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View Full Version : Any tips on making a mead to age a long time?



TheTooth
12-30-2009, 03:41 PM
So it looks like I'm going to be a dad next year and I want to make a mead to lay down until he/she turns 21 and can legally drink. I've made a few batches of mead and they've been tasty, but I haven't had a chance to age any of it more than a year yet, so I'm flying blind as to what it'll take to lay anything down that long and have it still be decent.

I know that dry meads age longer/better than sweet meads, but does spicing or fruit help/hinder the process in any way? Should I add tannins or something to help it survive 20+ years in my cellar? Any help or recipes would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

AToE
12-30-2009, 03:52 PM
Well, moving to Canada would knock 3 years of that aging time! ;)

Other than that I have no advice... I hear that higher ABV and tannin (antioxidant) will help mead age longer, not sure about sweet vs dry, I've heard it both ways.

TheTooth
12-30-2009, 04:11 PM
Thanks for the quick answer!

I think the higher ABV is what I was thinking when I said a dry mead would age longer. I'll definitely look into adding some tannins to help it survive it's time in the bottle.

I'll keep Canada in the back of my mind as a fallback plan. LOL

akueck
12-30-2009, 04:54 PM
I remember some discussion like this earlier, you might have luck searching for it.

In short, more is better for long-term aging. More alcohol, more residual sugar, more antioxidants (any of various kinds), more more more! If I were to do it, I'd go for at least 18% abv and be generous with oak.

I might also suggest more volume. Since it's impossible to predict how your mead will age over 20+ years when you're first starting out, it might not be a bad idea to make 5 or 10 gallons and pop open a bottle every year (happy birthday!). 5 gallons is about 25 750ml bottles, so you'll have enough to last until the 21st birthday. If you bottle half the batch in 12 oz beer bottles, you'll still have 12 or so 750s left when the time comes.

TheTooth
12-30-2009, 05:01 PM
I remember some discussion like this earlier, you might have luck searching for it.

In short, more is better for long-term aging. More alcohol, more residual sugar, more antioxidants (any of various kinds), more more more! If I were to do it, I'd go for at least 18% abv and be generous with oak.

I might also suggest more volume. Since it's impossible to predict how your mead will age over 20+ years when you're first starting out, it might not be a bad idea to make 5 or 10 gallons and pop open a bottle every year (happy birthday!). 5 gallons is about 25 750ml bottles, so you'll have enough to last until the 21st birthday. If you bottle half the batch in 12 oz beer bottles, you'll still have 12 or so 750s left when the time comes.

I tried searching for it with a few different searches, but I guess I didn't hit the right word combo. I'll try a few more today and see if I can find more info. My post count has been practically nil over the past year or so since I created an account because I've always been able to answer my question with searches previously. :)

Thanks for all the info you included in your reply. I haven't oaked a mead yet, but it sounds like it'll be time to try. High alcohol is definitely on the agenda. I'll definitely make a full 6 gallon batch so I can open a few and still have a case of 750's left for the kid when the time comes. I know there is no way I'll be able to stay away from it for that long. LOL

I'm actually thinking of transferring 5 gallons to one of the kegs I usually use for beer and "forgetting" it in the back of my cellar to bulk age for an extended period before bottling it all.

I had never heard of more residual sugar being helpful, though. Any idea of why the residual sugar would be beneficial?

male
12-30-2009, 05:09 PM
20 years aging is a good idea for Dwójniak, with high ABV and a lot of residual sugar.You should try one.

TheTooth
12-30-2009, 05:29 PM
20 years aging is a good idea for Dwójniak, with high ABV and a lot of residual sugar.You should try one.

Thanks Marek. I hadn't heard of a Dwójniak before, but a quick search of the site turns up a bunch of into. It looks like it's a really high OG mead (1.210-ish) that ferments down to a still crazy high FG (1.100-ish).

I'll spend some time tonight (and over the weekend) doing more research on that. From what I gathered from an earlier response, the high residual sugar should help it age a bit as well.

akueck
12-30-2009, 06:13 PM
A wealth of topics! Some are in the patrons section, but many are not.
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13427&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12659&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12319&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11711&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11910&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11881&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11747&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9667&highlight=long+term+aging
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7823&highlight=long+term+aging

There are also many topics on the Polish-style meads. Some of the most detailed brewlogs are in the Patrons area.

TheTooth
12-30-2009, 07:54 PM
Thanks Akuek! I don't know why I didn't come up with the search topic "long term aging". I'll be reading through those tonight!

Arcanum
12-30-2009, 11:16 PM
Generally speaking, for both meads and grape wines, anything that acts as a preservative will extend aging. Alcohol, residual sugar, tannins, and antioxidants all have a preservative effect, so in theory more of those results in longer/better aging. I say in theory because just having some or all of those things doesn't guarantee a mead or wine that will age well for an extended period of time. If that were the case, wines that age obscenely long amounts of time would be much more common than they are.

On the up side, meads apparently age better than wines on average, so you've got that going for you.

