PDA

View Full Version : Holy ABV Batman! How do I calm this liquid napalm??



shunoshi
01-11-2008, 01:51 PM
Well, it appears the beer brewer in me has gotten me into some potential trouble. On a whim I decided to make a 1 gallon cyser using 3 lbs. of grocery store bought clover honey and filling the remainder with pure apple juice. I warmed the honey slighty just to get it out of the jar, added apple juice to fill the 1 gallon jug, tossed in a cinnamon stick, 6 cloves, and a 1/4 tsp of Fermaid-K, GoFerm, and DAP. I shook the hell outta the bugger and took an initial gravity reading.....1.137. It hadn't really occured to me at the time that adding apple juice to honey with no dilution would make for a serious high gravity beverage.

I determined that my rehydrated Lalvin D-47 wasn't going to cut it anymore and pitched a rehydrated Red Star Montrachet yeast instead. I have made German style apfelwein with it several times with great results and I knew the alcohol tolerance of Montrachet was relatively high. I proceded to shake up the carboy for the next couple days to keep it aerated and then left it to do it's business.

It's now 5 weeks later. I took a gravity reading and we're sitting at 1.008. I took a sip of my sample and it was sweet, had an apple aftertaste and went down my throat like a shot of Blue 100. Wow, napalm. I plugged the numbers into an ABV calculator and I'm looking at roughly 17.1% ABV.

Sorry about the long and involved post, but I wanted to set the stage. On to my main question. Am I going to need to try and backsweeten this in order to get something palatable or will this mellow out with a little conditioning time (and by little I mean a lot)? I know from experience that big beers require some extended conditioning time. Is this going to be the same case? I suppose I should just take it one day at a time, but a 1 gallon batch can only handle so many samples. ;)

Also, I was considering if oaking would help smooth out some of the heavy alcohol....

Thanks in advance all!

Oskaar
01-11-2008, 02:12 PM
Get it onto some medium toast French oak as soon as you can. It will take time to mellow.

The D47 would have handled this well without the extensive aging. Montrachet added your "rocket fuel" character.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

shunoshi
01-11-2008, 02:29 PM
Yeah, I subbed out the D-47 mainly because I didn't want a sweet dessert mead. Guess I should have thought that through before fermenting a concentrated honey infused apple juice. :D I'll head to Midwest tomorrow and pick up some French Medium Toast per your suggestion. Is there a specific time frame that I should oak this for? I've never messed with oak before, so this is completely new ground to me.

EDIT: Oh, I also am clueless to oaking amounts....

Yo momma
01-11-2008, 03:19 PM
Just put in an ounce and let it sit for a couple of days. If it is starts to overpower the apple it is time to rack it off. You want the oak in until the flavor is just over what you want and it will mellow out over time. Your sweetness is pretty much where I like my meads so I would say it's ok, but it's your taste that's important. The oak will blend the alchohol well with a little carmel nutty after tones. Perfect for any cyser.

Also the amount of cloves you put in is alot for a gallon batch :angryfire: (spicey). Those little thing are powerful. You only put one in when JAO is made and you can taste it in there. YMMV
:cheers:

shunoshi
01-11-2008, 03:23 PM
Awesome. I'll be racking this off the lees come tomorrow afternoon. I'll toss in an ounce of French Medium Roast and try a tiny sample daily to see how it progesses. When it tastes "right" I'll rack it off the oak, cork it, and let'er sit till late spring/early summer.

Thanks for the advice! :toothy10:

Oskaar
01-11-2008, 03:49 PM
Just put in an ounce and let it sit for a couple of days. If it is starts to overpower the apple it is time to rack it off. You want the oak in until the flavor is just over what you want and it will mellow out over time. Your sweetness is pretty much where I like my meads so I would say it's ok, but it's your taste that's important. The oak will blend the alchohol well with a little carmel nutty after tones. Perfect for any cyser.

