Rhubarb has a sweet-tart flavor that comes through beautifully in homemade rhubarb mead. Though it’s technically a vegetable, the stalks contain both sugar and acid, which gives them a fruit-like flavor. That acidic sweetness makes them a good candidate for brewing.
This recipe is for a single quart of rhubarb mead using my small batch mead method. With just a cup of rhubarb and a cup of honey, you can have your own bottle of homemade rhubarb mead. This works out well if you’re not sure you’ll like it, or you just have a small rhubarb patch.
If you have a lot of rhubarb on hand, try a gallon batch of rhubarb wine. My rhubarb wine recipe uses sugar to extract the juice from the rhubarb, meaning that you’re using fresh rhubarb juice for your wine instead of water. That process takes a lot more than a handful of rhubarb and is best suited to gardeners with a bumper crop of rhubarb.
The first time we made rhubarb mead, we went with a traditional 5 gallon batch. I just pulled the last bottle of rhubarb mead out of the basement…7 years later. We love brewing, but who needs 20 bottles of any single mead?
That’s one of the reasons to make small batches. You can brew as many batches in a year as your heart desires, and you don’t have to kill your liver in the process. It allows for experimentation without the risk of huge amounts of waste.
Start with a one-quart mason jar and add 1 cup of honey. Toss in 1 cup of chopped rhubarb and a teaspoon of lemon juice for a bit of extra acid.
With a full cup of honey, this is going to be a sweet mead. If you’re hoping for a dry rhubarb mead, reduce the honey to as low as 2/3 cup for a one-quart batch.
I think rhubarb has a bit of tannic bite in the flavor, so I didn’t add a black tea bag to this batch. The tannins in black tea help to round out a mead, but I’ve found it unnecessary with rhubarb mead. If you’d like, add a few tablespoons of strongly brewed black tea.
With the fruit in this mead, it’s technically a melomel. For melomel, I don’t add any yeast nutrient or raisins to a batch because the fruit helps provide extra micronutrients for the yeast. I haven’t had any issues with this technique for melomels, but if yours don’t ferment well, try adding just a pinch of yeast nutrient or a few raisins.
I’d suggest using wine yeast rather than baking yeast for this recipe, as baking yeast can cause off-flavors.
Since this is such a small batch recipe, there’s no need to get a siphon for bottling. Simply pour the rhubarb mead through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any chunks of rhubarb. Be careful to pour slowly, and leave the yeast sediment at the bottom of the fermentation jar.
Once the rhubarb mead has been filtered, it’s time for bottling. If you weren’t careful during the filtering phase and you kicked up a good bit of yeast sediment into the brew, attach the airlock again and allow it to ferment for another 1-3 days so that the yeast sediment can settle out. Then try again, pouring the mead off slowly so that the yeast sediment stays behind.
To bottle, simply use a funnel to pour the mead into a flip-top Grolsch bottle. They’re much simpler to use than a full wine corking setup, especially for small batches that will be consumed quickly.
Allow the rhubarb mead to mature in the bottle for at least 2 weeks before drinking, but preferably at least 2 months.
Rhubarb Mead (Honey Wine)
This sweet summer honey wine captures the flavor of rhubarb in a bottle. Since it's a small batch, you can make this recipe with just a few handfuls of chopped rhubarb.
- 1 cup Rhubarb, chopped
- 1 cup honey
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 packet wine yeast
- Add the honey and rhubarb into a quart mason jar. If you'd like, allow the honey to draw the juices out of the chopped rhubarb for 24 hours, but that's optional.
- Add the lemon juice and water to the mason jar and stir to incorporate and dissolve the honey.
- Dissolve 1/4 packet of wine yeast in a small amount of water. Allow it to bloom for at least 5 minutes before adding it into the mason jar. Top the jar with water if necessary to bring it to within an inch of the top.
- Seal the quart mason jar with a mason jar fermentation kit and allow to ferment at room temperature for about 6 weeks.
- Once fermentation has stopped, gently pour the mead into another container, leaving behind any sediment in the jar. Pour it through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any rhubarb hunks.
- Bottle in a flip-top Grolsch bottle and let it age for at least 2 more weeks before drinking.
To make a standard 1-gallon batch, simply multiply the quantities by 4.
