100 Bottles of Beer – Little Old Mead Maker Me

Brewing Mead - honey

A Home Brewer’s Personal Journey through His Craft – Part 32

More Brewing Mead

Hello again, did you enjoy those meads we made last time around? I know I did. And, like I promised last time, I have some more mead to share with you. So, let’s get down and sticky, fire up the kettle, and make some more mead!

Pomegranate Mead

  • Brewing Mead - pomegranate16 lb Wildflower Honey
  • 48 oz POM 100% pure pomegranate juice
  • 1 T yeast nutrient
  • 1 tsp yeast energizer
  • 2 vials UCCS 3632 Dry Mead yeast
  • Priming: ½ cup honey

Bring 4 gallons cold water to boil. Add Honey, nutrient & energizer stirring constantly. Continue heating for 30 min. Remove from heat and stir in pomegranate juice. Steep for 60 min. Cool wort and pour into fermenter with yeast.

Original Gravity OG: 1.110

After the first 24 hours in the primary it had developed a thick spongy looking layer of sediment. This layer slowly floated to the top, broke up and settled back to the bottom and the slow fizz began.

I racked it to the secondary after a little over four weeks in the primary. It was still a little cloudy with a nice golden pink color. A sample taste was…WOW! It had honey sweetness, pomegranate fruitiness, and an alcohol burn. It was obvious this was going to be awesome.

The mead had cleared very well after four weeks in the secondary when I primed and bottled it. It still had the sweet fruitiness and alcohol warming sensation. FG: 1.008 & 13.5% ABV

Unfortunately, I did not make many tasting notes on this one. It started off with a little cloudiness which cleared very well as it aged. I managed to make the bottles last nearly two years and I remember it being exceptional to the last bottle.

Crazy Mead!

For the next mead I made I went a little crazy, Agave Nectar. Agave is the cactus from which tequila is made. Agave nectar is the sweet juice of the agave plant; available as a honey or corn syrup substitute. I used orange and lime juice as well, think: Margarita. Now, what would this be called in the hierarchy of mead names or styles; I have no idea, probably melomel because of the citrus fruits but, is agave a fruit or a vegetable? Does it really matter? I think not. It is definitely sack mead because it is well over 14% ABV.

Brewing Mead - AgaveAgave Nectar Mead

  • 6 lbs Wild Flower Honey
  • 6 lbs Organic Agave Nectar
  • Fresh squeezed juice of 2 large oranges
  • Fresh squeezed juice of 10 small limes
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 2 pkgs Lalvin EC-1118 Saccharomyces bayanus Champagne yeast (10g total)
  • Priming: ½ cup Agave Nectar

Heat 3 gallons cold water to 180°F Add honey and agave nectar and stir until fully dissolved. Bring temperature back to 180°F. Add fresh squeezed citrus juices (about .75L) straining out pulp. Remove from heat and let step 15 minutes. Cool and pitch yeast and nutrient re-hydrated in 2 cups warm water. OG 1.113

Activity started very quickly with a nice thin head of yeasty looking bubbles which settled down into a steady fizz. This continued for three weeks before it was ready to rack to a secondary. The gravity at this point was 0.997, lighter than water. The taste was very strong, citrus, and actually did taste kind of like a Margarita.

It took another three weeks until it was ready to prime and bottle. It was a very clear pale honey color with bitter citrus aroma and the flavor was very dry, like dry champagne with a hint of margarita. I believe the cloudiness that settled out was all solids from the orange and lime as the citrus was much less than when racked to secondary. The FG was 0.996. I expected more of a drop as activity continued up until bottling. The ABV was about 15.6%

Powerful Stuff – But Disappointing

I tried the first one after a month in the bottle. Powerful stuff, I could still feel it the next morning. But, it was kind of disappointing. The body was thin and lifeless and there was no carbonation. It tasted pretty much just like lime and alcohol.

But…Wait For It!

We all know time is mead’s best friend and this was no exception. After four months in the bottle it was crystal clear with a pale yellow-green color and it no longer had the harsh lime alcohol bite. The body was still very light but now had some definite character.

And, after nine months in the bottle it was truly sublime; smooth and mellow like the finest tequila, and nearly as deadly. Viva Agave!

So, where do we go after that mind blowing excursion? I didn’t know but, kind of wanted to try one of the other many varieties of mead. The inspiration came after I had made some apple jelly with cranberries, which was quite nice thank you very much. Cyser, cranberry cyser to be precise, and I added a little cherry as well.

Cranberry Cyser

Brewing Mead - cranberry

  • 2 gallons Pure Pasteurized Un-Filtered Apple Juice (no preservatives or added sugars)
  • 32 oz organic cranberry juice
  • 16 oz organic tart cherry juice
  • 32 oz water
  • 5 lb clover honey
  • 2 tsp yeast nutrient
  • ½ oz (2 sticks) Ceylon cinnamon (secondary)
  • 1 T whole clove (secondary)
  • 10g (2 pkg) Lalvin EC-1118 Saccharomyces bayanus champagne yeast
  • Priming: ½ cup honey

Pour all juices and water into kettle. Heat to 150°F and remove from heat. Add honey which has been heating in the container in a pot of hot water. Stir well to thoroughly dissolve honey. Cool and pour into fermenter with re-hydrated yeast and yeast nutrient.

OG 1.100

It fizzed along nicely for three weeks before racking to secondary along with cinnamon and clove. I primed and bottled about 2-3 weeks later. FG was 1.002 for about 13.3% ABV.

I shared a bottle with colleagues at Bristol after about a month of aging. It had cleared very nicely but had no carbonation. The flavor was tart like the cranberry and cherry; fruity and very good. After four months in the bottle it had carbed up very nicely, stayed very clear, and retained the tart fruitiness, very good stuff.

Current Projects and a Delay

The following two meads were current projects still in the secondary at the time this was originally writen, September, 2012. I had just had hip replacement surgery which was to have laid me up for no more than six weeks but, due to complications, ultimately had me down for over three months. By the time I was able to get back to these they had been in the secondary for about 4-5 months.

Spiced Peach Mead

  • Brewing Mead - peach10 lb Wildflower Honey
  • 9 lb frozen peaches
  • 1 oz cinnamon stick
  • ¾ oz whole clove
  • 10g Lalvin EC-1118 Champagne yeast
  • Priming: 750ml 30 proof Peach Schnapps

The peaches had been given to me two summers previously by my friend Randall. They were rather smallish and were beginning to get soft, very sweet and juicy. I peeled, pitted, and froze them just for a purpose such as this.

Thaw and partially crush the peaches, they should still be cold.

Bring 5 gallons water to boil and add honey. Return to boil, skimming off foam as it heats. When honey just reaches boil, add the peaches, cinnamon, and clove, all in a nylon grain bag. Turn off the heat and stir the bag around to get all contents mixed in with honey. Cover and let cool overnight, about 18 hours.

The next day the brew was still warm. Remove the peach bag and squeeze out as much juice as possible. I was left with just under 3 lb of wet pulp. Finish cooling the brew with an immersion chiller and strain into fermentation bucket. Pitch yeast and attach lid and blow-off hose. OG 1.064

Fermentation began quickly and slowed to the point it was ready to rack to secondary in only six days. It was still very cloudy and had a strong alcohol presence. It was fruity but did not have much peach flavor. The primary flavor was cinnamon and clove, I may have used too much. The gravity at this point was 1.000 for about 8.5% ABV. I cannot expect it to go any lower than that.

After My Recovery

By the time I was able to get to this it was still cloudy so added 5 tsp Sparkoloid per package instructions. Surprisingly, it cleared very well in just one day. The flavor of cinnamon & clove dropped of a bit along with the cloudiness but was replaced with a subtle fruitiness not identifiable as peach.   Very smooth, no strong alcohol flavor. I decided at this point to prime with peach liqueur or schnapps.

