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
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)
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.
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!