In this article, we are going to share with you our favorite spiced mead recipe, as well as provide you with some helpful tips to make your own spice mead recipe or modify ours.
Spiced mead, also known as metheglin, is a delightful honey-based beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries. It combines the rich sweetness of honey with a variety of fragrant spices, fruits, and other flavors, resulting in a unique and versatile beverage that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a range of dishes.
Meadmaking may initially seem intimidating, but with a little patience, some basic equipment, and the right recipe, you can easily craft a delicious batch of spiced mead in your home.
Understanding Spiced Mead
Spiced mead, also known as metheglin, is a delicious and aromatic blend of honey, water, yeast, and a variety of spices. The art of creating spiced mead lies in the selection of spices and their ratios, which significantly impact the drink’s flavor, taste, and color.
Spiced mead can include many different spices, such as clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, allspice, cardamom, and peppercorns. Beyond spices, ingredients like orange, lemon, herbs, and nuts can also be added to enhance the mead’s complexity and create unique flavor profiles.
Consider using whole spices like cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans to extract more intense flavors and aromas when making spiced mead. However, ground spices can also work; just be cautious with the amounts, as their concentrated nature may create overpowering flavors.
Mulling spices are another option when creating a spiced mead, as these blends typically contain a combination of ingredients that complement each other and create a warming, festive flavor. Mulling spices can be a simpler alternative to choosing and blending individual spices.
When making spiced mead you add the spices and other ingredients of your choosing after letting your honey and water mixture cool down to approximately 80º F and moving it to your primary fermenter. Mix in the activated yeast once you’ve added the spices to kickstart the fermentation process.
Fermenting spiced mead typically takes at least two weeks for primary fermentation, followed by additional time in secondary fermentation. Patience is essential in crafting a well-rounded and flavorful mead, as the spices and other ingredients need time to blend and meld together, producing a harmonious final product.
Spiced Mead Recipe
The following is a spiced mead recipe you can try at home. This recipe will produce approximately 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of mead.
– 3 lbs (1.4 kg) raw honey
– 1 gallon (3.8 liters) spring water (or distilled water)
– 1 packet wine yeast (like Lalvin 71B-1122 or Red Star Premier Blanc)
– 1-2 cinnamon sticks
– 3-5 whole cloves
– 1-2 star anise
– 1 small piece of fresh ginger, sliced
– 1 orange, zested and sliced (without the pith)
– 1 tsp yeast nutrient
– 1/2 tsp yeast energizer
– Optional: raisins or dried fruit for additional flavor and complexity
– 1-gallon glass carboy or fermentation vessel
– Airlock and rubber stopper
– Large pot for mixing
– Long spoon or paddle for stirring
– Sanitizing solution (e.g., Star San)
– Hydrometer (to measure specific gravity)
– Racking cane and tubing
– Bottling equipment and bottles
– Measuring spoons
1) Sanitization: Before you start, sanitize all equipment that will come in contact with the mead. This includes the fermentation vessel, airlock, rubber stopper, stirring spoon, and thermometer.
2) Preparing the Must:
a. In a large pot, pour in about half of the water and heat it until it’s warm but not boiling.
b. Add the honey to the warm water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
c. Add the orange zest, orange slices, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and ginger. Allow the mixture to steep on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t boil.
d. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool to around 70°F (21°C). You can use a bath of cold water or an ice bath to speed up this process.
3) Pitching the Yeast:
a. While the must is cooling, rehydrate your yeast according to the packet’s instructions.
b. Transfer the must to your fermentation vessel using a funnel once it is at the right temperature. Depending on your preference, you can strain out the spices and fruit or leave them in.
c. Add the yeast nutrient and energizer.
d. Pitch the rehydrated yeast into the vessel.
e. Fill up the vessel with the remaining water, leaving some headspace at the top.
