The Mead Experiment Thread

This one is for Mirosa.
That is:
5 gallons plain
2 gallons of spiced apple
1 gallon each of mango, blueberry, raspberry, raspberry/cranberry, strawberry, strawberry/rhubarb, blueberry, plum, and blackberry/raspberry.

I will let you know how they turn out in about… 6 more weeks?

So… Lesson #1 learned. Do NOT overfill. I had to clean up strawberry and blackberry this morning that had exploded up through the air lock… Oops.

makes grabby hands Oh man, I’m not a big drinker in general, but I have a weakness for mead (and a lot of friends that make their own). I’m really curious to know how that strawberry rhubarb turns out! Yummy!

Well Ad, I can tell you it smells fantastic! We had to strain the pulp and make sure they weren’t filled so full to avoid any additional explosions. They actually all smelled fantastic. Who knew waiting would be so hard!

Mead is ready!

The good:
Plain mead 10/10
Plum mead 10/10
Spiced-apple mead 10/10
Raspberry/cranberry mead 9/10

The okay:
Blueberry mead 6/10
Raspberry mead 6/10
Mango mead 5/10 (I think this one would have turned out much better had we used over ripe mangoes instead of frozen mangoes)

The terrible:
Strawberry/rhubarb mead 1/10 (I personally consider it undrinkable, and I’m not sure what we did wrong or could have done to make it better which is too bad because I was really excited about this one)

Still need to try:
Strawberry, blackberry, and blackberry/raspberry

So, looking online prior to starting this experiment I was rather intimidated by all of the instructions and all of the additives (preservatives, nutrients, and who knows what else) and what-not. However, figuring that people have been making mead for 1000s of years before the invention of all this stuff, we figured it can’t really be all that complicated and here is what we did:

Step 1: Sterilized all equipment with bleach, rinsed well
Step 2: Poured 6kg of honey into the 5 gallon carboy and then added a pot of boiling water to dissolve it.
Step 3: Filled the remainder of the 5 gallon carboy with cold de-chlorinated water and checked that the temperature was within the acceptable range for our wine yeast.
Step 4: Rehydrated 1 packet of wine yeast according to instructions on packet and added it to the carboy and stirred
Step 5: Quartered 3 organic lemons and added them to the carboy
Step 6: Put on air lock and wait a couple of months until it stopped bubbling.
Step 7: strain through cheesecloth and bottle in sterilized bottles.

For the flavored mead we altered the process as follows
Steps 1-5 as above.
Step 6: Put on airlock and wait 2-3 weeks
Step 7: Put approximately 1 quart mason jar worth of fruit juice into sterile 1 gallon jug
Step 8: Top up with partially fermented plain mead
Step 9: Put on airlock and wait a couple of months until bubbling has stopped
Step 10: strain through cheesecloth and bottle in sterilized bottles.

There you have it. No fancy equipment. No fancy additives. Probably as simple as it gets, and you know what, as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t need all that “extra” stuff. The mead turned out fantastic, with the exception of a couple flavors being less than desirable.

I am VERY excited to try this, thank you sooooooo much for posting the results and the instructions! I think the only thing that was unclear was the term ‘Carboy’. I could have just Googled that, but you know how it is when you come back and clarify… so many other delicious details come to mind and I’m greedy for info! xD

Thanks again, Ryla, this project is absolutely in my future!

The carboy is that big 5 gallon plastic container sitting on the back of the tub with the plain mead in it. it has a smallish (several inch) opening in the top that you can fit a rubber stopper & air lock in.

theoretically though you could make this in anything that you can seal and put an air lock on so long as you sterilize it and adjust proportions accordingly. we just happen to have gotten some good deals on carboys from garage sales and when a local u-brew wine place upgraded theirs and left the old ones for anyone to pickup for free. I think we have 13 now total between my friend and myself (these are joint projects :wink: )

Ok, I didn’t get to make mead right after this thread, but I’m making some now! xD I turned a pickle-ator into a small mead machine (mind you, I now own 7 pickle-ators for all sorts of fermenting goodness like kraut, with 6 more jars just purchased yesterday!). Thanks again, Ryla, this post never left my mind and really nudged me to try it.
If you haven’t already come across it, this book is a crazy awesome read:

Okay, Mir, did you ever end up making your own mead? I can’t remember. I’m hoping to try out mead making after everything settles down post-move (maybe in time for awesome Christmas gifts? Idk…) and want to pick all of the brains before I do.

