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View Full Version : New to mead, need a little guidance



Jeepninja
10-27-2011, 11:53 AM
Hello All. I'm a long time brewer and thinking of doing my first batch of mead. So equipment wise I'm all set.

But I need a little help recipe wise. I'm looking for a 5gal recipe for something that will finish a little sweet and maybe a little spicy. I want to do either a Cyser or a Metheglin with cinnamon. But not having made mead before I don't know what is really considered a "good recipe". I looked at JAOM but I'm hung up on raisins, which I hate with a passion, and its 1gal yield.

Any guidance is greatly appreciated, this site is a wealth of knowledge but I just need a little direction to get the ball rolling.

Also I can get local honey for $4/lb, this seems to be about the average going rate correct?

jlerner
10-27-2011, 12:20 PM
Hi Jeep!

Regarding JAO: It is my understanding that the raisins are there for tannins (mouthfeel), and to provide food for the yeast. You shouldn't get a raisin taste in the end product... Can anyone else confirm? I have 2 batches fermenting right now, but have not tasted yet, so I can not be 100% certain.

$4 a lb for honey sounds pretty good. My local healthfood store wants $8 a lb for Orange Blossom Honey. Wish I could find a beekeeper here in Downtown Denver!

Echostatic
10-27-2011, 01:04 PM
I have never had a raisin taste in my JAO. Just add 'em and don't worry about it, they won't let you down.

Loadnabox
10-27-2011, 01:18 PM
The raisins contribute very little tastes in a jao.

As for honey price depends a lot on quantity. For a 60 pound bucket online with shipping is about $170 or my local beekeeper sells for $130 for wildflower

Jeepninja
10-27-2011, 01:39 PM
I figured there wouldn't be any raisin taste in the mead. In fact I'm sure its more a mental hangup of hating them so much than it is anything else.

I'm sure JAO is an easy mead to start out with. But I'm looking for something with either cider or cinnamon or both! Which is what lead me to cysers and metheglins.

I don't mind if I have to wait a year or two for it to be cleared well. I've made beer, wine and cheese that have all taken almost that long.

AToE
10-27-2011, 02:04 PM
If you're already good with fermenting things then you can jump to more advanced for sure, just read the newbee guide (lefthand menu here) because a LOT of how mead is made is very different from beer in terms of overall process. There are some awesome spiced cyser recipes on this site, so I'd maybe start by doing a search for "spiced cyser" looking only for thread titles and see what that brings up - I think some of the best are hidden in the patrons areas but there should still be some good info in the free sections.

Cyser and proper meth are 2 kinds I've simply never gotten around to making, so I can't give recipes myself. But also consider how sweet, and what ABV you want - those will determin yeast choice (to some extent) and amount of honey/juice used at least, we can help with that no problem at all.

Jeepninja
10-27-2011, 03:56 PM
I guess I'm just a little overwhelmed by all the different recipes and materials on the site. I've read over all the basics and newbee guides here.

I get the same way with resturants that have too many items on their menu.

I guess I just need a good recommendation of "Do this one and wait a year".

AToE
10-27-2011, 04:31 PM
Ok, well until someone chimes in with a specific recipe, do you have an ABV and sweetness amount in mind at all? By "spicy" I assume you mean "spiced tasting" not actually "hot" too right?

The reason I ask is because someone might give you a recipe for a super sweet mead, might be a great recipe but if you don't like super sweet then it's not a great recipe for you. So knowing ABV and sweetness level is a good starting point to see what would match with your tastes.

jlerner
10-27-2011, 08:24 PM
Would it be possible to use dried cherries instead of raisins ? (voides the JAO warranty, of course). I read some where that dried cherries can feed the yeast... might impart an interesting flavor, too.

Thoughts , anyone?

Chevette Girl
10-27-2011, 08:34 PM
I hate raisins too but they really do a nice job in a JAO. Do you like wine? Think of the raisins as dried wine juice :)

Could you tolerate dried currants? They'll do the same as raisins. For some reason even though I know the dried ones aren't really currants, they're very small grapes, they don't register as raisins for me, I'll even bake with them.

Other possible substitutions that might be a little closer to not voiding the warranty - 25 fresh grapes, squashed? a glug or two of white grape juice? a few teaspoons of white grape concentrate?

I used dried cranberries in a lemon JAO variation, in that amount they imparted absolutely no flavour so I don't imagine cherries would either.

Jeepninja
10-28-2011, 08:39 AM
Ok, well until someone chimes in with a specific recipe, do you have an ABV and sweetness amount in mind at all? By "spicy" I assume you mean "spiced tasting" not actually "hot" too right?

The reason I ask is because someone might give you a recipe for a super sweet mead, might be a great recipe but if you don't like super sweet then it's not a great recipe for you. So knowing ABV and sweetness level is a good starting point to see what would match with your tastes.

Correct, spicy as in spiced tasting. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. Think mulled cider kind of flavor. I would prefer a semi-sweet to sweet, not a very dry mead. I'm not looking for an incredibly super sweet tastes like you're drinking sugar water mead though.

