Beekeeping Articles

Beekeeping Articles

Meade Recipe

Chris' Double Fermented Aged Honey Meade

Chris Gerraty

Be patient, this Meade will take about 18 months before it is ready to drink and the longer you leave it, the better it is. Club members that tasted it in Jan 2015 will now know that what they tasted had matured in the bottle for 2 years. Prior to this there was about 10 Months of fermentation and shelving.

This recipe will make approximately 36x 350ml Bottles of Meade with an Alc/Vol of around 16%

Equipment

  • 1x 23Ltr Fermenters with airlock, tap, & thermometer
  • Large stock Pot
  • Large stiring spoon
  • Very accurate cooking Thermometer up to 70 Degrees Celcius
  • Brewers Hygrometer

...in about 3 months...

  • Another 23Ltr fermenter (same setup)
  • Long Siphoning tube for that will fit on the tap of the fermenter

...in about 4 - 5 months...

  • 5x Carboys (4Ltr Glass Wine Bottles)
    Source these at your local Church Group for a couple of bucks each. I prefer the clear ones as it is easier to monitor the settling of the sediment and get a good look at the colour and clarity.
  • Cling Wrap
  • 5x Party Balloons - Make sure you can streach the openings over the Carboy Bottle necks

... another few months....

  • Turkey Baster.... Yes... a Turkey baster
  • Enough Bottles to hold about 14 - 16 Ltrs of Pure Bliss.
  • Use a Corked bottle with a Port style cork with the plastic cap on it.

Ingredients:

  • 10Kg Natural, unprocessed Honey
  • Dry Sherry Yeast
  • ~ 2 Tbls Citric Acid
  • Approximately 15Ltrs Springwater
  • Packet of brewers Finings
  • Packet of Yeast Nutrient
  • Metabisulphate (Sterilizer - Food grade) Available at Brew Shops

Here we go...... Make sure you have everything prepared and ready and at arms reach. Go to the toilet before you start because there is no break time in this. Put on some latex gloves and then sterilize everything with the Meta-bisuphate. Rinse everything extremely well and try not to contaminate anything. Heat the 10Kg of honey in the stockpot, stirring constantly to make sure you heat it evenly. You need to bring the temperature up to but NOT over 63 degrees. This is to kill off any foreign natural yeasts and bacteria that WILL be in your honey. The heated honey needs to stay at this temperature for at least 20 minutes... If you overheat the honey it will change the taste of it and start breaking down and separating the water out of it.

Once you have prepared your honey put it into the fermenter and add a few litres of spring water. Stir it in, to make sure it is well diluted then add the citric acid. Continue to add the springwater and keep on stiring. Bring the fermenter content level to around 23ltrs. Check the Specific gravity of the solution - This is your initial staring point. Check the temperature of the honey mixture, ideally it is good to ferment this in the mid 20 degrees celcius. If your brew is still above 30 then wait till it cools down to about 26 - 27C. Add the yeast nutrient to the mixture and stir it a little, now sprinkle your yeast over the top of the mixture and seal the fermenter. Fit the airlock and fill it with a little water.

Place the fermenter in an out of the way spot, somewhere where you will not forget about it but know that it will be there a while. I find that on top of the fridge is an EXCELLENT place. Even on a cool day the air temp above the fridge is always warm as this is basically where all the heat from inside you fridge goes. The brew will bubble for 2 - 3 months. Make sure you top-up the airlock every now and then to prevent it drying out. You will have a very nice honey smelling kitchen for a while.

Once you notice the bubbling slow down or even stop, leave it a few days to make sure. Sterilize your second fermenter and stuff and attach your siphoning tube to the tap of the full fermenter. Take a look at the sediment on the bottom of the fermenter, there should be some, and make sure that it is not above the tap height. If it is you can place a small object under the fermenter slightly leaning it backwards lifting the tap a couple of centimeters. Jiggle the fermenter ever so slightly and the sediment should shift back allowing you to siphon the clearer mixture above.

Siphon a small amount off to check the specific gravity with your hygrometer and you will see (you'll already have smelled it) that it is coming along nicely as the numbers start to drop. Put the other end on the siphon hose in the bottom of the new fermenter and open the tap, try to avoid aerating the mixture as you don't want to make it all bubbly. There will be slight aeration which will start to ferment the rest of the mixture. Bare in mind that you may lose about 2 ltrs or so of mixture as this is left in the first fermenter with sediment in it.

Put the new fermenter in place of the old one with airlock on top. It should start to bubble again... this is the secondary fermentation. Give it about a month and check the specific gravity of the mixture by siphoning a small amount off. It should be going down. Do this again in a few weeks and then again in 2 weeks... or when you notice the bubbling slowing dramatically or stopping. IF your mixture still bubbles regularly, then keep it in there until it starts to slow... Open the fermenter and sprinkle the finings over the mixture. This is going to help clarify the mixture and get the cloudiness out.

About a week after adding the finings you now need to siphone into your Carboy Bottles. Make sure they are sterilized and rinsed. Fill them leaving about 5cm from the top lip of the bottle. Place a piece of clingwrap over the opening and prick a couple of holes in it with a tooth pick. Grab your balloon and stretch the opening over the bottle neck. This works like an airlock but is doesn't let the contents escape; If there is any further slight fermentation that happens the CO2 will have room to move and NOT get dissolved in the mixture and make it fizzy.

Sit your 4 or so carboys up on the fridge and cover them with a teatowel or light sheet to minimize the light. The mixture should be pretty clear but most likely be slightly cloudy... Don't worry, this is settling time. Now there is no set time for this, if there is any fermentation still going on, it probably will not last long. You mixture will slowly clarify. Shine a torch through the bottle to check. You should have a nice golden mixture similar to a Lager or Ale if you are familiar with beer. I left mine in the carboys for a good 3 months and then I was satisfied that they were pretty clear as there was a clear difference between the mix and the sediment on the bottom of the carboys.

Get you bottles ready. Sterilized and rinsed along with the corks. I like to use tall skinny bottles, like what you get fortified liqueurs in... about 350-400ml or so. Now you can't just pour the mixture in. You need to use your siphon hose through the neck of the bottle. Place one end of the hose in the top of the carboy most of the way down but keep it at least 3cm from the top of the sediment.... You don't want to suck it up.

Fold it over and maybe tape it with sticky tape to the side. This is where your trusty turkey baster comes in handy. Squeeze the air out of the turkey baster and then place the end on the hose, let go and let it suck the air out and draw the mixture up. Normally you would just suck it out with your mouth but that is not sterile. You will probably need to pinch the hose to stop it flowing back and then suck again... do this until you get the siphon going... pinch the hose below the carboy fill level, to stop the back flow. Put your bottle on the other end and then fill. Leave a few centimeters at the top and then cork it.

Keep on going until you get most of the clear mixture out of the carboy. You may need to tilt the carboy as it gets lower and manually move the hose in it to vacuum the mixture out. Try no to disturb the sediment. Do this to all carboys and you are almost there.

What I like to do is have a small pot of melted bees wax, not too hot, just at melt point. I then dip the cork end of the bottle into the wax mixture to seal it. Let it set, then dip it again. Do this about 5 or 6 times and you'll get a nice bees wax cap on you Meade. Clear a space in your cupboard down the bottom and carefully store your bottles of liquid gold.

It should taste good but don't drink it yet. Personally I think 12 months is a good period of time to start but you may want to crack open a bottle and try after a few months. Enjoy it, note the flavours, clarity, etc... then in another 3 months crack open another bottle. You may get some more settling and sediment on the bottom as it clarifies even more. After 12 months you may notice the colour darken slightly.

At 2 years in the bottle mine has darkened significantly giving me a rich dark honey colour. It has become a lot smoother and drinks extremely well. It is comparable to many of the top shelf high end fortifieds that you can get but the best thing is - I made it myself.

Here's hopping you have the same success as I have had.


Cheers!!

Chris Gerraty
SSBK Volunteer Treasurer / Web Admin