Orange Blossom Traditional Mead

Last Saturday, I got my first ever batch of mead under way.  I’ve always been intrigued by mead.  In the marketplace, it’s not really all that common.  There’s a local meadery where I live called Misty Mountain Meadworks.  The proprietor is also a member of our homebrew club, Shenandoah Valley Homebrewers Guild (yes, he also home brews beer!). He did a presentation at one of our meetings and brought samples for all of us to try.   After my first sip, I was hooked.  I have to try to make this!

Mead is a very simplistic beverage.  After all, it’s just honey, water and yeast.  When you start to do some reading on the subject, it can get pretty intimidating.  Mead fermentations can seem to take forever with honey’s complex sugars.  As long as you give the yeast the tools that it needs (nutrients), they will do their job.  I’m in no rush whatsoever, as I am viewing this as my long term project.

15 pounds of Orange Blossom Honey

I purchased my honey from Dutch Gold Honey in Lancaster, PA.  The price wasn’t bad ($60 shipping included), and I got my shipment pretty quick since I’m only a couple states away in Virginia.  For this traditional mead, I used 15 pounds of Orange Blossom Honey, and 4 gallons of filtered water. For the yeast nutrients, I used 2 tsp of yeast nutrient and 1 tsp of yeast energizer. The yeast that I used was Lalvin 71b-1122.  The whole process of getting it into the bucket was simple, it just involved a lot of stirring! I used the no-heat method, as I wanted to preserve as much of the aroma of the honey as possible.  I did have the help of a cordless drill and a wine degassing wand to make the job a little easier. 🙂  For the nutrient and energizer, I measured them out and weighed it on a scale.  I divided the combo into four additions.  I added the first addition to the must before pitching the yeast, and then another addition each day after stirring for the other three additions.

Rehydrated Lalvin 71b-1122 yeast

After all this stirring in the bucket I took a gravity reading with the hydrometer, and it came out to 1.103.  This is officially the highest gravity thing that I have ever made! It should come out to about 13% alcohol by volume. I’m going to let it sit in the bucket for about a month before I start to take gravity readings to see how it is progressing.

Gravity reading of the must

Until next time, happy brewing and mead making!

Edit: It has been brought to my attention that I am reading my hydrometer incorrectly.  The SG is actually 1.112. I don’t usually brew/make anything that has this high of a starting gravity!

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3 comments on “Orange Blossom Traditional Mead

  1. Maybe I can clarify (pardon the pun) some things for you. Any must will usually be cloudy after primary fermentation because even though most of the yeast has dropped to the bottom there is still tiny yeast cells and particulates that will take a while to drop out of suspension. The length of time it takes to clear depends on a lot of different things like the honey used, the yeast strain, any fruits or spices added, etc. So, when the primary ferment is done we rack the must to a secondary container not only to get it off of the gross lees, but also because a small amount of fermentation can still take place slowly and drop more sediment – thus further clearing the must. Then, after several months of aging, you can either rack it again or bottle. The time to use a clarifying agent would be just before bottling. Campden tablets (potassium sulfate) is used along with potassium sorbate to stabilize your mead so that the yeast don’t kick up again after your mead is bottled. And yes, you should probably top up to the neck of the carboy to help keep it from oxidizing. Your gravity and ABV are high enough that it shouldn’t make to much difference in the finished product. And incidentally, a high ABV is not what makes for a dry mead. It’s the amount of residual sugars left after fermentation, and if your final gravity is at 1.034 that would be a very sweet desert mead. 1.012 – 1.020, is considered sweet. A dry mead would be in the 0.990 – 1.006 range. Hope that helps.

  2. Alehubby says:

    You’re reading your hydrometer wrong. You say 1.103 but pic shows at least 1.112. Major increments = 10 / minor increments = 2. Common problem when starting out.

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