Also the amount of cloves you put in is alot for a gallon batch :angryfire: (spicey). Those little thing are powerful. You only put one in when JAO is made and you can taste it in there. YMMV
:cheers:


I'd consider a different approach for a one gallon batch size.

I generally recommend cubes as opposed to chips. Chips infuse too quickly and are mono-dimensional in taste and character. They will be especially so in this case since your extraction rate and penetration will be significant. An ounce in a one gallon recipe is too much in my opinion, and coupled with the accelerated rate of extraction due to your high alcohol will result in sharp, astringent, barky, woody flavors that are not desireable.

My choice in this case would be to use medium toast French oak cubes at a rate of .5 or .25 oz for the following reasons:

1. slower more controlled rate of extraction
2. less surface area results in lower extraction of "burnt wood" and harsh flavors
3. lower ratio of wood to liquid will allow for longer exposure with fuller depth of character
4. longer exposure gives better integration of character and results in enhanced mid-palate and long finish influence
5. French oak is more dense than American oak and will extract more slowly, especially in cube form
6. high ABV character leeching is mitigated by lower amount of oak and lower surface area

Your exposure time should be about 4 weeks, start tasting after about 1 week

Hope that helps,

Oskaar

shunoshi
01-11-2008, 04:16 PM
Right on! Everything you said there makes sense, Oskaar. Although I don't really know the science behind it, you've been making this wonderful beverage for damn near as long as I've been living, so I'll run with it. 1/4 oz. French medium roast cubes it is! Thanks for shedding some light.

Yo momma
01-11-2008, 06:29 PM
Thanks Oscaar for the insight. I guess I should cut down on the amount of Oak I put in mine. :-\ I only use cubes at an ounce at a time. Now most of my batches are 5-6 gal and are rarely 1-2 gallons unless I am experimenting. I guess what you stated makes sense. Thanks again.
:cheers:

Oskaar
01-11-2008, 07:41 PM
No problema! I've experimented with normal (2 ounce) doses in 1 gallon batches and they tend to over-run the mead in a very short time much the way a 5 gallon sized oak cask does. When I went to a lower dosage of oak I found that the infusion time was much the same as a 6 gallon batch. It made sense to do the gradual infusion since I get the desired treatment in a roughly equivalent time frame, and it stays within the realm of my experience base with oak treatments.

Cheers,

Oskaar

shunoshi
01-13-2008, 05:22 PM
Well, I racked it off the lees onto 1/4 oz. of French Oak Cubes (medium roast). I'll taste it weekly to ensure it doesn't get over-oaked. Then I'll play the waiting game. I'll probably try a bit come Xmas to see how it's coming along. I'm guessing this is going to take some time to mellow out.

shunoshi
02-04-2008, 06:40 PM
Another oak question! I'm wondering if there is some way that you should prepare oak cubes for use. Without really considering the possible consequences of "dirty" wood, I racked my cyser onto a few cubes of oak straight from the package. After a week I tried it and you could start to notice the oak flavor. It's now been three weeks and the mead has taken on a darker tint and it has definite strong oak notes now so I figure I'll rack it off tonight and let it continue conditioning. I probably should have asked about this before using oak, but no use crying over dark mead.

I'm guessing I won't have to worry about infection since the mead was already running a hot 17% ABV before oaking and most bacteria can't handle that alcohol percentage. The only thing that worries me is whether the oak is supposed to be soaked first before being introduced to the must. Any additional info would be great for future reference. The oaking is done on my end for now. I'm crossing my fingers that sometime next year this stuff will be palatable.

akueck
02-04-2008, 11:04 PM
I briefly dunk my oak in sanitizer and then shake the liquid off. Oskaar recommends using bottled water to wash off the sanitizer.

Chances are you're fine. Fresh from the bag oak might have little bits of wood dust, but that will hopefully settle to the bottom anyway. I can't imagine a whole lot of bugs live on toasted oak. :laughing7: