Mead is a fermented alcoholic beverage, and it’s been around for an estimated 7000 years or so. Simply put: mead is honey, water and yeast. The honey is consumed by the yeast that in turn produces alcohol and, depending on strains and conditions, the alcohol by volume can range from 3 to 18 percent.
Before sugar was brought to England, honey was incredibly important (this is liquor we're talking about) and highly regulated due to it’s very crucial ingredient status for mead. Mead makers were held in high esteem, and one could make a good living producing mead, or providing the honey for its creation.
These days, it’s definitely become more of a niche product as its raging popularity has waned considerably over time. Traditional mead needed to age for 12 to 18 months while wine, cider, or beer would need much less.
However there has been a bit of a renaissance. With the past lockdowns from covid, many people took up baking and crafts and… well… brewing was in there as well. Even the Manitoba Liquor Mart is selling local mead, although they call it “Honey Wine” for some (naturally) obscure legal reason. Today's hobby brewers have new strains of yeast and methods to shorten the aging time, and anyone with a good supply of honey can dabble in making their own.
I purchase my beer and winemaking supplies from Grain to Glass (find their website here: https://www.graintoglass.ca) and mead is a great way to get into home brewing.
Small carboys, yeast, airlocks, and even bottles are available at a fantastic price.
Below is a simple cranberry mead recipe to get you started:
This is a simple cranberry mead that uses beer yeast. It ferments clean with a sweet medium cranberry flavour.
It's an early drinker being ready in about 10 months. Try it out, it's simple, scalable, not tart, and very drinkable early.
Kc's Cranberry Mead
OG-1.103 FG-1.025 (ish)
1 Gallon Recipe (scalable)
- 3lbs Honey
- 1lb Dehydrated Cranberries
- 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient (can be omitted)
- Denny's Favourite 50 (Wyeast 1450 or 4632 for a dryer mead or 4184 if you prefer a sweeter mead)
- Add 1/3 gallon warm water & honey to 1 gallon jug. Shake like hell to mix up. Add dehydrated cranberries & yeast nutrient into the honey/water mix.
- Top up with cool water to get mixture to approx. 65 degrees leaving some space for the krausen. Add Denny's Favourite 50 yeast and ferment 2 months.
- After 2 months, rack to secondary leaving cranberries behind. Top up with water and age in secondary for 7 months. Bottle and enjoy!
If you would like more information on mead, or if you have a favourite recipe to share, feel free to call me or email me anytime!
-Samuel Pepys, 17th century.