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Norskersword
08-05-2004, 10:12 PM
Hey Joe. On a few occasions on this forum you mentioned you were making "English Style Mead". I'm curious about this. What makes it English? I think you mentioned this is a historical recipe. What is the recipe?

Would this be at all similar to Chaucer's? The reason I say this is because the bottle says something like "Enjoy it in the tradition of the Kings of Medieval England." This could just be their way of selling mead, but it makes me curious.

Jmattioli
08-06-2004, 01:51 AM
Its a mead I have been experimenting with to duplicate a mead my brother brought home from England, not from a commercial meadery, but from a basement and with no label. Probably a home brewer selling it on the side. It was sweet with a strong honey taste (probably heather honey). It was not only sweet but tart at the same time and had the hint of both tannins and oak. I fell in love with it and have been trying to duplicate it ever since. I have only my own recipe that changes with each try.
I'm not there yet but have come close using a blend of 40% buckwheat and 60% Clover using grape tannin, 71B-1122 yeast and oak chips and heavy acid at the finish of fermentation. 2 3/4t Malic acid and 1 1/2 Tartaric Acid. From reading an English Book on Mead by Action and Duncan they use a lot of acid (Malic) and very slow fermentations.
Joe

Oskaar
08-06-2004, 06:21 AM
Hey Joe,

Have you tried this with citric acid at all? Or perhaps using a bit of Citron or Lemon in the secondary?

It sounds like a very neat project! Do you use toasted chips. I generally use the chunks with a medium toast. Sometimes I've used a mixture of toasted chunks in a ratio of 5:2 favoring medium over heavy toast.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm English meade!

Oskaar

JoeM
08-06-2004, 07:41 AM
You have definately sparked my interest...i would love to have your recipe...

Jmattioli
08-06-2004, 09:17 AM
Hey Joe,

Have you tried this with citric acid at all? Or perhaps using a bit of Citron or Lemon in the secondary?

It sounds like a very neat project! Do you use toasted chips. I generally use the chunks with a medium toast. Sometimes I've used a mixture of toasted chunks in a ratio of 5:2 favoring medium over heavy toast.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm English meade!

Oskaar
Yes, I tried Citric acid and acid blend and I found Citric not as harsh as tartaric and Malic, however the English mixture is heavy on Malic and then they let it malo-lactic ferment it to lactic acid which is smoother. So I found not using citric got me closer to what I was looking for.
Also , yes I used medium toasted English Oak chips. My last batch needs to age a bit more since I used so much buckwheaT and then time will tell if I have reached by goal.
Joe

Jmattioli
08-06-2004, 11:11 AM
You have definately sparked my interest...i would love to have your recipe...
Its still a recipe in progress with minor changes anticipated but here is the last batch I made that has real promise with some ageing.
Per gallon
1 1/2 lbs Clover
1 lb Buckwheat
3/4t Malic acid initially and 2t when finished fermenting
1/2t Tartaric acid initially and 1t when finished fermenting
1/2 t grape tannin
71B-1122 yeast
Bal hard water or add 1/2t Fermax if water is soft
SG=1.100
3 Medium toasted oak chips added when fermentation complete
Must use 71B-1122
The 71B strain is a rapid starter with a constant and complete fermentation between 15 and 30C (59 and 86F) that has the ability to metabolize high amounts (20% to 40%) of malic acid. In addition to producing rounder, smoother, more aromatic wines that tend to mature quickly, it does not extract a great deal of phenols from the must so the maturation time is further decreased.

Racked in 6 weeks SG=1.014
Finished in 1 more week SG= ~1.010 - Stabilized and
Racked over 8 oz Clover honey with 2t Malic + 1t Tartaric and added 3 oak chips
In 1 more month was clear and bright SG ~1.030 BRIX=7

Tasted - Sweet and acidic and very light in oak
Buckwheat was still a bit strong but good. Aging

6 months later. This is good English Mead but needs 2 improvements

1. Next time add a couple more oak chips
2. Add the acid at first racking and let sit for a few months to get more malo-lactic fermentation before stabilizing and sweetening. This will smooth out the tartness for a better effect.

Notes: This is a unique mead with alot of complexity and taste sensations. Keep experimenting til its perfect
Joe

Oskaar
08-07-2004, 10:11 AM
OK Joe,

I'm inspired to try the English mead recipe. Lemme see, buckwheat honey eh?

Oskaar

WikdWaze
08-07-2004, 11:08 AM
And I thought my little recipe was complicated :o

Have you considered using one of those malolactic cultures? I've just been reading up on the concept and was wondering if it had ever been applied to mead, guess it has.

Jmattioli
08-07-2004, 07:39 PM
I'm inspired to try the English mead recipe. Lemme see, buckwheat honey eh?

