I started homebrewing with beer. I strictly brewed beer for over a year. I enjoyed the process, the multitude of ingredients, combination of ingredients, and how it was cheaper to brew a huge batch of quality beer for less than picking it up in the grocery store. I had many batches turn south for one reason or another, but from reading and testing, less batches had to be thrown out. There really is nothing worst than dumping 5 gallons of beer because of your mistakes. I started with extract brewing and moved up to partial mash brewing (grain heavy). The fact that I was a homebrewer first makes more sense as the store continues.
About a year into homebrewing, Ben mentioned the ease of making mead. A fan of literature, especially of Norse Mythology, I knew of the existence of mead, but never saw it in stores. Admittedly, I did not seek it out with gusto, but that it was a common drink of yesteryear, I knew. Ben purchased about 4 to 5 lbs of local honey, I had some ale strand of yeast lying around (I can't even remember the exact strand), and there were those buckets. I don't think we boiled the honey at all, but I can't recall all the steps, as I was not taking careful notes of my procedures and ingredients at the time.
So, we mixed the ingredients together in one our the homebrewing 6 gallon buckets and let it sit for 2 weeks. . . Ellipses to signify the first major mistake. I know you are wondering why this is the first mistake. I was using an ale strand of yeast that I did not create a starter with to have an entire civilization of yeast active before pitching, and I did not have any nutrients or energizers when pitching the yeast. Therefore, it would take the yeast longer to become active, and the yeast would not finish processing all of the sugars into alcohol after 2 weeks. I believe the only reason that any of the sugar was processed is that the yeast was White Labs and had enough little guys to get the process moving, and the relative low amount of honey to process did not hurt. These are just conjectures, and I may be wrong.
Two weeks after first pitching the yeast, we bottle the mead. Being homebrewers, we decided that a little fizzle in our meadizzle was appropriate. I went there and I'm staying there. The same amount of corn sugar that we used to carbonate the beer was used to carbonate the mead . . . Here is where all the bad things converged and became an explosive, messy concoction. All my homebrewing beers (a.k.a. bottles and bottles of beer) was stored in the pantry of my apartment.
After about a week or two ( the exact time eludes me), my roommate at the time went into the pantry to retrieve some morsel of food, and the second he closed the door there was a muffled "pop" followed immediately by the sound of shattering glass and something hitting the pantry door from the inside. Carefully opening the pantry, a mead bottle had shattered. We quickly closed it and another bottle shattered. Over the course of the next few months (could have been longer), our pantry had became a game Russian Roulette with mead bottles when something was desired from the pantry. It did enhance horror movies. Also, there was a sweet, pungent, sticky smell that emitted from the pantry.
Carbonating a fermented beverage is done by allowing the residual yeast to create carbon dioxide in an air tight container. When filling bottles of homebrewed beer, a space is left to give the gas some room, otherwise it will create enough tension to pop the top of bottles and sometimes explode, although this is rare. How did I unwittingly create Mead Bombs?
1. As stated, I didn't let the yeast finish fermenting.
2. Adding the same amount of corn sugar for carbonation of mead. So there was already a lot of sugar left from the honey from my quick fermenting process, and adding a lot more gave each bottle a lot of sugar to consume. This created an over abundance of carbon dioxide, which created over pressurized bottles and that lead to explosivo.
That was a fun trip down memory lane.
New: The Ultimate Easy Guide to Successfully making one gallon of mead. - I have put together a video that shows you an almost fool proof method to make one gallon of mead. Doesn't cost much and isn't hard to do. The mead comes out great :)