How To Make Quick Mead The Easy Way

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how-to-make-quick-mead

If you’ve ever been to a Renaissance fair or a craft brewery, you’ve probably sampled some mead – fermented drink made with honey, water, and maybe some fruit. Think wine but with honey instead of grapes. The brewing of mead goes back to ancient times, and is thought to have been brewed before man stumbled on beer and wine.

Making mead at home is very similar to making wine – you mix the ingredients, then walk away for a few months. Come back to bottle it, then let those bottles age for another six months or so. I don’t know about you, but that is just too long for me to wait when I’m wanting to drink some.

So the solution is to brew a short (or quick) mead, which can be imbibed in as little as three weeks. Fruit and spices are added to cover any flaws in mead, making it drinkable sooner. Over time (aging) these flaws would mellow in a regular mead.

You’ll only need two pieces of “hardware” to brew your mead – a jug and a fermentation lock.

I like to use 1-gallon glass jugs that used to hold apple cider, but you could use a 1- or 1/2-gallon plastic milk or water jug just as easily.

The fermentation lock is to allow the carbon dioxide (created as a by-product of fermentation) to escape without letting anything in that could contaminate your brew. You could simply stretch a balloon over the neck of the bottle and “burp” it when it expands too far, but you can buy an actual fermentation lock for as little as $5, so it’s worth it.

The recipe below is actually for a “double helping” (making 1 gallon), so I like to let it go for a full six weeks. If you want to be able to drink you mead in as little as three weeks, then just cut everything in half and only brew 1/2 gallon at a time.

how-to-make-quick-mead

Orange Spiced Quick Mead Recipe

  • 3 lb honey – try orange blossom or clover if you can find it
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 2 dozen raisins (to give the yeast some extra nutrients)
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t allspice
  • 1 package brewing yeast
  • Water (as needed)

If you absolutely have to, you could use 1-2 t of standard bread yeast, but if you can find a brewing yeast you’ll wind up with a better flavor.

Once you’ve obtained your equipment and ingredients, the first step will be to sanitize everything that the mead will touch. You want to kill off any natural yeast or bacteria that is already on your equipment. You can do this by soaking everything for a few minutes in a solution of one tablespoon of bleach per one gallon of water. After everything has soaked, rinse thoroughly and allow everything to air dry – you just killed off any germs, why risk putting them back with a slightly dirty towel?

Alternatively, you can use Starsan to sterilize – this is a no-rinse sanitizer, you use one ounce per five gallons of water. Again, make sure to air dry.

how-to-make-quick-mead

First, prepare your yeast. Heat the orange juice to about 95°F – 100°F, add the yeast, cover the container and shake well.

how-to-make-quick-mead

Leave it loosely capped for about 20-30 minutes and you should see signs of life from the yeast – it should start foaming and bubbling.

how-to-make-quick-mead

While your yeast is waking up, go ahead and pour the honey into your fermentation jug.

how-to-make-quick-mead

You’ll probably have a bit left in the original honey jar, just add some warm water to the jar, shake it up, and pour that into the fermentation jug. Add a little more warm water to the fermentation jug until you have about the same amount of water and honey.

how-to-make-quick-mead

Cap the jug and shake well to mix it. You’ll probably have quite a bit of foam after it’s mixed; that’s ok, it will subside in a little bit.

how-to-make-quick-mead

When the temperature in your fermentation jug has dropped down to no more than 105°F (any hotter and you could kill the yeast), add your spices, raisins, and yeast/oj mixture. Top off the jug with cool water until it is 1″ – 2″ below the top.

Insert the stopper and then the plastic fermentation lock.

how-to-make-quick-mead

Yours may not look exactly like what I’ve pictured, but it should work the same – you insert it into the stopper and add water to a line marked somewhere on the plastic.

how-to-make-quick-mead

If you’re using a balloon, just stretch it over the next of the jug.

Set your jug in a cool, room-temperature area out of direct sunlight. With 2-24 hours, you should see fermentation begin – either some bubbles through your fermentation lock, or the balloon will start to expand.

Over the next few weeks the fermentation will slow down, and most of the solids should settle down into a sediment layer on the bottom.

how-to-make-quick-mead

After about six weeks (three if you’re making the half recipe), your mead is ready to siphon and bottle. You want to try and leave as much of the sediment behind, so you can either pour it very carefully into another container, or use a piece of tubing (like aquarium hose) to siphon it.

how-to-make-quick-mead

A racking cane designed for brewing works the best, but you can get by without it.

how-to-make-quick-mead

Your mead doesn’t need to be crystal clear – if you have a bit of sediment left over, just shake it up before drinking.

You can either store your mead in individual bottles like these swing-top bottles, or just keep it in the fermentation jug. It’s up to you whether you serve it warm or chilled (personally I like mine chilled).

For a little bit more spice, you could add 1-2 cloves at the beginning of the brewing process. Be carefully – one whole clove goes a long way!

Brewing this way will result in a mead that is about 8%-10% alcohol by volume, If you decide to let your mead age even longer, you’ll increase the ABV, and it will become a bit clearer as time goes by.

  • Ross says:

    Could this recipe scale up to four gallons fermented together without lengthening the time it takes? I have a 5 gallon brewing system (primary and secondary with 5 gal. capacity, each), but I would like to get some mead ready for Halloween weekend.

    • Bill Osuch says:

      It would probably be ok in just six weeks, but I would let it go for as long as possible just to be on the safe side. And it wouldn’t hurt to rack it once about 7-10 days before you plan to bottle or serve it, then rack again, to get it nice and clear.

  • JmeadsT says:

    Just a small question when u add spces oj yeast mix and cool water to honey water, do u cap jug and shake at that point? Just a small probably stupid question.

    • Bill Osuch says:

      You can, but it’s really not necessary. When you pour the water in, that’s going to stir things up a bit, and the bubbling from the fermentation will mix even further.

  • Anna says:

    Do you have to use orange juice or would any fruit juice work?

  • Lucy says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe… I wanted to make mead for a weekend in the countryside in November, but didn’t think I had long enough until I found your recipe! Just a quick question… My mead looks like it has a layer of honey on the bottom (it’s been in just over a week). Should I give it a swirl to remix, or leave it as it is? Thank you!

  • Jason Lun says:

    Thanks for the great write-up! Curious, is the orange juice required for anything (perhaps the acid) or is it just for flavoring and can optionally be omitted?

    This will be my first attempt at any type of brewing and I am looking to make a semi-sweet to sweet mead, with a lower alcohol level of ~ 5 – 10%, in the least amount of time. =)

    I am hoping that I can experiment with smaller, half gallon batches of different flavorings to see what I like best, in a moderate amount of time, with low to moderate alcohol percentage.

    How sweet is this one? Is it best if I use the same recipe, cut the fermentation time in half and then kill / crash the yeast somehow?

    Looking to try a bochet mead, oak infused mead, cherry, sweet & lemon/lime flavour and who knows what else, if it works out…

    Cheers!

  • Mike says:

    I’ve been thinking about making mead for some time, and may try your process. I do have a question though, when transferring the mead from one container to the other, could I slowly pour it through something like cheesecloth to filter out the sediment?

  • Phi says:

    Heyo! I’m in the process making this mead, so far so good at a week in! Quick question. Would it be okay to add some gelatin at the 3ish week mark to encourage clearing?

    • Bill Osuch says:

      I’ve never tried it myself, but I know people have good results using gelatin to clear their beer, so it should produce a similar result in mead. I’d give it at least 4 or 5 weeks on it’s own first, though; you may find you don’t need it.

  • Phil says:

    Hi there, I’m in the process of making this mead and at 2 weeks in it appears that fermentation has stopped. Is this normal? The mead looks like it’s starting to become clear.

    • Bill Osuch says:

      It may have stopped, or it could still be going at a really slow pace. Either way, as long as you saw activity at the beginning, everything is probably going fine. A few more weeks and it should be nice and clear and ready to bottle!

  • Mike says:

    I have a gallon brewing now it reacted quick 2 hours after adding the yeast and oj it damn near foamed over should be a tasty mead

  • Kayla Hackney says:

    I noticed you said the juice is for acidity and flavor, to cover flaws. We want to try a few variations. Orange, Cherry (as recommend) what should we look for in our third flavor juice? Also could we substitute the spices with maybe an Apple Pie/Pumpkin Pie and add vanilla? Sorry for all the questions this will be our first time. Trying for Christmas gifts. Planning on doing 1/2 batches for the 3 weeks, but want to bottle at 5 weeks. Thanks in advance =)

  • Rob says:

    I’m on my third batch of mead. My second batch, I left for 10 weeks and it was crystal clear and tasted better than the first batch. This time I’m splitting the batch into two, adding a clove to the mix of one and 2 cloves to the other. Next time I’ll try the cherry juice, would you recommend any other flavoured juice to try? Cheers for the recipe.

  • Michel says:

    Does it make a difference wether the honey used is pasteurized?

  • Fred says:

    I’ve been looking into brewing mead for a couple days now, and this recipe seems pretty similar to most other recipes, with the obvious difference being time required.

    Does it shorten fermentation time by using non-heated honey, or is the trick really all in just “masking” an un-aged mead with spices? Most other places I’ve seen also do a rack after 4-6 weeks, but then they let it sit for another 2 months after that, and up to 6 months in the bottle. Is that possible with this as well, or would that defeat the purpose of adding cinnamon and allspice in the first place?

    At any rate, thanks for the recipe and article. I’ll be making both this and a “regular” long-term mead.
    Cheers!

    • Bill Osuch says:

      The longer you can let it sit, the more mellow the flavors are going to be, and the better it’s going to get. You can age this variety if you like, with or without the spices – you’ll still be able to taste them in an aged mead. Best thing to do is just experiment!

  • Cody says:

    Hi, I was wondering just how much yeast I should add to my half gallon brew. My mead yeast package says it is good for up to 23L of liquid, is it a waste to use the entire package for such a small batch? And if so, how much yeast exactly should I add? Thank you for the recipe!

    • Bill Osuch says:

      23 liters is about 6 gallons, so I’m assuming you have one of the liquid packets. You could in theory use 1/12 of the package for your half gallon, but then you have to store the remainder, and you run the risk of it dying off. If you’re not planning on using the rest pretty soon, you may be better off (money wise…) just saving that package and picking up a smaller package of dry brewing yeast.

  • Nicholas A. Lilli says:

    Theory…the longer you ferment or leave the mead in the gallon container before bottling the better it gets? Can I leave it in longer than 6 weeks and what will happen to it if left longer than the recommended time?

    • Bill Osuch says:

      It’s not necessarily leaving in the fermentation vessel, it’s just letting it age so that the flavors can mellow. In fact, if you leave it in the vessel with all the yeast settled on the bottom for a long time (more than 2-3 months), it may take on an off flavor. If you’re going to let it sit, then you’re going to want to rack it to get it off the yeast “sludge”.

  • teresa olofson says:

    im looking for something i can drink as quick as possible
    and i mean quick not interested in the alcohol just want something with the healthy probiotic

  • Kieran says:

    Hi, is there a specific measurement for the OJ?

  • Ronnie wright says:

    hello thanks for all the info, I ‘am going o try and make some mead. I just tried some with ginger. How much ginger should I use in a 1 gal jug. ?

    • Bill Osuch says:

      It depends on whether you want this closer to a mead or a ginger beer. 2 1/2 pounds of ginger per gallon will make it a strong ginger brew, but you can use less to make it more of a mead.

  • Steve Hunt says:

    Hiya,Hope you are all well.
    I am a big fan of mead and seeing your quick recipe, has put a bit of sunshine back in my life. (sad really, lol)
    I have decided to try your recipe with black cherry.
    Thank you.

  • Melissa says:

    Hello!
    I’m new to making mead, but your recipe looks delicious! I have a food grade 20 gallon barrel. Will this recipe work if adjusted accordingly to make 20 gallons? I’d also like to use fruit, what is your opinion on that?

    Any tips or info is greatly appreciated.

    • Bill Osuch says:

      Yes, you can adjust upwards, but I would hesitate to commit to a 20 gallon batch until you’re sure you like the recipe.

      As for adding fruit, it’s very common – a fruit mead is know as a melomel. You can add it during the first or second fermentation.

  • Kaitlin says:

    What makes the fermentation process stop? If I bottle it isn’t the yeast just going to continue to ferment and make it stronger?

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