Everything Needed to Make Mead: The Ultimate Gift Guide

Make Mead in no time with this gift guide.

The holidays are approaching! Do you have someone on your Festivus, Hanukkah or Christmas list who wants to make mead at home? Are you also at a complete loss for how to shop for them? Stop fretting about it. This gift guide is going to make two things happen. First, you’re going to find the perfect gift for your home brewing homie. Then, you’re going to be the rock star of said homie’s holiday 2018. Full disclosure: most of the links are affiliate links. That means that you pay the usual price but the ecommerce site kicks me a small commission. I do not receive any information (who shopped, who bought what, etc).

How to Shop For Mead Makers

Shopping for a homebrewer, no matter what they brew, can be tricky. This list is specific to those who make mead. I’ve divided up everything: equipment, ingredients, resources and more. But let me give you the best advice up front. Ready? Ask. Just like you wouldn’t buy any old golf club for a golfer, your friend who makes mead might only use specific brands, materials or ingredients. It’s okay to ask what they want or need! They’ll appreciate it. I suggest reading below to get a better sense of how to approach buying gifts for friends and family brewing mead, but if you want to, you can also just skip right down to the gift guide.

So Fresh! So Clean!

washing-powder-1500058_1920This is super unsexy, but as a homebrewer I can tell you that one thing I’d love is for someone to buy me detergent and sanitizer. Brewing requires equipment to be cleaned and sanitized (it’s literally the most important part of the brewing process) and we can’t pull this off with regular detergent and the “sanitize” setting on the dishwasher. If someone else buys it it also means I can devote some more of my homebrewing budget to items on my wish list.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to go this route.

  • Most brewers prefer to use a specific brand of detergent and sanitizer. Ask or snoop to find out their preferred brand and volume. I’d love to buy large sizes but there’s not enough storage in my loft so I have to go small, for example.
  • If it’s a new brewer get the good stuff. One of the most common mistakes of new brewers is not cleaning/sanitizing well enough so set the new mead maker up with known, trusted brands.
  • Skip the 2-in-1. Unless a brewer specifically asks for this, I’d go with a separate detergent and sanitizing liquid. Just like I don’t trust shampoo and conditioner “in one” I don’t understand the physics of this. And most home and com
  • galaxy-1335475_1920mercial brewers will tell you it’s better to do the steps separately.
  • Skip the Clorox. I’m not sure why, but many homebrewers use, and write about how it’s fine to use, bleach to sanitize their equipment. No! Don’t do it. Real sanitizers don’t require rinsing because you’re just putting organic material back onto your equipment when rinsing. Clorox requires a ton of rinsing, especially on any plastic materials (ie. siphoning hoses) because the smell is so hard to get rid of. Just use sanitizer. Real sanitizer.
  • Don’t forget accessories! Bacteria that flaws brews hides out in all the nooks and crannies. Brushes for siphon hoses, buckets and bottles are a much-needed part. I also use a spray bottle with sanitizing solution for when I inevitably put something down on an unsanitized surface, or drop something on the floor.

If They Make Mead, They Need…

Detergent (pick 1)

Two 1-pound containers Powdered Brewing Wash (PBW)
2 oz. packet PBW
4-pound container PBW

8 ounce container One Step cleaner (no rinse)
1 pound container One Step cleaner (no rinse)
5-pound container One Step cleaner (no rinse)

Sanitizer (pick 1)

4-ounce Star San Sanitizer
8-ounce Star San Sanitizer
16-ounce Star San Sanitizer
32-ounce Star San Sanitizer

4-ounce Star San IO-Star Sanitizer
16-ounce Star San IO-Star Sanitizer

2 25-ounce containers Diversey Beer Clean Last Rinse Sanitizer
100 .25-ounce packets Diversey Beer Clean Last Rinse Sanitizer

Two-in-One (pick one instead of picking one detergent and one sanitizer)

8-ounce container (bag) HomeBrewingStuff.com one step/no rinse cleaner

Brushes (optional)

brush-1165256_192022 pc. set of cleaning brushes

Spray Bottles (optional)

Two 16-ounce glass spray bottles with labels (amber) sunscreen-1461332_1920
2 16-ounce glass spray bottles with labels (blue)
2 16-ounce glass spray bottles (clear)
1 32-ounce plastic spray bottle (frosted)
Continuous spray spray bottle (black) (also available in white)

Brewing Equipment For Making Mead

Carboys and siphon hoses and long-handled spoons, oh my! There aren’t as many pieces of equipment needed to make mead as there are to brew beer but there is still lots of equipment. Keep this stuff in mind when selecting homebrewing equipment for someone on your gift list.

