Mead, often referred to as “honey wine,” is an ancient fermented beverage made from honey, water, and yeast. This delicious drink has been enjoyed for thousands of years, with variations found in numerous cultures worldwide.
One such variation is the addition of hops, which act as a natural preservative and add a unique flavor profile to the mead. So, how do you make mead with hops?
To make mead with hops, you will need honey, water, yeast, hops, and basic brewing equipment.
There are many hop varieties available, each with its unique flavor and aroma characteristics. Some good hop varieties for mead include:
- Cascade: Known for its citrus and grapefruit notes.
- Centennial: Offers a blend of citrus and floral flavors.
- Chinook: Imparts a strong pine and resinous character.
- Citra: Delivers tropical fruit and citrus flavors.
- Willamette: Provides a mild, earthy, and floral aroma.
The process involves boiling the honey and water, adding the hops, cooling the mixture, adding yeast, fermenting, aging, and bottling the mead.
In this blog post, we will dive deep into the process of making mead with hops.
We will cover the necessary ingredients and equipment, the brewing process, and some tips and tricks to help you create a delicious, hoppy mead.
As an expert brewer, I will also share some personal experiences and insights to help you on your journey to becoming a skilled mead-maker. So, let’s get started!
1. Ingredients and Equipment
To make mead with hops, you will need the following ingredients:
- Honey: The main ingredient in mead, you will need about 2-3 pounds of honey per gallon of water.
- Water: You will need about 1 gallon of water for every 2-3 pounds of honey.
- Yeast: Choose a quality mead, wine, or ale yeast.
- Hops: Choose your favorite hop variety, keeping in mind that different hops impart different flavors and bitterness levels.
As for equipment, you will need:
- A large pot for boiling the honey and water
- A fermentation vessel (such as a food-grade bucket or carboy)
- An airlock
- A thermometer
- A hydrometer
- A stirring spoon
- A siphon
- Bottles and caps or corks
2. Choose Your Honey
The type of honey you use will greatly influence the flavor of your mead. I recommend using a high-quality, raw, and unprocessed honey for the best results.
You can experiment with different varieties of honey, such as clover, orange blossom, or wildflower, to see which one you prefer. In my experience, a dark honey like buckwheat can create a rich, full-bodied mead, while a lighter honey like clover can result in a more delicate flavor profile.
3. Best Hops For Mead
When making mead, the type of hops you select can play a significant role in the final flavor of your brew.
Good Hop Varieties for mead:
There are numerous hop varieties available, each with its distinct aroma and flavor characteristics. Some are more citrusy, while others offer earthy or floral notes. Understanding these variations can help you choose the ideal hop variety for your mead recipe.
- Cascade: This hop variety is known for its citrus and grapefruit notes. It can add a pleasant bitterness to the mead and give it a crisp, refreshing finish.
- Centennial: This variety offers a combination of citrus and floral flavors. It can add complexity to the mead and help balance out the sweetness.
- Chinook: Chinook hops add a strong pine and resinous character to the mead, which can give it a bold, earthy flavor. It can be an excellent choice for a mead with a robust flavor profile.
- Citra: This hop variety delivers tropical fruit and citrus flavors. It can add a unique twist to the mead and make it stand out from other traditional meads.
- Willamette: This variety provides a mild, earthy, and floral aroma. It can complement the sweetness of the mead and help balance out its flavors.
Experimentation: While these are some of the more common hop varieties used in mead, it’s essential to experiment with different hops to find the perfect match for your taste preferences. Don’t be afraid to try out new hop varieties and explore different flavor combinations to create your unique mead recipe.
In conclusion, when choosing hops for your mead recipe, it’s crucial to consider the hop variety’s aroma and flavor characteristics. Selecting the right hop can enhance the mead’s flavor profile and make it stand out. Experimentation is key, so don’t be afraid to try out new hop varieties to find the one that best suits your taste.
4. Boil the Honey and Water
The first step in making mead with hops is to create a base mixture called “must.” Start by combining the honey and water in a large pot.
Heat the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the honey. As the mixture reaches a boil, you may notice foam forming on the surface. This foam contains impurities and proteins from the honey, and it’s a good idea to skim it off to improve the clarity of your mead.
5. Add the Hops
Once your honey and water mixture has reached a boil, it’s time to add the hops. The amount of hops you add will depend on your personal taste preferences and the hop variety you’ve chosen.
As a starting point, consider adding 0.5 to 1 ounce of hops per gallon of mead. You can always adjust this amount in future batches based on your preferences.
Add the hops to the boiling mixture and continue to boil for about 45-60 minutes. This will help extract the desired flavors and bitterness from the hops.
Dry of wet hopping?
Drying hopping is the process of adding hops to mead after primary fermentation is complete, typically during secondary fermentation or aging.
The purpose of dry hopping is to add aroma and flavor to the mead, as hops contain volatile compounds called hop oils that give off distinctive scents and tastes.
Here’s how you can dry hop mead:
- Choose your hops: Choose a variety of hops that complements the flavor profile of your mead. Hops vary in bitterness, aroma, and flavor, so it’s essential to choose one that will enhance the flavor of your mead.
