Learning to Make Mead

Mead makers and owners of Starrlight Mead, Becky and Ben Starr visited our club in October to share with us how to make mead (honey wine). Ben and Becky have been making mead for over 7 years and what started as a passion evolved into a business a little over a year ago.

Their mead is award winning and took best of show at a 2006 international mead festival in a field of over 200 entries. Ben shares his expertise and love of brewing by conducting demonstrations and workshops on mead making in the local community. They also organize and conduct the local Mead Day celebration each August (since 2005) and are a key part of the product tasting team for mead reviews on Gotmead.com. Becky worked with Chatham Hill Winery for 2 years learning tasting room and wine club management. They are also members of the Chatham County Beekeepers Association, and the NC Winegrowers Association.

Mead is fermented honey that is diluted typically with water and has yeast added to it. As Ben explained all it really is, is a controlled spoilage. 65 gallons of honey makes a 260 gallon batch of mead. The type of honey and yeast used will have an impact on the flavor. Other additives are also included to bring about various desired flavors such as oranges, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and raisins. The possibilities are endless. Becky shared with us one of their new creations that included peppers! The slightly sweet flavor combined with a bit of heat from the pepper was delightful.

The length of the commercial fermentation process depends and can take from 4 weeks to 4 months. A home brew, due to the lack of temperature controls, can take 6 months to a year. So for those of us wanting to give it a go, we’ll need to start now with a batch that we can drink this time next year. Also for those of us who want to give it a try, Ben suggested a book by Ken Schramm “The Complete Meadmaker”.

For more information about mead and Ben and Becky’s meadery visit their website at www.starrlightmead.com

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