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
Looking for more mead recipes? Try any of these:
- Wild Foraged Linden Flower Mead
- Small Batch Raspberry Mead
- Blackcurrant Mead
- Small Batch Elderberry Mead
Can this be made with frozen rhubarb?
Of course! This would work great with frozen rhubarb, and the freezing will actually help extract more of the juice.
I didn’t have a stopper, so I read you can use a balloon…but how do I know if fermentation is complete? The balloon was super inflated for the first 2 weeks, and now it looks like it does when you blow a bit of air into it, but don’t actually ‘blow it up’… should I leave until there’s no inflation at all? Is it usually a full 6 weeks or can I strain it/rack it at 4?
A couple of things you can do. If you’re racking it for a secondary fermentation, then you can really do that anytime after the first two weeks of violent fermentation has stopped. Sometimes fermentation goes faster, and it could be completely done after 4 weeks if it was warm in your house and there were plenty of nutrients for the yeast. If you’re going to bottle, pop the balloon off a bit and completely deflate it. Give it another day and if it looks empty you’re probably good.
Another way to do it, look really closely at the liquid in the fermenter. Do you see any tiny bubbles rising up? Like super tiny micro bubbles? Then it’s still going. If there are none and the balloon stays empty for a full day or so, then it’s pretty well done.
I cooked my rhubarb before I read your recipe, is this ok?
That’s just fine, no worries. Rhubarb is a low pectin fruit so cooking it is a good way to release the juice, and it won’t gel up like berries do. Just put in all the juice from the pan too.
I have made this, in the 3rd week of fermenting. I am not noticing any bubbling in the airlock, but see bubbles rising from the bottom and bubbles in the rhubarb. Am I on the right tract?
Also, do you leave the fruit in the jar for the whole brewing process. I have helped make wine in the past & there was a fermentation process, then you strained off the fruit and continued with the rest of the brewing process with out it. I am probably confusing myself, but any help is appreciated! Thanks!
You’re right on track! I skipped a secondary ferment with this one, largely because I got distracted by other spring tasks, but yes, generally filtering out the fruit and allow it to ferment for another few weeks before bottling results in a better mead. Get another mason jar, pour the whole thing carefully through a fine mesh strainer, leaving the sediment cake at the bottom of the first jar. Re-cap it with an airlock and allow it to go for 4-6 more weeks before bottling.
Hi, getting ready to make a batch and was wondering how much yeast is 1/4 packet? The yeast comes in 5 gram packets. Thanks
It doesn’t have to be exact, just don’t use the whole packet because it’s overkill. Anywhere from a pinch to roughly 1/4 packet will get the job done, it’s just to get it started and the yeast multiply very quickly on their own.
hi, thanks. I just started my first jar today. Is 3 c water the norm? my qt mason only took a little over 2 c and that filled it almost to the top.
Another question. Could you make a pear mead and a grapefruit mead? would the ratios of fruit to honey to be the same?
I used a little over 1/4 ts yeast.
I should change that to “add water to fill” rather than a measurement. If it’s up to within an inch of the top you’re good on adding water. Yes, you can make pear mead the same way, that sounds delicious. Since grapefruits are so acidic I’d suggest adding only a small amount of the actual fruit, and instead of adding a good bit of grapefruit zest. Just the colorful part on the outside, not the bitter white pith. A micro plane works wonderfully for zesting citrus. Good luck!
thanks. another question. my airlock has started to fill with the liquid. bubbles are rising up the tube. is this normal or should my airlock be empty? Do I have too much liquid in the jar?
That often happens in the first few days of fermentation. Clean out the airlock anytime stuff bubbles up into it, and consider taking some of the liquid out of the jar if it really gets out of control. Watch out with really chunky batches, they can clog the airlock and cause over pressure problems.
Hi, we started two quart batches of thisa couple weeks ago. On one batch, the airlock stopped bubbling pretty early on, though we can still see bubbles rising to the top of the jar. (The other is bubbling merrily away.) Any thoughts on why this is and what we should do?
It’s possible that the airlock is clogged at the bottom with fruit. Pop the lid off and check, clear any obstructions.
I started my rhubarb mead about three weeks ago. Two days ago I poured it into another container and strained out the rhubarb. My mead is super cloudy (and it was before I did the second step). Is this normal? Thanks!