Also, Ryla, what type of wine yeast did you use and where on the dry/sweet scale would you say your meads ended up?

It’s been a while since I made mead. I don’t recall the store having more than one type of wine yeast where I bought it. It came in a little pre-measured packet. Considering mead must have originally been made by capturing wild yeasts from the air or adding fruits that had wild yeasts on their skin I doubt it is too picky.

As I don’t drink wine (I don’t like it) it is hard for me to really judge where on the dry-sweet scale the mead ended up. I think it was probably somewhat sweet. I’m Sure you could adjust honey amounts to get a dryer mead if you like. But I think it is pretty delicious as is. But try making some and experiment and adjust until you get thw recipe how you like it. That’s the fun in home brewing.

I saw some people talking about a champagne yeast vs other types of wine yeasts. As for the sweet/dry thing, I don’t really like wine either, but I love mead…as long as it’s not dry. The sweetness is what appeals to me.

Funny you should ask… I made a tutorial & video for this!

Detailed tutorial:

Champagne yeast, if not rolling the dice with wild yeast, makes sweeter mead, though we’re talking in levels of dryness vs. what we would think of as a finished sweetness, which is achieved by adding more honey or fruit extract at the end pre-bottling. I could go into a bunch of detail here if anyone wants it, but chatting on mumble might be quicker. Also, if you want to give these as gifts, start now. 6 months of aging will make a big difference to the final product, especially if adding fruit flavors. Some things like strawberry gain a massive boost from aging, not to mention you will need time for the mead to clarify unless you use artificial agents.

Alternatively, if you want a pretty foolproof, unorthodox and yet tasty mead, I can tell you about JOAM. This is the stuff most people make as their first mead to bring to D&D night, and then get hooked on traditional mead making. xD Just google Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead (JOAM) and you’ll get the idea. It’s one of those things someone stumbled on that works, despite not really being the right way to do things, lol!

Lastly, you will have to incur a certain amount of startup costs to produce enough for gift giving. At a minimum:

-Carboy jugs & airlocks: (Alternatively, you could make fermentation jars, which I also have a video for, and can be used for other foods: I use both fermentation jars and carboys depending on batch size.

-Honey: Do not use store-bought pasteurized honey, there is a taste difference and might even mess up a wild yeast ferment. Find a local source (usually brew supply places have good local honey), or in the least, find a commercial brand that says ‘raw’. Different honey varieties will make different flavors of mead. I like Wildflower and Blackberry if its affordable. Also, avoid imported honey, as some countries allow the addition of other sweeteners and may not post this on the label. If all you can get is a bucket of ‘meh’ honey, still use it, I’m just giving best cases here.

-Yeast: If using outside yeast, its cheap, just go to a brew supply store. Done. If not using fruit, spiking your mead with yeast will get it going sooner.

-Bottles: If its a gift, you’ll need bottles. I like swing top glass bottles, and they are easy to get from Target, Container Store or Amazon. Just make sure they are from Italy, as the cheap knockoffs have crappy seals.

-Siphon: This lets you get your golden mead out without the sediment. It’s cheap too, like $10 bucks, but really essential for a nice finished product.

If you have a lot of friends to gift your mead to, then the startup costs make sense. If its just a couple of people, this might be a little more costly per person. Either way, you’ll have the gear for future batches, so its like a little gift you gave yourself in the process. =P

I never did get the clarifying bit. I suppose I don’t mind if my mead looks a little cloudy, it still tastes great. I have not noticed any off-putting flavours from this. I have never added additional honey or fruit pre-bottling, and when I have added fruit it has been about a month into fermentation (aside from lemons which I put in at the start.) The plain (honey, lemon, yeast only) mead has never turned out anything but awesome. I also bottle in dark plastic beer-type bottles instead of glass to avoid potential explosions (the worst the plastic does is crack and leak mead over stuff, but no glass shards exploding everywhere which I worry about, especially for my dog.) But you should talk to Mir about her raisin trick, I imagine it would work for mead as well!

