We are always excited when someone calls or emails wanting to know how to make mead or that they have made some mead and have questions. We all start on this journey somewhere and we want to help! Some people are home brewers who have made lots of beer, some are winemakers who wanted to try something different. And some have just tried mead and thought it would be fun to make. I started out about twenty years ago making beer. A friend of mine at work mentioned he made beer and it intrigued me. You can make your own beer???
I had grown up having friends who lived in Latrobe, PA in the shadow of the Rolling Rock Brewery and I remembered walking past the old brick building and smelling the amazing aromas of grains and hops even though, at that time, I didn’t know what those smells were. Of course I knew what beer was but it had never occurred to me you could actually make it yourself.
So my friend started to explain how you could make beer in different ways with malt extract or with grains, adding different hops for flavor and aroma, and the magic ingredient – the yeast. The little creatures that turn the sweet liquid into alcohol. I listened intently as he told me about making batches of Weizenbocks, Stouts, IPAs and Pilseners. He told me about the equipment you needed to start. He dug around and gave me a catalog full of equipment, hops, malts, yeasts, and just about any gadget you could think of that could help with brewing. I think it was about 4 hours until I ordered my first homebrewing starter kit that had everything I needed. While I was waiting for delivery I bought “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing” and found a local homebrew store and bought a Red Ale extract kit, bottles, and some other needs.
An agonizing week later a giant box was on my front porch waiting for me when I got home from work. This was it! This moment far exceeded the excitement of a kid at Christmas. I couldn’t get inside fast enough to look at all of the amazing new toys I had received. I opened the box quickly and started pulling everything out. That new plastic smell hit me!! I now had everything I needed. This was it, I was going to be a brewer!
I planned a brew and looked at all of the ingredients in the kit and all of my equipment. I figured out what each item was and when it was needed. I read the instruction sheet over and over, memorizing it. I remembered how exciting this all was, something new, different, and exciting to try.
That first batch came out how can I say this, pretty bad. But do you know what? I made it myself so it was one of the greatest things I had ever had.
Looking back I did a lot of things wrong, but from that I learned. I read more, I took good notes and I figured out how to improve each area from boiling to hopping to racking to bottling and eventually kegging. The second batch wasn’t much better, but each batch did improve a little more. I never gave up and the next batch was better, and the next was even better yet. I was never an expert brewer but I think I made some good beer.
One interesting note is that in that homebrewing book there was a small chapter on mead. I thought it sounded interesting and I remember thinking – maybe some day I will make one…
We know not everyone is interested in making mead but we do love helping people to make better mead. The more good mead we can have benefits everyone. Bring us your questions, problems, or samples. We are also excited to try your mead, so by all means, please bring some in.