Thursday, October 20, 2011
To bottle you will need:
2-3 cases Grolsh style bottles- sterilized
6 ft plastic tubing
a five gallon bucket with a spigot at the bottom -the priming bucket
1/4 cup priming sugar boiled in 1 cup non-chlorinated water for 5 min.
a bottling wand
Sterilize all your equipment. (Refer to Mead and a Story About Urban Foraging for directions on how to sterilize and the first steps in making mead.)
Let the sugar mixture cool to room temperature. Add to the sterilized priming bucket. Make sure the spigot is closed. Siphon the mead into the priming bucket and give it a little swirl to mix. At this point, the mead is alcoholic but not carbonated. The priming sugar will ferment in time and carbonate the mead. You can skip the priming sugar if you like, but I think it adds a nice sparkle and cuts some of the cloying sweetness that can come with mead.
Set the priming bucket up on a counter. Attach the bottling wand to the tubing and the tubing to the spigot. Set your bottles on the floor. I like to lay down a couple of towels first. It can get messy. You'll have onion peels sticking to your floor for weeks if you're not careful. Open the spigot. The mead will begin to fill the tube. Insert the bottling wand into a bottle. Touch the tip of the wand to the bottom of the bottle. A small piece of plastic inside the wand will move away and release the mead. Ingenious little contraption. When the mead fills the bottle all the way to the top, remove the wand. This should give it enough head room for fermenting. Repeat with the remaining bottles. Snap all the bottles shut. LABEL IT with the date and content. I have had many an evening staring at bottles in the cellar trying to remember what was what.
Move the bottles to a cool but not freezing location. The bottom of a hall closet, a basement, or a cellar would work. Don't put it directly on a cold cement floor and don't put it in a garage that freezes or the temperature fluctuates in. Too cold and it won't ferment. Don't put it on the top shelf of your coat closet. Too hot and it could explode alcoholic honey and glass all over your wool coat and moon boots. I shoot for around 62 degrees.
Now for the hard part. You need to wait. A good 3 months, but 5 months would be better. I suggest you open a bottle after 3 months and taste it. Then open one in 5 months. Then 7. See what you think. The flavor will change as time goes on. Hide a couple bottles from yourself. You don't want one of those regretful nights where you run out of beer and your stash of too young mead proves too tempting.
The anticipation is part of the fun. Enjoy it.