I think I am going to check my storage downstairs, and if I have enough honey get a batch going this weekend! All this talk of mead really has me wanting to make some more. I’ve just not been because trying to get pregnant and feeling lots of “whats the point I wont be able to drink it” but hey, it’ll be good and aged, right?

HI Ryla,

I enjoyed reading your mead posts. While I have never brewed mead, I have brewed several varieties of beer over the last couple of years. I see that you are using the same types of airlocks I have used in brewing beer. Of course wheat beers have a very aggressive fermenting process that will often clog or blow though that type of airlock. Therefore, I have switched to a very simple blow of tube in lieu of an airlock. You can easily covert your existing airlock by removing the top cover and thimble. Hook a plastic hose to the airlocks center tube and then run the other hose down into a tub of sanitizer. Make sure the tube is below the level of the sanitizer. This will keep you from ever having to clean up a blow off mess again.

Other lessons I have learned from brewing;

Consider a glass carboy instead of plastic. Plastic can scratch and cause off flavors and impurities to imbed in the plastic.

Bottle bombs can make for a huge mess, have the same problem with high alcohol beers. Of course in beer that means the fermenting process was not completed. Quickest and easiest solution is to purchase a hydrometer. I did a quick search on the internet an discovered several good sites that offered guidelines for starting gravity and finished gravity for mead.

In beer brewing I never bottle till I reach the finished range of specific gravity for the style of beer I am brewing and have (knock on wood) avoided any beer bombs.

I like the forums on for great advice and a wealth of experience, knowledge and recipes. Don’t have to buy anything just join the forum and explore. There might even be some insights to the rhubarb recipe that you didn’t like.

I look forward to reading more about your mead experiences!


A hydrometer was one of those tools I’ve been needlessly putting off. TBH, it’s because I don’t quite understand the science with specific gravity since most posts I read just give numbers, and not the why behind how it works. If you have any articles/resources that nail this, I’d love to read it, X! =D

Right now I use the very low tech raisin technique… but it does have its limits. =)

Hey Mir,

I am not an expert and only have a meadiocre (pun intended) understanding myself. A quick goggle will return many results that will help your understanding. I do know that yeast converts sugar to alcohol. The specific gravity (SG) of water is 1.0 when you start adding sugar (the food that yeast feeds on) the SG increases. The honey is your sugar and the more sugar the higher SG in relation to water. That means as the sugar concentrate is higher the hydrometer will float higher and the readings on the scale are greater the 1.0 As the yeast converts sugar to alcohol the hydrometer will float lower and the reading will start to approach 1.0 or lower.

Some things to consider is the yeast you are using. Since wines and mead have higher alcohol levels then beer they start with a higher SG and therefore need a yeast that is very tolerant to high sugar levels. Such yeasts exist and when brewing higher alcohol beers like stouts I make sure I buy this type of high tolerant yeast. I have read several books and articles about using a yeast starter process to increase the yeast concentrate in the yeast you currently own to survive better in high sugar environment.

Sorry Ryla, didn’t mean to hijack your posting.


That was actually fantastic. It was what I kind of thought was going on, but without having actually used it, I wasn’t quite visualizing the process. I have been doing both wild and commercial yeast ferments, which has been an interesting process to see when each hits the die-off point.

At the end of the day, I suppose the tldr is: yeast loves food, yeast eats all the food (bringing specific gravity back closer to base of water), yeast starves & dies, now you can bottle safely.

No worries X, this thread is for people to share knowledge and experience. We’ve used a hydrometer when GradeA has been making beer, but never for the mead. It seems simple enough. However, I avoid it with the mead because I don’t like the idea of continuously opening it to test gravity, thus exposing it to outside contaminants. So far the “wait for the bubbling in the airlock to stop” has worked pretty well for me. I think the only reason we had a blow up that made a mess was because we didn’t strain the fruit out and it clogged the airlock. Now that we know to use fruit juice, or strain the pulp out I very much doubt it will be an issue. I do like your idea to modify the airlocks though, it is interesting.