Yes. It’ll be quite cloudy for some time, that’s cosmetic to some degree, but it’ll dissipate with time. If you let it sit in secondary for a long time, and perhaps rack it again it’ll clear more. It also clears further in the bottle.
Made a gallon of this on 6/1 and syphoned to secondary on 6/12. 7/21 syphoned again (and added corn sugar to make it sparkling) and then bottled. Had a little bit that didn’t fit into the bottles and we tried it and it was AMAZING. ..The one thing we forgot to do was get a gravity reading 🙁 I’ve looked through and can’t find anywhere where you say what the alcohol content is. Can you please let me know? Thanks!
I don’t measure the alcohol in my recipes, ever. Personal preference. So sorry I can’t help you with that one. Glad you enjoyed your taste though! The finished bottle-conditioned version is AMAZING =)
Never brewed mead but have fermented lots of things. Total newb but very excited as I was gifted a garbage bag full of rhubarb, could I add other fruits like strawberries and raspberries to this?
Yup! You can use any fruit you want, the quantity may need to adjust a bit based on how intense the flavor is, and for very sweet fruits (like raspberry) I reduce the honey a bit. Here’s a similar one with mead with raspberries, and a general guide on making small batch meads.
Wondering if you can use “ginger bug” instead of wine yeast?
You can ferment this with a ginger bug, but it will not make the same thing. A ginger bug, to the best of my understanding, does contain yeast but it also contains a bunch of symbiotic bacteria that all work together in a community similar to sourdough or kombucha. Wine yeast is just yeast and only makes alcohol, while all the other probiotics in a ginger bug make other compounds. That said, it’d probably be delicious, but I’d imagine the recipe would be different slightly as ginger bugs, I think, are only meant for short term ferments at very low alcohol levels.
If you try it, good luck and best wishes, but I think the beverage created won’t technically be wine (though it may still be delicious, I’ve never tried it, so I cant say either way).
What kind of Honey do you use? I purchased unpasteurized is that ok?
I use raw honey straight from the hives.
Awesome! Thank you!
Growing up, we ate alot of strawberry rhubarb pie and was think about making a strawberry rhubarb mead. Have you made one or have any suggestions for ratio for strawberry to rhubarb. I think I’m going to use frozen strawberries since they so easy to use and breakdown so well to release their juices. Thanks for any help you can give.
Sounds delicious! It depends on how you like your strawberry rhubarb pie. Personally, I like it 3/4 rhubarb with just a bit of strawberry in there for color, other people like it the other way around with way more strawberry. It’s totally up to you.
Hi, just about to start making two batches of this. I was wondering if I could add rose water for an extra taste. Do you think that’s a good idea, and if so how much should I use?
Rosewater sounds lovely, but how much to add is a good question…I’d think a tablespoon to a few tablespoons would do, but it depends on how strong you want it. Too much rose flavor can make things taste like perfume or bar soap, and that bothers some, I actually like rose-flavored things so I might go heavy-handed. Add a bit and see how it smells. If you do add it, I’d do it in secondary since the very active fermentation initially will cause a lot of the rose flavor to volatilize off.
I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. My question is once bottled should this be refrigerated to store or after opening?
If properly finished, it should keep in a corked wine bottle for years without refrigeration. Once opened, refrigerating will prolong its life, but at that point it’s like any other wine and should be consumed within a few days of opening to prevent it going to vinegar.
If I understand correctly, it’s not really necessary to add wine yeast/yeast nutrient to a melomel, but I can add a few raisins if I wish — is this correct? Will the mead still have some alcohol content without using any wine yeast? I love rhubarb, and this is my first attempt at mead, so the small batch sounded right up my ally. I have a Kraut Source water lock fermenting assembly cap that I use for fermented dill pickles and kraut — will this work ok for this mead? Thanks!
Yes, a water lock that’s used for sauerkraut will work fine (so long as it’s really clean), they’re the same functionally. You can try to use wild yeast for a ferment like this, and if you do I’d suggest making a wild yeast starter on the side with something (raisins, etc) to get it really going. Sometimes wild yeasts can be slow to get going, and they can use a head start. That’ll help prevent the rhubarb from spoiling before it can begin to get alcoholic.