4) Primary Fermentation:
a. Seal the fermentation vessel with the airlock and rubber stopper.
b. Store the vessel in a cool, dark place with a stable temperature around 60-70°F (15-21°C).
c. Allow the mead to ferment for 4-6 weeks. You’ll see bubbles in the airlock as the yeast produces CO2. This will slow down as fermentation progresses.
a. Once primary fermentation has slowed or stopped, it’s time to “rack” the mead. This means transferring it to a new clean, sanitized vessel, leaving the sediment behind.
b. Use a racking cane and tubing to siphon the mead, being careful not to disturb the sediment.
6) Secondary Fermentation:
a. Seal the new vessel with an airlock.
b. Allow the mead to age and clarify for several months. The longer you age it, the better the flavors will meld.
a. Once the mead is clear and has aged to your liking, it’s time to bottle.
b. Sanitize your bottles and bottling equipment.
c. Siphon the mead into bottles, leaving about an inch of headspace.
d. Seal the bottles with caps or corks.
8) Aging: While you can drink the mead now, it will benefit from aging in the bottle for several more months to years. The flavors will continue to mature and meld over time.
Design Your Own Spiced Mead Recipe
The following are some tips you can use to either make your own spiced mead recipe or modify the one we provided…
Choosing the Right Ingredients
When crafting a spiced mead recipe, choosing the right ingredients for the perfect blend of flavors and aromas is important. The main components of mead are honey, water, and yeast, but the spices you choose will significantly impact your homemade mead’s overall taste and quality.
First and foremost, select a high-quality honey that suits your preference. Raw honey is preferred for its rich flavor and natural enzymes. The type of honey used can significantly affect the flavor of your mead; lighter honey, like orange blossom or clover, will create a more delicate taste, while darker honey, like raspberry, have stronger flavors that will shine through in the finished mead.
Next, ensure you have clean, fresh water and a suitable yeast for fermenting your mead. Bread yeast can be used but may result in off-flavors; instead, opt for a yeast strain specifically designed for mead-making or wine. Don’t forget to add yeast nutrients to help with fermentation.
As for the spices, this is where you can get creative. Popular choices for spiced mead recipes include:
– Cloves: providing a warm, sweet, and slightly bitter taste
– Allspice: offering a complex combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves
– Vanilla bean: imparting a smooth and sweet flavor
– Cinnamon sticks: for a warm and subtly spicy touch
You can also experiment with other flavor additions, such as nuts, lemon, berries, or even cool and refreshing mint notes. Just remember to balance out your flavors and not go overboard with the additions.
Incorporating herbs and other natural flavorings can also elevate your spiced mead to new heights. Some appealing options to consider are:
– Black tea: adding tannins and depth to the mead
– Lemongrass: for a hint of citrus and a refreshing finish
– Rose petals: giving a delicate floral note to your mead
– Hops: adding bitterness and depth, particularly if you’re a fan of beer
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even play around with unique ingredients like peppers for a spicy kick or grapes for added sweetness and complexity.
No matter the recipe you choose, be sure to sanitize all your equipment and allow your mead adequate time to develop its flavors and mature before enjoying a taste of your homemade spiced mead.
Spiced Mead Making Process
First, you must sanitize all your equipment, including the stockpot, fermenter, and any utensils you’ll use. This will prevent any unwanted bacteria from affecting the fermentation process. Next, gather your ingredients, including honey, water, yeast, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. You may also add fruits like oranges or raisins for added flavor.
Begin by dissolving the honey in warm water in your stockpot. Make sure not to use distilled water, as the yeast needs minerals for proper fermentation. Once the honey is dissolved, pour the mixture into your primary fermenter. Now, add your choice of fruits and spices to the fermenter, making sure they’re thoroughly washed or sanitized beforehand.
For yeast, it is advisable to use freeze-dried wine, champagne, or dedicated mead yeast. Add the yeast to your mixture in the fermenter, then secure the fermentation lock. Find a dark place with a consistent temperature to store your fermenter for the initial fermentation process.
Fermentation usually takes around two weeks. After this period, you will need to perform a process called racking. This process is essential to separate the clear mead from the sediment that has gathered at the bottom of the fermenter. You will need to transfer the clear mead to a new container, being careful not to disturb the sediment. Once the racking is complete, replace the fermentation lock and let your mead rest in a dark place for a few more days.
