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Making Your Own Mead was originally published in 1968 by authors Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan as “Making Mead.” It was updated in 1984 and 2013 with the new title and contributions by Dan Vallish. Vallish expounds on the original with new techniques and recipes. The book covers the history of mead, (some say it’s man’s “oldest” drink), information about honey and yeast, mead making techniques, and recipes for mead and mead variants.
As one who makes wine, mead, and beer myself, I was interested to read and review this book. My first exposure to mead was in a winemaking class where we took two of the classes to make up a batch of mead. I was surprised at the amount of honey required for a simple five gallon batch. I also learned the importance of not skimping on the quality of the honey. This book will confirm that and more.
Making Your Own Mead is not just a technique and recipe book. The first 17 pages or so cover the extensive history of mead. If you want to just jump into making mead, you can probably skip those pages. But if you’re like me and like a story to “romanticize” your mead making adventure, then take the 15-20 minutes and read about the history. The book starts with the importance of honey to primitive humankind and its place among air, water, and fire as well as salt, wine, and bread. You’ll read about the place of honey as the first sweetener and its place in the lives of ancient Hindus, through Aristotle, and mentions in the Bible. The history will be traced to current times and the importance of mead in early marriage and honeymoons is chronicled. I’m just touching the surface here. You’ll have to get the book for more interesting details of mead’s place in history.
As the book moves into technique, it will start with a chapter on Honeys and Yeasts. It starts with a primer on bees and honey, and the importance of finding the best honey you can find. There is information about different colors and types of honey, and how they affect the mead you make. Like wine grapes, the book explains how single source honey is often the best choice, especially if you want your mead to represent you and where you live. You’ll also learn what yeasts are good for mead and how they will affect the end product. For example, Lalvin EC-1118, a yeast I’ve used many times in home winemaking, will produce a mead that is clean with a neutral and dry finish. If you want a sweeter or fruitier profile, it will guide you in that also.
In the mead making technique chapter, they cover basic rules for preparation of the “must” (juice or honey water before fermentation), fermentation, post-fermentation, bottling, sanitation, and more. The “Basic Rules” section is a great way to start and follow if you’ve never made mead before. At this point, the book gets deeper in explaining concepts related to the water used, the part acid plays in making mead, yeast nutrients, grape tannin, temperature, and how to use a hydrometer to get a sense of the alcohol content of your mead and when it’s ready to bottle.
After the technique section are many recipes for regular mead and variants. The variants are described throughout the book and include Melomel, Pyment, Hippocras, Metheglin, and Cyser, and there are recipes for all.
The authors of Making Your Own Mead do a great job covering the history of mead with a wit that keeps it from being dry all the while being informative. It shows you how to make simple mead from just honey and more complex treasures by mixing fruits, spices, and more. The techniques are sound, and the recipes are approachable and easy to follow. Whether you want to make mead, melomels, pyments, metheglins, or cysers, this is the book you should get. It will be the book I pick up when I make my next batch of mead.
- Title: Making your Own Mead
- Author: Bryan Acton and Peter Duncan with contributions from Dan Vallish
- Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing
- Release Date: July 1, 2013
- Pages: 72
- Suggested Retail Price: Paperback – $9.99
- ISBN-13: 978-1565237834
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