How To Make Vanilla Honey Wine/Mead
This simple mead recipe will be scalable to whatever volume of mead you’re capable of making.
If you don’t have the time or interest to make it yourself you can buy it from us already made here: https://www.honeywinesaustralia.com.au/product/limited-edition-vanilla-mead-750ml/
Potassium Sorbate – Stabiliser
Fermaid O or Fermaid AT – Yeast nutrient
Go Ferm – Yeast rehydration strengthener
Yeast – Your choice. e.g. Mangrove Jack’s mead yeast.
Optional: Potassium Metabisulfite (Campden Tablets)
2 x Fermenting buckets with airlock- plastic or glass.
- The amount of honey you use will be determined by the alcohol content you desire at the end. Most hydrometers will have a guide on one side of the scale as a % of alcohol. If you are aiming for around 12% alcohol for example you will need to fill the fermenter with approximately 2/3 water and 1/3 honey. After sanitising all equipment, use a stirrer to ensure the honey dissolves. Test with a hydrometer occasionally as you fill the fermenter and keep adding honey until the mixture reaches your desired alcohol content.
- Don’t fill all the way to the top of the vessel, leave a few inches as in the coming days you will need to gently stir the brew and CO2 gas bubbles produced by the yeast can easily overflow with foam if an insufficient gap is left. I think every brewer at some point has experienced a foam volcano from stirring too hard.
- Optional: At this point, you may wish to dose with potassium metabisulfite according to the directions on the packet in order to kill any wild yeast that may be present in the yeast, or, you can take your chances. If you use potassium metabisulfite you will need to wait 24 hours before continuing. Some people instead suggest boiling the mixture however I don’t like to heat-treat honey so it isn’t something I will be recommending however you can if you want.
- Introduce as much oxygen as you can to the honey water mix, whether by shaking the container vigorously, using the power drill-powered stirrer or an air pump.
- On the scales measure out the correct dosage of Go Ferm and yeast according to your volume and combine in warm water and let sit for half an hour. Add to the brew.
- Determine the dosage of Fermaid for the volume, measure out half now and add to the brew and stir in. The unused half divide into two and it can be added over the coming days, for example in two days time add a quarter and two days later add the remaining quarter.
- Stir gently every day for the first week, being careful not to cause eruptions of foam. Stir for a second, let the bubbles settle down and repeat until there are no more bubbles.
- After about a month the ferment will finalise which can be seen by the airlock ceasing to bubble. A gravity reading with the hydrometer will confirm this if the gravity has decreased to 1.0 or less.
- Syphon the mead into a second fermenting bucket or glass carboy, leaving behind the sludge and sediment on the bottom. Avoid splashing and introducing oxygen where possible. You can add a pinch of potassium metabisulfite to absorb oxygen that may have been introduced during this stage.
- Add more honey to back-sweeten to your desired sweetness level, stir until dissolved.
- Add potassium sorbate at the recommended dosage level on the packet to prevent yeast from reactivating.
- You can either add the vanilla beans now at a rate of 1 bean per 750ml, or you can add one bean per 750ml bottle directly to the bottle at the time of bottling. Slice the bean down the centre to let the flavour fully infuse.
- If there is a lot of empty head space within the container you will want to do something to reduce the amount of air at the top. Depending on the volume you are making I suggest either adding sanitised glass marbles to raise the liquid level or purging the air with food-grade CO2 or argon.
- Let the mead sit for at least 2 months though ideally for as long as you have patience.
- To clarify the mead in the lead-up to bottling, if the fermenter is small enough you can put it into the fridge which will drop suspended particles to the bottom, alternatively, you can use fining agents such as KC finings or bentonite. If you have a wine filter machine such as a pad or cartridge filter, even better. If you are adding the vanilla beans to each bottle you won’t have to worry too much about clarity as the beans will make the contents cloudy again anyway.
- Bottle the mead, like before, keeping careful to keep splashing to a minimum as you don’t want to introduce oxygen if you can help it. Now you’re finished.
A great place to buy vanilla beans in Australia is from https://www.naturalvanilla.com.au/