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Medieval Mead

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

For a long time, mead was something I had only ever read about in medieval literature, like Hrothgar's mead hall in Beowulf, or mead being toasted with in Arthurian lit. I only tried it a few years ago, initially in Brittany and then as mulled mead in Stuttgart. The first time I wasn't in love with it (but did like that is was called Merlin's brew or something), but then trying it hot and spiced in a German Christmas market, I really enjoyed it. When I saw Max Miller's episode on making his own mead in Tasting History therefore, I decided to try it out for myself. I ordered a 3l pickling jar with a water stop and gave it a shot. I only had baker's yeast rather than brewer's yeast. I thought this would prove too big an issue, but my sister said she had done the same and it worked, so I figured I would go ahead.

I heated water, then stirred in the honey, brewed it for a few minutes and then allowed it to cool. When it was about 37°C, I stirred in the yeast, and then put it in the jar with the water-lock in place. I left it to ferment in out coat closet for about 5 days (the coat closet smelled strongly of fermentation). I then transferred out the mead and got rid of as much yeast as possible, and put it back in the jar for a couple more weeks to age a little.


600ml honey

1.8l water

15g yeast

1) Bring water to a boil briefly, and stir in honey. Allow the honey to dissolve and then bring the temperature down to about 37°C. Stir in the yeast. Place in a jar with a water-lock and then leave in a dark place to ferment for a couple of days.

2) Transfer the mead out of the jar, leaving to age for at least a few days.

I pulled it out of the coat closet today to try it (I need to pick up a funnel before I can bottle it). I am afraid it didn't come out as well as I had hoped but better than I had feared. It is very acidic and has a little bit of a bitter edge to it. I'm not sure why it went so acidic - whether I fermented it too long, or if the fault is down to using the wrong yeast, or if I messed something else up...As a first attempt at fermentation, I am not too disappointed, but I am not sure what to do with it. It is not sipping mead, but maybe mulled? I will have to look into this and have a think.

I've included the recipe anyway, so if you try it out, let me know it you have better luck!

EDIT: I strained it repeatedly through about 16 layers of cheese cloth until the mead came out clear. I've put it aside for now, but I'll give it another taste soon to see if getting all the yeast out improves the flavour.


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