FG was 0.996 for about 9.1% ABV. By my calculations the schnapps should have added about .5% so I decided to call this 9.6% ABV

The peach schnapps definitely added a little aroma and flavor and the sugar content was enough to carb it up after about four weeks although it dissipated quickly. Still young and a bit harsh. Had a bit of a peach aroma and  flavor but less than  I had hoped for.

After more extended aging, the harshness dropped off and the peach flavor and aroma became stronger. It developed a nice champagne like fizz. Leaves an odd aroma in the glass, kind of like wet dog. This aroma was  not apparent when   first poured, only in the empty glass. This was a bit off-putting but it still tasted good, retaining the cinnamon clove flavor, probably too much of that.

Brewing Mead - sour cherrySour Cherry Mead

  • 12 lb Wildflower Honey
  • 33.8 fl oz Marco Polo All Natural Sour Cherry Juice
  • 10g Lalvin EC-1118 Champagne yeast
  • 1 T yeast nutrient
  • 1 T yeast energizer
  • Priming: 1/2 cup honey

I suppose you could consider this a remake of the Sour Cherry Mead from my previous edition. However, I believe it is a different recipe. I found this cherry juice, as opposed to the cherry syrup (sugar added) used in the previous recipe, on markdown at my local World Market import store. I bought two bottles; the second I will use to make cherry stout when I am able to.

Bring 4 gallons water to boil and add honey; when boil resumes, turn off heat and add cherry juice. Cool with immersion chiller and pour into fermenter with yeast.

OG: 1.110 – Potential alcohol 14.9%

Fermentation began very slowly and after four days I decided to add the yeast nutrient and energizer. By the next day I had some proper activity. I would recommend adding these along with the juice to begin with.

After 16 more days I decided to rack this to the secondary. This was a bit early as there was still some slow but steady activity. But, as I was going to have the hip surgery in only four more days I wanted to get it racked. I was very glad I did.

It still had a lot of residual sweetness and honey flavor with a hint of cherry and a lot of alcohol. Intermediate gravity: 1.034 & 10.1% ABV

Finally Getting to Bottle

When I finally was able to bottle this it was at 1.025 FG for about 11.5% ABV. The color was kind of bronze/gold with just the slightest hint of pink. Plenty of residual honey sweetness, a bit of tart cherry, and some alcohol.

After about four weeks in the bottle it had very thin body, not much sweetness or cherry, and plenty of alcohol. It had carbed up nicely with a rapidly dissipating champagne like effervescence. It was still very young and continued to improve with age. Curiously, a small number of bottles remained flat but had more cherry flavor.

I had given a bottle both the peach and the sour cherry to my friends Karl and Janet. They were not fans of the peach but liked the cherry so well he asked if I would help him make a batch himself. I told him to supply the honey and we would do it. We had to use different cherry juice as we were unable to find the same kind again.

Karl’s Sour Cherry Mead

Brewing Mead - sour cherry

  • 12 lb Wildflower Honey
  • 32 oz R.W.Knudsen Organic Tart Cherry juice
  • 16 oz L&A All Cherry Organic Black Cherry juice
  • 10g Lalvin EC-1118 Champagne yeast
  • 2 T yeast nutrient
  • Priming:  ¼ cup honey, 500 ml tart cherry juice, 5g Pasteur Champagne yeast

Bring 4 gallons water to boil and add honey. When it returns to boil, turn off heat and add cherry juice and nutrient. Cool with immersion chiller and pour into fermenter with yeast.

Neglected to check OG, previous was 1.110 so will use that number.

Activity had settled down and it had cleared very well after four weeks. Rack to secondary. Intermediate gravity was at our target of 1.000 for about 14.9% ABV (assuming we started somewhere around 1.110)

Very light in body as evidenced by the 1.000. Very clear with a pink rosé color. Flavor was light but did taste like cherry…and alcohol!

After four or five weeks in the secondary it had developed a persistent thin layer of something on the top. It would mix in but always separated again. Added some Sparkoloid, mixed per package instructions, which made the scum settle out.