  • Materials matter. I like to use stainless steel and glass in my brewing. Some people swear by plastic. Ask your mead maker if they have a preference.
  • Volume matters, too. Buying five-gallon equipment for a one-gallon brewer results in returns or, worse, equipment taking up space. Be sure to find out what capacity the recipient needs.
  • Consider kits. For fewer than $50 you can purchase mead equipment kits for the mead maker who hasn’t started their journey yet. My anti-plastic approach aside, these are—admittedly—one of the best gifts for people who want to start but are worried about having the right stuff.

If They Make Mead, They Need…

Carboys (pick 2 of the same size)

To make mead there are two separate fermentations thus two carboys are needed.

1-gallon glass carboy with drilled rubber stopper and s-shape airlock
1-gallon glass carboy with drilled rubber stopper and cylindrical airlock
2 1-gallon wide-mouth glass jugs with drilled lids and 2 s-shape airlocks
1-gallon glass carboy no closure (perfect secondary fermentation vessel)
One-gallon glass carboy with polyseal cap, drilled stopper and twin bubble airlock
1-gallon glass carboy with metal screwcap
1-gallon glass carboy with polyseal cap

Three-gallon glass carboy no closure clear (uses 55 mm crown cap or #6.5 rubber stopper)
3-gallon glass carboy no closure frosted blue (uses 55 mm crown cap or #6.5 rubber stopper)
3-gallon glass carboy no closure frosted purple (uses 55 mm crown cap or #6.5 rubber stopper)
Three-gallon glass carboy no closure frosted (uses 55 mm crown cap or #6.5 rubber stopper)
3-gallon glass carboy no closure (uses #7 rubber stopper)
3-gallon glass carboy no closure (uses #7 rubber stopper)
Three-gallon glass carboy no closure (uses #7 rubber stopper)
3-gallon glass carboy no closure (uses #7 rubber stopper)
3-gallon glass carboy no closure

Carboy Closures (pick 1 drilled stopper and airlock to match carboy size; other closures optional)

To make mead brewers need at least one drilled bung that fits her carboy. In addition, she needs an airlock. Finally, if she is not bottling and likes to drink mead young, a cap or solid rubber stopper is a necessity. There are no caps for 3-gallon carboys so a rubber stopper must be used.

Set of 3 #6.5 drilled rubber stoppers (for one-gallon carboys)
Set of 3 #6.5 drilled stoppers with cylindrical airlocks (for one-gallon carboys)
16-pack #6.5 rubber stoppers (for one-gallon carboys)
Set of 3 #7 drilled rubber stoppers (for three-gallon carboys)
3-pack twin bubble (s-style) airlocks
3-pack cylindrical airlocks
Set of 3 #7 drilled stoppers with cylindrical airlocks (for three-gallon carboys)
3-pack #7 rubber stoppers (for three-gallon carboys)

12-pack metal screw caps (for one-gallon carboys)
12-pack polyseal caps (for one-gallon carboys)

Funnels (Pick 1)

tee-3558081_1920Yes, this sounds like the perfect item to pick up at the local dollar store but plastic funnels degrade and scratch. Those scratches trap odors and bacteria. I recommend using a stainless steel or silicon funnel for the best outcome. And, plastic is just a bad choice.

Set of 3 stainless steel funnels (with clip to keep them together)
Pair of silicone funnels

Siphons (Pick 1)

It’s everybody’s least favorite part of homebrewing. <— sarcasm font apparatus-2027782_1280

10′ Food grade PVC siphon tube
Mini racking cane (fits 1-gallon carboy)
Racking cane (will NOT FIT 1-gallon carboy)

Bottling Supplies

If you know someone who likes to make mead and bottle it, there are extra pieces of equipment needed. Swingtop bottles are the most eco-friendly, although a little more pricey. All beer bottles, including the ones you buy your fav brew in, can be sterilized and used. You must buy caps if you use beer bottles. They generally don’t come with caps. Never reuse caps. And don’t use clear bottles!

