A few months back while I was doing a kimchi demonstration at the Augusta Veggie Food Truck, a gentleman stopped and introduced himself. He produces a little online show for Augusta Magazine called “Earthwise.” My new acquaintance, Mark, was interested in setting up an interview with me about some of the stuff I make. So a couple of weeks ago he came to my house with his crew and I did a mead demo in my kitchen. It was a lot of fun to do the show and have Mark and his crew over. So much fun that we are talking about doing further episodes in the future.
One of the things mentioned in the show is the development of our business, Thoroughbrewed. We decided to change the name of the business to reflect the heritage & history of our adopted hometown of Aiken, SC, and also to better reflect the main purpose of what we will be doing. While education is going to be a big part of what we do, we want to offer more locally brewed craft beer choices to the residents of the CSRA in a cozy, relaxed environment. We will also offer home brewing/wine making supplies and classes on various kinds of brewing and food fermentation. This blog will become part of the Thoroughbrewed web presence as we move forward.
If you are curious about mead making you can see me in action by clicking here. Otherwise you can follow the directions below:
1 gallon glass carboy (jug)
bung or stopper
5/16″ siphon hose
Sanitizer, such as Star San
racking cane or auto-siphon (optional)
bottle filler (optional)
drill whip (optional)
Ingredients (makes 1 gallon of mead)
2 ½ – 3 lbs Honey
1 Tbsp strong tea
½ tsp Yeast Nutrient
¼ tsp Yeast Energizer
¼ tsp Grape or Wine Tannin
¼ tsp gypsum (optional)
½ pkg Mead or Wine Yeast
1 Campden tablet, crushed (optional)
¼ cup oak chips/cubes (optional)
- Wash and sanitize all of your equipment before you get started.
- Read yeast instructions and rehydrate or thaw according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Pour honey into glass carboy. If honey has started to crystalize or if it Is flowing too slowly, sit the container of honey in warm water (90° F) for a few minutes.
- Add water to carboy and fill to 4 – 5 inches from top.
- Add remaining ingredients, except for yeast; put bung on the carboy, cover the hole and shake vigorously until everything is dissolved.
- Pitch yeast; attach bung and airlock.
- Wrap with a towel or place in a dark room.
- Ferment is complete when SG has dropped to 1.000 (about 6-8 weeks). If the mead is not completely clear, rack (siphon) wine off of sediment into a clean and sanitized secondary; reattach airlock.
- If you want to stop fermentation before it is finished, you can add the Campden tablet or sit it out in the sunshine for a couple of days.
- If you want to add a more sophisticated flavor, add oak chips and taste every day or two until you like the flavor. Since the oak chips have more surface area and can contact more of the mead than an oak barrel, only a few days are needed to add an oaky flavor.
- To aid clearing, siphon again in a month and again, if necessary before bottling.
Pitfalls to Avoid
- Many sources/recipes tell you to boil your must (the unfermented honey-water mixture). DO NOT DO THIS. It is completely unnecessary and can result in fingernail polish remover-like flavors that it takes a very long time to get rid of. Also, boiling the must destroys the subtle floral aromatics of the honey. If the honey is not flowing out of the jar/bottle very well it is alright to warm it, but never boil it.
- Many recipes also call for using champagne yeast. The only reason I know to do that would be that champagne yeast is more tolerant of high alcohol levels. While some people might want this, champagne yeast results in a “hot” flavor that is rather unappealing. If you wish to enjoy a good flavor in a relatively short time span, just do a little research (Ken Schramm’s book is an excellent resource!) to figure out what yeasts might work well for what you want. I am a big fan of White Lab’s Sweet Mead/Wine Yeast.
UPDATE: Since this was recorded, we have come to realize that our business plan would not work in Aiken. We have since moved to Chattanooga, where we will revisit the idea once we get ourselves settled a bit. In the meantime, I am trying to find somewhere to teach fermentation and brewing classes.