As for ABV, somewhere between 11-17? Seems most styles end up in that range anyways.

dave_witt
10-28-2011, 09:01 AM
Here's the recipe I've been working with:


PRIMARY
3 gallons cider
1 gallon water
12 pounds honey
1.25 cup brown sugar
1.25 cup raisins
3 vanilla beans, cut and scrapped
D-47 or KIV-1116 (the KIV-1116 works very nicely in cysers)

SECONDARY
~10 cinnamon sticks
~10 cloves
~3 vanilla beans

Mine finished with 16.25% ABV and 1% Sugar (SG: 1.004) Don't forget to stagger your nutrients, etc etc.

Echostatic
10-28-2011, 09:41 AM
How come you added vanilla beans both in primary and secondary?

Loadnabox
10-28-2011, 10:38 AM
I guess I'm just a little overwhelmed by all the different recipes and materials on the site. I've read over all the basics and newbee guides here.

I get the same way with resturants that have too many items on their menu.

I guess I just need a good recommendation of "Do this one and wait a year".

Become a paying member (Patron).

Search the Proven Recipes section for something you like

(I did a quick search of the proven recipes and found a spiced cyser that's really popular! I might have to start a batch for next year actually to prepare for Christmas!)

Not trying to be mean about being a Patron, but the proven recipe section is well worth it!

Matrix4b
10-28-2011, 11:28 AM
$4 a lb for honey sounds pretty good. My local healthfood store wants $8 a lb for Orange Blossom Honey. Wish I could find a beekeeper here in Downtown Denver!

Actually, That is what I consider a bad price. I used to get Madhava's for about $2.00 a pound for a 42 pound bucket but they increased their prices. I have been checking out Rice Honey in Greely and they seem to be reasonable. But your best bet is find people with some connections to the Apiaries (Sp) and people. I just personally got some orange blossum for $2.05 a pound from Kc0dhb here. He said 2 weeks ago that he had some that was unclaimed. It's great honey. Maybe you should contact him.

As far as a recipie:

If you want some spicy and a little sweet and to use some cinnamon then A Cyser is good but I prob would go with a Cinnamon Nutmeg Vanilla.
Now this is a bit off the cuff so it may be a bit rough:

Primary:
12 lbs honey
4 gal of good water
2 teaspoons of yeast energizer
2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient
2 packets of Lavin D-47 yeast (other would work too but D-47 is known for a clean fermentation.

Secondary:
4-6 Vanilla Beans (Split and opened up but not scraped as no need to do so)
2 Cinnamon Sticks (about 7-8 inch long all that is needed, less is more)
1/2 a whole nutmeg freashly crushed prior to putting in must.

Trust me, 10 sticks of cinnamon and 10 whole cloves is WAY too much unless you want it to well overpower the honey flavor. Less is more. I have had some strong flavor of spice from just 3 sticks of cinn and a whole nutmeg in the secondary of a 5 gal batch.

This should make a great flavor. You may want to back sweeten with 2 pounds of honey after fermentation is done.

Variations can be made with it too, such as adding a little lemon zest for some acidity or adding some almond extract to round it out a bit, I would go with 1/4 teaspoon at most in the secondary.

Many recipies swap out the yeast choice, add different fruits or spices and then there is the mix if different honeys out there. You can really do alot, just start with a basic and then modify it by your desire.

Hope it goes well.

Matrix

dave_witt
10-28-2011, 11:45 AM
How come you added vanilla beans both in primary and secondary?

Because I found the 3 beans in primary weren't enough to add a detectable amount of vanilla over the rest of the spices. Also, spices added during fermentation may contribute different flavors (or apparent levels of flavoring) than the same spices stepped in a secondary. This recipe was cut-n-pasted from my brew log. Feel free to edit, and YMMV.

Jeepninja
10-31-2011, 11:51 AM
As far as a recipie:

If you want some spicy and a little sweet and to use some cinnamon then A Cyser is good but I prob would go with a Cinnamon Nutmeg Vanilla.
Now this is a bit off the cuff so it may be a bit rough:

Primary:
12 lbs honey
4 gal of good water
2 teaspoons of yeast energizer
2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient
2 packets of Lavin D-47 yeast (other would work too but D-47 is known for a clean fermentation.

Secondary:
4-6 Vanilla Beans (Split and opened up but not scraped as no need to do so)
2 Cinnamon Sticks (about 7-8 inch long all that is needed, less is more)
1/2 a whole nutmeg freashly crushed prior to putting in must.

Trust me, 10 sticks of cinnamon and 10 whole cloves is WAY too much unless you want it to well overpower the honey flavor. Less is more. I have had some strong flavor of spice from just 3 sticks of cinn and a whole nutmeg in the secondary of a 5 gal batch.

This should make a great flavor. You may want to back sweeten with 2 pounds of honey after fermentation is done.

Variations can be made with it too, such as adding a little lemon zest for some acidity or adding some almond extract to round it out a bit, I would go with 1/4 teaspoon at most in the secondary.

Many recipies swap out the yeast choice, add different fruits or spices and then there is the mix if different honeys out there. You can really do alot, just start with a basic and then modify it by your desire.

