I'm jumping the gun a bit here since I haven't posted photos of how Vija and I harvested honey from our beehive, but none the less.
About two weeks ago I picked up a book called The Complete Meadmaker along with some additional brew equipment since my friend Chris had given me some as a gift. Just to clarify, mead is basically honey wine. It was the preferred drink of the vikings and is thought to be one of if not the oldest fermented beverage on earth. People have been making it for at least 9,000 years.
I decided on two 1-gallon batches of traditional sweet mead. I opted for a method that involves no heating. It can be risky in that wild yeast could take over the fermentation, but 80% of brewing beer/mead is sterilizing everything, so it shouldn't be a problem.
The ingredients are:
3 or 2.2 pounds of honey - in this case south side of Chicago unpasteurized wildflower
1/2 pouch of Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast
1/2 gram of Wyeast yeast nutrient
Filtered water to fill up the rest of the 1 gallon carboy
The only equipment needed was a few 1 gallon glass carboys; a hydrometer; a hydrometer beaker; some airlocks and rubber stoppers, and eventually I'll need a siphon hose; capper/corker; caps/corks; etc.
Obviously I'm running it as a bit of an experiment. The IV is the amount of honey added. One batch got 3 pounds of honey while the other got 2.2 pounds. The idea is that, according to the book, every 0.2 lbs. honey/gal of must (that's the honey water mixture that ferments into mean) you get roughly 1% ABV (alcohol by volume).
The water honey mix.
Mixing and aeration is supposedly key to the initial steps of fermentation.
A hydrometer tells you how dense your must is. 1.000 is water. If something has a specific gravity (SG) of 1.11 as in this case then it is 11% heavier than water. Water being 8.33 lbs/gallon that makes this about 9.25 lbs/gallon. When it's done fermenting it should have a SG reading of around 1.0 again. They should finish in the 10-15% ABV range; I'm not very experienced so we'll see. Sweet meads tend to be less alcoholic
This is the fermenting must two weeks in. The one on the left is the 3 lbs and the right is the 2.2 lbs. The fermentation took about 48 hours to really pick up and the airlocks on top have been busy ever since giving off CO2.