Brewing/ Mead/ Recipes

How to brew your first mead: A Simple Viking Blod clone recipe

As we’ve started putting mead how-to videos on YouTube, each installment has certainly fallen into the vein of “doin’ the most.” But for the beginner mazer (mead maker), getting into the world of homebrewing should be a fun, creative, and fascinating endeavor. Complex recipes might be too daunting — discouraging even. For this purpose, we set out to build a beginner mead recipe compiled from ingredients that can be found at your local grocery store without too much up-front investment. Designed for a five-gallon batch, the ingredients list for this recipe cost about $80.

Sugar Sugar, oh, Honey Honey

We opted for inexpensive bulk Grade A honey.  This honey is nothing fancy, but it is inexpensive, flavorful, and did we mention inexpensive? At $2.60 per pound, it gets the job done.  We crafted the recipe around a fifteen-pound quantity of honey, so you’ll have no reserves leftover. If you can’t make it to the grocery store for the honey we purchased for the video, here’s a great option on Amazon.

Flavorful Flora

Many beginner mead consumers start with one of two meads: Chaucer’s (blech) and Dansk Mjod Viking Blød. Viking Blod’s flavor base is hibiscus. Readily available in the Hispanic section of most supermarkets, we decided to go the hibiscus route.  For added color, complexity, and acid, we also included a pound of mixed berries per gallon.  To reduce the amount of aging time needed, we picked a blend focused on tart cherries rather than sweet.  Sweet cherries usually extend the amount of time you need to bulk age the product — the flavor can be sort of “cough syrupy” at first. Stick with tart cherries. We included pectic enzyme to help break down the fruit, which can be omitted if necessary. Here’s a great option from Amazon.

Since we wanted the recipe to be made from easily obtainable ingredients, we omitted the hops from the typical Viking Blød recipe clones.

Yeasty Beasties

For the yeast, you may want to use the failsafe EC-1118 that we recommend for beginner homebrewers. For our video, we chose D47, which is better at creating and maintaining floral, fruity, and delicate flavors from the honey.  This is a honey-focused recipe, so we wanted to do all we could to highlight it as our base.

Final Thoughts on Hibiscus

Hibiscus can be a temperamental tea component.  If steeped too hot or too long, you will find bitter tannins overwhelming your palate. We attempted to avoid this in our recipe by doing a hot steep. We brought it just up to boiling in a gallon and a half of water, then cut the flame and steeped for 30 minutes.  The hibiscus was then strained out and the tea added to primary. The goal with this recipe is for the honey to be the forward component, not the flavoring adjuncts. The hibiscus and fruit are there to add color and complement to the mead, not to overwhelm it.

Part Two Video:

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Simple Viking Blod Clone Recipe

We set out to build a beginner mead recipe compiled from ingredients that can be found at your local grocery store without too much up-front investment. Designed for a five-gallon batch, the ingredients list for this recipe cost about $80. Since we wanted the recipe to be made from easily obtainable ingredients, we omitted the hops from the typical Viking Blød recipe clones.

  • Author: BC
  • Prep Time: One hour
  • Total Time: Months

Ingredients

  • 15 lbs honey
  • 6 lbs mixed berries — preferably with tart cherries
  • 12 oz dried hibiscus
  • 5 gallons water
  • pectic enzyme
  • D47 or EC-1118 Yeast

Instructions

  1. Bring hibiscus to a boil in 1.5 gallons of water, kill the flame, and steep 30 minutes
  2. During the steep, blend raw honey, defrosted fruit, and pectic enzyme together with two gallons of water
  3. Drain and discard flowers, add hibiscus tea to the must
  4. Add the remainder of the water, stir to combine
  5. Pitch yeast immediately and ferment dry, making sure to punch the cap every 24-48 hours.

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