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You should try making some mead! An easy batch can be made similarly to what you accidentally did.
All you need is:
- A clean gallon jug
- 3.5 lbs honey
- An orange
- A handful of raisins
- A packet of bread yeast (ideally, brewing yeast)
- (optional) A while clove or two and a stick of cinnamon
- A single balloon
Clean everything! Use some bleach and water, 1:10 and rinse out the jug thoroughly. Rinse the orange well. Add to the gallon jug about 3.5 lbs honey. Drop a handful of raisins in there. Slice up the orange and stick it in there too, peel and all. Also toss a clove or two and maybe some cinnamon if you’d like. Fill the jug with very warm (not scalding hot) water, but leave a cup or two worth of space in there because it will foam up like a bitch for the first few days. Empty the packet of yeast into it – it can be bread yeast, but if you can get some wine yeast that would be better (try Lalvin D47 or EC-1118).
Put the cap on the jug and shake it around. Be careful not to drop it. Once it’s mixed, set it down and take the cap off. Now take your balloon and nick a very small hole or two in it, opposite the open end. You can use a needle to punch the holes. Then stretch the open end across the opening of the jug.
Now set the jug in a cabinet or something and wait! It will start bubbling within a day, then it will foam up like crazy. The balloon should be slightly inflated at the top. If it’s not, but your mead is bubbling, you probably made the holes too big. If it’s very inflated and the jug is swollen too, you may not have actually put any holes in it. Were you listening? Once it settles down in a couple days, you can top it off with more water, maybe give it another quick shake. Now wait some more, probably about 2 months. Don’t touch it! When it’s “done”, take a small length of vinyl tubing (dirt cheap at Home Depot) and siphon the liquid into another CLEAN gallon container. Taste it! Tastes like rocket fuel right? Don’t worry about it. Let it sit another 6-12 months. It will be delicious by the end, I promise.
This recipe is called Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead and it’s a popular first for many!
Also, join us over at /r/mead!
Edit: So if you want to step it up a bit with this recipe, here’s a few things you should definitely do:
- Get a short auto-siphon, use a glass 1-gallon jug, buy some fermentation locks to use instead of the balloon (be sure you get drilled rubber stoppers that fit your bottle), and buy a hydrometer so you can figure out the ABV of your batch. Also get a wine-corker and score some used (not broken) wine bottles – 1 gallon will give you about 4 full bottles. You can go all-out with all kinds of equipment, but these few things are basically essentials.
- Take notes! I keep an excel file with notes about all my brews. It really provides a lot of insight into what I can change around for my next batch.
- Be sure you are cleaning ALL your equipment very thoroughly. Use StarSan or, if you don’t mind rinsing 5 times over, a bit of diluted bleach.
- When siphoning into your second container (“racking”), use an auto-siphon or at least try not to siphon from very close to the bottom. The sediment won’t hurt you and doesn’t affect the taste, but the less you get in your secondary the more presentable it will be when you get to serving or bottling the stuff.
- Use a high-quality honey from a local apiary. Look for things like Blueberry, Orange Blossom, Alfalfa, etc. Buckwheat honey may be a bit strong for this recipe.
- Use a proper brewing yeast – EC-1118 is great for a strong mead, but needs to mellow out for a bit longer before it’s fun to drink. Try Lalvin D7 or K1-V1116 for a bit lighter of a flavor and perhaps a shorter aging period.
- Age longer! Everyone goes through the same experience – they try their first mead at 2 months and it tastes like shit! I promise, aging really, really makes a HUGE difference, and the longer the better. I’ve had bottles aged for 2+ years and wow, the difference is really astonishing from the time it was bottled.
I’ve been doing this for a few years now and have more than a few gallons under my belt, but I’m no professional. Definitely check out the /r/mead subreddit and do some research on your own for more good advice!