MC049: The Smooth Finish of the Soda Mead Challenge

In this episode, we wrap up the soda mead challenge. You’ll hear from the guys who helped kick off this competition. We’ll discuss the three winning soda meads from the 2016 Texas Mead Cup.

*** It should be noted in the photo above, this does not denote that Allen (left) or Tysen (right) won a medal. Rather, we host the winners in the episode and just wanted a fancy bee medal for the show notes.

Right click here to download the episode directly.

sodameadchallenge_gingerale_1200Drinks in the Pre-Episode

  • Tysen: Oaked Vanilla Bochet (Matt Wiede)
  • Allen: 10 oz Bud Light (Yeah, the 10 oz can is a real thing. And before you knock me, check out this short video about why the big guys matter to the health of the craft ecosystem.)

sodameadchallenge_creamsoda_1200Drinks in the Episode Proper

  • Tysen: Hint of Sass and Sassy Charlatan (Tysen) and When Life Gives You Lemon Soda (Allen)
  • Allen: Hint of Sass and Sassy Charlatan (Tysen) and When Life Gives You Lemon Soda (Allen)
  • Dan Daugherty (@CiderSage, St Vrain Cidery [It’s open!]): Pappy’s Lindy
  • Matt Weide (@BluehandMead): Sweet Mead (White Winter Winery)
  • Pavel Anisimov (@CiderMead): Sugar Maple Mead (Saphouse Meadery)
  • Josh and Annalyse Smith: Josh and Annalyse abstain, but they have a valid excuse. They had just attended a cocktail mixing class and still needed to drive home. His favorite, the Scofflaw. Remember friends, please drink responsibly.

The Soda Mead Winning Recipes

1st Place. Pavel Anisimov, Root Mead


  • 3 Gallon of Spring Water
  • 4.5 lbs of Blackberry Blossom Honey
  • Total batch volume = 3.4 gallons (lost 0.4 gallons on racking).
  • EC1118 yeast (champagne) – full package (5g)
  • 6.5g of GoFerm Pro (re-hydration)
  • 10g of Fermaid-O (TOSNA nutrients)
  • 2oz of Fermentap Root Beer Extract #2 (half of packaging).
  • 1 cup of table sugar (poweder)
  • 0.5 lbs of blackberry blossom honey (leftovers)
  • OG = 1.047
  • FG = 0.997
  • Back sweetened to FG=1.008 (but feels higher, more like semi-sweet).
  • ABV ~ 6.5%

The Process:

July 16th (day zero) – Made the batch. Set fermentation temperature to 61˚F

July 17, 18, 19, 20th (Day 1, 2, 3, and 4) – Added 2.5g of fermaid-O (each time). Steered the mead twice a day for first 4 days.

July 27th (Day 10) – Fermentation is done.

July 30th (Week 2) – Adding 3 crashed camped tables and starting to cold-crash at 37˚F.

August 6th (Week 3) – raking off lees and conditioning for 3 weeks at room temperature. I live in California and don’t have air-conditioner. The room temperature was 80-90F. If I had an extra chamber, I’d keep it at 50-60F.

August 24th (Week 5.5) – Adding KC SuperKleer to clarify the mead (already somewhat clear, but little bit hazy). Drops crystal clear in 1 day.

August 26th (Week 6) – Was running out of time, so did the blending right in a keg with tasting and sampling (mostly to my own taste).

Transferring to a 3 gallon keg. Adding 0.5lbs of blackberry honey and 1 cup of table sugar (mixed in 1 glass of hot water). Adding 2oz (half bottle) of Root Beer Extract. Adding little bit of CO2 to please any Oxygen and shaking a keg vigorously to degas and mix the mead. Turning a CO2 on and carbonating at 30psi and shaking the keg every day until bottling.

August 31st (Week 6.5) – Bottling from the keg and shipping to Texas Mead Cup.

Serving on Week 8 at Northern California Homebrew Competition (judged at Texas Mead Cup around the same time).

2nd Place. Josh Smith, Strawberry Soda

The details come light for this recipe, but you should be able to replicate it well enough.


  • Trader Joe’s Wildflower Honey
  • 12.5 lbs strawberries (handpicked, frozen, from June 2016)
  • 6 lbs Trader Joe’s wildflower honey
  • bottled spring water to 3.5 gallons
  • US-05
  • 66 deg F

The mead was fermented dry, stabilized, then backsweetened with honey. It was then force carbed and bottled for the competition.

3rd Place. Dan Daugherty, Pappy Lindy’s Elderflower Soda

Batch Size:

  • 7 gallons (overall)
  • 2 gallons (infused/backsweetened)


  • 12 lb (1 gal) orange blossom honey
  • 10 oz basswood honey (for backsweetening)
  • 1 packet BA11 yeast
  • 13g Go-Ferm
  • 20g Fermaid O
  • 23g Dried Elder Flowers (from Rose Mountain Herbs) (post-fermentation infusion)
  • Potassium Metabisulfite
  • Potassium Sorbate

Nutrient Addition:

Ferm O / TOSNA at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hrs, 5g each


  1. Rehydrate 1 (8g) packet of BA11 in 105 F tap water with 13g Go-Ferm, set aside
  2. Mix the honey into a 2-3 gallons of hot (120ish F) water in a large plastic fermenter (I used a Speidel 8 gallon HDPE fermenter); once dissolved, add cold water to the desired volume (7 gallons) and mix again vigorously to aerate.
  3. Take an SG reading (1.065) and a temperature reading (90 F) of the must
  4. Temper the rehydrating yeast solution to within 5 F of the must by adding small amounts of the must, waiting 5 minutes, then measuring the yeast temp and adding more must, etc.
  5. Add the yeast solution to the must and relocate the must to a fermentation chamber set to 58 F
  6. Mix 5g Ferm O in water prior to adding to the must at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hrs. Gently degass with a stirring attachment at these times, taking care not to cause overflow of the must
  7. When airlock activity ceases and gravity is 1.000 or below, rack to secondary vessels and sulfite and sorbate either 1) the entire volume or 2) just the smaller volume that you’ll be infusing and backsweetening, per package instructions for that volume
  8. Infuse the desired volume with dried elder flower (in a sanitized mesh bag with sanitized glass marbles to submerge the flowers) for 24 hours to taste (Dan used 23 g Dried Elder Flowers, so 11.5 g / gal). Remove the elder flower.
  9. Add 10 pz basswood honey to the infused volume and mix with a stirring attachment
  10. Rack to keg, force carbonate and store chilled

Don’t Forget, Let’s Help this Podcast Grow!

If you’re a fan of the show, make sure you’re subscribed to get our latest episodes delivered directly to your listener of choice (Allen’s a big fan of Podcast Addict). If you’re into Apple, we’d love to hear what you think, so leave a review and so we can know what you like and how we need to improve.

Are you an avid social meadia user looking for a way to share your love for mead? Our favorite hashtags are #Meadcast (for anything mead related you’d like us to know), #FoundMead (for that trip to the liquor store when you find there actually is mead on the shelf!), and we’d like to propose #MakeBetterMead as a means to help promote mead tips and things we’ve learned from our guests, from articles, and any cool experiments we hear going on in the industry.

Lastly, are you a meadery with an awesome newsletter to share your latest buzz? Let us know about it at info ‘at’ meadmakr ‘dot’ com. Any relevant and time sensitive info we may even be able to sneak into episodes as they release every two weeks.

Until next time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *