Ancient Mead Recipe

Ancient Mead RecipeThis ancient mead recipe, dating from who knows how far back, was found in an 18th Century book.

Technically it could be argued that it is actually a  metheglin but ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’.

There’s an updated version of the recipe below the original. I’ve scaled it down from 13 gallons to about one gallon!

Ancient Mead Recipe Original

Mead. To 13 gallons of water put 30 lb of honey; boil and scum it well; take rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and sweet briar one handful together; boil it an hour, put it into a tub with a little ground malt; stir it till it is lukewarm; strain it through a cloth, and put it into a tub again; cut a toast and spread it over with good yeast, and put it into the tub also; when the liquid is covered with yeast, put it in a barrel; take of cloves, mace and nutmegs, an ounce and a half; of ginger sliced an ounce; bruise the spice; tie it up in a rag, and hang it in the vessel, stopping it up close for use.

Ingredients for Ancient Mead Recipe

  • 3lb Honey
  • Herb bundle including: rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and sweet briar
    • Spices (vary according to taste)
    • 8 cloves
    • 2 mace blades
    • Half teaspoon grated nutmeg
    • Teaspoon of grated ginger
  • Water
  • Wine or Mead Yeast
  • Yeast Nutrient

Method for Ancient Mead Recipe

  1. Start the yeast 2 days ahead. Take a sterilised jar and add a tablespoon of honey. Pour on a ¼ pint to ½ pint of boiling water and stir to mix. When cooled to 20°C or below, add the yeast and yeast nutrient. Keep covered but not airtight, a muslin cover affixed with a rubber band or string is ideal.
  2. Wash the herbs under cold running water, place in a saucepan with a pint of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour.
  3. Place the honey in a wine bucket or brewing bin, add about 5 pints of boiling water and then strain the water from the herbs into the bin, stir well and allow to cool.
  4. Once cooled below 20°C add the pre-made yeast starter. Keep covered and stir daily for 3 to 7 days until the rush has died back and fermentation slowed.
  5. Add the spices, mix and pour into a demijohn. Top up as required with cooled boiled water. You will find it easiest to drop the mace blades into the demijohn separately. Fit the airlock and put in to a warm place until the fermentation has slowed to next to nothing.

At this point you have 2 options.

  1. Add a Campden tablet to stop fermentation. Rack off and bottle
  2. Leave in the demijohn with an airlock fitted and serve directly from the demijohn. This is more true to the original recipe and the flavour will mature with the spice flavours coming more to the fore as time goes by.

Mead is best stored for a year prior to drinking. Some prefer to store it for a year in a demijohn and then rack again prior to bottling.

See Also How to Make Mead

Mead Recipes

Posted in Mead & Honey Wine Recipes
4 comments on “Ancient Mead Recipe
  1. Neil Kirby says:

    I am about to brew mead for the first time. Whilst a lot of the instructions you give are very clear, the amount of yeast nutrient to use is not. Can you clarify for me please?

    Kind regards,

    • John Harrison says:

      Yeast nutrient – usually a teaspoon is plenty. You can omit it but I found I generally get better results by using it. Yeast is usually in sachets now and you just use one. Being as yeast is live and doubles every 8 hours or so you can get away with one sachet even for larger brews.

  2. Arda says:

    Sweet briar used in this recipe. Are we talking about rosehips or its flowers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *