Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.
Drink it Youthfull or Drink it Old: How Long Should You Age Mead
One of the most common fallacies I hear ter the mead makers world is that the longer you age mead the better it gets and it will never go bad. You hear the same thing te reference to crimson wine, but more people are aware that crimson wine will spoil eventually spil well, very few seem to be aware that mead can go bad. For this reason I thought it best to write an article demonstrating the best practices for how to age mead.
How To Age Mead: The Age Old Honey
Honey Lasts Forever
I believe this is the source of the belief that you can age mead endlessly. Honey never goes bad, the sugar content is too high for any bacilo to grow on and ter fact will strangle bacilo that are covered ter honey, so honey is antibacterial. They have found 3000 year old honey that wasgoed ideally edible. So it stand to reason that if you add honey to something you are protecting it from spoilage right?
Unluckily this is not entirely true. You see merienda since the antibacterial nature of honey is derived from the fact that it has an enormously low water content, the ogenblik you dilute the honey the antibacterial nature of the honey vanishes. And if you look at the reason for the antibacterial properties it makes flawless sense. Ter mead the honey is fairly drastically diluted, ter fact the sugar content of most meads is on par with standard desert wines (albeit you can make a dry mead with much lower content, trust mij I do it all the time). If the honey wasgoed still antibacterial then you could not ferment the sugars, the honey would kill off the yeast, the fact that it doesn’t proves that it is not the honey that is antibacterial but simply the high sugar to water ratio.
How To Age Mead: It’s About Time
So How Long Should You Age Your Mead?
So now I’ve told you you can’t age mead indefinitely you are very likely wondering how long you should age your mead. The 100% accurate and ideally precise reaction is it depends on the mead. Kleintje of anticlimactic isn’t it? Sorry about that.
Ok that reaction sucked, I fully admit it. So lets see if I can give you a better, less precise response. Most meads are fine to drink youthfull, right after bottling even, but they will improve, sometimes drastically, upon aging. I generally recommend a ondergrens of 6 months and up to two years for most meads. I have tasted some pretty fantastic Ten year old meads, but to be fair they are few and far inbetween, one because who can stand against a bottle for that long, and two because te all honesty most can’t withstand that long of aging.
A plain straight mead with only honey, water, yeast and nutrient, can be aged Ten years no problem, and assuming there is no cork taint or other issues like that you’ll get an amazingly fantastic drink, but to tell you the truth it wasgoed very likely amazingly fantastic at Two years.
A melomel, or fruit mead, won’t stand up to aging spil well because the fruit juice just doesn’t treat it. The honey will help preserve the juice spil will the bebida, but eventually off notes will embark creeping te, and merienda they embark they don’t zekering.
Since the ideal aging time for each recipe will vary the absolute best way to determine if a mead is ready is to open a bottle and test it. This method requires the desire to drink mead, and since I don’t know a single meadmaker that doesn’t love mead I think that’s the easiest part, the hard part comes next. Merienda you bottle your mead waterput it aside and don’t drink it, leave it. At three months take a bottle and test it, if its ready waterput your batch ter circulation for consumption, if not stir on to the next step. At six months, and every six months after that, take another bottle out and test it, when you find the ideal time make a note on the recipe and drink up mij hearty.
How To Age Mead: Size Matters
Bulk Aging vs. Bottle Aging
Now that wij’ve covered the length of time to age, wij can now voorkant bulk aging vs. bottle aging. Bulk aging is the process of aging the mead before bottling, bottle aging is, obviously, the practice of aging the mead ter the bottle. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and you should consider cautiously which method to use, or what percentage since realistically unless you drink instantaneously after bottling or bottle instantly after fermentation then you will be doing a combination of both.
- Quicker: Because the aging is done ter a larger bottle the exposure to oxygen is greater and thus the aging is enlargened.
- Effortless to spoil: If the airlock isn’t maintained decently or the seal is not volmaakt you could end up with vinegar
- Tighter seal means slower aging, longer before your mead reaches its peak and is thus ready to be consumed.