Varietal Mead

Varietal Mead

(5 gallons/19 L)
OG = 1.120  FG = 1.012  ABV = 14%

Most of the traditional mead recipes that I make follow this ratio: 1 part honey, 3 parts water. Using that ratio, it’s easy to scale a batch up or down as needed.


15 lbs. (6.8 kg) single-varietal honey
3.75 gallons (14.2 L) non-chlorinated water
12.5 g Go-Ferm
5.3 g Fermaid-O
10 g (2 packets) Lalvin Narbonne 71B-1122 dry yeast

Step by step (meadmaking day)
Sanitize the fermenting equipment — fermenter, lid or stopper, airlock, funnel, etc. — along with the yeast pack and a pair of scissors.

Fill a sink or cooler with hot tap water and soak honey container(s) to make the honey easier to pour. I don’t recommend using boiling water; be patient. If your honey is crystallized, don’t worry — all raw and natural honey crystallizes over time (with the exception of Tupelo blossom honey), especially in colder temperatures. Soaking the honey container in hot water will turn it back into liquid form. Pour honey into the fermenter.

Using the honey containers, collect room temperature water one container at a time and fill the fermenter to a total volume of 5 gallons (19 L). Get every drop of honey out of the containers (placing the lid on and shaking may be necessary, as may using a small portion of warmer water in the containers). Remember, it takes a bee its entire life to make 1⁄12 of a teaspoon of honey.

Place a 1⁄2 cup of the warm water/honey mix (now called must) in a measuring cup and save for step 6.

Stir the must until all honey is dissolved and well mixed. This usually takes 5 to 15 minutes, possibly longer.

Prepare yeast. Add 4.5 tsp. of Go-Ferm to the 1⁄2 cup of must, then mix. Let the mixture cool to 104 °F (40 °C) then add the active dried yeast. Let stand for 20 minutes. Slowly (over 5 minutes) add equal amounts of must to the yeast slurry. Watch the temperature difference. Do not allow more than 18 °F (10 °C) difference between the must and the yeast slurry. Temperate as necessary.

After 15 minutes (yeast should begin to foam), stir well to mix the yeast into a slurry. Pour the yeast slurry into the fermenter.

Seal fermenter with a sanitized airlock and keep fermenter in an area of about 64–68 °F (18–20 °C).

Fermentation should start within 24 hours.

(First 1–2 weeks)
Sanitize all equipment used to stir the must for each nutrient addition. Please note that adding nutrient and stirring may cause the mead to foam so care must be taken to do this slowly. A slow stir before adding the nutrient will allow the release of residual CO2. Follow this staggered nutrient schedule:

• Add 5.3 grams of Fermaid-O at 24 hours after fermentation begins.

• Add 5.3 grams of Fermaid-O at 48 hours after fermentation begins.

• Add 5.3 grams of Fermaid-O at 72 hours after fermentation begins.

(Secondary fermentation)

By monitoring your airlock activity, you will notice the slowing down of fermentation. Depending on many factors this could be somewhere after one month, but often I would plan for three months. Your mead then is ready to be transferred to a secondary fermenter. Sanitize your fermenter and siphoning equipment.

Carefully siphon the mead into the fermenter. Leave as much sediment as possible in the primary fermenter.

Let the mead clarify in the secondary fermenter for three months. I prefer to either filter or let it naturally drop brilliantly clear. Alternatively you may wish to add a fining agent such as isinglass to facilitate clearing, and/or potassium sorbate to prevent further fermentation.

(Bottling day, 3.5 months after beginning)

Sanitize siphoning and bottling equipment and bottles. Carefully siphon the mead to a bottling bucket. I recommend this mead be made still, but if you wish to carbonate it you would add priming sugar at this point.

Fill and cap bottles like you would any beer you were making.

Bottles may be consumed at any time, but a general rule of thumb is two weeks after bottling or kept and aged for six months or more to achieve superior flavor. 

Issue: May-June 2022