Friday, May 2, 2008

Bee-Free Mead

Happy May Day! In honor of my favorite spring holiday, I cracked open the agave mead I began making last February. I mentioned the mead in my post yesterday, and a few people asked for more info. Here's what it looks like in my sweet pimp cup:



Now mind you, I did not drink this entire glass. I just poured it for the picture. This stuff is super strong, and the amount pictured much would put me out for awhile.

Back in February, my friend Leslie (who lives in North Carolina) was visiting Memphis, and she stopped by my house to show me how to make homemade alcohol. Leslie was taking a mead-making class at the time. Mead is traditionally made with yeast, water, and honey. But Leslie and I don't use honey, so she asked her teacher if she could substitute agave nectar, which is pretty much the closest vegans can get to a honey-like substance.

Her teacher said it should work fine, but it still felt a little like an experiment. We weren't totally sure it would work or how it would taste. Another mead-making friend of mine swore it wouldn't work without honey. But he was just hatin'. It actually turned out great! It's super-strong and it doesn't taste bad. As I mentioned yesterday, it tastes like a cross between beer, wine, and rum. Here's what it looked like several months ago:


To make the mead, we boiled about a 1/2 gallon of water and poured that into a 1/2 gallon-sized glass bottle along with 2 cups of agave nectar, and a package of wine yeast (you have to get this at a brewer's shop). I infused mine with jasmine, meadowsweet, and woodruff. Leslie substituted apple juice for water in hers. She hasn't tried it yet, but I bet hers is really sweet.

Once in the glass bottle, we placed a bubble lid thingy on top (I don't know what's its called but it also comes from the brewer's shop). The bottles were stored in a cool, dry place for three months to ferment. During this time, you could see bubbles rising to the top of the bottle. After 3 months, I strained the herbs out and transferred the liquid to glass jars. Now it's ready to drink. Yum!

18 comments:

Leslie said...

Way to Bianca!
I feel I should mention a few extra things here: please DO NOT add the yeast to very hot water. In the first step just add your water, *honey* and herbs if using. Add the yeast when your brew gets to body temp otherwise you will kill it!
Ratio is 1 1/2- 2 cups agave per 1/2 gallon of mead. A bit less than 1/2 of a champagne yeast packet will make a 1/2 gallon for ya. Add as many herbs as you want, just making sure that they will combine well & avoid herbs that are overly bitter (lavender, chammomile, etc)

If using apple juice in place of the water (to make cyser) like I did, then you'll wanna decrease your agave just a bit like down to bout a cup. If you add too much agave to the already sweet juice then it's liable to EXPLODE when fermenting & that would be an icky mess.
The bubble things are airlocks. you'll need one of those and a cap to go into your carboy (big glass jug) just ask for em at your friendly neighborhood brewshop.

Usually the longer you let it ferment the better it's flavor will be but don't expect it to be sweet or you'll be in for a surprise!!
Have fun & don't be afraid to experiment!

Leslie said...

PS- if doubling this recipe for a gallon of mead you'll do fine just adding 1/2 the packet of yeast. & sorry I took up so much room Bianca but I know you like it.

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

This looks fun to make and drink!

trina said...

That's rad! Now I want to go brew something.

VeggieGirl said...

Wow, what a drink!! Looks quite fun to make!!

Vegan_Noodle said...

That's good to know! My hubby loves brewing his own alcohol... now I can get him to make some vegan mead!

kate said...

This looks really cool! I definitely want to try it. I've always loved the way 'a hearty glass of mead' sounds. :)

poopiebitch said...

Uh, YUM! Hello, moonshine! (and thanks to Bianca and Leslie for the instructions!)

Your demo pics are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/SlavaAnka/Demo?authkey=RlG-K-fAx6U

(I hope that works)

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

Fun!! I totally want to do this now. I'm not sure I could be patient enough to wait 3 months for the results, but it would be a really funny experiment!

Melody Polakow said...

Love all of your beltane celebrations!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Wow. How did I just discover this blog of wonderousness? Everything looks so yummy!

Alice (in Veganland) said...

It looks so good! You are a great brewer! I'm sure you had lots of fun while doing it, and I'm sure you'll have lots of fun drinking it ;-)

KylaGWolf@aol.com said...

Question how much of the other herbs did you put in? My sweetheart is making a traditional mead but I am wanting to do an agave one. I figure variety is the spice of life LOL.

Kommoner said...

Just found this recipe, will have to give it a spin sometime soon! :)

Witch Mom said...

Um, using yeast is not actually vegan. Yeast is alive.

Bianca said...

Actually, Witch Mom, yeast is vegan. Like mushrooms, yeast is considered a eukaryotic micro-organism and it's classified in the Fungi kingdom. It is not derived from animal products. Just because something is alive doesn't mean it's not vegan. Sprouts and other "live" raw foods are also living, but they're vegan.

the wooden spooner said...

...hrm - so I am doing a wee bit of research on vegan mead options (to make for me mum for the holidays...I know it won't be ready for a while) and I am wondering if one could use the Bee-Free Honee as a substitute instead of Agave.

Any thoughts?

Bianca said...

Hey Wooden Spooner, I would bet Bee-free Honee would work beautifully....probably even better than agave! Give it a try. Let me know how it goes!