After finally getting the demijohn to my new abode, I wasted no time in starting a new brew, the key word this time around being "cyser", a term for a mead with apple. As the brew's due to be ready around Christmas I've given it a bit of extra spice (what's referred to by professional brewers as "all the cinnamon!), but have yet to name it.
This time round I took more photos, so here follows a more in-depth guide to basic brewing.
First of all, put the honey in a sink of hot water - this makes it much runnier, so it actually pours properly. Six jars gives a fairly sweet mead - I'd cite Croft as an example, but it's been a while since I've had some.
Next, activate the yeast. I've found Allinsons baking yeast is very good (available in a yellow tub from Tesco). Allegedly bread yeast is hardier than brewers yeast, so works better with the high sugar content of mead, and allows a higher final ABV. Don't forget the sugar when activating - it makes a lot of difference. Also, be very careful with adding boiling water - too much and the yeast will die instantly. Six teaspoons will help it ferment at reasonable pace.
Next I put the spices in the demijohn, along with some sultanas. The sultanas are there for nutrients, the spices for taste. A couple of handfuls of sultanas is a good guess. As for spices, a third of a pot of cinnamon, 3 cinnamon sticks and three bags of mulled wine spice should give it a Christmassy feel - I was quite generous with this batch.
The assist the apple flavour, I poured a litre of apple juice in, followed by seven sliced granny smiths.
Next came the yeast, followed by the honey. The honey has a tendency to sink to the bottom, but once the brews going it can be swung around a bit to help it dissolve.
Finally I topped it off with hot water - the cold apple juice easily helped bring the temperature down to something the yeast could handle. Bung in an airlock and it's good to brew.
The airlock's nice because you can see each bubble of CO2 leave. For every carbon dioxide produced, and equal number of alcohols has been formed, meaning your seeing the direct result of alcohol production.
To end, a warning: I overfilled the demijohn, so that the brew started escaping into the airlock. After moving it to the kitchen, it started bubbling quicker (movement speeds up fermentation rate very noticeably), to the point where it was going to overflow. If this happens, leave in the sink or bath to settle a bit. Under no circumstances remove the bung
, as the sudden pressure drop causes many more bubbles to be produces, somewhat explosively, like when you open a coke bottle after shaking it. I learned this the hard way...