After the success of my first mead, a traditional mead with no herbs or spices, I’m ready now to mix things up and try something a little different.
I just so happened to meet a gentleman at the farmer’s market this morning who had some very nice things to say about a mead recipe in Charlie Papazian’s book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Papazian’s Barkshack Gingermead is a dry, sparkling mead, similar to champagne, made with the pungent spiciness of ginger and flavored with a “brewer’s choice” assortment of fruits and spices. Papazian personally prefers raspberries as the fruit.
The gentleman at the farmer’s market said that it was easy to overdo it on the spice level, so much so that he felt compelled to blend the gingermead down with an unspiced mead. If you choose to use aggressive spices like nutmeg and cloves, take it easy. If this is your first time trying a spiced mead, you might want to scale the mead recipe down to a one-gallon batch until you develop a comfort level with the spices.
Remember that mead takes a long time to make – at least six months. To accelerate the process, you might try the staggered nutrient additions recommended by Michael Fairbrother – but don’t forget to be patient. Many things – especially mead – get better with age.
Barkshack Gingermead (via the Complete Joy of Homebrewing)
7 lbs. light honey
1.5 lbs. corn sugar
1-6 oz. freshly grated ginger root
1.5 tsp. gypsum
1 tsp. citric acid
3 tsp. yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp. Irish moss
Optional: 1-6 lbs. your choice of crushed fruit (e.g. sour cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, grapes, grape concentrate, cranberries, chokeberries, etc.)
Optional: 3 oz. lemongrass or other spice or herb (be careful with cloves, cinnamon, mint, hops – they can easily overpower the mead)
1-2 packs champagne yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar (for bottling)
- Boil the first seven ingredients for 15 minutes in 1.5 gallons water.
- Turn off the heat, and use a small strainer to remove as many pieces of ginger root as you can without going crazy.
- Add the crushed fruit to the hot wort and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. This will help pasteurize the fruit.
- Pour all of the “wort” into a clean, sanitized fermenter containing 3 gallons of cool, chlorine-free water and mix well.
- When wort reaches 78˚F or below, pitch yeast. Ferment at about 70˚F for seven days, then rack to a secondary fermenter. Take care not to transfer any fruit into secondary. Allow for 1-1.5 months in secondary.
- Bottle with the 3/4 cup corn sugar. If desired, prepare a strong tea using the herb/spice of your choice and mix it into the bottling bucket prior to bottling. You can easily bottle only part of the batch with the tea be adding it part way through the bottling process.
- Age for six months to a year and enjoy!
Do you have a favorite Mead recipe you’d like to share? Put it in the comments below…
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.