View Full Version : how to use certain flavor agents?

09-04-2008, 12:59 AM
If I were to use vanilla as a flavoring agent in a mead, how would I do it? I have seen that some people use vanilla beans, but it seems as though they only use a few (1-3), and they are cut in half. Why is that? Are vanilla beans that powerful in flavor? Also, what container would I add this in (primary, secondary, tertiary, etc.)?

If I were to use brown sugar, would it lend much of a flavor to the mead, or would it be consumed by the yeast as sugar with no aftereffects such as smell or taste? Also, how would I utilize it? Would it be better to use caramel?

I am trying to use vanilla and brown sugar (or caramel) with a snowberry honey to make a sweet, thick (if at all possible), and low alcohol mead that tastes as much like butterscotch as possible.

Also, I have no recipe as of yet b/c I'm not sure exactly how much honey I should use (shooting for 4%-6.5% alcohol content), or how much vanilla or brown sugar/caramel to use.

09-04-2008, 08:04 AM
Good morning Capoeirista13,

Using flavor agents depends on what form they are in. For example, you could use vanilla extract, which is a liquid, or the whole beans. How you use them also depends on what you are aiming for. Therefore, there is no single answer to how to use a flavor agent, which is what makes this hobby so exciting.

With respect to your questions, here is my 2 cents. Vanilla beans are cut in half to expose the seeds and inner 'flesh' to the Mead. This is where the flavor is. Why only use 2 or 3? One answer is that the beans do impart a good amount of flavor and therefore only need a couple or they can overpower the honey. The other is that the beans are so damned expensive. There are some pastes out there that can be used instead that are cheaper and can be measured precisely. Check out your local whole food store.

Brown sugar will impart flavor. Brown sugar gets its color and flavor from the Molasses that is still in it (white sugar has had all of the molasses removed). To use it, I would calculate how much of the alcohol you want to be derived from the sugar, and just mix it in. Don't forget though that the majority of the fermentables have to be derived from honey for this to be a Mead, which means at least 51%. As for using caramel, do you mean caramelized sugar? Personally, I would stick with the raw ingredients rather than using caramel. Easier to replicate later if you want to repeat the batch.

When formulating your recipe, keep in mind that the primary flavoring agent of a Mead is the honey. The goal is therefore to try to create the general taste that you want (Butterscotch), without overpowering the honey's subtle flavor. As for the goal of thick and sweet with a 4%-6.5% alcohol content, this may be very difficult to acheive unless you backsweeten with honey after fermentation has completed and you strip the Mead of all yeast (you will need a filtration system for this) or blast them with chemicals. Use the calculator to figure out how much honey/sugar you need, and use the vanilla and brown sugar sparingly so as not to lose the Snowberry flavor.


09-04-2008, 03:36 PM
To expand on the brown sugar idea, I have used molasses a couple of times. It is largely unfermentable (I'm not totally sure but my guess is about 50%) and will leave a lot of flavor/sugars/starches behind. Use sparingly though because the flavor is strong--one tbsp per gallon is probably enough to start with. Using molasses instead of brown sugar will allow you to use less plain sugar and more honey (which is more expensive, but tastes a lot more like honey). Also if you find that the molasses flavors are not strong enough at the end of fermentation, it's a lot easier to add a spoonful than a few pounds of brown sugar.

Don't forget to use the unsulphured molasses. Even so you'll get some sulfur smells blowing out during initial fermentation.

09-04-2008, 06:19 PM
So it is better to flavor with things that can't be fully fermented?

Also, if it smells like sulfur a bit isn't that a bad thing? It won't make it taste funky will it?