Ginger Rosemary Lime Mead

rosemary bush

 I have made this and found it to be light and very pleasant with dinner on a hot summer night.  That said, it is too light and not apparently sweet enough for everyone’s taste. I omitted the Munton’s brewing yeast.  There are two historical references before she gets to the recipe she actually used.

Ginger Rosemary Lime Mead

(Based on a 19th Century Recipe)

By Lady Dafne Fraser, Barony of Three Mountains

I initially got the inspiration to do this mead from a friend who had shared a recipe for small white mead. She had discovered the recipe in a 19th century cookbook, which she had found in her grandmother’s house. Unfortunately I do not have the name of the book nor have contact with that friend anymore; however, I do still have the email in which she listed the recipe for which I based my version on:

  • 1 gal water 
  • 2 pt honey
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 oz root ginger 
  • 1 lb white sugar 
  • 2 lemons 
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 oz yeast

Boil together the water, sugar, & honey then skim off the skum. stand inbasin, add juice off both lemon & skin of one. Add cloves, well bruised ginger, and rosemary. When at blood temperature or less, add yeast. This will start fermentation which should be allowed to go on for 6 days, but the lemon peel should be taken out after 3. Then bottle & cork lightly.

That’s it, word for word. Knowing as little as I do, it seems a bit off to me in the process- but the ingredients sound worth a go.

Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines by Helen S. Wright., an early 20th century recipe book, also has a similar recipe for small white mead. It was first published in 1909; the copy I have is a fourth edition, published in 1922.

The Small White Mead recipe:

“Take three gallons of spring water, make it hot, and dissolve in it three quarts of honey, and one pound of loaf sugar. Let it boil about one-half hour, and skim it as long as any scum rises. Then pour it out into a tub, and squeeze in the juice of four lemons, two races of ginger, one top of sweet briar, and one top of rosemary. Let it stand in a tub till it is but blood-warm; then make a brown toast, and spread it with two or three spoonfuls of ale yeast. Put it into a vessel fit for it, let it stand for four or five days, then bottle it out.”


Wright, H. S. (1922), Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines, Cordials and Liqueurs: from Fruits, Flowers, Vegetables and Shrubs (4th ed). The Page Company, Boston, MA.

My recipe:


  • 8 lbs raw Arkansas honey
  • 4 gallons tap water
  • .5 oz ground dried ginger
  • .3 oz dried rosemary
  • 4 oz processed lime juice 
  • 1 packet Red Star Cotes des Blancs dry wine yeast
  • 1 packet Munton’s brewing yeast

Process and notes:

10-07-06: Started both yeast packets in a mixture of warm honey-water. Brought the honey and water up to a boil. Added the ginger & lime to the boiling must. Very nice tasting. Ginger, lime and honey very well matched.  Started to skim the scum off the top. Added the rosemary, but removed it after 5 minutes because it was causing a very bitter-woodsy taste to the must. Removed from heat and let cool to room temperature naturally (approximately 4 hours). Pitched yeast and poured into glass carboy. Secured with airlock. Left in a corner of my apartment to ferment. 

11-02-06: First racking into another glass carboy. Very sweet and pleasant tasting. No hint of the rosemary off-flavors that I tasted during the boil. Visually still very cloudy. 

01-20-07: Racked into a plastic bucket carboy. (Note: was moving from Arkansas to Oregon. The carboy travelled across country in the back of a pick-up truck, then was stored in a garage in Oregon until 11-07-07. It was then stored on my apartment patio through the winter, and finally moved inside my apartment in the Spring of ’08.

Racked directly into bottles in July ’08. The flavor is a very good blend of the ingredients – not one comes through as the primary taste. There is a hint of each flavor. The mead is still very sweet and has a nice alcohol kick without being too strong. The mead is very clear; clear enough to read through. Surprising results after being moved so many times and being kept in a variety of temperature/humidity conditions without being racked off the old lees.

I modified the recipe to exclude the white sugar and cloves. I replaced the white (loaf) sugar with extra honey; I don’t like the flavor of white sugar in my brewing. I felt that the cloves would be too strong as well. I was going for a light-flavored mead. I also used what I had in my home – dried rosemary and ginger, and processed lime juice. I will use fresh ingredients the next time I make this mead. I believe the reason why this mead was successful was my care in sanitizing all my equipment, and the length of time before bottling. Time is the best ingredient for letting a brew mellow and clear.

I don’t have the OG or SG because I have never been very good at determining the OG/SG of my concoctions, and I’ve broken my hydrometer. I generally go by taste and what type of yeast I use to estimate alcohol percentage (if ever asked). For this mead, I’m not sure.

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