Mishaps in Making Mead

Reader Contribution by Maggie Bonham
article image

Boy did I screw up — or did I? I started my first batch of mead after all these years back in October-November. You all may remember my post about the mead. Well, I had trouble with getting the damn thing to start. I tried adding more yeast, I tried energizer, I tried damn near everything…and no bubbles out the airlock.

Thinking Failure

I gave up and made another batch of must (that’s the raw ingredients that ferment to turn into mead) and put it in another primary fermenter (I have two). This time, I started the yeast in a sanitized half gallon milk container about 12 hours ahead of time before adding it. It seemed to be going smoothly. So, I cracked open the original batch still in its primary fermenter and was greeted with an alcohol odor. I took a sanitized spoon and tasted the must. WOW! THAT’S STRONG! A powerful mead with strong overtones of the orange I put in. Somehow, it fermented without bubbling through the airlock, even though I’m pretty sure I kept it airtight.

Getting Advice

So, I have a very strong, but unfinished mead. I spoke to the brewer supply store and a mead group on Facebook; they all said that I should rack it. Racking involves syphoning off the top layer of the must and leaving the chunky stuff behind to throw out. Which means I had to pick up some racking tubes. And a second gallon container, called a gallon carboy. And probably lose my mind in the meantime.

Rack ‘Em

So, I pretty much blame hunting season and the holidays for the lack of care. But it seems like I have a mead that needs to be taken care of now. Racking used to require syphoning using your mouth to get it started and letting it drain from one container to the other. The one you’re racking to should be lower than the one you’re racking from. Nowadays, the brewers have a handy little self-racking device where you pump it a couple of times and it does the rest. Easy-peasy.

So, I racked the must and came up with a gallon and a quarter that will sit in my office for a while. I’ve been told that the longer you wait, the better the mead. Right now it is too dry and strong, which means it needs time to mellow.

Stay Tuned…

You could probably get high off my laundry room because I put the leftovers in the trash and am soaking the primary fermenter to get the orange gunge out. More on the mead-making as now I have a primary fermenter and an itch to get another must started.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368