Recipe Box: Vanilla Bean Chamomile Mead

 

When I started making infused honey years ago, the very first and most favorite of my herbal flavors was Vanilla Bean Chamomile Honey. So naturally, when I began to use the infused honeys to make gallon batches of mead, that delicious, heart-lifting combination was one of my honey wine experiments. And oh, I’m so glad that I gave it a try…

This recipe assumes that you have basic brewing knowledge and equipment at hand. Need some tips to help get you started? Check out my page on brewing one gallon batches of wine and mead here!


vanilla bean chamomile mead by pixiespocket.com

Vanilla Bean Chamomile Mead

Ingredients

1 gallon of water (filtered is best, or anything non-chlorinated)

3-4 lbs local honey (about 4 cups)

One heaping handful of Chamomile Flowers (probably about 1/2 cup)

One Vanilla Bean, split

1/2 packet of yeast (champagne yeast for dry, sweet wine or mead yeast for a sweeter result, or a pinch of bread yeast will work)


Procedure

Grab a large stockpot and add about 2/3 of a gallon of water. Allow it to come to a boil.

While the water is heating, use the time to sanitize your gallon carboy, airlocks, bungs, and funnel with a store-bought sanitizer, or a bleach and water mix. Make sure you rinse everything well with clean water before using.

When the water is at a steady, rolling boil, remove it from heat and add in the chamomile and give it a stir. Cover the pot and let it sit for about ten minutes.

Uncover the pot, pour in the honey and stir it until it is all mixed. Think happy thoughts and enjoy the scent!

Using a funnel, pour the wort (flowers and all) into the sanitized gallon jug. Split the vanilla bean and drop it into the jub.

Pour in the rest of the cold filtered water to bring the liquid up to the neck of the jug to help cool it off a bit. 

Once the jug has cooled to room temperature, add the yeast and top it all off with an airlock.

Label the jug with the brew name and date and set it aside somewhere out of direct sunlight, and let it do the fermenting magic until it is done. Check the airlock and watch how often it bubbles. You can tell it is done when the bubbles have stopped and the mead has cleared.




Racking, Backsweetening, Bottling

When the fermentation seems complete, you can taste the mead, or just go ahead and bottle it as is.  To taste the mead, remove the airlock and use a sanitized straw to taste a bit of the mead (don’t backwash from your mouth back into the mead! Ew!)

If your mead is too dry for your tastes and needs more sweetness, make a simple syrup from either honey or sugar. Make sure the syrup is warm, but not hot, so that it will blend easily. Add somewhere between a quarter and half cup of your sweetener into a clean, sanitized carboy and rack the mead over onto it.

Put a clean, sanitized airlock on the newly sweetened mead and let it sit for another week or two, just in case the sugar kick-started any residual yeasts back into gear. Once you are confident that the fermentation is done, prepare to bottle the mead.

You can use all kinds of bottles. For gallon mead batches, I tend to use a combination of grolsch swingtop bottles and standard beer bottles and caps since I have those around. You’ll get a six-pack or so of regular beer bottles.


 

Tasting

Oh. This mead is so, so very good. This combination is one of my favorites! The flavor is rich with the notes of vanilla, the chamomile flowers add a bit of fruity bitterness all their own, and they lend this mead a strong body. This is a mead that is at it’s best on the sweet end of the spectrum. It just rolls over the tongue like a dream…*happy sigh*

I will most definitely make this recipe again, and most likely in a 5 gallon batch!

16 Comments

    1. Catherine, thanks for your question! Fermentation time varies depending on the temperature, the kind of yeast, the amount of sugar and such. Just keep an eyes on it, and watch the bubbles in the airlock blurping away. When they stop bubbling, consider bottling your mead, or if you are afraid that it isn’t done, you can “rack” it into a new jug to get it off of the old yeasts and see if it is still going.

      All that being said, for one gallon batches it can take anywhere from a month to three months, although I’ve been lazy and let some sit for even longer.
      If you want, you can visit my one gallon mead and wine page for more details and a few videos! http://pixiespocket.com/one-gallon-mead-recipes

      Enjoy brewing! Holler if you have any more questions and I’ll do my best to help!

      1. Thank you, Amber! I’m very excited. My husband and I brewed this recipe today along with a Scotch “60 Shilling” Ale. The Shilling should be ready for Saint Patrick’s Day. The mead is wedding present for our friends who are getting married in July.

        I will certainly follow your page. Also, I just started a twitter where I’ll be posting my brewing projects as well as beer and mead finds. @craftbeerkitty

  1. Thanks! Do you have a mead yeast you typically use? I’ve used champagne for a dry mead, but I’d like a bit sweeter result with this one.

    1. Oh, I use all sorts of yeasts! Champagne yeast makes the mead too dry for my tastes, too. Both Wyest and WhiteLabs put out tubes of “sweet mead yeast” that is excellent, but they’re sized for 5 gallon batches. I use a third of the tube in a one gallon batch, and will try to make three different brews at once to use up the whole tube! Bread yeast tends to be very active and makes dry meads, too. Wild yeast is a gamble, unless you work with a specific strain that you’ve isolated.

      Have fun, y’all!

  2. I’m making a 5 gallon batch. It’s been in about two weeks now. When do you rack to secondary. And when you do, do you transfer the tea leaves and vanilla beans?

    1. I’ll usually strain out the chunks when I rack it over to aid in the clearing process, but I have left it in before a time or two. It makes for a bit more of a bitter brew to leave in these particular herbs!

      1. Thanks! I’m aiming for a sweeter tone batch this time around. I’ll rack now. I’d imagine the bitterness comes from the chamomile. Do you recommend transferring the vanilla beans into the secondary?

        1. I don’t see why not! The chamomile definitely contributes to the bitter…the vanilla pods add their own tannin qualities, though! πŸ™‚ I bet it’ll be delicious, Ron.

  3. 1) what ratios would you use to make larger batches or possibly even smaller ones. (1 part x to 2 parts y) sorta thing.
    2) if you use less honey in a one gallon batch say two lbs would that affect the fermentation time?

    1. I am so sorry for my delay in responding – I didn’t get notification of your comment for some reason!

      As far as smaller batches, I mostly just experiment. I sometimes use wide mouth canning jars with an airlock lid to make small wine batches. I use about a cup of sugar for really sweet stuff, sometimes less based on the herb or fruit I’m using.

      Most of the other sized recipes you’ll see out there are for 5 gallon batches, which is why I started this collection of small one gallon batch recipes. If you use less honey, you’ll end up with less alcohol, and so yes, less fermentation time but also less booze! πŸ™‚

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