How To Make Mead at Home – (Easy Step-by-Step)

Mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages consumed today, and making it at home isn’t as challenging as making homemade wine or beer. But, of course, if you’ve never made mead at home, you might not be sure where to start.

You can make mead at home by dissolving honey in warm, purified water, then adding wine yeast and additional ingredients to the mixture. The yeast will cause the honey-water mixture to ferment, generating alcohol. The fermentation process typically takes several weeks to complete.

This guide will explore each step of the mead-making process, ensuring that you can make the highest quality homemade mead all on your own.

1. Choose a Mead Recipe That Suits Your Tastes

Before you prepare your brewing space or gather the necessary tools, you’ll want to select a mead recipe that appeals to your preferences and tastes.

For example, the most basic mead recipes consist solely of water, honey, and yeast. But others might include spices and fruits.

It’s also crucial to choose a recipe with a listed yield that meets your needs

Unless you’re planning on bottling your mead, starting with a recipe with a one-gallon yield is best. Otherwise, you could end up with an excessive amount of mead that spoils before you can enjoy it.

Remember, the smaller the listed yield for a recipe, the fewer ingredients you’ll need. Choosing a one-gallon mead recipe is a fantastic way to stick to a tight budget.

Here are two example recipes for one-gallon yields to help you get started, one basic and one a little more creative!

Basic One-Gallon Mead Recipe

If you’d like to keep things simple, you might want to opt for a basic recipe. 

To create a single gallon of straightforward homemade mead, you’ll need:

  • Half a gallon of filtered water (about 2.27 liters).
  • Three pounds of honey (about 1.36 kilograms).
  • Half an envelope of wine or mead yeast (about 2.5 grams).

But, of course, adding fresh fruits and spices is a surefire way to create a more flavorful concoction! 

One-Gallon Mead Recipe (With Spices)

While basic mead is a sweet alternative to bitter alcoholic beverages, there are ways to imbue your mead with a tasty medley of spices and flavors. 

Dried and fresh fruits are common additions to homemade mead mixtures, including:

  • Raisins
  • Blueberries
  • Plums
  • Oranges

Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves are also excellent ingredients to add to your pre-fermented mead.

One example of a fruity, spice-filled homemade mead recipe is:

  • Half a gallon of filtered water (about 2.27 liters).
  • Three pounds of honey (about 1.36 kilograms).
  • One whole cinnamon stick.
  • One cup of fresh fruit (berries or citrus).
  • Half an envelope of wine or mead yeast (about 2.5 grams).

Once you’ve chosen a recipe that suits your needs and personal preferences, you can move on to the next ste: gathering ingredients.

2. Select Ingredients Based on Your Chosen Recipe

You can’t make mead without having the right ingredients on hand, the most essential of which are honey, yeast, and water. But how much honey do you need, and what about additional ingredients?

The answers to these questions vary depending on your chosen recipe. 

If, for example, you’ve chosen a low-yield recipe (one gallon or less), you’ll likely need far less honey than if you’ve chosen a high-yield one. And if you’ve selected a basic mead recipe, you won’t need to worry about stocking up on spices or fruits to add to your mead mixture.

In both cases, it’s crucial to read through your chosen recipe and note ingredient amounts. Doing so will ensure you invest in the appropriate amount of each item, making the mead-making process a stress-free experience.

Still, no matter your chosen yield or recipe you’ll need a few common ingredients, including:

  • Filtered water.
  • Several pounds of honey (the more you add, the sweeter the final result).
  • Wine or mead yeast.

Fruits and spices aren’t required to make mead, but raisins, fresh berries, citrus, and spices like cinnamon are common additions that you may want to consider adding to your mixture.

Once you’ve purchased the ingredients you need for your brew, it’s time to double-check that you have all the necessary equipment to transform your honey-water mixture into delicious mead.

3. Gather the Necessary Equipment

As with brewing homemade wine or beer, you’ll need the right equipment to make mead at home.

The most crucial of these include:

  • A glass container (sized to meet the recipe yield).
  • A large stainless steel cooking pot (capable of holding several gallons of liquid).
  • An airlock and stopper (sized to fit onto your glass container).
  • A whisk or spoon.
  • A funnel (sized to fit into the container).

While it’s possible to use a plastic container in lieu of a glass one, the initial honey-water mixture you’ll be pouring into your chosen container will be warm. Because heat can weaken plastic, a thick glass jug or carboy is often the best choice.

If you’re planning on making a large quantity of mead (more than one gallon), you’ll also need sanitized homebrewing bottles, bottle caps, and a bottling press. 

Those hoping to make several gallons of homemade mead should also consider selecting fermenter buckets instead of glass containers. These tend to be more affordable and durable. 

Check out this video guide for more information on low-cost fermenter buckets: 

It’s also essential to have a sanitizing fluid on hand, like rubbing alcohol or unscented bleach. This liquid will ensure that your mead ferments properly and doesn’t develop harmful molds during the fermentation process. 

4. Prepare Your Brewing Area

When you’ve selected and acquired the necessary equipment, it’s time to prepare your brewing area. This means cleaning and sanitizing your equipment (using a 1:1 ratio of bleach and water or alcohol and water) and the surfaces you’ll be working on.

It’s also wise to select a dark area within your home for storing the fermenting mead. You could choose a closet, an unused bedroom, or a basement.

The UV rays emitted by the sun can kill yeast cells, so keeping your mead mixture away from sunlight is crucial to the fermentation process. 

Ensuring that your fermenting beverage is stored at room temperature is also essential, as excessive heat (90°F/32°C) or cold can deactivate yeast, halting the fermentation process.

When your equipment and work surfaces are sanitized (and you’ve chosen a storage spot for the mead), you can begin working on dissolving the honey, one of the most vital steps of the mead-making process!

5. Dissolve Honey in Warm Purified Water

Place your cooking pot onto a range or stovetop and add purified (filtered) water. Consult your chosen recipe to find out how much water you need. 

Though you might be tempted to use tap water for this step, it’s important to remember that tap water is often laden with minerals and chemicals like chlorine. These can kill yeast or negatively impact the taste of your mead.

For these reasons, only use purified water when making mead at home.

When you’ve filled your cooking pot with an appropriate amount of water, turn the heat to low or medium-low. Wait for the water to begin heating up, allowing several minutes to pass.

When the water is above room temperature, it’s time to add the honey. Again, referring to your chosen recipe is essential, as it will help you add the right amount.

Still, no matter how much honey the recipe calls for, you’ll want to add it into the water slowly. This shouldn’t be a problem, as honey is quite viscous (thick and slow-moving), so it flows far more slowly than thinner liquids.

While adding the honey to the water, mix the water in the pot using a sanitized spoon or whisk. Active stirring can accelerate the mixing process and ensure the honey fully dissolves into the water. 

6. Add Any Additional Ingredients You Desire

When you’ve finished adding the appropriate amount of honey to your water-filled cooking pot, you can begin adding any additional ingredients listed in the recipe (except yeast).

You can skip this step if you’re working from a basic mead recipe.

But if your chosen mead recipe includes spices or fruit, now is the time to add them!

For the best result, dice or chop larger fruits and spices before adding them to the pot. Doing so will help the flavors of these additional ingredients meld with the liquid.

Adding sugar-rich fruits can also help with fermentation, as yeast needs sugar to create alcohol. In fact, fruit can ferment without yeast, and adding it to your mead mixture may result in a beverage with a higher alcohol volume.

7. Pour Your Mixture Into the Jug or Bucket

Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to come to room temperature. 

Then, place your sanitized funnel onto the opening of the glass jug or carboy (you can skip this step if using a fermenter bucket). Carefully pour your honey-water mixture into this container.

When the pot is emptied, it’s time to add the yeast.

8. Add Wine Yeast to the Mixture

Adding the yeast to your dissolved honey-water mixture is essential to transforming it into mead. After all, mead is an alcoholic beverage; like wine or beer, this alcohol is a byproduct of fermentation.

