Our ArtFrom fermenter to bottle, the art of good mead takes time.
Fermenting to the End
The fermenter typically contains honey, our fresh-pressed apples or water, and any secondary ingredients called for in our mead. For instance, we might add fruits in primary fermentation, depending on the type of mead we’re producing. For our sparkling meads, Pollen Angels, we add the mixers afterwards and ferment our base cyser Queen’s Nectar. For still meads under the Sunset Heights Meadery banner, we aim for a higher ABV more in line with a dessert mead.
It takes time for the mead to ferment — typically between three to six weeks in primary fermentation. The yeast finishes fermenting whenever it wants, and we work around it! Of course, yeast requires nutrients to live, so the first fermentable sugars the yeast consumes is typically the honey or the nutrients we add regularly to make sure they are well fed. We like to compare it to free-range yeast at an all-you-can-eat buffet! Once the yeast has finished fermenting, we wait for it to settle out of the mead and transfer our mead to a secondary container.
Aging Our Meads
In secondary fermentation, we can do a great deal of additional flavouring work, blending, and aging. After the relatively short time spent in fermenters, our mead will spend far longer in secondary fermenters. For our flower meads, for instance, we add our flower petals in secondary. Many fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, wood and tree parts like needles or oak spirals, and so on can be added at this stage.
Just like the yeast tells us when it’s done, the mead will tell us when it’s ready after aging. The longer a mead ages, the more the flavour will change. Some mead is ready after just weeks, and other mead requires months or years to be ready. When the mead tastes ready to us given its additions, we can filter out the other ingredients such as flower petals or spruce tips to allow it to age fully with no more flavour infused from its secondary ingredients.
Our Finished Products
Once the mead has finished aging, the process of bottling it is relatively quick. We filter our mead, if it hasn’t already been filtered, and add minimal sulfites when needed. Often, the process of aging alone will help remaining yeast “crash out” and result in a wonderfully clear mead. We may try blending the mead with other meads or ingredients to see whether we can create any different meads at this stage before settling on a final mead flavor profile, characteristics, and name.
Naming our mead is a process that usually involves everybody brainstorming around a specific theme based on which seasonal meads are being released. Bottling is possible by hand or using our sophisticated bottling machine, and then we create and apply labels before preparing the mead for sale at last!