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Mead_Monster
12-30-2013, 12:41 AM
Hi All,

Newbie here. I need to ask a question before making my first Meade. How can you brew a sweet Meade with a higher alcohol content? There is a Meadery in New Mexico that puts out a style called King's Blend that has a definite honey flavor is slightly sweet and somewhat heavy but not cloying, if that makes sense. I would like to reproduce that quality and taste as closely as possible. There are no fruits in the blend. I would also like my mead to have a nice kick with an alcohol content of at least 15%. However my understanding, as minimal as it is, is that a sweeter Meade has a lower alcohol content. I do not have a recipe in mind and will not be able to start this journey until I recover from my motorcycle accident so I have some time to research.

Thank you for your assistance.

fatbloke
12-30-2013, 04:43 AM
To start with, don't make the beer makers mistake and think that all the fermentables must be in the must at the time of pitching yeast. That path holds the road to stuck ferments, stressed yeasts and osmotic shock (not necessarily, but with a much increased chance).

Search for "Sack" mead. That type sounds more like what you're alluding to......and no, I don't really recognise where the difference between a sack mead and a dessert mead might be. Both tend to be sweet. Whether one type is supposed to be stronger than the other or whether there's some subtle difference in the making ? Meh! Different names for the same thing IMO. Just depends on the "target audience".......presumably.

Some other questions you might have may have already been answered in the NewBee guide, linked in the left side yellow box. It's a bit of a read but has a lot of guidance.

If you are hoping to clone this mead you mentioned you might need a bit more info on the finished product to have some idea of how to clone it, for instance, final gravity of the finished product, its % ABV and its pH........

That'd give you a starting point.........

Welcome to the forums.....

joemirando
12-30-2013, 12:11 PM
To start with, don't make the beer makers mistake and think that all the fermentables must be in the must at the time of pitching yeast. That path holds the road to stuck ferments, stressed yeasts and osmotic shock (not necessarily, but with a much increased chance).

Search for "Sack" mead. That type sounds more like what you're alluding to......and no, I don't really recognise where the difference between a sack mead and a dessert mead might be. Both tend to be sweet. Whether one type is supposed to be stronger than the other or whether there's some subtle difference in the making ? Meh! Different names for the same thing IMO. Just depends on the "target audience".......presumably.

Some other questions you might have may have already been answered in the NewBee guide, linked in the left side yellow box. It's a bit of a read but has a lot of guidance.

If you are hoping to clone this mead you mentioned you might need a bit more info on the finished product to have some idea of how to clone it, for instance, final gravity of the finished product, its % ABV and its pH........

That'd give you a starting point.........

Welcome to the forums.....

Heya Fatbloke, there's no way in hell that I am going to try telling YOU about meads. No sir, no sir. ;)

Having said that, let me add that I have found that the dessert meads I have tried have had that thick, syrupy feel as well as taste, along with the stupid-high alcohol . I envision sack meads as having an ABV of above 14%, but not up in the "careful! just a sip or two" level, and being sweet without tasting like a bucketful of honey with a splash of water.

Whether this difference holds anyplace but in my tiny little mind, I have no idea, but it's how I justify liking sack mead but not dessert meads. ;)


Hi All,

Newbie here. I need to ask a question before making my first Meade. How can you brew a sweet Meade with a higher alcohol content? There is a Meadery in New Mexico that puts out a style called King's Blend that has a definite honey flavor is slightly sweet and somewhat heavy but not cloying, if that makes sense. I would like to reproduce that quality and taste as closely as possible. There are no fruits in the blend. I would also like my mead to have a nice kick with an alcohol content of at least 15%. However my understanding, as minimal as it is, is that a sweeter Meade has a lower alcohol content. I do not have a recipe in mind and will not be able to start this journey until I recover from my motorcycle accident so I have some time to research.

Thank you for your assistance.

Mead_Monster,

If you're going to make a sack mead, think about also making a traditional along side it. It'll give you something to enjoy while your sack mead is maturing, and give you ideas on what else you'd like to do.

For the sack mead, I would recommend step feeding to attain both the alcohol content and sweetness you want. Basically, you start out with an average amount of honey, let it get most of the way fermented, then add a little more honey for the yeast to work on, let that ferment most of the way, add more honey, let the yeast work on that, etc., etc., etc., until the yeast give up and die, leaving you with a little sweetness. Then you can add honey a bit at a time until you end up with the taste you want. The only tricky parts here are remembering to leave enough room in your original must to accommodate the extra honey, and keeping the yeast from deciding they want to ferment some more (stabilizing is always a good idea).

My reason for making a sack mead was three-fold:


I wanted to see if I could even do it.
I wanted a high ABV "sippin'" mead
I wanted to accentuate the 'honey' taste more... The stuff in the honey that ain't sugar and ain't water.

The drawbacks are that its going to take a longer time to 'smooth out'. With the high ABV, you get a lot of the "rocket fuel" burn, and it'll take some time for the flavors you're looking for to emerge from behind that and 'learn' to get along together. I'm pretty happy with the way mine is progressing, and can't wait for it to mature... I'm figuring on 1-2 years before I can actually be proud of it.


I'm still a noob myself so, of course, anything these guys say supersedes what I say.


Hope you didn't get messed up too bad in the accident. Recovery is a bitch, but it beats the alternatives.


Joe

bernardsmith
12-30-2013, 02:07 PM
I guess I can never really understand what the advantage is for a wine - and I think of mead as a wine - to have a high alcohol content. if you want the buzz drink spirits, but wines are about flavors and mouthfeel and not (IMO) about how hot they burn going down or how little you need to take before you spill a glass. Ten - 12% ABV , perhaps 13 sits well with wine, after that the wine becomes like an over-muscled body-builder who while possibly able to bench press four times its own weight is incapable of walking with grace, threading a needle or playing soccer. OKAy- poor metaphor , even a wine with an ABV of 9% cannot thread a needle.. but you get what I mean.

joemirando
12-30-2013, 02:49 PM
Bernard,

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me the attraction was/is getting the 'taste' of the honey. To do that, according to my very probably twisted line of thinking, you need to strip the sugars from the mead or you'll end up with syrup.

The sack that I like the most (of the whole two that I've made) is almost 20% ABV. Its going to take a long long time to age out, but I can already taste the deep honey 'character' without ALL the sweetness. My thinking was that there's only a certain amount of whatever it is that gives honey its flavor and differentiates it from just mixed glucose and fructose with just enough moisture to hold it together. By fermenting as much of the sugar as possible, what you're left with (so I posit) is the whatever-it-is that gives honey its flavor.

Both of my sack meads are very much works in progress, but so far, I can see myself being happy with them when they're ready.

fatbloke
12-30-2013, 03:40 PM
The issue of how strong a mead is, is entirely the perks of the maker.

Bernard has missed that with wines alluded too, are as strong as the available sugars will allow. Properly made "normal" grape wines will not have any non-grape sugars added. So the only change will be the growing conditions and variety......

Meads and all that are of course, a bit weird. Honey unmodified has a massively high gravity so we have to add water to make it ferment. The difference being that we have a choice as to how strong we want to make it......

Plus there are generally no standards (Poland and show meads excluded of course) but we just follow generally accepted nomenclature, styles and occasionally type specific ingredients.

Personally I generally aim for about 14% as that's about the tolerance of the larger number of wine yeasts so it's straight forward to ferment dry and allow me to modify the finished ferment with additional honey and maybe acid for balance. Equally I could just use less honey and resulting lower alcohol etc......

I generally age for 12 months plus (I'm quite a lazy mead maker so once it's clear I just leave it aging in bulk - never less than 20 gallons like that, but currently about 40 or so).

So while you do the recovering thing, there's plenty of time to research your choices.....

I would venture the easier/straight forward recioes to start. JAO and maybe a traditional ? Maybe a Joes quick grape mead ? The 2 joes recipes should give you reasonably quick, repeatable results successfully. .......

antonioh
12-31-2013, 06:29 AM
I guess I can never really understand what the advantage is for a wine - and I think of mead as a wine - to have a high alcohol content.

I think it depends of the kind of wine.

In the valley of river Douro, we have two kinds of wine that range from 18 to 19.5 % ABV - "Moscatel" wine and "Porto" wine, both worldwide known, added with alcool ,
may be dry or sweet. And many of them are wonderful, particularly those aged in bottle, like a vintage from 1985 or 1990...

bernardsmith
12-31-2013, 12:01 PM
Bernard,

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me the attraction was/is getting the 'taste' of the honey. To do that, according to my very probably twisted line of thinking, you need to strip the sugars from the mead or you'll end up with syrup.

The sack that I like the most (of the whole two that I've made) is almost 20% ABV. Its going to take a long long time to age out, but I can already taste the deep honey 'character' without ALL the sweetness. My thinking was that there's only a certain amount of whatever it is that gives honey its flavor and differentiates it from just mixed glucose and fructose with just enough moisture to hold it together. By fermenting as much of the sugar as possible, what you're left with (so I posit) is the whatever-it-is that gives honey its flavor.

Both of my sack meads are very much works in progress, but so far, I can see myself being happy with them when they're ready.

