Batch size: 5 gallons (19 liters)
15 lb (6.8 kg) orange-blossom honey
4 gallons (15.1 liters) water
2 tsp (10 ml) yeast nutrient (Fermaid O or similar)
1 tsp (5 ml) yeast energizer
2 packets (10 g) Lalvin 71B-1122 Dry Wine (or suitable dry white-wine yeast)
Combine the honey and water. If you are heating the must, bring 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water to a boil and remove it from the heat, then add the honey and remaining water and stir before transferring to a sanitized fermentor. If not heating, add water to a sanitized bucket and stir in the honey to dissolve, then transfer to a sanitized fermentor.
Once the must reaches room temperature, pitch the yeast, add nutrient and energizer, and stir. Oxygenate thoroughly, either through agitation/stirring or bubbling oxygen through the must via a sintered stone or aquarium pump.
Hold the temperature at 68°F (20°C) for 2 weeks—if using a staggered-nutrient addition (SNA) method, add according to your schedule. (For more about SNA, see “Mad for Mead, Part 2” on beerandbrewing.com.) If refrigeration is not available, place the fermentor in a cool spot with steady temperatures (such as a basement or closet). When activity in the airlock has ceased, transfer to a second vessel for continued clarifying and conditioning. When the mead clears (about 2 more weeks), adjust the acidity and/or tannins to taste, and transfer to bottles. Age 6–9 months before drinking.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Find a reputable honey supplier to ensure that you get the full expression of this mead. Orange-blossom honey is remarkably aromatic, with floral and fruity flavors abounding. Sanitize everything and remember that time is your friend: Mead, unlike beer, will generally improve with age. Give your yeast plenty of time to ferment the must into mead and allow plenty of time for clarifying and conditioning.
Finally, the gravities listed above are approximate. Specific sugar content in honey is variable, so your starting gravity may be as many as 10 points higher or lower than noted here.