View Full Version : Kind of like certain wines with certain foods?

12-24-2011, 07:50 PM
My first post on here from a few days ago mentioned that I presumed the flavor coming from the honey that was produced by my great-grandparents' honey bees was from the Honeysuckle bushes that grow here.

With a little more investigation (talking to my dad about it), it was brought to my attention that the flavor comes from the Sourwood and Goldenrod (he says they're more attracted to them than the sweeter Honeysuckles, and after Googling images of both of them, I realized that shit grows like crazy around my great-grandparents' house) native to North-East Tennessee.

Dad also said something about being able to tell when the bees cross-pollinate between the Sourwood and Goldenrod, and about that even blend making the best tasting honey.

So coming out of that back story, that got me to thinking... in making a Melomel or Metheglin or etc, as different wines are with different foods, are certain blends/flavors/varieties of honey accented by what fruit or spice you add to the must, et vice versa.
As in, would blackberries compliment a "green" (<--- best way i can describe the genre) taste like eucalyptus or thistle honey, much like a dark red wine would a steak, or do snozberries taste like snozberries, cut, paste, repeat?

(tl;dr, Is [insert fruit] mead always [insert fruit] mead?)

I seek perfection in this madness, I really do.

12-25-2011, 11:45 AM
I'm hard pressed to believe that not one of you lurkers has a clue.

12-25-2011, 03:23 PM
Ha, this is the first time Ive seen a tl/dr reference here. You may need an attention span adjustment when you read thru this forum as most posts are longer than yours, some questions just cant be answered in one or two sentences ;)

Im by no means an expert, but I do think certain honeys enhance certain fruits. I prefer Orange Blossom honey with berries and stone fruit (plums, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, etc). Ive found that a stronger honey, like buckwheat, stands up to very powerful fruit, like chokecherries (highly tannic and tart wild cherry). The trick is finding the right combinations and ratios, but that is most of the fun.

12-25-2011, 09:04 PM
Oh man, I'm pretty sure every person I've ever spoken to believs and works off the theory that the flavor of the honey is as important as the added fermentables. Look at the top of your screen "Your mead is only as good as your honey." And from posts that I've read of people buying bulk honey, procesed honey, so on and so forth, I can only believe that's true. I've been lucky that a fairly large scale apiary is literally 15 minutes from my house, and I can do pick up or delivary from them almost any time I want. Not everyone has that, so online ordering, driving a ways for honey, shipping, and such are always big topics on here.

A clover honey has less distinct notes than a wildflower, which isn't near as strong as a buckwheat. I've seen watermelon honey, yemen honey, blueberry or blackberry honey, goldenrod (like you mentioned), alfalfa, and every other flavor you can THINK of! And each one imparts something special to the mead.

Read up on the mazer cup, a big scoring point is that if you use a varietal honey, is it detectable? Has the fermentation of that special flavor handled well, or did it get covered by other notes? Even wildflower can be amazingly different from place to place, or run to run in the same hive! I've tasted 5 traditionals from the exact same mazer, the same apiary, from different years, and the difference is unbelievable!

So...no. [insert fruit] mead is NEVER the same [insert fruit] mead if you change the honey.

12-26-2011, 07:46 PM
Dad also said something about being able to tell when the bees cross-pollinate between the Sourwood and Goldenrod, and about that even blend making the best tasting honey.

Ummm...I'm no bee keeper, but I'm pretty sure bees are "faithful," that is, they only visit one type of flower on any given run out of the hive...they don't "cross pollinate," although any given batch of honey may be a mix of visits to goldenrod and visits to sourwood combined...

I am sure the bee keepers here will disabuse me of this notion if it's inaccrate...

12-26-2011, 09:02 PM
thats about right. bees do tend to work one honey source at a time, but each frame can have multipliable honeys in it and will all be mixed when extracted.

as far as actual pollination goes, bees will gather pollen from many different plants not just the one they are getting honey from. this is why pollen testing honey is so inaccurate.

12-26-2011, 09:06 PM
to answer DemonDrink question (if i can understand it!)

a mix of honeys and/or fruit/etc, can be far better than a single item mead.
for eg blending of wines is common and can make a great wine out of lesser wines.

12-27-2011, 01:19 PM
Well, my dad's never been a man of science, so Im not disagreeing with anyone here. So all he's basically saying is you can tell when it tastes of both goldenrod and sourwood. I appreciate all the input, and I'll definitely be spending a long time mixing and matching to try and find something that tastes the best. I'll try to post results as they come.

12-28-2011, 12:13 PM
It's true that honey changes and is a bit of an inconsistant product. BUT it can be estimated. From what I have read is that Bees do TRY to stay faithful to one type of flower, but if there isn't enough flowering in the bees area then they go to other flowers. What wild flower actually amounts to is just this situation: The bees collect from many different sources and the total blend. So one batch of wildflower from one hive will be different from another hive even in the same area. That being said, when you DO have a consistent plentiful source of flowering such as a large orange grove to pollenate, you get Orange blossum honey. Also, mixes can occur when flowers bloom at different times of the year during a transitional period. So all of this does make for a slightly inconsistant product BUT luckly there are areas and honey dealers that work to pollinate feilds and the like so they get a more consistant type of honey over all.

Even so, You can get some generalized pairings of honey and fruits/spices. As stated earlier, experimenting is half the fun.


12-30-2011, 04:05 PM
Whenever I am coming up with a new recipe I go through different honeys and taste a sample of each one. What I have to look for and think about is "What would this honey taste like without the sugar?" Essentially when we ferment the must, those flavors behind the sugar are the flavors we will be left with. I personally don't enjoy overpoweringly sweet meads. A hint of sugar is plenty. Because of this the background flavor is exceedingly important.

I rarely create hydromels. Mainly because I am to cheap to get my hands on any quality dark and flavorful honey. In my opinion Melomels and Metheglyns are much more interesting and deep in flavor. It is a challenge trying to combine the right flavors profiles together. In the end it is all what you think will taste good. There are classics like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, hops, or grape juice. The good thing about these flavors are most people already recognize and enjoy them. What I personally love is doing things that people haven't tasted before. My latest mead was a sweet mead made with 6 pounds ripe prickly pear cactus fruit and 15 pounds wildflower honey. I know wildflower varies in flavor, but I kind of like that aspect of it. The flavor turned out excellent. I have had it described as a cream soda sort of flavor.

My only recommendation is experiment and make things that you enjoy. Simplicity is usually best.