When I got married, my wife and I were not super particular about many things. All we really cared about was having good food, good music, good friends, and good drink. Trillium Brewery had us covered for the delicious farmhouse beer, but of course it fell to me to make to mead for the toast. Mead has a history of being associated with weddings, but lately has been pushed aside by champagne as the toast of choice. It’s coming back in a big way though. If you are making mead for your celebration, check out my tips for serving mead at a wedding (from my experience doing so).
Since I was having a Vermont wedding, I decided to make a sparkling acerglyn, a maple syrup mead. It was quite well received, here is the recipe for a 5 gallon batch, which should be enough for about 150 toasting glasses.
- 5 gal water
- 10 lbs Wildflower Honey
- 5 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- 1 packet Red Star Cote des Blancs Yeast
- 1 Medium Toast American Oak Spiral
- 64 oz (1/2 Gal) Grade B Vermont Maple Syrup
- 3/4 cup Corn Sugar
- In a large brew pot, simmer 3 gallons of water.
- Remove pot from heat and add 10 lbs honey and 32 oz maple syrup and 3 tsp yeast nutrient. Stir until fully dissolved.
- Rehydrate the yeast in a sanitized cup, and cover.
- Add the must to a 6 gal primary fermenter along with 2 gal cold water. Aerate it, and pitch the yeast.
- Seal fermentor with airlock and store in a dark place at a temperature of about 70 degrees.
- After 3 days, add 1 tsp yeast nutrient and aerate do this again after another 3 days.
- After another week, add the remaining 32 oz of maple syrup and aerate.
- Wait another week, then with a siphon, re-rack the mead into a sanitized 5 gallon carboy. Add the Oak Spiral.
- After another 3 weeks, re-rack, then let age for 2 months.
- Dissolve the corn sugar in 2 cup warm water, add to carboy, and stir lightly.
- Fill sanitized bottles and let age for 4 months or more until your big celebration!
I have made a similar fermented beverage but with 2 gallons of Vermont maple syrup and no honey. I didn’t add the oak but was thinking of it in my next batch. I also make mine still and find that it ages wonderfully! I have a question about making mead sparking, I brew a lot of beer and naturally carbonate as you describe. With beers the if the small amount of sediment gets roused when pouring the flavor blends with the beer, but with meads I find the yeast flavor clashes with the mead. This is espceially true with lighter flavored and bodied meads. Therefore, I have been force carbonating my meads, ciders and wines because of this. I am now wondering if I need to use a yeast with better floculation or if I could add something to the mead at bottling to ensure the yeast stays in the bottle. I’m not worried about it with my personal consumption as much as situations where I am not pouring the bottle.
Forced carbonation definitely works with mead, but a lot of people don’t have the capabilities to do this, which is why i suggest bottle carbonation. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know of a good/easy way to keep the little bit of sediment from the carbonated mead aside from a steady pour.
It’s not that big an issue for recipes like a saison mead or a super hopped mead but you’re right, the lighter meads will be slightly affected by the dead yeast.
you can add some hydrated gelatin at the same time as your sugar prior to botling,it works quite well.
I just saw your recipe. Have you ever done this as a still mead. I’m assuming you would just skip steps 10 and 11 to go that route. Looking forward to trying this!
Thats exactly right Jason – goodluck, would love to hear how it comes out
I made it as a still Mead, and after a year and a half, I can say it’s excellent.
It’s dry, but the sweetness of the honey, still comes trough as an after tone.
It almost tastes abut sweet, but it’s just the honey and maple taste.
I tried it at the one year mark, and it wasn’t very good yet.
So, I’m on my third iteration of the recipe. My first attempt was good, but too dry, although it maintained a wisp of the maple syrup (I went with Grade B). I also opted to use a mesquite honey. My second attempt included a medium toast oak spiral that sat in Evan Williams bourbon for a month and then a month in secondary. Still a bit dry, but pleasant. I’m on my third batch. I let a bourbon-soaked spiral sit for a month in secondary. Just tasted it and it was a bit too oaky so I back-sweetened with mesquite honey and grade B maple syrup and then added another bourbon-soaked spiral for just a week to see if it imparts more bourbon. Each progression of the recipe seems to get a little better!
