I'm working on my first batch of mead. I've researched the process for some months, angsting over details and gathering components and worrying over honey but like many things, it turns out to be way easier that many would claim.
I say the same thing about pottery. It can be rocket science with clay bodies, cones, temperatures and quartz inversion and a thousand variables that can be altered to produce a million effects. Or it can can just be clay, fire and water. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years and only recently has it obtained the capacity to be very technical.
Brewing mead appears to be the same way. We've been doing it a long time and it can get complicated. You can add fruit, spices, backsweeten, track specific gravity with hydrometers and even add bubbles. But in the end it's just honey, water and yeast. And time. Lots of time.
Not a lot of time in the beginning, mind you. That entire process of sanitation to plunging the lock into the neck of the bottle took about four hours total. A good chunk of that was devoted to cool down of the must. I'm only working on gallon batches so that if it something goes wrong I won't be to far in the hole as far as honey and it gives me the opportunity to try recipes once I get the base process down. One gallon will fill about four 750 milliliter wine bottles.
But then it has to sit. For six months to a year. My patience is going to be tested.
I have the first batch done and in the closet. I won't know how successful the first batch was until a week or two in. I see bubbles which is what your suppose to see but the initial fermentation takes about two weeks and then clarification can take months.
I'm using this book, The Compleat Meadmaker : Home Production of Honey Wine From Your First Batch to Award-winning Fruit and Herb Variations, as a guide. Usually I would depend heavily on the internet for guidance but I have to admit that the hive mind let me down. Everyone has a recipe and a process and they are all different and they are all right. Contradictions abound but Mr. Schramm knows his stuff and covers the information thoroughly.
Jalopeno mead is next up. I still have peppers on the plant and heat and sweet is a good combo. I'll move to a melomel using peaches and maybe berries and then I want to try something with vanilla but that may have to wait. Vanilla beans are insanely expensive but I've heard nothing but the legend of a good vanilla mead since I started this project.
Why do I want to brew mead? I enjoy drinking it for one and it's hard to find and expensive when you do find it. And I want to cook with it and the stuff you buy in the store is too expensive for that. Plus, I just want to try it as it shoehorns nicely into my viking/saxon interests.
I'll post updates as we move along.