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View Full Version : Need to check my assumptions on mead - braggot



Old_Skool
05-30-2010, 11:00 PM
Hello All

I've been brewing beer for about 18months now (extract + mini-mash) and really having fun and enjoying the whole process. Especially drinking ales brewed in the styles I like.

I do have the urge to try something a bit different in either a braggot or a basic mead. Of course for us beer brewers we ferment for a week or 2 - bottle and all is well at 4 - 6 weeks in the bottle. Meads have all types of mysteries about them like 4 month primary fermentations - 6 months in secondary - A year in the bottle ....

So I guess my primary assumption is if i lower the alcohol levels I can ferment out a bit faster and have to age it a little less. The goal here is to do a batch or two - and learn a few things before really jumping into it. Much like in brewing where I tell people to brew some simple ales before doing a Belgium Tripple.

So for a simple mead I'm looking at a something like a Hydromel semi-sweet mead perhaps based on a kit like
http://www.northernbrewer.com/winemaking/mead-kits/hydromel-mead-kit.html

As far as a braggot - I have brewing software and have put together a basic Irish Red Ale - total volume is 5.5gal
5lbs amber LME
some crystal malts
a bit of roasted barley
Goldings hops to about 23 IBU
then 4 - 5LBs of Blackberry Honey (after I chill the wort to about 90deg F and have strained it into the fermenter)
--- If I go 5Lbs honey my OG will be about 1.070 with a final of about 1.018 at about 6.6% alcohol -- 4Lbs gets an OG of 1.062


So after all this rambling BS --- I'm looking for a mead or a braggot that would be drinkable at 4 - 6 months from brew day. Any comments or ideas are really welcome. THANKS

As note since I'm setup for brewing beer I would probably brew a 5gal batch as (besides the cost) I feel smaller batches are more prone to amplifying any small issues that may come along ..

AToE
05-30-2010, 11:39 PM
I'll let someone tackle the rest of that, but if someone said 4 months for primary, they're probably either fermenting super cool, or are doing something wrong. Most fermentations for mead are done in 10 days (for me usually more like 5) - of course, after that it does need some aging, in my personal opinion it doesn't do any justice to it to try it before 6 months, and I look forward to being able to age things at least a year before tasting, but right now my patience isn't so good!

A lower ABV braggot could probably be good to go at 4 months though, somthing maybe in the 7-9% range?

Chevette Girl
05-30-2010, 11:55 PM
For a first mead, it's hard to go wrong with Joe's Ancient Orange or a variation upon that theme. Finishes sweet, clears in a couple of months, drinkable when it's clear, and you have significant leeway to play with the recipe too.

A five-gallon batch is a significant investment if you're not sure you'll like the results, you really may want to consider 1-gal pilot projects until you are sure you like something...

socpsy
05-31-2010, 08:10 AM
I've brewed about 5 braggots and for the first 4 I found that the last ones I drank were always the best. Yesterday, I drank the last one of a batch I brewed in October. It was excellent! So, now I try to squirrel away my braggot and not touch it for at least 6 months, particularly if the ABV is in the 6.5 to 7.5% range. The last one I brewed in early February is patiently waiting for consumption this fall! ;) (BTW, my recipe for this one is in the beer forum here on GotMead. It is called Orange Blossom Special (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15821))

My rule of thumb is about 1lb of honey per gallon or whatever gets me to the honey being about 50% of the fermentables.

For me, cranberry and orange blossom honey are really nice in wheat-based braggots (which is my favorite). I once made a gallon of braggot with eastern buckwheat from the second runnings of another brew. I thought it tasted like crap, but one of my brewing colleagues liked it.

Good luck!

Old_Skool
05-31-2010, 03:00 PM
Dave - Thanks for the excellent info and tips. I'm still noodling on this and will be for a month or so. It would be nice to have it ready by the new year.

Do you rack to a secondary ? Would that be a pro or con in your mind ?

I will probably try a orange blossom or black berry honey ---- I've read and heard (podcasts) that buckwheat honey can be a bit funky in a braggot.

Gotta go clean up the kitchen to brew a Blonde Ale;D

socpsy
05-31-2010, 06:23 PM
Dave - Thanks for the excellent info and tips. I'm still noodling on this and will be for a month or so. It would be nice to have it ready by the new year.

Do you rack to a secondary ? Would that be a pro or con in your mind ?

I will probably try a orange blossom or black berry honey ---- I've read and heard (podcasts) that buckwheat honey can be a bit funky in a braggot.

Gotta go clean up the kitchen to brew a Blonde Ale;D

So far, I've not racked any of my braggots to secondary. I usually leave them in the primary for 2 to 2.5 weeks. I don't necessarily require my brews to be clear. In fact, I sorta like the "cloudy" look! :) I have a strong preference for unfiltered wheat beers. Consequently, I don't rack to secondary for clearing. With high volume braggots, I suppose there would be some advantage of getting the braggot off the yeast in primary, but I've never done it. I'm not an expert, though!

I'm envious that you are brewing today! My schedule prevents any brewing for the next 3-4 weeks. :( However, I am going to attempt my first lager during the last week in June. I'm looking forward to that.

AToE
05-31-2010, 06:56 PM
I thought that with beer, going to secondary was more to get off the trub (grain particles if I recall rightly?) than off the yeast. I guess that's not an issue if it's only going to wait a couple weeks before bottling, but any longer than that and I'd personally start to worry about oxidization and trub decay/infusion/whatever it does that is undesirable.

socpsy
05-31-2010, 07:46 PM
I thought that with beer, going to secondary was more to get off the trub (grain particles if I recall rightly?) than off the yeast. I guess that's not an issue if it's only going to wait a couple weeks before bottling, but any longer than that and I'd personally start to worry about oxidization and trub decay/infusion/whatever it does that is undesirable.

I've always thought that clearing and avoiding byproducts of yeast autolysis as being reasons for using secondary for beers. Dry hopping might also be done in secondary, but I don't really like highly hopped braggots, so that isn't something I would do.

YMMV.

Old_Skool
06-01-2010, 12:09 AM
I rack to secondary for a few reasons. Leaving the beer (what was wort) on the trub for 2 - 3 - 4 weeks is not a problem as long as you manage the temperature. Turns out the risk of autolysis is not an issue - and many brewers rack to a bottling bucket and bottle without going to secondary.

One of the advantages of going to secondary is that you can leave there for many weeks (again managing temps --- say around 63-68deg) and the ageing should only help. And certainly one reason is to both gain more clarity and to let the yeast do a bit more cleaning up. The other reason is flexibility, if plans to bottle go awry -- I can always put that off for a week or two with no worries. If anything the beer just gets a bit better.

The flip side is you do need to really step up your equipment cleaning and sanitation during the xfer process.