- Sanitize the hops: Hops can introduce unwanted bacteria or microbes to the mead. Therefore, it’s essential to sanitize the hops before adding them to the mead. You can do this by soaking the hops in a sanitizing solution, such as Star San.
- Add the hops: Once sanitized, add the hops to the mead. You can do this by placing the hops in a sanitized mesh bag and adding it to the mead or directly adding the hops to the mead.
- Age the mead: After adding the hops, let the mead age for a few days to a few weeks, depending on how much hop aroma and flavor you want to impart into the mead. The longer you let the hops sit in the mead, the more pronounced the hop character will be.
Dry hopping is different from wet hopping in that wet hopping involves adding fresh hops directly to the mead during the brewing process, usually during the boil.
Dry hopping, on the other hand, is used in mead brewing to add aroma and flavor to the finished product without adding bitterness.
6. Cool the Mixture and Add Yeast
After boiling the honey, water, and hops for the desired length of time, it is essential to cool the mixture as quickly as possible. Rapid cooling helps prevent the growth of bacteria and other unwanted organisms.
One way to cool the mixture is to use an immersion chiller, which is a coil of metal tubing submerged in the hot liquid. Cold water is then run through the tubing, quickly cooling the mixture.
Once the mixture has cooled to around 70°F (21°C), it’s time to add the yeast. Start by taking a hydrometer reading to measure the specific gravity of your must.
This will help you determine the potential alcohol content of your mead. Next, rehydrate your yeast according to the manufacturer’s instructions and gently stir it into the cooled mixture.
Transfer the must to your fermentation vessel, making sure to leave some headspace at the top to allow for the release of carbon dioxide. Attach an airlock to the vessel to prevent oxygen and contaminants from entering while allowing carbon dioxide to escape.
Fermentation typically takes 2-4 weeks, depending on the yeast strain, temperature, and other factors. During this time, it’s essential to monitor the fermentation process, checking the airlock for signs of activity and taking periodic hydrometer readings to track the progress.
8. Aging and Clarifying
Once fermentation is complete, it’s time to age and clarify your mead. This process can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more, depending on your desired flavor profile and clarity.
Aging allows the flavors in your mead to meld and mature, while clarification helps remove any remaining yeast, proteins, and other particulates.
To begin the aging process, siphon your mead into a clean, sanitized vessel, leaving behind any sediment that has collected at the bottom of the fermentation vessel. Attach an airlock and store the mead in a cool, dark place, periodically checking the clarity and flavor.
9. Bottling and Enjoying Your Mead
Once your mead has reached the desired level of clarity and flavor, it’s time to bottle it! Sanitize your bottles, caps or corks, and siphon. Carefully siphon the mead into the bottles, leaving about 1 inch of headspace at the top. Cap or cork the bottles, and store them in a cool, dark place.
Mead can continue to mature and improve in flavor over time, so it’s up to you when you want to crack open a bottle and enjoy your handiwork. When the time comes, pour yourself a glass, take a moment to appreciate the aroma and appearance, and savor the unique flavors of your homemade hoppy mead. Cheers!
In conclusion, making mead with hops is a rewarding process that allows you to create a unique and flavorful beverage.
To recap, here are the key steps and facts about making hoppy mead:
1. Gather your ingredients and equipment, including honey, water, yeast, hops, and basic brewing equipment.
2. Choose a high-quality, raw honey and experiment with different varieties to find your favorite flavor.
3. Select a hop variety that appeals to your taste preferences, and don’t be afraid to try new ones.
4. Boil the honey and water, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface.
5. Add hops to the boiling mixture and boil for 45-60 minutes.
6. Cool the mixture quickly, then add rehydrated yeast.
7. Allow the mead to ferment for 2-4 weeks, monitoring the progress using a hydrometer.
8. Age and clarify the mead for several months, or even longer, to achieve your desired flavor and clarity.
9. Bottle your mead, then enjoy the fruits of your labor when the time is right.
With a little patience and practice, you’ll soon be crafting delicious, hoppy mead that you can enjoy and share with friends and family. Happy brewing!
What is mead with hops called?
Mead with hops is called a hopped mead or a braggot.
How long does it take to hop mead?
Hopping mead typically takes 7-14 days, depending on the desired level of hop flavor and aroma.
Can you use hops in mead?
Yes, hops can be used in mead to add bitterness, flavor, and aroma. This style of mead is called a “braggot” or “hopped mead.” The hops used in mead are typically the same varieties used in beer, and they are added during the boiling process or during fermentation.
What is a Metheglin mead?
A Metheglin mead is a type of mead that is flavored with herbs and spices, often including ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. It is named after the Welsh word for “medicinal,” as these ingredients were historically believed to have health benefits.
What’s the difference between mead and metheglin?
Mead is a fermented beverage made from honey, while metheglin is a type of mead that is flavored with herbs and spices.
How much hops to add to mead?
Typically, 1-2 ounces of hops per gallon of mead is a good starting point, but the amount can vary depending on personal preference and the desired flavor profile.