TheRabidKumquat
12-31-2009, 01:29 AM
Why long term bulk age in a keg vs a carboy w/ a solid stopper? I'd be worried that the gaskets would fail me, and they're harder to see/get to than a carboy.

I would think something like a dark berry melomel would be incredible w/ such a long aging time, but I would keep it as a straight traditional for the first 5 or 7 years. What if the child winds up being allergic to something that you put in it and now this gift of love, labor, and incredible patience, kind of goes to waste?

One other thing I could think of... make sure to make lots and lots of batches so that you can keep this one forgotten about

fatbloke
12-31-2009, 10:41 AM
-----%<-----What if the child winds up being allergic to something that you put in it and now this gift of love, labor, and incredible patience, kind of goes to waste?
-----%<-----
Nah! don't worry about that. That would be in the hands of nature and as long as Tooth isn't allergic to anything, then he can always do the celebrating and then the kid can just take a sip and keep the adrenaline jabs handy........;);D

regards

fatbloke

TheTooth
12-31-2009, 02:14 PM
Why long term bulk age in a keg vs a carboy w/ a solid stopper? I'd be worried that the gaskets would fail me, and they're harder to see/get to than a carboy.

I would think something like a dark berry melomel would be incredible w/ such a long aging time, but I would keep it as a straight traditional for the first 5 or 7 years. What if the child winds up being allergic to something that you put in it and now this gift of love, labor, and incredible patience, kind of goes to waste?

One other thing I could think of... make sure to make lots and lots of batches so that you can keep this one forgotten about

The reason I was thinking keg was: I make mead, beer, wine, and ciders. I can't really see tying up one of my carboys for that many years when I have plenty of cheap indestructable SS kegs laying all over the place. They are easy to move and I can easily keep a layer of C02 on the mead while it's in the keg.

I have had kegs for years and not had an issue with a gasket failing... but honestly nothing has lasted longer than 2 years in my kegs. I would think that if the rubber in the seal were to fail, I'd have the same issue with a stopper.

Maybe I should just bulk age for a year or two and get it into bottles.

I definitely plan to make a lot of batches... that's why I need those carboys available. ;)

TheTooth
12-31-2009, 02:16 PM
Nah! don't worry about that. That would be in the hands of nature and as long as Tooth isn't allergic to anything, then he can always do the celebrating and then the kid can just take a sip and keep the adrenaline jabs handy........;);D

regards

fatbloke

Precisely! I can't help if the kid comes out allergic to mead. If so, maybe the big crazy barley wine I'm planning to make will work instead. I figure if I do the mead and barley wine, I have two chances for success. :cool:

Medsen Fey
12-31-2009, 02:29 PM
The reason I was thinking keg was: I make mead, beer, wine, and ciders. I can't really see tying up one of my carboys for that many years when I have plenty of cheap indestructable SS kegs laying all over the place. They are easy to move and I can easily keep a layer of C02 on the mead while it's in the keg.

I have had kegs for years and not had an issue with a gasket failing...

I age virtually everything in kegs. I haven't kept anything in the keg longer than 3 years, but that worked fine. If you lubes the O-ring well, it should last a long time. If you wanted to age something in keg for 20 years, you could pressurize it and keep a pressure gauge attached - if the seal starts to fail you would see the drop in pressure and could replace the O-rings.

I might just have to forget about a batch in the back of the closet in a keg just to see what happens.

If I wanted to age something for 20 years, I'd make a traditional mead, and probably sack strength. I think they can probably age for decades without problem.

TheTooth
12-31-2009, 02:56 PM
Thanks, Medsen. I don't think it would be in the keg for the full 20 years. I was thinking maybe 5-ish. Then I could bottle it at that point and let the bottles sit with cork/wax combo in the back of one of the bulk cellar bins.

jcjrogers
12-31-2009, 06:04 PM
I wouldn't up alcohol for aging reasons, at least not much. Though some ports will age a long time, many if not most lower alcohol wines age better than their higher alcohol counterparts. For instance French Bordeaux will almost always have a lower alcohol content than its California counterpart. However, the California wine will peak and subsequently decline much sooner than the Bordeaux.

Some things to consider with aging wines (in no particular order):

1) Quality of the grapes.
2) Ripeness of the grapes when harvested.
3) Level of tannins.
4) Acidity/pH.
5) Level of sulphites (must be enough to protect the wine for extended periods of time).
6) Temperature of storage location.
7) Cork quality.