I am considering making this acerglyn soon. Do you think Lalvin 1116 or D47 would work for this?
The one thing I question is adding simple yeast nutrient on the third day and again on the sixth. I think it is much better to do the typical staggered nutrient addition (SNA); make a blend of 1 tsp. Fermaid-K and 2 tsp. of DAP (diammonium phosphate), and then add to the mead as follows:
.75 tsp. when making the must
.75 tsp. 24 hours after fermentation begins
.75 tsp. 48 hours after fermentation begins
.75 tsp. when 30% of the sugar has been fermented.
In addition, stir the mead at least twice a day (if not three times a day) for the first six or seven days to aerate the must but more importantly to degass CO2 buildup in solution. Be careful of course, to stir *very* slowly at first to keep foaming to a minimum, otherwise you’ll end up with a mess! Do not stir at all once one third-to-one-half of the sugar has been fermented, at that point you do not want any additional oxygen contact.
Thanks for the great insight!
Thanks for the great blog! :o)
Sounds like an interesting recipe. Do you have any recorded O.G and F.G?
Unfortunately I do not have the OG and FG. Next time I make it, i’ll have to get the numbers. Sorry!
I followed this recipe last night and the must was 1.070 at 94F, so adjusted for temperature it would be 1.073 OG. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!
Hello, I am making this mead, but not sure about the corks to use. Should I use just normal corks? Arent they going to explode with the carbonation created by the added sugar?
I used crown caps
Do you think will be okay with corks?
If one were to use two 10 litre carboys (2,64 gallons), would you advise to make two musts and therefore use two packets of yeast? I sadly do not have a cooking pot (to split it afterwards) or carboy large enough to make the recipe as given.
And which amount of oak chips would you advise as a replacement? In Europe they sell no cubes or spirals.
First I would like to say this looks amazing and I plan to start a batch as soon as I am able (along with the blueberry melomel) but I had a few questions. First off is a sanitiation question, I have never used wood in my brewing does it need sanitized? If so how? And I saw a question about corks where you said you use crown corks. Is it recommended not to use standard corks? Thanks in advance for the advice.
As far as the wood sanitizing goes, I dropped a chunk of my medium toast oak stave(about 3/4″ by 3″) in some cheap vodka for about 12 hours. This sanitizes and, I think, prepares the wood a bit. I then dropped that in a one gallon batch of blueberry vanilla that I was preparing to bottle in one week. Having no idea how long it is too long I wanted to make sure it didn’t sit on the oak for too long. Once it’s “overoaked” I think the mead is cooked. Chips differ as they transfer flavor more quickly and powerfully but they are pretty one dimensional in character and sanitizing would probably be a quicker process as well. I’ve also read that some temp change while the oak is in there can be helpful to draw the mead into and drive it out of the wood. The key is some oak/vanilla/toast in the finish, but not in the nose.
I’ve used oak chips when making wine with great success. 1 campden tablet per gallon makes a good bisulfite sanitizing solution. Add chips and mix around for 15 – 30 seconds. Fish ’em out add add to your wine, mead, etc. No need to soak because all you need is to get rid of the bad microbes on the surface.
Looks like an awesome recipe, going to try it this weekend. I had one question – on step 9 when you re-rack before aging 2 months, do you leave the oak spiral in the old carboy and let it age without it from here on (so total of just 3 weeks of contact with the oak spiral)?
Hey RJ. I just left it in for the 3 weeks for a more mild oak flavor. But if you are interested in getting more of that earthiness from the oak – feel free to transfer it over into the other carboy for extended oaking.
Would love to hear how it comes out!
Awesome, thanks for the reply!
Is it supposed to be completely clear, before adding the corn sugar? Mine is still cloudy.
Curious why specifically ‘corn’ sugar? Beet or sugar cane don’t work?
I’ve used cane sugar as well with similar results. I find corn sugar dissolves a little easier.