Yeast, a living organism that consumes sugars and generates alcohol, is one of the most common ingredients used for fermentation.

But there are several types of yeast, and not all are suitable for creating mead.

For that reason, it’s best to use wine yeast (or specialized mead yeast) when making mead at home. Fortunately, this type of yeast is easy to find for sale online and is very similar to packets of instant yeast commonly found in grocery stores.

Wine Yeast Red Star Premier Classique Formerly Montrachet for Wine Making x10 is a fantastic example (Available on Amazon.com). This yeast comes in easy-to-open packets and is exceptionally affordable. It’s also an active type of yeast, so it will begin converting sugar to alcohol as soon as it’s exposed to warm or room-temperature liquid.

Simply rip your yeast packet open, pour it into your carboy or bucket, and mix well!

9. Shake or Stir the Mixture To Fully Combine the Ingredients

The dissolved honey in your mixture may solidify and settle at the bottom of the container. 

Because honey is rich in sugars, this separation can make it almost impossible for the yeast to access the sugar it needs to generate alcohol. 

Fortunately, a thorough shake or stir can help reintroduce your mead mixture’s elements, ensuring that the yeast has what it needs to transform the honey-water into mead. If you’re using a glass jug or carboy, seal the container with a cap and give it a thorough shake.

If you’re using a fermenting bucket, a long-handled spoon (sanitized) ought to do the trick.

You cannot overmix your liquid at this stage, so don’t be afraid to spend a fix minutes ensuring that your ingredients are well combined.

A great sign of healthy, activated yeast is a layer of bubbly foam at the top of your liquid mixture. This layer generally develops after the mixture is left still for several minutes.

When you’re confident that your mixture is well combined, it’s time to seal the liquid by attaching an airlock and stopper.

10. Place an Airlock and Stopper Onto the Container

If you’ve ever made homemade wine or beer, you’re likely familiar with airlocks and stoppers. 

These components plug into the openings on fermenting buckets and carboys, creating a seal that stops airflow while allowing gas to exit. This prevents containers from overpressurizing and keeps liquids fresh and safe from airborne bacteria and mold spores.

Installing an airlock and stopper is as simple as pressing it into the opening of your container. Investing in an airlock with a pre-attached stopper at the bottom is the most convenient option.

Also called carboy bungs, these devices are affordable and readily available online.

Twin Bubble Airlock and Carboy Bung (Pack of 2) is a great choice for those using thick glass carboy containers. The bottom stopper fits into container openings easily and forms a seal, while the plastic tubing allows gases to escape.

11. Allow the Mixture To Ferment for Several Weeks

This final step is all about patience.

Keeping your mead mixture sealed during fermentation allows the yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol. Unsealing it too soon will result in a yeasty, low-alcohol concoction that’s essentially sugar water.

The time it’ll take for your mead to finish fermenting varies depending on factors like temperature and quantity. However, most mead mixtures transform from sugary, yeast-filled water into a sweet alcoholic beverage after three to six weeks.

Keeping your mixture in a dark, room-temperature area and leaving it alone (aka not shaking it) is key.

One of the best ways to tell whether your mead has finished fermenting is to check the airlock. If you spot bubbles rising into the airlock, it needs more time.

But if the airlock is bubble free for several days, it’s likely safe to remove the stopper and airlock. After that, simply strain the liquid through cheesecloth and enjoy!

If you’re preparing a large batch of mead, the end of the fermentation phase signals the beginning of the bottling phase. Naturally, you’ll also want to strain your mixture before bottling.

Be sure to read up on homebrew bottling tips to make this process as smooth as possible.

Final Thoughts

Whatever your chosen recipe, following these steps is a surefire way to enjoy a tasty homemade glass of mead. Experimenting with a variety of additional ingredients is a fantastic way to come up with a mead recipe that suits your tastes, so feel free to get creative!

About HomeBrewAdvice

Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine


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