12 16 oz Swing-top bottles (sterilize and reuse!)
24 12 oz beer bottles (sterilize and reuse!)
4, 32-oz swing-top bottles (perfect for gifts, or sterilize and reuse)

bottle-caps-1866945_1920

200 crown caps assorted colors: silver, black, yellow, red
144 crown caps:
Silver
You pick the color or design
Color-changing (white caps turn blue and say “ready to drink” when cold!)
Gold
American Flag
Purple
Blue

bottle-caps-3762866_1920

Red Baron Bottle Capper (this is a classic)
Capper with 55 caps

Bottling wand

All-in-One (ish) Kits

Mead-making kit for 1-gallon batch meant to be drunk young (add a second carboy and siphon to age)
Mead-making kit for 1-gallon batch including cleaner/sanitizer and siphon tube
Premium mead-making kit for 1-gallon batches

Ingredients for Mead

Brews require ingredients. In the case of mead, that means at least honey, yeast and water. But many experienced brewers like to play with unique flavors, oak and more. Many of the ingredients many of us would like to include can be a little pricey but make the perfect gift. Your mead making friend will love you for your thoughtful gesture and likely share the wealth with you in a year or so when the mead is finally done!

When buying honey for someone to make mead, get 3-4 pounds of local honey. Same with spices, fruit and other perishables. Save your online shopping for yeast and oak. If you must buy honey online look for unpasteurized, unprocessed honey.

If They Make Mead, They Need…

Yeast bread-2559313_1920

To make mead, add about 1 gram of yeast per gallon. Play around with this for each mead: some leave more flavor others leave less. Keep good notes! Most packets contain at least 5g, refrigerate the extra in an airtight container.

10-pack Lalvin D-47 (a great yeast for mead)
11-pack Red Star Premier Blanc Wine Yeast (formerly called Champagne yeast)
10-pack Lalvin EC-1118 (perfect for stalled fermentation and high ABV mead)
10-pack Lalvin 71B-1122 (perfect for cooler/unstable locations)
Ten-pack Lalvin K1V-1116 (perfect for high abv and quick fermentation) <– great for reusing yeast cake!
10-pack Red Star Premier Cuveé
10-pack Red Star Côte des Blanc (light yeast, perfect for fruity mead)
5-pack Red Star Cote des Blanc
Single packet 11g Danstar BRY-97

While not required, yeast energizer and yeast energizer make life a lot easier.

1 oz bottle yeast energizer
Ounce yeast energizer
1 lb bag yeast energizer
Pound bag yeast energizer

1.5 oz tube yeast nutrient
2 oz bottle yeast nutrient
8 oz bag yeast nutrient (2 pack)
1 lb bag yeast nutrient

Oaking Supplies

barrel-52934_1280 (1)Oak adds texture and flavor to mead, and can help set mead apart. If you’ve got someone in your life who wants to make mead that gets noticed, a gift to help them experiment with oak might be the perfect thing.

4 oz French oak chips, toasted
1 lb French oak chips, medium toast
Pound French oak chips, medium+ toast
1 lb French oak chips
2, 1-lb bags French oak chips

4 oz American oak chips
4 oz American oak chips, heavy toast, 4 oz
Half lb American oak chips, toasted
1 lb American oak chips, medium toast 
1 lb American oak chips, heavy toast

French oak cubes, medium toast, 1 lb (use about .5 oz for 1-gallon batches)

8 oz American oak cubes, heavy toast
1 lb American oak cubes, medium toast

1 small charred oak infusion spiral (perfect for lightly oaking a 1-gallon batch)
2 small oak infusion spirals (perfect for lightly oaking a 1-gallon batch, use 2 for more oak character)
4-pack small infusion spirals (perfect for lightly oaking a 1-gallon batch or double up for extra oak)

2 French oak infusion spirals (cut into 3-5 pieces if making 1-gallon batches)
1 American oak infusion spiral, medium+ toast (cut into 3-5 pieces if making 1-gallon batches)
2 American oak infusion spirals (cut into 3-5 pieces if making 1-gallon batches)

Mead Making Resources

Brewers need way more than cleaners, equipment, ingredients and the like. One of the best gifts for brewers are academic in nature. From a magazine subscription to a book, if you have someone who wants to up their game, these make great gifts and are often something a brewer would never buy for themselves. Got someone on the list who wants to make mead for the first time? There are books for that, too! Wait, I WROTE ONE OF THOSE!

If They Make Mead, They Need…

Magazines/Online Publications

Brew Your Own (beer-centric but great for inspiration)
Mead Magazine
Meadist
American Mead Makers Association

Books

Make Mead Like a Viking
The Compleat Meadmaker
The Complete Guide to Making Mead
Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink
Big Book of Mead Recipes

DIY Kit Notes

Create your own equipment kit by following the instructions next to equipment list titles.

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