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An immature mead results in a bad batch, that’s why it is stored for a long period to age and improve on quality. All you will need for an effective storage is humidity and a temperature controlled environment. So, how long should mead age?
How Long Should Mead Age?
Like wines, meads have a definite aging period beyond which they gradually improve quality. The aging period mostly depends on the type of mead. Light, sweet, and lower alcohol meads should be consumed as soon as possible since they can’t stand being stored for more than a year or two.
On the other hand, dark meads and high-alcohol content meads can be stored even for a decade or more, depending on the time. A good way of determining the aging period of a particular mead is by keeping it in several bottles.
Every six months, you can sample one bottle to determine the peak age for the specific mead. This way, you will determine how long to age the mead since the aging periods vary.
What Are the Requirements for Aging Mead?
- Store in a cool, dry place: Mead should be stored in a cool, dry place free from direct sunlight. The storage temperature should be 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and with low humidity. The higher the temperature, the faster the aging process will take place.
- Use sealed containers for outdoor storage: If you want to store it outdoors, use a sealed container like a refrigerator or a wine cabinet, and you can hold it upright. However, racking is better since it does not require much space.
- Store in indirect sunlight: You need to ensure that the mead is free from direct sunlight. Too much exposure to sunlight will oxidize the mead and skunk it in its storage. This is why most wine is stored in dark glasses indoors; thus, you can also do it with your mead.
How Do I Store Mead?
Mead should be stored in an air-tight container. Generally, you can do this in two ways, bottle aging or bulk aging.
Bottle aging is storing the mead using several bottles. The method is ideal for avoiding a bad batch since the mead is aging in different containers at the same rate. Thus, if one bottle goes bad, it won’t affect the whole batch.
Besides, you can always retrieve a bottle every six months to determine its taste and maturity. The biggest problem with bottle aging is that the flavor may change across the bottles, thus affecting the consistency of the batch. Another problem is that it might be difficult to age the mead on fruit, and other additives need to be removed later.
Bulk aging refers to the process of aging the mead in one big container. The good thing with bulk aging is that there is batch consistency, plus the mead can age on fruits and additives to enhance and improve the flavor.
However, you must always be available to monitor the airlocks, lest you might have a bad batch. Besides, it is possible to ruin the whole batch considering it might be hard to control the aging temperature and humidity.
Why Must I Age My Mead?
Aging your mead improves its quality by giving it time to acquire the best flavors. This ensures the mead is natural with no additives. Below are the reasons why you might want to do it.
Typically, young meads suffer excessive haze in the early days, which comprises wax, live and dead yeasts, and other suspended fermentation by-products. The meads usually taste very badly in this state while producing odorous posterior expulsions.
Aging will give the mead a lot of time to drop these suspended particulates to make the liquid clearer and untainted. This does not usually take long, especially if you cold-crash the mead between 33 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in a fridge for a few days.
The more mead you make, the longer you take to enjoy it. Changing a month-corked bottle to a five-year-corked one is just a matter of time. The lessons learned while aging the mead will help you improve your brewing recipes and practices.
As you gradually age your mead, you get an urge to make more beer to build a stockpile. You should note that increasing production will require you to heavily invest in ingredients and equipment.
Time creates complexity in meads depending on the ingredients used to make a particular mead. Leaving your mead to sit in the bottle for quite some time will improve its quality and add complex flavors to it, thus improving its overall quality.
It is clear that there are numerous reasons for aging your mead. The best period for aging mead should be between six months to two years for the lighter meads and three to five years for the darker ones. However, you can always sample out a bottle of mead after every six months to determine its specific aging period.