So if I understand you aright, Joe, you are saying that in order to produce a mead that really emphasizes the honey flavors you really need a significant amount of honey per gallon (perhaps 4 lbs or even 5lbs, not weak-kneed 3 lb amounts ) and if it is not to be sweet as syrup you are condemned to ferment out all the sugar. Fermenting that amount of sugar means that the ABV of necessity will be very high. Okay.. That makes good sense. I have been diluting the honey in order to avoid rocket fuel amounts of alcohol but your point is that this dilution hides the possibilities of what might be a far more robust flavored mead... I gotta say that you convinced me enough to experiment with stronger concentrations of honey. Thanks. And a Happy New Year to everyone on this forum. I have learned a great deal in the weeks I have been active here. A great deal. Thank you all.

Mead_Monster
01-01-2014, 02:24 AM
Thank you very all much for the information. I do indeed have time to research while in recovery. The doc's have projected a tentative return to work time of early March. But that is tentative. The other driver totaled the motorcycle and almost totaled me. I guess someone has other plans for me.

It looks as though the sack mead is what I am looking for. I will take Joemirando's advice and try some other recipes that require a shorter time. One to two years is a long time and will require a great deal of patience as well as self discipline not to perform a "scientific" taste test as the time progresses.

Now I just have to find a good sack mead recipe. I want to find a good recipe that gives me the qualities I want then experiment with different honeys. I have also heard of something called cyser that sounds interesting. Has anyone had experience with this?

Anyway, thanks again for your help.

joemirando
01-01-2014, 03:12 AM
Mead_Monster,

Man have you come to the right place! A lot of these guys have had a lot of luck with cysers. IIRC, WVMJack pointed me in the right direction on mine (it's still aging).

The really cool thing about mead making is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you want. Spices, herbs, fruits... just about anything goes with honey but meat. <grin>

Glad you made it through the accident, albeit not unscathed. There's nothing like riding a motorcycle. Its just that you don't have those other two wheels or the extra hundreds of pounds of metal around you should something go wrong (like you haven't heard THAT a hundred times by now, right?). Hang in there. Both with the recovery and the mead making plans. Both will improve with age.

Happy New Year,
Joe

joemirando
01-01-2014, 03:32 AM
So if I understand you aright, Joe, you are saying that in order to produce a mead that really emphasizes the honey flavors you really need a significant amount of honey per gallon (perhaps 4 lbs or even 5lbs, not weak-kneed 3 lb amounts ) and if it is not to be sweet as syrup you are condemned to ferment out all the sugar. Fermenting that amount of sugar means that the ABV of necessity will be very high. Okay.. That makes good sense. I have been diluting the honey in order to avoid rocket fuel amounts of alcohol but your point is that this dilution hides the possibilities of what might be a far more robust flavored mead... I gotta say that you convinced me enough to experiment with stronger concentrations of honey. Thanks. And a Happy New Year to everyone on this forum. I have learned a great deal in the weeks I have been active here. A great deal. Thank you all.

Bernard,

All of what I did with these sack meads was to test a theory about increasing the honey 'essence'. I cannot say that the only way to emphasize the honey flavor is to use an obscene amount of honey and ferment it till its just short of crazy. I can see where a better quality of honey or a stronger flavored honey might do it better, but cheap honey is what I've got, so I gave it a try. It just made sense to me that, if there wasn't 'stuff' in the honey that provided flavor, it'd just taste like glucose and fructose.

I ended up adding a total of 5.4 lbs of honey for a gallon batch. I had not counted on that much honey, so I had to siphon a small amount of the mead out of the carboy just to sweeten it up a little. Taking the amount of honey into account, the OG (1.183 estimated) and FG (1.030) and taking the amount of mead I had to remove from the carboy into account (estimated 4 oz), I am calling the ABV 19-20%. A final gravity of 1.030 seemed about as sweet to me as a 'regular' mead at 1.015 or so.

We'll see how good an idea it was once it's aged. The proof of the pudding...


Happy New Year,
Joe

mmclean
01-01-2014, 09:54 AM
Here's the mead log for my Spiced Cyser (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16586) if your interested.

Here is the mead log for my second batch, Thanksgiving Day Spiced Cyser (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22399)

This is not store bought 5%ABV cider. No apple beer here. With the BDC DYF style you can get +!8%ABV with the right yeast. ;D

And the taste is so good.

Mead_Monster
01-03-2014, 04:28 AM
Thanks mmclean for the cyser recipe/log. However I could not access your thanksgiving recipe. Don't know why. The prison system here in Colorado produces some of the best apple cider I have ever tasted. Their honey is $11 per quart, don't know if that is a good price or not but it is less than one of the local honey produces. I am looking forward to this fall when I will have the cider available.

Here's to a year of successful mead making.