With mead, I would start with the best raw, unfiltered, honey I could find. For tannins, you might go with Tannin Galalacool. Typically used with white wines, but should help your aging potential. You also might want to oak. Not only will oak add tannins, but you have plenty of time for the oak flavor and the tannins to mellow. I would also recommend adjusting pH down pretty low. Probably less than 3.20. With wine, acidity tends to decrease and pH tends to increase over time. I assume the same is true in meads. You should also go a little overboard on sulphites. Sulphites will disipate over time but going a little strong and having a low pH should keep you protected. Temperature of the area you are keeping this in will likely have a large effect. If you have a way of keeping at proper cellaring temperatures (52 - 57 deg F), that would help tremendously. You might even want to store cooler than that if possible. Finally, you should probably start with the most expensive, highest quality cork you can find. You should probably re-cork every 6 or 7 years.

wildoates
12-31-2009, 08:32 PM
And many congratulations on the forthcoming bundle of joy--here's to hoping s/he brings you nothing but joy as s/he grows up!

*clink!

dogglebe
01-01-2010, 12:13 PM
Precisely! I can't help if the kid comes out allergic to mead. If so, maybe the big crazy barley wine I'm planning to make will work instead. I figure if I do the mead and barley wine, I have two chances for success. :cool:

If you're thinking of a barleywine, you should hop the living hell out of it. The bitterness, aroma and flavor of hops fade over the time and you could end up with something resembling an old ale. Also, you may not want to drink it in a few years if it's too hoppy.

A homebrew club I belong too will be doing this in a few weeks with a 75 gallon imperial stout. The recipe calls for 120+ IBUs, much more than is called for the style. We call this, protecting it from ourselves.


Phil

jcjrogers
01-01-2010, 07:48 PM
I forgot. One other important consideration when aging is cellaring conditions. Not only do you want the right temperature, you want no vibrations, a constant temperature, and a humidity above 50% and below 75%(mostly for cork preservation). About the only way you are likely to obtain these conditions is with a dedicated cellar. Either a wine cooler type device or a room with the proper cooling, insulation, vapor barrier, etc.

AToE
01-01-2010, 08:04 PM
I've heard that vibrations and disturbance cause issues with aging, and some people mention that after shipping/travelling with their mead/wine it tastes off for a week or two until it "settles down". I'm curious as to why that is.:confused:

Arcanum
01-02-2010, 01:45 AM
I've heard that vibrations and disturbance cause issues with aging, and some people mention that after shipping/travelling with their mead/wine it tastes off for a week or two until it "settles down". I'm curious as to why that is.:confused:

I'd be curious to see a controlled double-blind test to see if it actually tastes off or if people just think it tastes off.

TheTooth
01-02-2010, 01:54 AM
I wouldn't up alcohol for aging reasons, at least not much. Though some ports will age a long time, many if not most lower alcohol wines age better than their higher alcohol counterparts. For instance French Bordeaux will almost always have a lower alcohol content than its California counterpart. However, the California wine will peak and subsequently decline much sooner than the Bordeaux.

Some things to consider with aging wines (in no particular order):

1) Quality of the grapes.
2) Ripeness of the grapes when harvested.
3) Level of tannins.
4) Acidity/pH.
5) Level of sulphites (must be enough to protect the wine for extended periods of time).
6) Temperature of storage location.
7) Cork quality.

With mead, I would start with the best raw, unfiltered, honey I could find. For tannins, you might go with Tannin Galalacool. Typically used with white wines, but should help your aging potential. You also might want to oak. Not only will oak add tannins, but you have plenty of time for the oak flavor and the tannins to mellow. I would also recommend adjusting pH down pretty low. Probably less than 3.20. With wine, acidity tends to decrease and pH tends to increase over time. I assume the same is true in meads. You should also go a little overboard on sulphites. Sulphites will disipate over time but going a little strong and having a low pH should keep you protected. Temperature of the area you are keeping this in will likely have a large effect. If you have a way of keeping at proper cellaring temperatures (52 - 57 deg F), that would help tremendously. You might even want to store cooler than that if possible. Finally, you should probably start with the most expensive, highest quality cork you can find. You should probably re-cork every 6 or 7 years.

Wow... that's a ton of helpful information. Thanks a bunch!

I'll be good for cellaring as I built a dedicated cellar with temp/humidity controlled cooling unit in our garage. That's where we store big wines/meads/wines as they age, as long as commercial wines.

TheTooth
01-02-2010, 01:55 AM
And many congratulations on the forthcoming bundle of joy--here's to hoping s/he brings you nothing but joy as s/he grows up!

*clink!

Thanks Wildoates. I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing. Let's just hope I don't screw the kid up too badly. LOL

TheTooth
01-02-2010, 01:56 AM
If you're thinking of a barleywine, you should hop the living hell out of it. The bitterness, aroma and flavor of hops fade over the time and you could end up with something resembling an old ale. Also, you may not want to drink it in a few years if it's too hoppy.

A homebrew club I belong too will be doing this in a few weeks with a 75 gallon imperial stout. The recipe calls for 120+ IBUs, much more than is called for the style. We call this, protecting it from ourselves.


Phil

That's funny. I've never overhopped anything in order to keep it from myself, but it's a good idea in this type of instance.

I plan to hope the living hell our of this barley wine in hopes that it makes it to duration. I'm actually leaning towards doing an oaked imperial stout with mad levels of hops, figuring that the oak and hops will work together to make it last the duration.