Old/New England Bracken
- 1/2 tsp. gypsum
- 3 lbs. extra-light dry malt extract
- 4 lbs. honey
- 1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient
- A substantial yeast slurry (perhaps a blend of a neutral ale yeast and a white-wine yeast)
- 1/3 cup corn sugar for priming
Step by Step:
Follow Basic Step by Step. In 3 gals. of water treated with gypsum, boil malt extract for 30 minutes. Add honey (here’s a good place to experiment with honeys such as blackberry, mesquite, and starthistle) and boil 15 more minutes. Chill. Add yeast nutrient and pitch a substantial yeast slurry.
Ferment 14 days at 70° F, then 10 more at 60° F, then rack to secondary. Age 10 to 12 weeks, prime with corn sugar, and bottle. Bottle condition for at least 10 months. The best bracken I’ve ever had (made by my brother) was 16 months old and was still perhaps a bit young.
- Bring water to a boil, add water treatments (usually gypsum and acid blend) and honey. Boil no more than 15 minutes, skimming the foamy albumin off the surface every two or three minutes.
- Chill to 75° F and add yeast nutrients, stir to dissolve, and then pitch yeast. Seal and put the mead in a relatively cool (65° to 70° F) corner.
- Ferment 10 to 14 days in primary, then rack to a glass secondary. Age in secondary for at least six weeks (check the airlocks regularly to avoid evaporation and contamination problems).
- Bottle (when gravity has fallen below 1.020), either as is or priming with one-eighth cup of corn sugar per gallon for sparkling mead. Since you will be aging for considerably longer than most beers, oxygen-absorbing caps or wine corks are strongly recommend.
- Leave the bottled mead undisturbed in a cool, dark place for three months before you even think about trying one. The first one will probably disappoint you. Leave it another three months and try it again. Like bottle-conditioned beer, bottled sparkling mead will cast a considerable amount of sediment, so decant carefully when serving.