The Mead Hermit’s Brew Day

I figured it was time for an un-insightful look at the Mead Hermit’s brew day, and hopefully someone will learn something from my time in the kitchen (even if it’s what not to do). This time the agenda was to make two 5-gallon batches of mead, and rack over two more 5-gallon carboys that had finished clearing up.

Preparation The Night Before

I had done some prep work the night before. I had tried a two part clearing agent on a batch the previous week to see how it affects the flavour of the mead. It had done nothing noticeable to it so figured I would use it on the remaining 5 gallon carboys I had going. So, I stuck in component A into a 5-gallon batch of Ancient Orange mead, and a 5-gallon batch of Lavender Blackberry mead. I waited an hour and added component B. That was all the prep work for those two, and all I had to do was wait 24 hours for it to clear up. The other bit of prep work I had done was brewing tea, and a lot of it. I sanitized my 6.5 gallon pail and threw 10 tea bags into the bottom, then started adding boiling water, filling it halfway, stirring intermittently. The tea I used was Tetley’s “Warmth Cinnamon Spice”. Once that was all done, I slapped a lid and airlock on the pail to prevent stuff getting in and tucked it into the corner waiting for the next day to come.

Sleepy time now, getting ready for the big day.

The Brew Day

Now it’s time for serious business. I get my tea pail up into my kitchen along with another empty pail for the second batch. I drag out all of my equipment and ingredients. Both batches will be pretty similar but there will be minor differences. They are using the Ancient Orange recipe, one will follow it completely, and one will deviate, trying to bring out a more aggressive flavour.

Making The Mead

The first challenge is pouring 16 kgs of honey. I have four of the 15 kg pails from the True Grist bulk buy and I’m used to a much more manageable container with a pouring spout. I end up just using a ladle and a spatula to contain the mess as I transfer it to the scale (fitted with a 4 cup measuring glass). I get all of the honey in with minimal mess, mostly thanks to my girlfriend. Having assistants is handy. I give both a good stir to make sure everything is blended properly, the mixture at this point is half water (or tea) and half honey. The tea one in particular smells amazing. Also killed the first of four pails of honey.

Both pails with must

After that it gets considerably easier. My lovely assistant is washing and slicing the oranges I need while I measure out the needed spices. At the end of it, the tea pail gets White Labs Sweet Mead yeast (a favourite of mine) and no raisins. The regular batch gets the Fleischman’s Bread Yeast as called for in the Ancient Orange recipe. Both get a half teaspoon of yeast nutrient, which is my only real deviation from the original recipe.

Standard Ancient Orange pail with all ingredients

Now that it’s all done I fit the lids and airlocks onto the pails and hammer them into place. I use a little bit of painters tape with a sharpie to denote what the contents are. I snap a quick pic and send it to my buddy Paul, who will be the recipient of my 5 gallon Ancient Orange when it’s done. The “Advanced” version will be entirely for myself though, maybe a bottle will sneak out here and there to some close friends. But for the most part it is a test since I love the recipe (as does most of my circle) and want to see how I can make it better. Since this is all done, now all that’s left is cleanup and to bring everything back down to my brew room, and finish off the second part of the day.

Racking The Other Batches To Secondary

Now I have to rack two more five gallon carboys over. I need to get them off the lees to prevent unwanted influences to the flavour. The lavender blackberry container is sitting on 3 inches of lees, and honestly, it looks gross. There is lots of debris left over from the 10 lbs of blackberries I had in there. Racking is easy and I’m sure most of you know how it’s done. I just use a 3 ft siphon hose to transfer everything, nothing fancy.

Racking setup
Racking the Ancient Orange (yes it’s popular)
The gunk

I lost more than I wanted from the Lavender Blackberry mead. I didn’t want to transfer any of the lees so some loss had to be accepted. Holy mother did it ever smell good. Shame it still needs to age for another few months before I should be touching it.

The Brew Room

My Brew Space

Yeah, that’s my little corner devoted to all things delicious and alcoholic. It’s not much but it works for me. Thankfully, mead doesn’t require half the fancy gadgets the Beerheads use. I wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it. Mead is simple, get everything together and wait it out. It will get there eventually. And that’s what I like about it.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this post will get a few more batches of mead out of the club so I can have someone to steal good ideas and practices from. Until then I’ll have to suffer in silence, sipping a nice mead and eating good food. For anyone curious about what I am doing you can have access to my log. The batches done in this post were 012, and 014 (the last two entries). I try to take notes but I’m forgetful so good luck trying to get through them.

Mead Hermit, away!

About Matthew Kilpatrick

PolyLumberjack

I play with lava for a living. I enjoy camping and being out in the bush. I got a bicycle recently as part of my commitment to be more active this year and always up to find new trails..

Also play magic the gathering (commander mostly), so if you play let's get together for a few cold ones and sling spells at each other for a few hours.

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