First of all. What the heck is a hydromel?
A hydromel is a slightly fermented honey-based beverage that is refreshing and easy to make. “Hydromel” is actually two Latin words combined to mean water (hydro) and honey (mel). Hyrdomels are cousins of traditional mead (honey wine), but contain less alcohol (8% ABV or less). The lower alcohol content makes these beverages more akin to drinking a beer instead of, let’s say, a glass of 18% ABV traditional mead. That’s why hydromels are known as “session” meads. You can have more than one hydromel without overdoing it.
All you really need to make a hydromel is honey, water, yeast, and some yeast nutrients (optional). After you try the recipe below, experiment with your next batch by including fruits and spices! You can add up to 16 pounds of fruit in this recipe. Remove fruit before bottling or kegging.
How to Make a Hydromel at HomeCourse: Fermented DrinksCuisine: Greek/RomanDifficulty: Medium
- Wash and sanitize fermentation equipment (a splash of cheap vodka will do the trick).
- Boil water for ten minutes, then allow to cool to about 95F. Mix water and honey in 5 gallon glass carboy.
Note: If you would like to measure the alcohol strength of your hydromel, you will need something called a hydrometer. After you mix your honey and water together, pour a small sample into a beaker. Using your hydrometer, take your initial reading. For most wines and meads, your initial reading will be somewhere between 1.060 and 1.120. At the end of fermentation, you’ll take another reading and this will help you calculate the alcohol content of your final product.
- In a separate 10oz jar, heat some water to around 110F and add the GoFerm. Mix thoroughly and let stand for 20 minutes.
- When the GoFerm mixture reaches about 95F, add the yeast to the mixture and allow it to bloom for 5 minutes.
- Pitch (brewing term meaning “gently add”) the yeast into the glass carboy and mix thoroughly.
- Warm an additional 6 ounces of water in a jar and add the Fermaid O. Mix thoroughly and then add to the carboy.
- Ferment: Place an airlock on the carboy (don’t forget to sanitize the airlock and fill it with water before placing on the carboy). The airlock helps keep oxygen out of the fermentation process, which is key. Place the carboy in a cool and dark area and ferment for 10-20 days, shaking daily.
Note: If you have a hydrometer, ferment until you reach:
Dry Mead: 0.099 to 1.006
Medium Mead: 1.006 to 1.015
Sweet Mead: 1.012 to 1.020
Dessert Mead: 1.02 +
- Rack and Filter: After fermentation is complete, wait an additional 1-2 days for the sediment to fall to the bottom of the carboy (don’t shake or agitate during this time). Next, you’re going to want to “rack” the liquid into another glass carboy. This means you are going to remove the liquid from your first carboy and transfer it into a second vessel WITHOUT disturbing the sediment that has collected on the bottom of the carboy. This results in a much clearer beverage, with a better overall mouthfeel.
This can be done using gravity and tubing (here is a video that might be helpful). Or if you prefer to get a little more serious, I recommend the All in One Wine Pump which allows you to automatically and easily rack, filter and bottle mead, wine, beer, kombucha and just about any other liquid out there!
Note: If you would like to measure the alcohol content, pour another sample in your beaker after fermentation is complete. Using your hydrometer, take your second and final reading. [GET READY FOR THE MATH…] Subtract the second hydrometer reading from the first hydrometer reading, and then divide that number by 0.00736. This gives you the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV).
Example: If the first reading is 1.046 and the second reading is 1.008, then the final ABV is 5.2%.
- Stabilize your hydromel using potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate (optional).
- At this point you can bottle your hydromel (as long as fermentation is complete – we don’t want exploding bottles!). Swing top bottles are a good choice. Or, you can transfer the hydromel to a keg for carbonation. If kegging, carbonate to 3-3.5 volumes. Once carbonated, store in cool place (45F – 55F or refrigerator).
- Best served chilled. Enjoy!
- Don’t forget to take pictures and please share your creations with us @beniciafermentory