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wintermute2
02-04-2013, 01:02 PM
Hello from Long Island, New York!

I recently got into homebrewing beer, but I fondly remember going to a college graduation party over a decade ago where someone had brought several cases of homemade mead. It was instant love. That love was tainted over the years by several attempts at quaffing the commercial stuff.

I have a one-gallon batch of my first mead (Joe's Quick Grape Mead) bubbling right now and I want to try my hand at a methyglin. I want to use orange zest, chamomile (tea bag form), ginger (root), and vanilla (bean). I will be pairing this up with 3 pounds of Trader Joes Mesquite Honey and a packet of EC-1118 to make a one gallon batch, so here's the flood of questions:

Is there two much going on with the zest, chamomile, ginger, and vanilla?

How best to add these ingredients? Steep a "tea"? Add directly to the must in primary?

How much of each to add so no flavor dominates, and the honey character doesn't disappear?

Thanks for the help!

Marshmallow Blue
02-04-2013, 01:23 PM
Ill start off by saying I'm a big fan of TJs mesquite honey. I've used it in a little under half my batches and will continue to use as my my non apiary-ordered honey. If it were ,e, I would add the spices in the secondary for a good while. As far as how much of each you may have to start with a bit of each and see what needs to be added. I haven't worked with anything besides the vanilla beans. Someone will come around to talk about zest chamomile and ginger.

I added 2 vanilla beans with wild blueberries to a primary and they barely come through, so you may need to add quite a few, or make an extract.

Mikeymu
02-04-2013, 05:17 PM
..err what marshmellowblue just said. The rate at which spices get infused increases I suspect with the alcohol strength. I put my spices in secondary and taste every few days.

The last one I did was at 12.5% abv and took only two weeks to get to a level where the natural flavour of the (orange blossom) honey was balanced with the spices (ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and black peppercorn).

Since the mead was nearly clear when I put the spices in and therefore nearly clear two weeks later, I racked off leaving them behind, but managed to get almost all the mead into the new vessel without having to top up with anything - well perhaps only a thimbleful of spring water.

Remember it's best to put in small quantities of spice as you can always leave it longer, or add more - but of course, you cannot take it out once it's in! The first metheglyn I did ended up overspiced.

All the best to you.

RachmaelBenApplebaum
02-07-2013, 04:25 AM
Just gotta say, LOVE your name W-I-N-T-E-R-M-U-T-E. As for Metheglins you CAN keep the spices light if your plan is to drink this one earlier than expected, over a year the spices and their strengths/pronunciation will be very different. I have one that had 3 oz's crushed coriander (in a 5-gallon batch) 4 tablespoons fresh thyme, 2 tsp Basil, and two 6-inch mexican cinnamon scrolls in the primary ferment for 2 months! When it was young the basil and thyme absolutely hammered the palate and left the pungent smell in the throat and nostrils well after drinking, it was almost unpleasant and I relegated it to cooking mead. However, after a year+ of aging it has a much more subtle taste and all of the gruit blended perfectly into a healthful and delicious tonic, with very much honey aroma during drinking and after it is gone clinging to the glass. So, go easy on the spice if you don't plan on aging for a long time, but spice flavors tend to fade/meld with extended aging.

wintermute2
02-08-2013, 12:04 PM
I'm a HUGE William Gibson fan, hence the handle.

I've decided to simplify a bit - I'm going to stick with an orange-ginger mead. I plan to create a tea using the zest of one orange and 8 oz. grated ginger, add this to my primary with 3 lbs. mesquite honey, yeast fertilizer, a handful of sliced golden raisins (I've read that they improve body and mouthfeel, and help with nutrient levels), juice from the previously-zested orange, spring water to top off to one-gallon, and hydrated EC-1118. Does this sound reasonable?

RachmaelBenApplebaum
02-08-2013, 02:15 PM
Ec-1118, some like it for certain things, some don't. It's a good yeast, really tolerant of ANYTHING, but it will turn even the most syrupy musts totally dry (~18% tolerance). So you may end up stabilizing/backsweetening this one if you plan on drinking it sometime before the next 1-2 years, which can be good. What end product are you looking for? Sweet/dry/medium? If you've never tasted mead before a medium dryness mead will probably be the most accessible, which can be done with EC, but it'll go bone dry before you sweeten it back up again while preventing refermentation. If you wanna skip all that maybe try a less attenuative yeast, like D-47, or even bread yeast! More info about the desire final product would be helpful.

Cheers
(and yes, William Gibson is the man)

wintermute2
02-08-2013, 02:37 PM
The meads that I've liked in the past were dry or semi-sweet (caveat - these were all homebrewed). The meads that I didn't like were sweet (caveat - these were commercial). So I think dry is fine for me, plus it's easy enough to stabilize and backsweeten. I'd assume that with the ginger in there, that a little sweetness will help bring out the gingery flavor.

I've read that alot of people use honey to backsweeten, and I get it that people want to use honey in a mead, but does anyone backsweeten with something like stevia and do away with the stabilizers?

RachmaelBenApplebaum
02-08-2013, 09:41 PM
Some folks do use stevia etc, never have myself though. Mostly it has to do with preserving the sweetness and character of the honey without it having that "artificial sweetener" taste. Some folks kinda balk at the idea of using preservatives/sulfites (myself included when I first started) but it's really one of the only ways to keep the true honey flavor and make things stable short of more esoteric methods. One way I could think of would be to backsweeten with honey after sterile filtering. Other than that stevia and other sweeteners can work, I've experimented with lactose etc but just on a bench-trial level e.g. get an un-bottled sample and add little bits to test for sweetness. Didn't end up doing it because my GF is lactose intolerant, but the result wasn't unpleasant.

bottom line is it's your brew, but maybe take a sample and add a measured amount of stevia to it when you think it's ready and see how it tastes. As has been said before it's easy to put stuff in mead, not so easy to get it out. I highly recommend setting up a little kitchen lab and setting aside some time for acid titration, bench trials with different sweeteners etc if you have the mead and time to spare. It's both enjoyable and educational, giving you a lot of insight into the subtleties of the hobby.

Chevette Girl
02-09-2013, 02:20 PM
I'm another one who was initially reluctant to get into stabilizing, and there are some times when you just can't use the chemicals (ie, bottle carbonating) so I've tried things like splenda and stevia for sweetening bottle-carbonated weak wines and meads. Both do add a little bit of their own flavour/aftertaste so use sparingly, and having tried both the stevia tincture in alcohol and the stuff in the glycerine, I far preferred the glycerine stuff, the tincture drops left a chemically taste to the stuff I used it in but I was pretty happy with my ginger hydromel with I think 1/2 or 3/4 oz stevia in glycerine per gallon for sweetening. If you like dry meads, good on you... I have discovered that I just don't like drinking many things dry, and not for lack of trying, either.