Justified Derby Day Dandelion Mead (and a blood orange mead)

I’ve been brewing for about 5 years and for some reason I just realized how easy meads were to make last year. There’s no boil, no hopping (well, maybe for some meads like Viking’s Blood), and it’s a really fast process. My first mead was a blood orange vanilla called “Blood of my Enemies.” It. Was. Amazing. (Skip down a paragraph for basic mead recipe, skip to the bottom for the Blood of My Enemies and Justified Derby Day Dandelion recipes).

If you want a recipe, here’s one: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/basic-mead-201058.

I do an even easier variation for a basic mead:

  1. Sterilize all equipment (carboy or even a growler for an adorable tiny batch). I use Star San.
  2. Dump in honey. I use around 5lbs for a 2 gallon batch. Any honey will do (make sure it’s actually honey). Different honeys will give different flavors. For my Blood of My Enemies I used a super dark honey I found at Whole Foods.
  3. Add water. I use distilled water, but really for mead the honey will work well with tap water. If you’re paranoid about contamination, use distilled or boil your tap water.
  4. Add yeast. Champagne yeast or mead yeast are the recommendations. If you’re super lazy (like me) there’s always bread yeast. For the purists, this is a no no. But, it worked just fine for my Blood of My Enemies mead. For my Justified Derby Day Mead, I used champagne yeast.
  5. Add in any flavors you want: fruits, spices, etc. For basic mead, add nothing.
  6. Put the airlock at the top, label your mead, and wait at least a month. I usually bottle at 1-1.5 months ( to bottle, sterilize following home brew instructions: http://howtobrew.com/book/section-1/brewing-preperations/sanitation/sanitizing-your-equipment). The longer the mead sits, the better it seems. It will change flavors and mature.

You have mead!

My Justified Derby Day Dandelion mead came about from me staring out the window at the dandelions. So. Many. Dandelions. My chickens (Nugget, Cutlet, and Giblet, all pets, not food) eat some of them but not all when they free range during the day.

My goal, since moving to Utah where we have so many fruit and edibles in our yard, is to make beer, mead, cider, etc with our very local ingredients. Dandelion seemed like a perfect spring selection. I picked a bunch of them and separated the petals (anything green will add a bitter taste). It will stain your hands, as I learned.

Next I made the basic mead recipe and added the petals and one split vanilla bean.

IMG_20180505_115528857 Unfortunately, I realized the petals stick to the honey in the carboy. I sterilized a chopstick and used it to poke them down. Next time, add petals before honey.

And that’s it! I’m just bottling it now, so the verdict is out on the taste. Since I made this on Derby Day, it had to have a Derby name. And since my horse loved dandelions, I assumed Justify probably does too. I had no idea on that day he would become a Triple Crown winner! What a good boy. (My Imperial Stout was brewed during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I always intended to call it Ovechkin’s Imperial Stanley Cup Stout whether the Capitals won or not. However, now I think my brews predict winners! Recipe on that one to come soon).

Recipes: 

Justified Derby Day Dandelion Mead 

Add to basic mead recipe (for a 2 gallon batch, adjust as necessary):

2 cups dandelion petals and 1 split vanilla bean

(I used a lighter honey for this recipe and Champagne yeast)

 

Blood of My Enemies Blood Orange Mead 

Add to basic mead recipe (for a 2 gallon batch, adjust as necessary):

Juice of three blood oranges

Peel of one blood orange (this can add some bitterness, can be skipped)

2 split vanilla beans

(I used a very dark wildflower honey for this recipe and Red Star bread yeast)

 

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