Hairy Vetch Traditional Mead (1 gallon recipe)

OG: 1.112 (26.4°Bx)

FG: 1.045 (11.2°Bx)

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Traditional Mead

The following beer recipe is featured in the July/August 2021 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Access this issue along with the archives with Zymurgy Online!

 

Recipe courtesy Andrew Luberto.

This recipe is written for a 1-gallon (3.8 L) batch, but you can make it whatever volume you like by scaling the quantities accordingly. Remember to include the volume of the honey in your water calculations—12 pounds of honey occupies one gallon (1.44 kg/L). So, if you make a 4-gallon (15.1 L) batch, you would need only 3 gallons (11.4 L) of water since the honey will bump up the batch volume to 4 gallons (15.1 L) total.

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The following beer recipe is featured in the July/August 2021 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Access this issue along with the archives with Zymurgy Online!

 

Recipe courtesy Andrew Luberto.

This recipe is written for a 1-gallon (3.8 L) batch, but you can make it whatever volume you like by scaling the quantities accordingly. Remember to include the volume of the honey in your water calculations—12 pounds of honey occupies one gallon (1.44 kg/L). So, if you make a 4-gallon (15.1 L) batch, you would need only 3 gallons (11.4 L) of water since the honey will bump up the batch volume to 4 gallons (15.1 L) total.

Ingredients:

  • HONEY
  • 3 lb. (1.36 kg) Yirsa Farms Hairy Vetch honey
  • WATER
  • 96 fl. oz. (2.8 L) water
  • YEAST
  • Bootleg Biology Chardonnay
  • ADDITIONAL ITEMS
  • 1.7 g Fermaid O, divided into four equal additions

Specifications:

Yield: 1 US gal

Original Gravity: 1.112 (26.4°Bx)

Final Gravity: 1.045 (11.2°Bx)

Directions:

Mix honey and water and cool must to pitching temperature. Pitch yeast and add pure O₂ for 30 seconds through a 0.5-micron stone (a stir whip on a drill works just as well and will keep you from over-oxygenating). Ferment at 60°F (16°C).

Add nutrients in four additions: (1) when active fermentation began, (2) at 1.100 SG (23.8°Bx), (3) at 1.086 SG (20.7°Bx), and (4) at 1.074 SG (18°Bx). The last of these is the ⅓ sugar break. You don’t need to be quite this exact, as long as you stagger the additions. However, I find making additions by gravity preferable to staggering by the clock. A sluggish start or fast fermentation could cause you to unintentionally front-load or miss the points when your yeast needs some nitrogen. That said, a lot of great meadmakers do it by time intervals, so do what works best for you.

I like to keep my nutrients in small, sealable, plastic fridge containers. Then I just add a little distilled water, shake it up, and add that to the fermenter. You can do this with a plastic zip-top bag, too. You want to know your yeast’s nitrogen requirements so you can adjust the amount of nutrient accordingly. You can usually find this information on the manufacturer’s website.

If you degas, do so twice a day for the first week—make sure to do this before adding any nutrients or you’ll have some great mead all over your floor. If you do a 1-gallon batch in a glass jug, I’ve found the yellow tops of the 1 lb. honey bears from the grocery store fit nicely on the top of the jug. Simply shake the fermenter and pop the top a few times to let out the CO₂.

Crash fermentation to 30°F (–1°C) at 1.045 (11.2°Bx). I usually have a ballpark final gravity target when I make a mead, and I start tasting when it reaches that mark. When I think it shows enough of the balance and flavor I want, I crash it. You could also dial down the original gravity to 1.066 (16.1°Bx), ferment dry, and then back-sweeten to your taste if that’s the way you want to go.

Use potassium sulfate and potassium metabisulfite to stabilize and Super-Kleer KC to clarify. Let it sit about a month at 30°F (–1°C) until you can read a sheet of text through it and then bottle. I transfer to a keg and then use a bottling gun.

I keep this one still, but I think pétillant would be very nice, too. The yeast really makes the vanilla notes pop, and it has a very soft mouthfeel that keeps the body from feeling heavy or sticky. The flavor is pleasantly balanced, with enough acid to make this very drinkable. I really dig this honey and definitely recommend checking out Yirsa Farms. This could be a good platform for a very nice metheglin as well.

Enjoy!


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