As a student, I feel I have a responsibility to make my own alcohol, particularly given the price of a pint of Guinness at Brunel. As a keen fan of Alestorm, who themselves are keen fans of mead (although not much more than they are fans of any other flavour of alcohol that comes in large amounts...), I felt mead was the best thing to brew.
I made a couple of batches with my mate Frank last year, ranging from the "yeasty" (read Marmitey nose) batch 1 to the wonderful 2S, which was very dry with just a hint of spice. After three months these batches had reached about 17% ABV, and were fairly potent!
The second batch I made with Frank contained much more honey than the first, to try and make the mead sweeter. Unfortunately, something went wrong in a large amount of it, and we were left with spiced honey-syrup, with no alcohol in whatsoever! This was except for our batch of berry mead, which was so good Frank made 8 more pints of it. So as Frank had gone solo, I've decided to do a batch of my own too!
In the past we've used 1 litre bottles as fermentation vestals , with a baloon-with-a-hole-in as a rudimentary airlock. This is an easy way of getting started, and I can recommend it if you want to try a batch for only the cost of a jar of honey and some yeast.
However, I decided to invest some of my Christmas money in some brewing equipment from Wilkinson - for less that £10 I got a demijohn and airlock, giving me 5 litres of brewing to play with!
My recipe (of sorts) this time was:
- Fill a sink with hot water and leave 6 jars of Basics/Value honey to stand in it
- Activate some yeast - I poured about 5 or 6 tsp of breadmaking yeast in. It's not brewing yeast, but I've had better results with it!
- Pour the yeast into the demijohn
- One at a time, in a jug, mix a jar of honey with 2 parts cold to one part hot water, and pour into the demijohn
- Once all the honey's in, add some cinnamon. I used approximately loads!
- Throw a nutmeg in for luck!
- Cut two small oranges (maybe satsumas or something) into segments, and add to the demijohn
- Put the airlock together, add some water in, and then bung the hole
- Leave by a radiator
After a week, mine's bubbling at a decent rate - just enough for me to be able to sleep over it. Shaking it increases the bubble rate, and also helps keep all the flavours mixed. Swinging it round horizontally (gently) by the handles has also got the undissolved honey to mix back in, now some of the sugar has been turned to alcohol.