Good mead requires pure, clean water, premium honey and
yeast. The water is required to reduce the BRIX or sugar content
of the honey to a range at which the yeast can effectively ferment
it. Homebrewers know that in order to replicate the great beers
of the world one must adjust the water to match the mineral content,
which occurs naturally where that great beer is produced. Medovina
is fortunate. Its water comes from the Indian Peaks Wilderness
area high in the Rocky Mountains, just south of Rocky Mountain
National Park. It is low in mineral content and has a neutral
flavor. The Left Hand Water Co-op adds chlorine to meet Federal
Water Safety Standards. This assures that it arrives bacteria
free. We use carbon filtration to strip out the chlorine before
using it for mead.
When people first hear about mead, they are sometimes very surprised
that one can make wine from honey. They should not
be because once the honey has been adjusted to the proper dilution
the resulting must or juice is very similar to the
natural juice obtained from wine grapes. In both cases the sugars
present are primarily glucose and fructose. It is of course the
complex mix of constituents present in minute quantities that
create the nuances that makes mead different from grape wine.
One key difference is the acidity, which is much lower in the
honey must. Honey Wine has 1/10th the acidity of a white grape
wine! People with sensitive tummies appreciate the low acidity
The most important ingredient in mead is the honey and the meadmaking
process really begins with the bees. The nectar that they collect
is primarily sucrose or common table sugar. The nectar also contains
aromatics, essential oils and other compounds that contribute
to the honeys unique flavor. When the nectar enters the
bees honey stomach, it is combined with the enzyme, invertase.
This breaks down the complex 12-carbon sucrose molecule into the
simple sugars of glucose and fructose, which are 6 carbon sugars.
Incidentally, these two sugars have exactly the same chemical
formula; they differ only in structure- technically they are isotopes.
The yeast readily metabolizes these simple sugars. The best honey
for mead is fresh, raw, unheated, and unfiltered. Meodvina produces
its own honey and our mead making process has been tailored around
the fact that fresh honey in Colorado is only available in August
and September. While economics would encourage otherwise, we take
lots of time producing our meads. Fermentations range from 6 to
18 months depending on the style of mead we are making. Our only
time constraint is that we must finish bottling prior to honey
harvest so that we can take the honey directly from hive to fermenter,
with little or no storage. While honey is very stable, it does
not improve over time, but mead does. So it makes sense to get
the mead started as soon as possible.