How to Make MeadJuly 28, 2023
What is mead?
Mead is a traditional beverage that is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Also known as honey wine, mead is made through a fermentation process and has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Ancient cultures even associated the drink with vitality. It’s surprisingly simple to make your own mead at home, so if you’re looking for an alternative drink, then this handy guide to brewing mead can help.
Quite simply, mead is a type of alcoholic beverage made with honey rather than grapes or hops. While brewing mead involves a fermentation process similar to that of wine, beer and cider, it falls under its own category.
As with other drinks, mead boasts a variety of flavours depending on its ingredients, additional herbs and fruits, plus the brewer’s own process. Being a primarily honey-based drink, the flavour of mead can even be affected by what the bees eat. You can pair it with everything from light salads to a delicious Middle Eastern style lamb stew.
Differing brewing practices mean the alcoholic content of mead may differ dramatically, covering a range from 3.5% ABV up to 20% or more. Bear this in mind when drinking home-brewed mead as you might not know its exact strength.
What is mead made from?
The foundation of a simple brew contains honey, yeast (or an alternative bacterial culture) and water. Spices, fruits or grains may also be added to the mix for delicious blends to pair with meals.
How to make mead
One of the real benefits of making mead at home is that it’s a simpler process than beer-making. It can be produced in just two weeks in a very warm environment, or eight weeks in a colder room. This simple mead recipe requires some equipment before starting:
- A demijohn with airlock and bung
- A funnel
- A metal spoon
- A large pan capable of holding 3 litres of boiling water
- A thermometer
Simple mead recipe
The most important ingredient in mead is the honey, so if you are interested in high quality, flavoursome mead-brewing, it’s in your interest to find the best honey you can get your hands on. Local raw honey is a great option to support local businesses in your area and may offer health benefits, which will be covered later on. This recipe makes around 4 litres of mead.
- 2-3lbs of raw honey – use less for a drier honey mead and more for a sweeter drink
- 2.25 litres of water – filtered or distilled is best
- 2g of champagne yeast
How to brew mead
Add the water to your pan and heat until warm.
Add the honey and stir until dissolved.
Simmer for 30 minutes without allowing the liquid to boil, scraping off any scum.
Remove from heat and allow to cool to around 35 degrees.
Pour through the funnel into the demijohn.
If you’d like to add any extra herbs, spices or grains, do it now. Or skip this step for a traditional mead.
Cool to 32 degrees and add the yeast.
Bung the demijohn, shake, then add water, leaving 3-4 inches of space at the top of the bottle.
Remove the bung and add your airlock.
Leave to ferment for around six weeks in a cool room. In warmer climates, the mead may be ready in two weeks.
You’ll notice that within 12-24 hours, your mead will start to bubble. When your mead stops bubbling, it’s ready to drink or bottle.
Enjoying homemade mead safely
HelloFresh’s Recipe Development Manager Mimi Morely points out, “It’s really important to note that when enjoying your homemade mead you take into account that it may not have the same shelf life as the kind you can buy off the shelf. Instead of keeping it in your refrigerator for a long period of time, you should enjoy your homemade mead within a couple of days” – This is crucial to remember when it comes to enjoying your homemade mead safely.
What to serve with mead
The beauty of mead is that there’s an option for almost every occasion. Fruity meads pair well with fruity desserts or even spicy main courses like a Mexican-style roasted sweet potato salad. More traditional meads are perfect for meat or fish dishes – a good rule of thumb is the darker and heavier the meal, the darker and heavier the mead. So a dark mead would be best paired with stews or red meats such as Pepper Crusted Venison and Dauphinoise Potatoes. Lighter dry meads go well with chicken or salads.
Recipes with mead
Mead can also be used in cooking. Try adding a splash to slow cooker stews or even braising beef with the drink for a different, honey-based dish. Then drink the rest of the bottle alongside your meal for the ultimate pairing.
Take a look at some HelloFresh recipes and the meads they go well with:
- Dark mead with Sausage and Bacon Burger
- Fruity mead with Spicy Baharat Roasted Aubergine
- Sparkling mead with Gu Desserts
Whether you’re looking for a new project or fancy drinking something different alongside this week’s HelloFresh recipes, mead is a great alternative to beer, wine and cider.