Recipe:How to make Mead
What is Mead?
As we all know, atheistic public schools are failing in their duties to kids in that they fail to teach them that the only way into Valhalla is through a glorious death in battle, with a host of your slain enemies at your feet or at the very least a pile of dead lawyers and accountants. It's just plain common sense that any code of morals just isn't complete unless the only way into heaven is through the brutal death of your enemies. Sadly, most of us will end up going to Niflheim and have to spend all eternity in the company of Hel who looks like a cross between Carrie and Samantha from Sex and the City, and if you've ever seen that show you'll know that isn't a very nice thing at all. (She's Loki's daughter, after all.)
However, as parents you can do some things to help prevent your kids from suffering that fate. The first thing to do obviously is Homeschooling with heavy concentration on classroom prayer to Odin and the use of weapons. But if you don't have the time for that, the very least you can do is get your kids on a steady diet of poorly roasted meat and mead. You're never too young for your first mead.
What you'll need
You'll definitely need the following things:
- Two demijohns and the accompanying paraphernalia that comes with them.
- An extrememly large pan. If you like making soup, the one you generally use for that.
- Some siphon tubing.
- Some wine or Champagne yeast. (Beer yeast can be substituted but will make the mead cloudy. Bread yeast should be avoided if possible—it gives a doughy flavor and produces too much CO2.)
- About 2Kg of honey. Not crap from the supermarket, something with a little flavour.
- A whole bunch of Campden tablets or similar non-toxic sterilising agent.
- Some glass bottles to decant the mead into while it matures.
Optionally you may need:
- Some yeast nutrient mix.
- Some fruit, herbs or spices.
- A little edible acid, such as citric.
Firstly sterilise everything you're going to use. I mean everything. You may want to consider using a great deal of whiskey or vodka to sterilise yourself and your clothes before you begin. Not only does this decrease the risk of your mead going bad, it also makes the whole process a lot more fun. Tediously, the equipment you have to sterilise with the Campden tablets. Follow the instructions on the packet.
That, of course, is only for those who want to be super anal about sanitizing, or who want an early start on the evening's drinkin'. You can brew a decent mead as long as you sanitize your primary fermenter (whatever you will be fermenting in first). Campden tablets are often used in the UK, though they don't actually sterilize things. Bleach works well (as long as it's unscented!); mix 2tbs (15ml) per 5 gallons (19 liters) of water and let soak for a half hour. Or if you have access to iodophor, a very small amount in enough water to swish around in everything, and let that all sit for 5 minutes.
Prepare the yeast in accordance with the instructions; this will take about 12 hours or so, so it's best to leave it overnight. In the morning the mixture should be nicely frothy. If the yeast shows no signs of life, chuck it away and start again.
Next, fill one of your demijohns three-quarters full of water. Pour the water into the pan, and bring it to a rolling boil. Once at a boil, take it off the heat and let it cool a little, then add the honey and mix thoroughly. The aim here is to sterilise the honey, which will be full of all sorts of awful microbial crud not to mention bits of dead bee and other hive detritus. Return the pan to a low heat, and leave it for about 30 minutes. It is important not to let the mix boil, otherwise you'll start losing the flavour.
Pour the mixture into a demijohn and let it cool, then add the activated yeast. At this point, you may want to add about a teaspoon or so of yeast nutrient. Unlike wines or beers, the honey that forms the base of mead doesn't provide enough nutrients to sustain yeast indefinitely so you tend to have to add something to the mix. Artificial nutrients have a tendency to add a metallic taste to the mead that takes a few months to mellow out after fermentation is complete, so this may be undesirable. Now leave your demijohn in a warm place, and check on it about once a week.
After six weeks or so, a layer of sediment will have formed on the bottom of the container. At this point, the mead is ready for 'racking'. Use your siphon tube (sterilised, of course) to transfer the mead from one demijohn to the other, minus the icky sediment. Depending on how you would like your mead to taste, you may wish to add a layer of crushed fruit to the bottom of the container before adding the mead. Or you may add spices, which should prevent needing to add acid (see below). This not only makes your mead taste nice but eliminates the need for artificial nutrients. There is some debate over what flavours you should add to your mead. Many people say that adding soft fruit such as blueberries makes you gay, and that if you drink it Loki will come down in the guise of a hot twink and give you teh AIDS or possibly Gay Bowel Syndrome. All agree that adding dried chilies to your mead makes you beloved of Thor. Personally, I like mine strawberry flavoured.
After racking, leave the the mead in a warm place until fermentation is complete. This should take about another six weeks. Once fermentation has ceased, taste the mead and see if it could use a little acid in it to counteract the sweet flavour. At this point, decant the mead into bottles, seal them and leave the mead to mature to taste. It may be drinkable immediately after fermentation, but if it tastes harsh then leave it in bottles a couple of months until it mellows.
It is absolutely mandatory that when drinking mead, the lead drinker raise his tankard above his head and shout "Wasshail!" at an annoyingly loud volume. The other drinkers should then also raise their tankards and shout "Drinkhail!" at a volume equal to or greater than the lead drinker. Repeat until all participants are horizontal.