The first Mead Day was celebrated in 2002 as a way for homebrewers to spread the mead love. It was first organized by the American Homebrewers Association, who still selects the Official Mead Day recipe that homebrewers across the country make on the first Saturday in August each year.
The original intent of mead day was to give meadmakers an excuse to share their craft with friends and fellow brewers, but things in the mead industry have changed quite a lot since 2002. Craft commercial mead is much easier to come by, so if you can’t (or don’t want to) make mead, chances are you’ll be able to pick some up. There are also many local Mead Day get-togethers happening around the country, so search for “Mead Day” on Facebook to see if there are any events in your neck of the woods.
This year’s AHA Mead Day recipe is a traditional semi-sweet blueberry, but we’ve also found a few ways to enjoy blueberries and mead without coming anywhere near an airlock.
How to Brew Blueberry Mead
This is an adaptation of the recipe that took home a gold medal at the 2015 National Homebrew Competition, so you know it’s gotta be good. Although, to be fair, it’s not blueberry mead the way you might immediately think – it’s not a melomel, meaning it’s not a fruit mead, so any fruit flavor comes exclusively from the blueberry honey.
This recipe won’t make a purple or deep blue mead like a blueberry melomel, it’ll be golden in color like a traditional mead. It will make 5 gallons, so make sure you can get your hands on a 6 gallon carboy, a fermentation bucket, an autosiphon, a funnel, and an airlock that will fit your carboy. If this is your first time, consider this an important investment in your new hobby, as you’ll be using this equipment constantly from now on.
- 16 lbs of blueberry honey (or any other honey you prefer if you can’t access or afford blueberry)
- Yeast nutrient (use according to package directions – original recipe calls for Fermaid O after fermentation begins & Go-Ferm when rehydrating yeast)
- 2 packets of yeast (the original recipe calls for Lalvin 71B-1122 dry yeast – champagne yeast will also work. The original recipe also calls for 1 packet, but I typically use 2 for a 5-gallon.)
- 5.5 gallons of spring, filtered, or reverse osmosis water
Sanitize all equipment.
Rehydrate yeast in a small bowl with lukewarm water for 15-30 minutes until active. While the yeast is coming to life, add honey and water to your bucket, stir until fully mixed, and add to carboy. Add your yeast nutrient after 24 hours, then after about 2 weeks. Pitch (add) rehydrated yeast to your carboy. Attach the airlock, and let it ferment for 30 days. The original recipe calls for it to be kept at 60 degrees during primary fermentation, but that may not be possible in your home, so allow it to ferment in a room temperature area in the dark.
Once the airlock is relatively still, siphon from the middle of the carboy (avoid kicking up or adding dead yeast from the bottom) into your bucket. Give your carboy a rinse with spring water to get rid of the lees (the dead yeast on the bottom). Using a funnel, pour your mead back into your carboy for secondary fermentation.
Allow it to remain in secondary for 5 months. Drink and/or bottle for aging.
The original recipe calls for forced carbonation, which isn’t something a beginning meadmaker would be able to do, so unless you’re equipped with a keg system, your mead will be still. If you’d like to carbonate in the bottle, you can add a little priming sugar (usually corn sugar, but you can use honey or white sugar) but make sure you know what you’re doing so you don’t create an exploding bottle bomb.
Too much work – I’ll just make a blueberry mead cocktail.
Don’t want to plunk down all that cash to make your own mead? That’s fine – just grab some local commercial craft mead and mix it up.
- Your favorite sparkling commercial mead
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
Make a puree from the blueberries, water, and sugar by adding them all to a saucepan, bringing to a simmer, and allowing to mingle for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the puree to cool.
Add 2 ounces of blueberry puree to 3 ounces of chilled mead (or use your AleHorn with a few ice cubes) and drink up.
Still too much work? Blueberry jam would work just fine. Try adding a bit of lime juice to cut the sweetness.
Are you harboring an even more impressive amount of laziness? Just use some blueberry juice.
I like this, but I just want to drink some mead.
I like your style. Get straight to the drinking!
If you can find mead near you, which has become noticeably easier even in the last year, you can thank the good folks who started this whole thing in the first place. As you relax on Saturday with your ambrosia, toss up a quick skål for the guys and gals who’ve been perfecting the mead craft since 2002 (and in many cases even earlier).
Use the internets to see what you can get your hands on in your neck of the woods, with bonus points for finding some blueberry mead to keep with this year’s Mead Day theme. Do your mead thing however you like – just don’t forget to celebrate Mead Day on the first Saturday of August each year.
Have a recipe you’re going to brew on Saturday? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!