40 °C to preserve the ingredients, but that may produce a wrong
fermentation. You better heat up to 70 °C and later stir in honey to sweeten the mead after the fermentation
- then again you have the ingredients in it. So in the saucepan heat up the honey to 70 °C quickly.
The HMF value is increased by the heating of the honey, but because the honey is then stirred into water, the
HMF value at the mead falls back. So the HMF value is therefore irrelevant.
Step 3: Stir honey into water.
Heat the one quarter of the required amount of water and pour into the fermentation vessel. In my 25 liters
mead starter, that means about 6 liters of water preheated. Then pour the honey into the hot water. Stir.
Fill up with cold water. It is advisable to add only 2/4 of the total required amount of cold water. And
measure the sugar content with the Oechsle scale before adding the remaining water.
Step 4: Determine sugar content.
That is most important. Because honey is not like honey and has distinctly different sugar concentrations!
The above mentioned value of 800g/l sugar content of honey is an average, just a rule of thumb to work with.
Stir in honey or add cold water until you reach a value of 100-110 Oechsle (gram sugar per litre). Take
samples in a 250 ml cylinder, where the Oechsle scale is immersed.
Reverse calculation of potential sugar alcohol content: xxx Oechsle times 0.13 (factor)
110 Oe x 0.13 = 14.3% potential alcohol
Step 5: acidification.
To avoid wrong fermentation and doing someadhing for the good taste! the acidification is important. Honey /
mead naturally has an acidity of approximately 4 g/l. The addition of 1-2 g of citric acid to 1 liter (at 25
liters this means 40g of citric acid) the acid value is lifted up to 6 g/l. The taste is much better and the
yeast is working better.
Step 6: Stir in yeast nutrients.
Because the honey lacks some of the nutrients that are present in juices, for example, yeast nutrients (so
called yeast salts) are to be added. If this step would be omitted, the yeast would stop working after a
short time and the probability of a false fermentation raises.
At 25 liters I add 12g yeast salts.
Step 7: Add the yeast.
Rehydrated dry yeasts (note instructions). Don't use liquid yeasts, they perform much less reliable. Add
yeasts when the temperature of the mead mixture reaches 25 °C. Port or sherry wine yeast pack the many sugar
Step 8: Fermentation
Observe the fermentation closely and do tests quite often. Depending on the sugar content of the fermentation
runs fast or slow. Primary fermentation runs for two to three weeks. Another two weeks for the second
Step 9: deduct from yeast cake
In a quiet corner of the kitchen, on a little insulation, the mead is dormant after a stormy primary fermentation. The mead still is fermenting, but the time between the bubbling increases. It is time for the mead to be deducted from the yeast.
So lift a little higher - onto the kitchen table.
First, I measure the alcohol content, the acidity to adjust the acidity and the sugar content.
I determine the acidity with blue lye and a small measuring cylinder. First, the mead is filled to the zero line.
Then, drop by drop the blue liquor is added. Then shake. First the mixture turns yellow, then turns into green and finally to dark green - at the graduated cylinder the acidity can be read. Here it is 5 to 6 And so I definitively do not to add more acid.
With the "Vinometre" I measure the alcohol content.
14 vol% alcohol or more - that is quite sufficient. (About 13% prevents vinegar bacterias.) The taste confirms the alcohol content. The mead hardly tastes sweet, but strongly of alcohol.
The Oechsle scale shows 51 g/l residual sugar.
Most people do like a sugar content near by 110 Oechsle (g/l). Need to add some more honey then.
The difference of 110 to 51 g/l is 59 g/l - that much sugar is missing.
59 g/l by 20 l = 1.180 g/l residual sugar, needs to be added. (Mathematically). Honey doesn't consist of 100%
sugar, but about 20% of water. So it needs more honey. So we divide 1180 by 800 g/l = 1.475 kg of honey. I used the good linden honey harvested this year to sweeten the mead.
Carefully warm up to 35 - 40°C, so it mixes better with the mead.
Carefully drain and split the mead from the yeast residues on the ground.
While running I add the honey and sulfur. Stir with a slotted spoon.
The sulfur in the form of potassium pyrosulphite improves the flavor by binding acetaldehyde and prevents the oxidation of the mead and thus the growth of lactic and acetic acid bacteria.
The new barrel is smaller and should be filled right up to the brim - again in order to avoid the oxidation.
The barrel is sealed with a fermentation lid, to avoid the barrel to explode by another second fermentation. And returned to the quiet corner.
Let sit there for another two weeks or more to ripen the mead. When there is no more bubbling, you can fill it into bottles. Make sure the alcohol is measured. Needs to be above 13 %. Heat when bottling.