That’s right. We’re making juniper mead. This carbonated session mead will be ready to drink in just a couple of months – though you may need to cold crash it or add fining agents to get it clearer faster. Or just give it time! Learn more about why I believe in bulk aging here.
The idea for this brew was born out of the desire to brew something inexpensive, crisp, and refreshing. The hills of Arcadia, Oklahoma are littered with red cedar trees chock full of sweet blue juniper berries. They are sugary and pungent with perfumey esters and bitter volatiles. The goal was balance, and, surprisingly hops were the answer to this. By both lightly boiling and dry-hopping, enough interesting flavors and muted IBUs were extracted to complement the juniper rather than push it over the edge.
This juniper mead did need some sweetness once fermented dry, so xylitol, a non-fermentable and completely natural sugar alcohol (derived from corn cobs and hardwoods), came to the rescue. We only used enough to give the indication of sweetness. Your mileage may vary – you may need more than we used here. We used maltodextrin to boost the body of the beverage.
Overall it is light, citrusy, and evergreen. Perfection.
Note: this recipe used berries from the red cedar, which are less “intense” than common juniper berries. If using store-bought juniper (is that a thing?), cut the amount in half.
- 2 oz Dried Juniper Berries
- 1 oz Centennial Hops
- 1 oz Citra Hops
- 8.5# Raw Honey
- Spring Water To 5 Gallons
- 60 Grams Xylitol (Sugar Alcohol)
- 1/2 Cup Honey
- 4 oz Maltodextrin Powder
- Mangrove Jack’s M05 Mead Yeast
- EC-1118 Champagne Yeast (one gram for carbonation)
Crush juniper berries, divide into two equal portions.
Divide hops into two equal portions.
Place half of the juniper and hops into the sanitized fermentation vessel.
Add honey and two gallons water, stir or shake to combine.
Bring one gallon of water to boil, add in the other half of the hops and juniper and boil for fifteen minutes. Strain. Add to fermentation vessel.
Top up with water to five gallons.
Pitch M05 yeast and ferment dry under airlock.
Rack to a clean, sanitized carboy, place under airlock and allow to clear.
Once clear, rack into bottling bucket onto xylitol, honey, and maltodextrin powder. This is easiest if all three are dissolved into a couple cups of warm water. Stir to blend until homogenous.
Add rehydrated EC-1118 and stir to blend until homogenous.
Bottle and allow three weeks to carbonate.