How to Make 1-Gallon Mead: A Guide To Small-Batch Brewing

How-To Guides

One-gallon carboysFor people who haven’t tried it, making mead can be intimidating. But with the proper introduction and right information, you can instantly get started with this fascinating hobby. The key is to start brewing in small batches. 

Making 1-gallon mead requires only the essential equipment and basic techniques, so it is not too overwhelming for newbies. Here are small-batch mead recipes that you can try to help begin your learning process.

How to Make 1-Gallon Batch of Mead

One-gallon mead during fermentation

This 1-gallon mead recipe uses the most basic mead ingredients, which you can easily find in your very own kitchen. Well, maybe except the yeast, which you can readily buy from your local grocery stores.

Ingredients

Equipment

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. After gathering all the ingredients, sanitize all the equipment that will come into contact with your brew—the carboy, funnel, airlock, and bung.
  2. Heat the stockpot and pour in 2/3 gallons of water. Let it warm but do not bring it to a boil.
  3. To make the must, add the honey and stir well.
  4. Add your chosen nutrients and stir.
  5. Once you blended the mixture thoroughly, let it cool for ten minutes or so.
  6. Use the funnel to pour the must into the one-gallon glass jug.
  7. Add the remaining cool water (1/3 gallon) until the liquid is about at the neck of the carboy.
  8. Install the bung with an airlock.
  9. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature. It may take a few hours. Once the must is cool enough (that means touching the bottom of the glass jug and not feeling the heat, or you may use a thermometer to get a temperature reading), you can add the yeast. You can store the remainder of the yeast in an airtight container and put it inside the refrigerator to keep the moisture out so you can use it for your next one-gallon batch mead.
  10. Bubbles should begin to appear within 48 hours after pitching the yeast. It means that the fermentation is a success.
  11. Place the carboy in a dark area with no direct sunlight. You may also wrap it in a clean dish towel or old t-shirt to keep it in the dark.
  12. Observe the airlock every few days and check the bubbles.
  13. After a month or so, the fermentation will slow down. You may want to check the carboy every once in a while.
  14. Once you notice that the mixture is clear and the lees have settled at the bottom of the jug, you may taste the mead. You can use a clean straw for tasting but be careful not to backwash into the mead.
  15. If you are satisfied with the taste, you can go on and bottle the mead. If not, and you’d like it sweeter, you can try back sweetening your mead.
  16. Make a quarter and a half cup of simple syrup using honey or sugar.
  17. Put the syrup into a clean, sanitized one-gallon glass jar and rack the mead into it. Give it a gentle swirl to mix the mead and the syrup. Do not shake, or you will aerate the mead.
  18. Install a clean, sanitized airlock in the sweetened mead and let it ferment for another week or two.
  19. Once the fermentation is complete (no more bubbles), you can start bottling the mead. You may want to age your bottled mead for at least a month, as aging does wonders to the mead.

Must-Try 1-Gallon Mead Recipe Variants

Once you have mastered the basic mead recipe, you can move on to a more complex one. You may add fruits, spices, or any flavorings to up your mead-making game. Here are other 1-gallon mead recipes that you can try at home to harness and further improve your brewing skills.

1. Vanilla Bean Chamomile Mead

Bottled Vanilla Bean Chamomile Mead

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. Honey
  • 1 gal Filtered or non-chlorinated water
  • ½ cup Chamomile flowers
  • ½ cup Chopped raisins
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split
  • ½ packet Yeast (use champagne yeast for dry mead, sweet wine, or mead yeast for sweeter mead) or 1 pinch (or 2) of bread yeast

How to Make

  1. Using a stockpot, heat 2/3 gallon of water and allow it to boil.
  2. Once the water is at a steady, rolling boil, remove the stockpot from the stove.
  3. Add the raisins and chamomile to the water. Then, stir well. Cover the pot and let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pot and pour in the honey. Stir well until the honey dissolves and blends thoroughly.
  5. Pour the mixture into a one-gallon carboy using a funnel. Split the vanilla bean and add it to the must.
  6. Pour the remainder of the water (1/3 gallon) into the carboy to help the mixture cool down. Make sure to fill the jug up to the neck, leaving at least two inches of headspace.
  7. Check the temperature of the mix. Once it cools down to room temperature, pitch the yeast.
  8. Top off the jug with bung and airlock.
  9. Set it aside in a cool, dark place where there is no direct sunlight.
  10. Let the fermentation begin.
  11. Check the airlock now and then for the bubbles. Once it stops producing bubbles and the mead has cleared, you can taste it. Either start back sweetening or prepare for bottling.
  12. To back sweeten your mead, use honey or sugar to make a quarter and a half cup of sweetening syrup.
  13. Put the syrup into a clean, sanitized one-gallon glass jar and rack the mead into it. Give it a gentle swirl to mix thoroughly.
  14. Install a clean, sanitized airlock in the sweetened mead and let it ferment for another week or two.
  15. Once the fermentation is complete (no more bubbles), you can bottle the mead. 