Hope it goes well.

Matrix

Great! That sounds like exactly what I was looking for! Less is more seems to be the motto for most fermented things. Its so easy to go over board and have the flavors thrown out of balance.

cayo hueso
10-31-2011, 12:05 PM
If i'm going for a 'spicy' flavor, I like to add a couple of ounces of ginger as well. I think it compliments cinnamon spice very well.

Chevette Girl
10-31-2011, 01:32 PM
I have GOT to remember to use more nutmeg :)

Matrix4b
10-31-2011, 05:26 PM
I have GOT to remember to use more nutmeg :)

Really? I have found that for a 5 gal batch anywhere from 1 whole nutmeg to 1/2 that is more than enough. How much are you using?

Matrix

Chevette Girl
10-31-2011, 08:19 PM
I think I grated about 1/8 of one into a gallon and it was completely lost.

Echostatic
10-31-2011, 10:05 PM
Are you guys both talking about JAO or different meads?

Chevette Girl
10-31-2011, 10:57 PM
I'm sure I've put some in JAO but never tasted it in the finished product... but I was more thinking along the lines of my pumpkin creations and my other spice experiments over the years... Sorry for hijacking your thread, Jeepninja.

RightHookCook
11-01-2011, 11:30 AM
I used a whole nutmeg and 1 cinammon stick both hammered into bits in 1 gallon traditional and there really dominant flavours at the moment after about 6 months.

Jeepninja
11-01-2011, 03:28 PM
Sorry for hijacking your thread, Jeepninja.

By all means feel free... these little nuances and differences in recipe variations are exactly what I am looking for.

I'm talking with the honey guy next week on pricing.

THawk
11-06-2011, 11:22 PM
~10 cloves


Not trying to be facetious, but won't 10 cloves in a 3-4 gallon batch turn the mead into a delicious local anesthetic?

Chevette Girl
11-07-2011, 01:31 PM
Not trying to be facetious, but won't 10 cloves in a 3-4 gallon batch turn the mead into a delicious local anesthetic?

That totally depends on whether you like cloves in the first place, and how fresh they are. I could safely use 10 of my cloves in a 1-gallon JAO because they're so old they don't have much oomph left. If you wanted the clove flavour to be up front, I don't think 3 cloves per gallon would overdo it, but if you want just a very subtle hint of clove, 1 or 2 per gallon should be fine, the original JAO recipe calls for 2 in a gallon. Anyone ever manage anaesthetic before? I'd think it would take more than ten cloves in a single gallon. I think I remember someone who liked cloves being happy but not numb from using 20 or 30 cloves in a gallon.

Loadnabox
11-07-2011, 05:08 PM
That totally depends on whether you like cloves in the first place, and how fresh they are. I could safely use 10 of my cloves in a 1-gallon JAO because they're so old they don't have much oomph left. If you wanted the clove flavour to be up front, I don't think 3 cloves per gallon would overdo it, but if you want just a very subtle hint of clove, 1 or 2 per gallon should be fine, the original JAO recipe calls for 2 in a gallon. Anyone ever manage anaesthetic before? I'd think it would take more than ten cloves in a single gallon. I think I remember someone who liked cloves being happy but not numb from using 20 or 30 cloves in a gallon.

I also remember someone posting that 5 cloves in a gallon gave them an anesthetic feel :P

Maybe theirs was just fresher

Matrix4b
11-11-2011, 01:41 PM
I think I grated about 1/8 of one into a gallon and it was completely lost.

For my Pear Nutmeg I didn't grate, I just smashed it roughly a couple of times. Crushed made it easier to remove for me. Ofcourse, that may be why it was a little overpowering with a 5 gal batch and 13 pounds of pears, pureed, frozen, thawed, pectic enzyimes and run through a screen after blending again. And the pear was in the forefront in the first 6 months after aging then the nutmeg came to the fore with a vengence. I like nutmeg so it wasn't a big deal. Just lost most of the yummy pear flavor.

Also, used a whole nutmeg in a pumpkin spice mead and the nutmeg and cinnamon (4 sticks about 2 inches) dominated the pumpkin and made it cry for mercy.

So based on that, 1/2 or 1/4 for subtle of freashly crushed nutmeg in a 5-6 gal batch for me is plenty good enough.

I have also found that for a good vanilla, I need more than 6 beans in the secondary. I think that the next time I do a vanilla I will do 10 or 12 beans, split and scraped into a muslin bag in the secondary.

Jury still out on almonds. Also, I made some hazlenut extract from 1 cup of chopped and toasted hazelnut that I am planing on in a Pumpkin Hazelnut. I may just get another cup and make more for the batch, I don't think that I extracted enough out of the chopped, toasted hazelnut.

I plan on experimenting with some nut flavors and mixing it into my mead from homemade extract rather than the nuts in the mead. Should be better and take less of the nut to do. I noticed not many people use nuts in their mead. Mostly the excuse is that the different nuts are too oily. Hmm.

That's what I got going on a little.

Spices are a bit hard to judge for me.

Matrix