I made a 3 gallon batch of mead in early June using some honey my brother sent me. He’s a apiarist. The honey was straw colored and very delicate in flavor. I was worried that it might be too light for a mead. I did a no-boil method to not lose any aromatics. I racked it in late July. It was tasty, but heavy on the alcohol and not much honey coming through. I decided to keg, carbonate, and bottle it for a sparkling mead. I kegged it last weekend and it was perfectly clear. The alcohol had cooled off a lot and the honey flavor was more present. I’m very excited that it’s going to be awesome next summer. I’ve also excited at how easy the process was. It seems to just take some care and lot of patience.
I have primarily made mead for the 6 years I have been brewing. It’s my favorite! But it does take a long time for that initial “green” alchoholy taste to fade away. When I make mead I make sure I let it ferment to mostly complete in a 6.5 gallon big mouth bubbler, then I rack it into a secondary 5 gallon carboy for bulk aging for usually one year or two (two for darker red fruit mead) before bottling. Bulk-aging is the best way to smooth out that taste; I use the 5 gallon glass carboys and make sure to top them up to no more than an inch below the bung that holds the airlock. If you need to use a tiny bit of water to top it up, it is worth doing that! This will prevent oxidation, which will contribute a nail polishy smell if it overtakes the brew. That happens when it sits out exposed to air for too long after it clears up. I use the 6.5 gallon fermentor to prevent needing to add water to top it up and to add big fruit caps (dates, figs, orange wedges, ect.) to give the mead some interesting tannin flavors. Just make sure to boil and crash that water in an ice bath first to be safe if you need it!!
So last weekend I popped a bottle of my first mead I made 14 mos ago and was very pleased. The forced carbonation worked great and the flavor was really nice. The alcohol had cooled a lot and the honey had come back nicely. Time to make another!