How to Make Small Batch Wines and Meads
When I think of mead, I think of ancient peoples. I had no idea that it was trending right along with other home brewing. But Ashley is in the know and shows you here how to make your own small batch wines and meads.
Posted by Ashley
I was first introduced to home fermenting in college when friends and I decided to make homemade mead. We weren’t exactly looking to get sloshed, we had other motives. We were part of a campus group of historical reenactors, reproducing the life and times of ancient Norse people.
In my college days, before the boom in micro-brews and small batch wineries, the only way to get mead was to make it yourself. Now, my home state of Vermont boasts at least five dedicated meaderies, and even a few niche mead halls where all they serve is Viking brew. Talk about an expansion in craft ferments!
Still, if you want something really unique, with the “terroir” of your own backyard, you’ll have to make it yourself.
There are a lot of great reasons to make a micro-batch mead rather than a full gallon or 5-gallon brew. First and foremost, small batches allow you to experiment and make a lot of different brews without having to commit to drinking the full five gallons.
Beyond that, in a small batch, you can craft a truly unique gift. Literally, a single bottle made just for that special person on your list.
We make micro-batch meads in quart (and sometimes half-gallon) Mason jars using a Fermentools kit.
How to Make Small Batch Wines and Meads
The process is pretty simple. Start with somewhere between 2/3 and 1 cup of honey in the bottom of a quart mason jar. Top the honey with water that’s been brought to a boil, and then allowed to cool slightly. Stir to incorporate the hot water into the honey.
For a flavored batch, steep your flavorings in the water before adding it to the honey. Chamomile tea, for example, makes a delightfully floral mead.
You can also add 1/2 cup to 1 full cup of fruit as I did in this raspberry micro-batch mead recipe.
Allow the hot water and honey mixture to cool to between 90 and 100 degrees (roughly body temperature) before yeast. You can use bread yeast if you like, but the mixture will taste a bit harsh. I’d recommend using about 1/4 of a packet of champagne yeast or wine yeast for a quart batch.
For a micro-batch wine, start with fruit juice and either add 1/4 cup of honey for tart fruits like black currants or skip the honey all together for sweeter fruits. Fresh fruit, such as grapes or plums, often has natural wild yeast present on the skin so you may be able to skip adding yeast if you juice them without heat. A commercial electric juicer or fruit press are good methods. If you juice them on the stove top or in a steam juicer, you’ll pasteurize them. In that case, you must use added yeast.
Attach your Fermentools lid and airlock but skip the glass weight. Allow your mead or wine to ferment for four to six weeks at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
Once the fermentation process is complete, either attach a regular canning lid. For a nicer presentation, bottle it in a Grolsch flip top bottle.
For further reading about all the nuances of crafting your own micro-batch mead, including options for selecting different yeasts and making herbal ferments check out this post.
You can adapt any of these recipes to a half-gallon Mason jar by doubling, or a one-pint wide-mouth Mason jar by cutting the recipe in half.
Don’t forget that homemade small-batch craft brews make perfect gifts, and really show that you’ve put effort and thought into crafting something special for the ones you love.
With a Six Pack from Fermentools, you can have six different flavors going all at the same time. Check out the Fermentools store for Made in the USA fermentation lids for Mason jars.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at PracticalSelfReliance.com.