I have one question. What is the final volume of this in the 6.5 gallon carboy? Seems like half gallon of syrup, 5 gallons of water, and plus the volume of the honey (approximately 5/6 a gallon more) would end up somewhere a bit under 6.3 gallons total? Or am I supposed to only add water up to 5 gallons total volume in step 4? It seems pretty clear to just add in 2, just wanna make sure that the final volume is actually higher then 5 gallons. Planning on making it this week so I just want to make sure that i don’t screw it up somehow by having it too dilute.
Hey did you make it? How did it taste? The must that is!
This sounds awesome. Thank you for posting it. Quick question: I brew apple ciders but have been thinking about trying a mead, and I’m wondering if a mead can be made as simply as a cider (where you just combine juice, yeast, and extra sugar, if needed, and ferment). Why can’t you mix all the honey and syrup and water together, add the yeast, and start fermenting? Why the multiple stage process of adding yeast and sugars and aerating? Thanks!
The thing with meads, and anyone can correct me if I’m wrong, when by staggering out when the ingredients are added changes the amount of flavour a day texture that comes out at the end.
In adding the syrup twice you will have from the first a lighter background taste and the second is to give it a stronger maple flavour because it is not attacked as much by the yeasts.
Aeration helps the yeast get oxygen to facilitate the fermentation process, it’s not required but it does help. You can make mead by just adding the ingredients and pitching yeast.
Great recipe thanks, planning to try it shortly. Can I simply halve everything to make a half batch?
So, two weeks after pitching the yeast you aerate and add the last bit of maple syrup?
I thought you weren’t supposed to aerate after the first week of nutrient addition? That is post 1/3 sugar break?
After the second Maple Syrup addition, are you waiting for fermentation to stop at that point before racking or should fermentation be complete prior to racking and adding the oak spiral? Can’t wait to try this!
I will be making this very soon as I have 12 gallons of other meads in my closet. The life of a single father when his kids are at their moms. Where do I get the spiral oak? Is it just in the primary or secondary. I probably got excited and over read that. Oh do you have a cyzer recipe?
Do you stabilize the mead with sorbate and sulphites before adding the corn sugar? Wouldn’t stabilizing stop carbonation?
no & yes
What was the OG and FG?
We have followed the recipe to the letter and are delighted with progress so far. Our next step will be to add the corn sugar to carbonate the mead in bottles. What type of bottles and bottle tops do you recommend? We were going to use beer bottles with metal caps – or the Grolsch swing top type bottles – just looking for re-assurance as we really want this to work!
I would recommend going with beer bottles and crown caps.
This article should help you decide what capping is right!
I want to try this for my wedding but I was late to come up with the idea. The wedding is in 3 months. What would the taste be like after only 3 months from beginning the process (so probably 2 months of aging)?
Weird question, but would wood chips, like used for smoking do the same job as the infusion spirals?
They should work just fine!
I find the spirals are just easier and cleaner to manage.
I love this, just doing some research on making pure maple aceglyn. So what if you reversed the measurements on the honey and the maple to make a more pure maple mead?
Would you happen to have a 1 gallon comparable recipe for this? I love the sound of this recipe but I am just starting out with mead and want to do a smaller batch. Thanks!
I’ve done a few iterations of this recipe. It’s not quite dialed-in, but it’s getting closer to my taste. I did a 1 gallon bourbon-soaked acerglyn in 2018 – maybe I’ll pop one of my remaining bottles this winter.
I used 1/2 packet of EC-118 with 3lbs of Trader Joe’s Mesquite Honey and 1lb. of Grade B VT. Maple Syrup at primary. OG was 1.098. I topped off to a little more over a gallon (I like the litte bigmouth bubbler’s so I essentially top up to shoulders. I left it in primary for about a month and then in secondary I added potassium sorbate and let it rest for a couple days and then added; medium toast oak spiral pre-soaked for a few weeks in Evan Williams Bourbon; Replaced spiral with another soaked spiral two weeks later and added 1/2 cup honey and 3/4 maple syrup (was very dry prior to doing this). Too sweet – added re-soaked spirals and a full oak spiral on 11/20. I found that it fermented quite dry at primary. My recommendation, whether you use a bourbon-soaked spiral or just a toasted spiral is be patient and conservative as you backsweeten.