Once the mead has reached the desired clarity, it’s time to bottle it. Sanitize your bottles, fill them with mead, and seal them with airtight caps or corks. Store the bottled mead in a dark place for at least a month before consuming.
Note that you can also make short mead or fruit mead by adjusting the amount of honey, fruit, or spices in your recipe. Short mead typically contains less honey and ferments faster, while fruit mead may include additional fruit juices for extra flavor. Always follow proper sanitizing and fermentation procedures to achieve the best results.
Pairing Mead with Flavor Additives
Combining various flavor additives can lead to delicious and unique tastes when crafting a spiced mead. Experimenting with herbs, spices, clover, fruit, and other ingredients can create a delightful blend that enhances your mead experience.
Herbs and spices usually pair well with mead, providing a rich and complex flavor profile. Some popular spices to consider include cardamom, ginger root, and peppers. For example, adding ginger root to your mead can result in a refreshing lemon ginger mead, while incorporating peppers can create an intriguing pepper mead.
Fruit is another excellent addition to mead, often referred to as a melomel when combined. Raspberry mead, for instance, is a fruity and slightly tart-tasting mead, as the raspberries offer a pleasant contrast to the sweetness of the honey. Don’t be afraid to try other fruits, as they can introduce fresh and unexpected flavors to your mead.
Surprisingly, chocolate and coffee can also be added to your mead, infusing it with rich and robust aroma. These additions can complement the mead’s sweetness with a hint of bitterness, creating a harmonious balance.
Ultimately, pairing mead with different flavor additives is all about experimentation and discovering the most enjoyable combinations for you. Don’t hesitate to try various herbs, spices, fruits, and other ingredients to craft a truly remarkable spiced mead.
Spiced Mead Recipe FAQs
What spices are commonly used in a traditional mead recipe?
In a traditional mead recipe, commonly used spices include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cardamom. Some recipes may also incorporate other spices or herbs like juniper berries, rosemary, and star anise. Feel free to experiment with various combinations to create your own unique spiced mead.
How to make orange spiced mead?
To make orange spiced mead, follow a basic mead recipe and add dried sweet orange peel, cinnamon, and cloves during the fermentation process. Typically, you would use about 1/4 cup of dried sweet orange peel for a 5-gallon batch. Adjust the amount of spices to your taste preference. Here’s a suggested orange spiced mead recipe:
– Combine honey, water, and yeast in a fermentation vessel.
– Add 1/4 cup of dried sweet orange peel, 2-3 cinnamon sticks and 5-6 whole cloves.
– Ferment the mixture for a few weeks to months until desired sweetness and spiciness is achieved.
– Rack the mead into a new container, leaving the sediment behind.
– Age the mead for several months to a year, then bottle and enjoy at your leisure.
What is the difference between metheglin and spiced mead?
Metheglin is a type of mead that contains various spices and/or herbs, so spiced mead and metheglin can be considered the same thing. Metheglin is used to distinguish it from other mead variations like melomel (fruit mead) or braggot (honey and malt mead).
What are some popular meadery names producing spiced meads?
Many meaderies around the world produce spiced meads, but a few notable ones include:
– Schramm’s Mead (Michigan, USA): Known for their Ginger Mead, which incorporates fresh ginger root.
– Redstone Meadery (Colorado, USA): Offering a variety of spiced meads, including their Juniper Berry Metheglin.
– Brothers Drake Meadery (Ohio, USA): Producing a spiced mead called Orange Blossom, which includes orange blossom honey and spices.
– Superstition Meadery (Arizona, USA): Crafting their unique Viking Series, which features a variety of mead recipes including spiced options.
Search for meaderies near you or order from specialized craft mead retailers online to discover more options.
Can I use ground spices in making mead?
Yes, you can use ground spices in mead-making. However, ground spices may cause some cloudiness in your finished mead as they may not fully settle out during aging and racking. If you want a clearer mead, consider using whole spices, which can be easily removed after fermentation. If you choose to use ground spices, remember that their flavor tends to be more potent, so adjust quantities accordingly to avoid overpowering flavors.
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