It would of course be better to use heather honey as many English do but availability here is limited and it is so strong the English use a long slow fermentation with acid and let it age over 5 years. I am trying to get the same effect with buckwheat without the long aging. 71B seems to help and is one of the few yeasts that will convert the malic acid they use.
Joe

Vicky Rowe
08-09-2004, 09:51 AM
Joe,

I know heather honey is expensive and hard to get. What I did when I made a heather mead (and it tasted much like the english meads I've had), was to pitch the batch, and let it ferment on a big mesh bag of heather flowers I purchased from an herbal medicines shop I used to use at the Carolina Ren Faire. They're gone now, but there are lots of herbal suppliers on the web, and you should be able to get a bag (I used a small kitchen trash bag full) of heather flowers.

The resulting mead (check the gotmead recipes for my exact notes, I think I put it up) was sweet, yet acidic, with a bite at the end, and except for my blueberry, by far the most popular mead I've made to date.

Vicky

Jmattioli
08-14-2004, 08:23 PM
Vicki,
That may be a great idea. I was looking at a bottle of English ale at the Party Source here in Northern KY that was called heather ale from England and made from malt and heather flowers as you used. I did check out your recipe using the flowers. I think I am developing a fetish for buckwheat honey. Bought 50 lbs from Dutch Gold and have been experimenting with different blends of it in small batches ever since. Most of my blends are low alcohol content (10-12%) and ready to drink in a very short time. I believe I will be able to use it, oak and acid to get the desired effect I am looking for without the long aging time characteristic of heather honey meads. If my latest batch is not quite there, I will look at adding some heather flowers as you suggested.
Thanks, Joe

Norskersword
08-15-2004, 09:44 PM
Hey Joe,

I recall someone's post before the big crash regarding buckwheat honey. I remember them saying that this kind of honey has plenty of nutrients in it and that no nutrient needs to be added to a mead with this honey. Does your experience back this claim?

Jmattioli
08-16-2004, 12:02 AM
Hey Joe,
I recall someone's post before the big crash regarding buckwheat honey. I remember them saying that this kind of honey has plenty of nutrients in it and that no nutrient needs to be added to a mead with this honey. Does your experience back this claim?
Well, yes with a big IF and I will explain below. I have exchanged emails with Chuck Wettergreen, a very experienced and knowledgeable meadmaker who has been using buckwheat for more years than I knew what it was. His intriguing posts can be read on old issues of MLD from back in the early 90's and up. His posts got me interested in natural mead, no nutrients as that is what he reported worked well for him. I have been experimenting ever since.

Now here is the IF; and why:
While its true Buckwheat honey has more nutrients in than most other honeys, experts such as Ken Schramm indicate it's FAN level (Free Amino Nitrogen) level is just 21ppm (parts per million). Ken considers a minimum of 130-200ppm FAN is needed for a healthy yeast growth . As you can see even with buckwheat added to my blend of honey I am therorectically far from that minimum. Still the proof is in the pudding and it works for Chuck and it has worked for me. So here's my theory I passed on to Ken and Chuck. It may be a perception not shared by others so take it as an opinion only until confirmed by more experienced and scientific people than myself. IF you use SOFT water, K1V-1116 and a blend of Buckwheat and some other honey(s) with no nutrients added to must it will stick or (go into stress?) and not finish. This is my experience. IF you use the same and substitute HARD water:
SOFT HARD
Calcium 10 240
Magnesium 2 50
Bicarbonate 15 250
Sulphate 5 500
Nitrate 5 40
Chloride 5 50
All figures in mgs per litre (ppm)

it will ferment from 1.100 to 1.008 in approximately 3 weeks.
Notice the minerals in hard water. The magnesium is needed and the calcium is I think the key. (but I could be wrong) I'm working backwards on my answer so I know there is an explanation but I am not technically scientific to prove it true. But here goes.
From a technical article on Beer I read that Calcium has a beneficial effect on the precipitation of wort proteins.
"Protein-H + Ca2+ (r) Protein-Ca + 2H+"
"The hydrogen ions released further reduce the PH which encourages further precipitation of proteins."
Now for those of you who don't boil and skim you may shortly understand why people who use some buckwheat and report success without using nutrients also do not usually boil and skim either. ( Note many of them also use unprocessed honey as there is a difference) The proteins that are not boiled and skimmed away are degraded or converted to simple substances by enzymes called proteases. These enzymes I believe are in the yeasts. The FAN level of the Buckwheat is enough to start a fermentation but more is needed to continue. The reduction of the PH then caused by the presence of calcium in the water encourages proteolysis, further reducing protein levels and increasing must Free Amino Nirogen levels. (FAN) This improves the level in the must and improves the health and vigour of the yeast.
That's pretty well my story and I'm sticking to it ;)
at least until somebody sets me straight.
How's that for a wordy answer to your simple question?
The real answer is No, Buckwheat honey does not have plenty of nutrients in it but it does have more than most all other honeys and if you use a no boil blend mixture and Hard water it makes a delightful CW mead (named by me for Chuck WetterGreen and enjoyed by me immensely) without nutrients added.
Joe