View Full Version : Carob Mead Help!

03-30-2014, 10:28 AM
Ok.. So I live in Malta and we have this nice liqueur called Leila made from carob and some *other* herbs (http://www.leila-digestiveliqueur.com/). I also happen to have a load of buckwheat-like honey which the beekeeper claims to come from a predominantly carob area. I can definitely taste carob in there. I also have 2kgs of carobs which will soon be made into a carob syrup. I was planning on making a carob mead (metheglin) and would like suggestions for some good, solid herb ingredients to add to my must. When I think of herbal, Jagermeister comes to mind, but boy does that have a long list of herbs (56!).
Herbs which have crossed my mind are cloves, mint, anise, Licorice roots... But then I'm also aware that sometimes less could be more. Balancing a large amount of herbs would certainly be a challenge. By the way, I am referring to liqueurs just for ideas, not to replicate them.
I have also seen this carob wine on another site:

14 kg (30 lb 14 oz) carob pods (brown)
7 kg (15 lb 7 oz) sugar (I will substitute my Buckwheat/Carob honey here)
8 campden tablets
5 tsp yeast nutrient
2 tsp grape tannin
5 lemons (remove the white pit)
5 oranges. (Remove the white pit)
8 tsp pectic enzyme
Water enough to soak all the pods. (App. 34 litres)
2 sachets CWE Formula 67 Plus Wine Yeast

The only new information I can gather from that recipe is lemons, oranges and that the mead is definitely possible.
I think I will aim at around 12% alcohol. I have previously tried this type of honey in metheglin with success. I am aiming for a dominant carob taste with a solid herbal background with neither of the herbs obviously standing out. Sorry for the large post, but I'm pretty sure playing with strong flavors is playing with fire! :(

03-30-2014, 10:53 AM
First off, this recipe appears to make about 40 litres of must. That's a large batch, and you'll need a primary fermenter big enough to handle all that (to say nothing about the need to lift it occasionally). Are you up for that? If not, cut all the quantities in half.

I personally think that a combo of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg would complement carob nicely, but since this is your first foray into a carob mead why not keep it as simple as possible and allow this one to develop with only the carob, some citrus (helpful for extraction of carob flavor), and a little pectic enzyme?

I'd forgo adding both lemons and oranges to the mix (use one or the other but certainly not both - the net acid addition from all that citrus might drop the pH of your must to the point that it won't ferment), and I would not add any grape tannin until after primary fermentation is complete - and then only if you want some tannic astringency added once you've tasted it. The recipe you are using as a reference looks like one of those developed by a home winemaker who can't quite let go of all the flavors that they have come to expect from a wine. Since you're making a mead, allow the contributions from the honey to show through by not burying them under a load of acid and tannin.

Finally, keep in mind that honey is approximately 78-80% sugars by weight, so in order to get the same initial specific gravity as the recipe you've cited (assuming you are baselining the same initial gravity for your mead), you'll want to use approximately 20% more honey than the dry sugar that is called for. (So, instead of 7 Kg of dry suger, use 8.4 Kg of honey).

03-30-2014, 11:37 AM
Thanks wayneb. I am planning on making ~25 liters. I am aware about the need to scale my recipe according to my needs. Fortunately I have a lot of wine making equipment which I inherited (its ok, pops is till alive and well ;)) and I think I can make at least 500 liters of must at a time in primary fermentation. Another 500 liters in secondary (I counted 7-8 54ltr demijohns and an assortment of smaller ones). We used to make wine for 3-4 families at a time, Crazy! Anyway, I am keeping test batches small and leaving all those empty in the meantime.
I was hoping to make this more 'herbal' because we already have a lot of carob syrup which we add to all sorts of things and I really would not like to drink a straight carob mead if I can help it. Maybe just a 1 or maximum 3 gallon test batch. On the plus side I can use this to top off my larger batch if straight carob flavor does not do it for me.

Btw a nice side story: dad quit wine making when his work partner divorced and his friend's wife seized all of my father's carboys and wine "because they were on her property" (enter cuss word here). Only to give them back to him after all the wine became vinegar. He never had the chance to stabilize the wine or remove it off the lees.

Edit: I have realized that my post does not ask for specific help. I think my biggest problem is imagining how the final flavor of certain spices will be in a metheglin. I have currently tried meads with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, hysop and fenugreek..

03-30-2014, 05:15 PM
I would suggest a test batch first (1 gal). Within a month you'd be able to see where the batch is heading and the potential of whatever recipe you choose. I also think it would be smart to limit your additions, don't make it overly complex, especially when this is your first carob mead. Goodluck

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03-31-2014, 03:12 PM
I have another suggestion, which is a modification of moridin's idea. Since you have the capacity to produce a "base" carob batch in rather large quantity, you can subdivide it into several test batches that can each be dosed with a different herb, or combination of herbs, to allow extraction of one or a few spices at a time. Start with relatively small spice additions, allow each (try a gallon or two at a time if you have enough small test carboys to support the test) a few weeks to extract the essential components, and then taste each. If more of a particular herb or spice is needed, add more and wait a little longer. Then, once you have calibrated how much of each herb or spice you want in small single component batches, you can try your hand at blending to taste.

03-31-2014, 07:56 PM
I think subdividing this batch like you suggested could be hitting 2 (3?) birds with one stone. 1: Learning the different contributions of certain spices/herbs to a mead (how they taste), 2: learning how certain spices go together (and which are better grouped than others), 3: hopefully arriving at the best final recipe for my tastes/intentions.
Sounds fun and interesting. I imagine a blog coming out of this :)

P.S: I think the reason the recipe for carob wine I posted earlier had both lemons and oranges was because honey is naturally acidic while the sugar he used has no PH. Thus the lemons counteract the missing honey.