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How to Brew Your Mead Like a Viking

June 30, 2022 4 min read

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Raw, unfiltered honey
  • 2 cups Springwater
  • Natural yeast - any organic fresh or dried berries, grapes, or plums
  • An additional source of wild yeast and nutrients (Optional) – a small bunch of any wild, unsprayed botanical such as wildflower petals (violets and dandelions are good)

Equipment

  • 1-quart (at least) Open-mouthed vessel (glass jars or ceramic crocks are best)
  • Wooden stir stick
  • Clean cheesecloth, towel, or t-shirt for covering the vessel

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Put the honey and room temperature water into the open-mouthed vessel and mix them.
  2. Use the stir stick to dissolve the honey fully.
  3. Add the berries, dried or fresh, and the optional botanicals.
  4. Place the vessel in a warm, dark place with no direct sunlight. An ideal temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius.
  5. Cover it with a cloth.
  6. Keep the stir stick accessible as you will need to stir the must at least three times a day. This way, you can incorporate any yeast that has dropped in into the mead must. It will also provide aeration to ensure a healthy fermentation.
  7. After about five days (or longer during the winter), once the mixture is fizzy and foamy, your mead starter is ready.

Now that you already have the wild yeast to help with the fermentation, here are three simple recipes on how to make Viking mead using botanicals that you can easily find in nature.

1. Juniper Hibiscus / Hawthorn Berry and Flower Semi-Sweet Mead

This recipe uses hawthorn berries, an ingredient that the Vikings used to add to their mead during the medieval period. It will yield one gallon of semi-sweet mead. 

Ingredients

How to Make

  1. Mix honey with water into a stockpot over medium-low heat.
  2. Stir thoroughly until the honey dissolves fully.
  3. Using a funnel, pour the mead must into a one-gallon carboy.
  4. Add the juniper berries, hibiscus flowers, meadowsweet, yarrow, and raisins.
  5. Add the wild mead starter, or if you prefer, one pack of yeast.
  6. Cover the vessel with an airlock half full of water inserted into a cork.
  7. Place the vessel in a warm, dark area to allow fermentation for at least one month.
  8. After a month, your mead will clarify but will still be too sweet and less alcoholic. To help continue its aging and achieve a more clarified mead with high alcohol content, rack the mixture into another container.
  9. Rack again at least two times, every two to three months, until you have a clear mead with minimal sediment on the bottom of the carboy.
  10. The next step is to bottle the mead. Typically, a one-gallon batch should be ready for bottling in about four to six months. For you to know if it’s time to bottle, drop a bit of sugar into the mead or stir it carefully. If it produces bubbles, then it means that the mead is still fermenting. You may also try to place a lid on the container and wait for a few days before gently opening it. If you hear any fizzing sound, the mead is still fermenting.
  11. Bottle the mead using wine bottles, beer bottles, or flip-top bottles with new caps. Let it age for at least six months to one year. 

2. Spring Wildflower Mead

This all-natural recipe will require some foraging during spring when most wildflowers are in bloom. You can use wild violets, honeysuckles, dandelions, clovers, and Rose of Sharon. Be sure to use only the petals, as any greens may cause bitterness. Also, avoid foraging in areas that are not pesticide-free.

You can use other flowers as well, including roses, marigold, lavender, hawthorn (mayflower), and elderflower.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart (about 2.3 pounds) of Wildflower honey
  • 1 gal Springwater
  • 1-3 pints of tightly packed flowers
  • 8-10 Organic raisins
  • Lemon or orange
  • A small oak leaf
  • ¼ - ½ cup Wild mead starter or 1 packet (5 g) of Lalvin D-47 or Lalvin 71-B

How to Make

  1. Put the honey and water into a stockpot over medium-low heat.
  2. Stir the mixture thoroughly until the honey dissolves fully.
  3. Pour the must into a one-gallon carboy using a funnel,
  4. Add the flowers, setting aside a few for later use.
  5. Squeeze in some lemon or orange juice. A couple of squeezes should do the trick.
  6. Add the organic raisins and small oak leaves for added tannins and nutrients.
  7. Add the wild mead starter or one pack of yeast.
  8. Install the airlock.
  9. Allow the mixture to ferment for at least one month.
  10. After a month, rack the mixture into another container, adding the remaining wildflowers for a more potent floral aroma.
  11. Rack again at least two times every two to three months.
  12. Bottle the mead if you think it’s ready.

3. Garlic Mushroom Cooking / Dessert Mead

Besides being a refreshing drink, mead can also be an excellent replacement for wine when cooking. This recipe will produce a delicious dessert mead or cooking mead, depending on the honey-to-water ratio that you will use. With garlic as an ingredient, this mead offers many health benefits, including immune system boosting.

Ingredients 

  • 2 ½ lbs. Honey or 4 lbs. honey for dessert mead
  • 3 gal Springwater
  • 4-12 heads of Garlic
  • 2 cups Chopped fresh shiitake mushrooms or 1 cup of mushroom tea
  • 8-10 Raisins
  • Wild yeast
  • ¼ - ½ cup Wild mead starter

How to Make

  • Prepare the must by heating water and honey. Use 2 ½-pound honey for cooking mead or four pounds of honey if you like sweeter, dessert mead.
  • Peel each garlic clove and chop or smash it. Add the garlic to the must, saving some for later use.
  • Add the mushrooms. You can do it in two ways.
  • You may put the mushrooms directly into the must. Or
  • Prepare a mushroom tea, then add the tea to the must. This way, racking will be less messy.
  • Add the wild yeast and let the mead ferment.
  • After a month, add the remaining garlic for a strong garlic aroma.
  • Bottle the mead.

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