NOTE: Please read through these instructions fully prior to starting, especially if you will be adding any fruit or spices to mead.

STEP 1: Ensure you have all of your equipment and ingredients before you begin

Basic equipment needed includes:

  • Mead Ingredients including honey, yeast, yeast nutrient, Campden tablet (optional) & acid blend (included with all TBA mead kits)
  • 3 quarts of clean water (i.e., no chlorine or fluoride) - Tap water filtered through a good charcoal filter (such as a Brita) or bottled water is fine.
  • 2 gallon Fermenting Bucket (for Primary Fermentation)
  • 1 gallon glass jug with cap (for Secondary Fermentation)
  • A second 1 gallon glass jug IF adding spices & racking a second time
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Mini-auto siphon
  • 4’ of 5/16” tubing
  • A hydrometer - a long, narrow, buoy shaped glass device with lots of numbers on it
  • A hydrometer test stand (a.k.a. hydrometer test jar) - a tall, narrow vessel that allows the hydrometer to float in your sample.
  • An Airlock with a #6.5 bung
  • A Cleaner (such as One-Step or B-Brite)
  • A Sanitizer (such as Star-san)

Optional Equipment / Ingredients:

  • A thief
  • A Wine Whip attachment & drill in lieu of a spoon
  • Campden Tablet (to kill wild yeast)
  • Additives such as Fruit or Spices
  • Small sock for spices
  • 1 gallon glass jug with cap
  • Priming sugar for sparkling mead
  • Beer bottles with caps

STEP 2: Sanitize Equipment

STEP 3: Time to Make Your Mead

  • Add 3 quarts of 70oF water to your fermenter.
  • Add day one yeast nutrient pack to the water and ensure it is dissolved.
  • Add three (3) pounds of honey to the water and stir well.
  • Add additional water to raise the level just above the one-gallon mark.

STEP 4: Measure Original Gravity

  • Place your sanitized hydrometer into the sanitized test stand
  • Pour a sample of your must (a.k.a. - your unfermented honey-water mixture) from the fermenter into the stand, ensuring it is filled to the top.  If you have a thief, you can collect a sample with a sanitized thief.
  • The hydrometer will float, give it a good spin, like a top, to dislodge any air bubbles.
  • Find where the mead meets the gravity scale, this is your original gravity.  
    • It should be in the 1.095 to 1.105  range.  
    • Record this number.
  • Return your sample to the fermenter.

STEP 5: Sanitize The Must

  • This is an optional step for this size batch.  
    • If you chose to skip sanitizing the must, proceed to Step 6.
  • Crush one Campden tablet in a sanitized bowl.  Add and stir it into the must
  • Seal the fermenter, place an airlock in the lid and let it sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours you will pitch the yeast.

NOTE: YOU MUST WAIT A FULL 24 HOURS OR YOU WILL KILL THE YEAST.

STEP 6: Pitching The Yeast

  • Add one (1) packet of yeast to the must.
  • Using a sanitized spoon or wine whip, stir the must for 30 seconds to ensure it is well aerated.
  • Place the lid on your fermenter to seal it and insert the airlock.
  • You are done for now.  Store your fermenter in a location with a constant temperature (ideally below 70oF).

STEP 7: Stir, Stir & Stir

  • Stir the must vigorously with your sanitized spoon or wine whip for 30 seconds daily for the first three (3) days.
  • Day three add second nutrient package
  • Store your fermenter in your cool location for two (2) more weeks unless you will be adding fruit.
    • If you are adding fruit, you will do so after the first week of fermentation.  
    • Follow the pasteurization instructions below.

STEP 8: Final Gravity

  • Collect a sample of your mead as outlined in Step 4 above.
  • Take a gravity reading.  
    • A sweet mead will be 1.020 or greater
    • A semi-sweet mead will be between 1.010 and 1.020
    • A dry mead between 0.0998 and 1.010.
  • If your mead is in this range, TASTE IT!! If it is at your desired sweetness level, it is done fermenting.  Proceed to rack it.
  • If you want the mead to be drier, let it continue to ferment a few more days.
  • Check the gravity again.  
    • If the gravity changed, it is still fermenting.  
    • No change means it is done fermenting.  
    • When the mead reaches the desired sweetness level or finishes fermenting fully, proceed to rack your mead.

STEP 9: Time to Rack

  • Racking is the process of transferring your mead to another fermenter (i.e., a 1 gallon glass jug), leaving the old yeast behind.  Mead may be racked multiple times including:
  • Following primary fermentation (i.e., you’ve reached desired final gravity)
  • After the addition of additives (e.g., spices, oak, fruits, etc.)
  • Before bottling for final clarification
  • Cutting off is the process of halting fermentation

9A. First Racking: POST-PRIMARY FERMENTATION

  • Using your sanitized auto siphon and tubing, rack your mead into the one (1) gallon jug being careful to leave the layer of yeast at the bottom behind.
    • A note on siphoning, use gravity to your advantage.  Position your fermenter higher than your 1 gallon jug (e.g., fermenter on a counter or table with the jug on a milk crate or other low object).
    • To rack the most mead possible, you may want to very carefully tilt your fermenter to one side.
  • Add your sulfites.  It will halt the fermentation process and lock in your sweetness level and flavor profile.
  • Add the acid blend to the mead
  • Stir well, but try not to aerate at this point.
  • If you are adding any spices or special ingredients, you will add them to the racked mead at this point.
    • Follow directions below
  • Store your fermenter in your cool location for two (2) more weeks
    • You should see the mead begin to clear.  
    • You can speed up clarification by placing your mead in a refrigerator to cold crash it.

9B. Second Racking:

  • If you added spices to your mead, you will rack a second time.

STEP 10: Bottling

  • When the mead is clear, it is ready to bottle!!
  • You have several options of how to package your mead including leaving it in the one-gallon glass jug or transferring it to beer or wine bottles.
  • If you want a sparkling mead, you must bottle into beer bottles.  NEVER add priming sugar to a glass jug.  IT COULD EXPLODE!!

OPTIONAL STEP: Adding Flavorings & Fruit To Your Mead

Anything you add to the mead needs to be free of bacteria.  To ensure your spices are bacteria free, you should pasteurize the additive.

Pasteurizing Fresh Fruit

  1. Wash the fruit and de-stem if necessary. Large fruit, like peaches, can be cut into chunks.
  2. Freeze the fruit for at least 24 hours.  Thaw and refreeze the fruit.  Repeat this step one more time.  Ice crystals will form and break open the cell walls.  Taking the time to do this step will result in yielding more flavor.
  3. Place the thawed fruit in a pot with a half-cup of water.
  4. Bring the mixture to 160oF
  5. Let the fruit and water rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the fruit and water to fermenter
  7. Ferment your mead for an additional two (2) weeks.
  8. Go to Step 8

Adding Spices or Herbs

  1. Soak your spices or herbs in a half-cup of 160oF water.
    1. Note: Use of the optional sock will make racking easier.
  2. Hold this temp for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the liquid and spices to your mead.

Cheers!