Cats Meow 3
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Traditional Mead

Classification: mead, traditional mead, metheglin

Source: S. Pursley (, r.c.b., August 2, 1995

I have made about 100 batches of mead (since you don't know who I am, at least you will know I have messed up enough batches of mead to have learned something). This is a very basic (but historically accurate).

Ingredients: (for a 5 gallon batch)


Simmer honey and water till scum stops forming (this can take a few minutes to an hour or more depending on the honey). Skim off the scum.

When cool, add yeast nutrient, energizer and pitch a large volume of liquid yeast culture. For the higher honey content meads, use a more alcohol tolerant yeast. Traditionally, mead was a sweet drink, not dry (though I do have some documentation suggesting that dry meads were not unheard of).

If you like you can add all sorts of stuff:

Whatever you decide to add (if anything), do not add it to the simmering honey/water (called must). Make a tea and then add that to the carboy. One thing, some recipes you will run across (the Cats Meow comes to mind), say to add hops. Ick. Hops belong in beer, not in mead. Mead does not need the preservative antiseptic qualities of hops, honey does that quite nicely. Nor does mead need the hop bitterness to balance the sweetness of the honey. Mead SHOULD be sweet (either just a little or a whole bunch, depending on the type).

On the second day shake the carboy vigorously. This stimulates yeast growth. Since mead is somewhat slow to ferment (I had one batch actively bubbling away for a year and a half), it needs all the help it can get. Shake it once a day till you get out gassing, then stop. At this point, shaking the carboy can put mead on the ceiling.

The most important thing to remember about mead is that it is slow. Slow to ferment, slow to clear, and slow to age. A batch can take several weeks to get started (if you don't use yeast nut. and energizer), several months to ferment to completion, and several years to age.