2. Elderberry Mead

Glasses of Elderberry Mead and Elderberries

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. Honey
  • 1 gal of Filtered or non-chlorinated water
  • A handful of dried elderberries
  • Fresh ginger, thumb-sized and diced
  • ½ cup Organic raisins or other dried fruits
  • 1 slice Dried or fresh lime
  • ½ packet Yeast (use champagne yeast for dry mead, sweet wine or mead yeast for a sweeter mead)

How to Make

  1. In a large stockpot over the stove, pour about 2/3 gallon of water and add the diced ginger. Bring to boil.
  2. When the water is at a steady, rolling boil, put in the raisins, dried lime, and a handful of dried elderberries. Cover the stockpot, turn off the stove, and remove the stockpot from heat.
  3. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, add the honey and thoroughly stir until it dissolves.
  4. Let the mixture cool down a bit before pouring it into the one-gallon carboy. Then, add the remaining 1/3 gallon of water until the mixture reaches up to the neck of the carboy.
  5. Install the bung and airlock.
  6. As soon as the must cools down to room temperature, you may pitch the yeast.
  7. Re-cap with the airlock and let it ferment for at least a month.
  8. Once it has cleared, have a taste of the mead. If you like it as it is, start bottling.
  9. If you want your mead a bit sweeter, prepare a quarter and a half cup of sweetening syrup using honey or sugar. Then, put it into a clean, sanitized one-gallon glass carboy.
  10. Siphon the mead into the new carboy with the sweetening syrup. Make sure to leave the dead yeast lees, elderberries, and ginger chunks.
  11. Wait for another few weeks for the fermentation to complete. Then, bottle the mead and let it age.

 3. Strawberry and Lemon Balm Mead

Strawberry and Lemon Balm Mead

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. Honey
  • 1 gal Filtered or non-chlorinated water
  • 4 cups Lemon balm stems and leaves, fresh-cut
  • 2 lbs. Strawberries, rough-diced
  • 1 bag Linden tea (you can also use black or green tea)
  • 1 Lemon, juiced and zested
  • ½ packet Yeast

Additional Equipment

How to Make

  1. Before you start brewing, prepare the strawberries by chopping and freezing them. Then, put the berries into a wine bag and let them thaw in a bowl, allowing the fruits to release more juice.
  2. Pour half of the water into a stockpot and allow it to boil.
  3. While the water is boiling, add the lemon zest and tea bag to the stockpot.
  4. Remove from heat and add in the lemon balm stems and leaves. Cover the pot to contain the volatile oils from the lemon balm within the brew and prevent it from escaping with the steam. Let it cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Add the honey and stir until it dissolves.
  6. Place the strawberries in the brew bag and put the bag in the brewing bucket.
  7. Using a strainer or colander, pour the must into the brewing bucket. Make sure to discard the lemon zest and lemon balm.
  8. Add the lemon juice and the remaining water to the bucket.
  9. Cover the bucket and install the airlock. Wait until the mixture cools down to room temperature.
  10. Once it reaches room temperature, pitch the yeast. Give it a stir using a sanitized spoon.
  11. After the first day, there should be some fermentation activities such as bubbling in the airlock and the brew’s surface.
  12. Stir the mixture every day, making sure to dunk the bag of strawberries regularly. This way, you can prevent the growth of mold on the surface of the brew.
  13. After three days, rack the mead into a clean, sanitized gallon jug. When removing the strawberries, let the bag drip into the bucket for a minute. Do not squeeze it, or it will release pectin into the brew, which will make your mead hazy and difficult to clear.
  14. Install the bung and airlock to the jug and let the mixture ferment in a cool, dark place.
  15. Wait for at least one month before bottling.
  16. If it takes longer than two months to clear, you may try racking the mead into another carboy.

Conclusion 

Making your very own mead can be a daunting task, but don’t let it discourage you from jumpstarting your brewing journey. With these straightforward and uncomplicated 1-gallon mead recipes, you can learn the basics of brewing without worrying about hard-to-find ingredients, complex methods, or expensive equipment.  

Which of these 1-gallon mead recipes would you like to try? Let us know in the comment section. And feel free to share this article with your fellow home-brewers.

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