I like mead, warm or cold. Homemade stuff is usually way better than what you can pick up at the state store, save a few. I wanted to get some going this summer, but I had a difficult time finding some decent raw honey.
Luckily, a friend at the pottery studio had a line on some raw honey from an orange/palmetto farm and she picked up a few pounds of it for me.
Fresh off of the comb. They cut the comb straight into the jar. No pasteurizing or watering down.
Perfect for brewing mead
Oh, and it tastes very very good. It has a light orange or citrus taste too! It is very thick and you can see that the sugars have started to chunk up and crystallize a bit.
It was a major pain in the ass to get it out of the jar though. I soaked the jars in some warm water a bit and used a rubber spatula to get it out.
When I poured the honey in the brew kettle, I heated the honey lightly to help it dissolve. A lot of mead makers do not recommend heating honey, but since this is so raw, I did heat it but kept it under 160F.
I had researched a few recipes, such as the legendary "Joe's Ancient Orange and Spice Mead" and used some of "Malkore's not so Ancient Orange Mead" recipe (homebrewtalk.com) to create my own adaptation.
Here is what I used:
6 lbs of raw orange blossom honey
1 medium sized orange, Zested and Juiced
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp of clove
1 packet of Lavin EC-1118
So first I zested the orange, making sure not to get any of the white pith. Then I cut the orange in half and juiced it. I set both the zest and the juice to the side to use in the brew and threw the rest away.
I heated up a gallon of distilled water to about 155F. Then I added the raw honey and stirred it well to dissolve everything. I brought the heat back up to about 155F and held it there for 10 mins.
Next, I added the orange zest, orange juice, the cinnamon stick, and the clove. I let this steep for about 15 min. and stirred it frequently. Then removed it from the heat
I gave it a water bath to cool it down quickly. While the water bath was happening I re-hydrated the yeast... Some people dont, but with this strain I always have better luck when it is re-hydrated with the warm water (biology and chemistry in action, with the water helping the yeast cell membrane re activate properly and decrease the likelihood that the yeast will die of infections before adequate fermentation begins, or whatever!).
While transferring the mead into the fermentation vessel, I ran it through a cheese cloth to filter out the cinnamon stick, zest, and pulp. Next time, I will probably throw all of this stuff in a grain bag to make it easier.
Once in the vessels (I ended up using 2 plastic 1 gal jugs, im saving the glass ones for the secondary), I split up the yeast in equal parts (make sure you suspend it well by rapid stirring before your measure it out) and then added equal amounts of water to top it off and get a SG of 1.094
That should be about 12.5% ABV if the yeast makes it that far.
Im at 1.050 right now, after a little more than 2 weeks in the fermenters. I will give it at least another week and check it again before I rack.