Primed and bottled in corked 750ml wine bottles after 10 weeks in the secondary. FG 0.999 so, guessing 15% ABV.

Very tasty, darker than the original due to more cherry juice. It never did develop any carbonation. Karl liked it enough he wanted to try again, so…

Karl’s Bing Cherry Mead

Karl had gotten some very nice organic bing cherry juice which he provided along with the honey.

Brewing Mead - bing cherry

  • 12 lb Wildflower Honey
  • 48 oz organic Bing cherry juice
  • 10g Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast
  • 1 T yeast nutrient
  • 1 T yeast energizer
  • Priming:  ½ cup honey, 28 oz cherry juice, 5g Pasteur Champagne yeast

Identical procedure as the previous mead. remembered to check the gravity this time, OG: 1.094

Had cleared nicely and was ready to rack to secondary in just a little over two weeks. Flavor was riding the line between sweet and tart fruitiness. I think we nailed this one. Intermediate gravity 1.000 for about 12.8% ABV

Another Delay

For various reasons, we were delayed nearly four months from getting this bottled. We used some 750ml swing top bottles which originally contained vodka. FG: 0.999 12.9% ABV

Flavor was a little bitter before priming. Very clear, kind of reddish brown. The carbonation level was very inconsistent from bottle to bottle, most were flat, some were perfect, even found one that was overcarbed. I blame it on the bottles not having an adequate seal. All were very drinkable and fruity tasting.

Well, that covers all the meads I have made… so far. I’ll be back again soon with more fermentation adventures.

Brewing MeadUntil then, Keep on Brewin’…

To be continued…


I am the HomeBrew Guru… My name is Bob Archibald. Some of you may remember me as the grumpy old man behind the bar at Bristol Brewing (bristolbrewing.com) in Colorado Springs where I had been pouring beer for over 12 years. They finally decided I was getting too old or didn’t have enough tattoos or something and replaced me with younger hipper bartenders. Oh well, it was time I moved on anyway. At least they kept my home brew recipe for the annual Christmas Ale! I have been home brewing since late 1994 and have brewed over 150 beers to date. Although I am not a highly technical brewer (its more of a ZEN thing) and still brew on a stovetop, I have created many different styles of beer and have gotten rave reviews for some of my creations. I have also dabbled with mead and wine to equal degrees of success. My latest endeavor is to try my hand at distilled spirits. I have found the basic stovetop method of brewing to be economical and in no way limiting in the quality and variety of beer which can be produced by the home brewer. I also still bottle condition my brews because I like the flavor of a good bottle conditioned beer. It is also more economical than the expense of kegging and the necessary draft system, just a little more time-consuming. A LITTLE MORE ABOUT MY BACKGROUND I am originally from Montana. I went to high school in the little town of Plains and later to an electronics school in Missoula, which eventually lead to a career in the telecom industry for about 23 years. First with Mountain Bell where I did everything from Operator Services to Central Office Installation to Outside Plant. From there I went to Northern Telecom, better known as Nortel, where I did Central Office Installation, Engineering, Grounding, Fiber Optics, and finally Sales Engineer. The telecom industry had a bit of a melt-down after the events of 9/11 and I found myself looking for work. I tried a couple of customer service jobs and ran my own retail business for 5 years. During that time I picked up the part-time gig with Bristol Brewing and I guess it sort of stuck, for a while anyway. 100 BOTTLES OF BEER I began writing my Home Brew Blog, 100 Bottles of Beer, about 9 years ago. It was hosted on Associated Content and then moved to Yahoo Voices. Both of those venues have shut down and I have now moved to WordPress. I went about two years without writing a new one but, I have now revived it here. The blog chronicles my fermentation adventures from how I got started in home brewing, my very first brew through my 100th brew and beyond. All recipes and instructions are included as well as related brewing history, brewing basics and advanced methods, personal experiences, successes, and failures. The most important thing to remember is… KEEP ON BREWIN’

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