So as with many things, this started out one day with the usual thought "I wonder what I can do with that". That, in this case, was about a kilogram of honey which my sister had brought me from some hives they had at home. And what can I do with it turned out to be making some short mead.
For those that haven't tried short mead (sometimes called small mead), it's a low alcohol version of one of the oldest known alcoholic drinks around, made with little more than honey, water and yeast. It takes somewhere between a few days and a couple of weeks to make, and it's quite easy to do.
I decided early on in this process not to take this too seriously. So I'm not doing much research, using "proper" brewing apparatus (although that may change in time) or specialised brewing yeast, and the ingredients are varying depending on what I feel like trying to make that day. The first batch, based on the aforementioned honey, had only honey, water and yeast. Because someone told me once that if you boiled up about 1kg of honey with 4 litres of water for a while, then put a large spoonful of baking yeast in it (after it had cooled down), it would turn into short mead. So that seemed like a good place to start.
(or, what happens if I do this...)
- 1kg of honey
- 4l of water
- 1 large tablespoon of baking yeast
- Boil up water in a stock pot
- Add honey, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pot
- Boil somewhat for about 20 minutes
- Turn off pot, leave to cool for a few hours
- Start some yeast in a cup with some of the brewed up honey
- Once yeast is fluffy, throw back into pot (I believe this is called "pitching" the yeast)
- Ignore for about a week
After which, I bottled it into some old soft-drink and cordial bottles (washed out of course, but just with water).
This was quite tasty, but fairly plain short mead, at least in my limited experience of tasting the stuff. I didn't have a way of measuring the alcohol content, but I did put one bottle in the freezer (to see if it would help with making the dead yeast precipitate out; it didn't noticably) and there was a layer about 5-6mm wide of clear liquid on the top which took a lot longer to freeze than the rest. I figure that was the alcohol, so that makes it about 1-2%.
Tasted like a nice sweet honey drink, but not much in the way of distinguishing aromas or anything. After a week or so more of sitting in the bottle fizzing gently (it's useful to crack the seal on the bottle occasionally to relieve the pressure - I don't know if this helps the fermentation process or not, but it's nice to watch the bubbles), and in particular the bottle that had been frozen (once thawed out), there was a definite appley taste. No idea where this came from, but it was noted by several people.
Not content with just making one batch, a week or so later I thought I'd try this again... with additives!