‘Tis the season for Yule Mead! Make it this year, drink it the next. Beware: you’ll probably be tempted to crack it open before the holidays, which is totally fine with us.

As I’m sure you well know, Christmas has very strong roots in Pagan traditions that also gave us mead. The word “yule” is a great example of those roots. We use it now to describe Christmas, as in “yuletide cheer,” but its etymology are as gloriously infused with different cultural roots as the season itself. It may come from the Old English geol, which means Christmas day, or the Anglo Saxon giuli, which is the two month long winter feasting season. Perhaps my favorite possible root, Anglo Saxon giuli or Old Norse ýlir, means “magic.” Much like the holiday season itself, yule mead is a wonderful way to forget our differences and enjoy a jolly feast together.

Here’s what you’ll need to make yule mead:

This recipe will yield 5.5 gallons of golden holiday cheer.

  • 4 large oranges
  • 18 pounds honey (orange blossom would do nicely, don’t you think?)
  • 4 gallons water
  • 1 pound blend of figs, dates, and raisins
  • 9 ounces chopped candied ginger
  • 5 vanilla beans, opened and scraped clean
  • half an ounce of crushed juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 5 grams Fermaid K (or your chosen yeast nutrient according to package directions)
  • 15 grams Lalvin K1V-1116 wine yeast (or your favorite wine yeast according to package directions)

Directions:

Rehydrate 15 grams of yeast in warm water before adding to the mixture.  Mix all ingredients in a fermentation bucket, pitch the yeast, add the yeast nutrient before fermentation. Ferment at room temperature or slightly below. Rack after two weeks into a glass carboy, let it clear, bottle when ready, and let it age.

Tips:

  • Using a hydrometer, determine when the mixture is below 1.093 and add 5 more grams of nutrient.
  • Experiment with substituting part of the water (1 gallon or so) with apple cider or other fruit juices.

Recipe via Normandescendants.org.

Thinking of brewing up some yule mead, or have a change to the recipe? Share your adventure with us in the comments!