Hey I’ve just had ankle surgery earlier today, and tomorrow will be the end of the recommended six weeks of primary fermentation. I was wondering what the absolute longest time is that I can leave the mead in the fermentation jar until I need to bottle, since my movement is somewhat limited currently
Really you can leave it in there for many more weeks (or even a few months) without issue, provided you keep water in the water lock so it doesn’t run dry.
How do you manage to keep this for 7 years? Once you finish bottling it, aka in the grolsch-style bottles, do you just shelve it?
Yes, it was kept in a cool basement.
Hello! I’d love to try this. I have not made wine/mead/sauerkraut etc. Can I use the fermentation kit I would use for, say, fermenting cabbage?
Yes you can, they’re the same basically. Good luck!
Could I do this with saskatoons as well? We have way more saskatoons in our freezer right now than rhubarb…! Thanks!
Do you heat the water before adding to honey.and rhubarb?
No, there is no need to heat the water.
One more question… I started the rhubarb mead 6 weeks ago. I see your recipe says “once fermentation has stopped” – how do I know? It’s too late in any case; I’ve strained the mead and it’s in a Grolsch bottle…!
You should see bubbles as long as the fermentation is active. Once the bubbling has stopped, the fermentation should be complete.
I already have pure rhubarb juice (chopped, frozen, thawed, then pressed out). Can I use this, and how would it change the amount of water and honey used in the recipe? Do I just use the juice without adding any water? Would I need additional honey? Thanks!
You can definitely use the juice. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use the juice without water, it will most likely have a stronger flavor. You could also try diluting it with some water if you want. I would just try it with the same amount of honey that is recommended in the recipe and then you can tweak it a bit depending on the taste.
Fresh lemon juice or bottled lemon juice?
You should be able to use either one.
Hello! I have not made this yet but I want to, I’m taking literal notes. I want to use apples though, not rhubarb. I’m even considering adding a tbsp or two of rose water… what I don’t know is what all I need. An airlock, water lock? Are these one in the same? Do you have a recommendation for purchasing? Also, can I use unpasteurized apple cider or juice in place of water? What other suggestions would you have for my particular recipe idea?
This post about making a small batch mead goes through all of the equipment needed and even has links to everything. It explains what you would need for a small batch and also for larger batches.
i tried to make this but see no bubbles and now i notice mold on the rhubarb is mold normal do you use the weight thing in the jar that comes with the fermentation kit , sorry newby at this thanks, paul
Mold is definitely not normal. Did you follow the directions exactly as they were written?
Do you think adding a handful of dandelion petals would help or hurt the recipe. I wanted to make a dandelion mead but didn’t get enough petals for dandelions alone.
I definitely don’t think it would hurt anything. I am very interested to know how it turns out.
Adding dandelion to This rhubarb recipe came out pretty decent. My sweet wine lovers said it tasted more like a beer but my dry wine lovers said it was great.
What do you think I would need to do to tweak this recipe if I wanted to do a pumpkin spice mead. Is there anything I should do different should I use purée or whole pumpkin chunks?
I would think that the pumpkin chunks would be easier to deal with and strain out in the end.
I started a small batch x4 on June 7th. Followed all direction and did use the wine yeast. I definitely had good bubble action the first week and a half, but it has basically stopped. It is now June 22. Checked my airlock, seems o.k, I did get a whiff of alcohol. Can I still wait the 6 weeks or should I just strain already? Or should I add something to try to get it working again?
What is the temperature where is it fermenting?
I think our temp is a bit on the cool side being in a basement. Maybe around 65- 70. We are not lighting our woodstove these days.
If you think that the temperature is on the cool side I would try to move it to a warmer location and you will probably see an increase the activity.
Is there anohher option for bottling? I assume water bath canning would affect the mead. What about vacuum sealing? How long would the mead last in a standard (nonsealed) mason jar?
Mason jars typically are not recommended for long term storage of mead. It’s possible that the pressure could cause the jars to bust.
My mead is about 5 weeks in. I don’t see any bubbles and it has turned a darker color. I see no mold and it definitely smells like alcohol. Do you think it is still ok?
If there is no mold and it smells like alcohol then it sounds like it should be fine.
My husband and I tasted it as I was bottling it. His quote, “it tastes mead like…” So, I think I call that success! We will try it again in a couple of weeks to see how it mellows. What is the best way to store it after bottling?
Sounds like a success to me. I would store it in a cool, dark location.