PDA

View Full Version : Need help with a Basic Mead



agfisher
01-18-2006, 05:20 PM
Hello all,

I've been a brewer for about 15 years and have brewed mead here and there. My future wife and I decided it would be nice to brew mead to give our guests at the weeding. My dilemma is this, I want to brew a simple sweet mead. The meads I have done in the past were always good but always a little chaotic (if you know what I mean). For this mead (I'll be making 15 gallons in 3 batches) I want to make sure it comes out perfect (or as perfect as I can get it)

So what I am asking the experts is,

The wedding is August 5th. This date should be used as a basis for a timescale. Ferment, age, bottle, age, etc.

Do you have a perfect simple sweet mead recipe that always is a pleaser?

Also can you run me through what you would do to make it? Since I brew beer, the requirements are a bit tougher for mead so I want to make sure this is a good healthy ferment.

I’ve already gotten a lot of great information from this site from all of you, very informative. I plan to do a lot more mead brewing in the future. This post is just a sign of my nerves in making sure that I do everything right for this.

Thanks in advance…

Adam

Boston, MA.

Brewbear
01-19-2006, 12:49 AM
Welcome ;D
As you well know most meads require a bit of time to age, that being said, I would suggest rummaging through the recipe section and see what would interest you. Ancient Orange is the perennial go to mead when quick results are needed. You could even try a 1 gal batch and see how you like it before going ahead with a large batch. There are some short meads (quick and low alcohol) around.... there is the three week mead...however it requires a bit of handling.
Here is a link to my straight mead http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=2646.0

Hope that helps,
brewbear

flatlandfiddler
01-19-2006, 08:27 AM
If I had to make a sweet mead in a hurry, I'd have a strongly flavored adjunct, like raspberries or blueberries. for 5 gallons:

Please don't heat your honey or fruit.
I'd start with 12 lbs. (orange blossom) honey, no more - maybe 10 lbs if fruit was being used
nutrient and DAP to recommendations; 1/2 right away, 1/2 a day into fermentation (or split in thirds)
use something quick that won't require a lot of aging for yeast, like 71b,ferment at 70-72
if adding berries, use about 4 lbs. - one one right away, and the others incrementally over a week. This is for colour, nose, and clarifying tannins, not for a huge fruit flavor (thus only 4 lbs.)
use an bucket type fermenter with an open top for the first three days (cheesecloth, or loose lid - then put lid down firm)
rack in a few weeks to carboy.
you'll want to rack in another month if sufficient lees drops, then you can leave it alone - age it cooler if you'd like.
in May - cold stabilize and sorbate or chemical stabilize and sorbate; add fining if needed. If you don't like the taste, add a vanilla bean (vanilla will help integrate and, well, mask most bad stuff).
in June - backsweeten with honey and balance acid with acid blend
at the end of June, bottle. you're set.

WRATHWILDE
01-19-2006, 09:24 AM
Welcome to the Forum Agfisher!!!

Straight meads can be very tricky to get right, as can some Melomels, and the flaws are more readily noticeable. I'd suggest my Honey Maple Mead. This mead was incredible at 6 months, which is just under your time line. I've modified this recipe for Lalvin 71B yeast for a more reasonable 14-15% alcohol, rather than the 18% plus of my original.

Recipe per 5 gallon batch

In Primary
1 gallon wildflower honey from GloryBee
3.5 Gallons Bottled Spring Water
Lalvin 71B-1112 yeast (rehydrate with Goferm!!!)
2 tsp Fermaid K Up front, or staged which ever you prefer.
Make sure you oxygenate well the 1st 3 days with the honey in the primary.
(rack when airlock slows to about 1 blip every 15 seconds)

In Secondary
Rack 1/2 to 3/4 of Primary into secondary.
Add 1/2 gallon Grade B Dark Maple Syrup (stir well, but don't aerate)
Finish transferring Primary to Secondary and give it some gentle stirs.

Rack 1 more time when fermentation has completed to get it off the lees.

Bulk age... Wait as long as you dare before bottling

The link to my current batch is here including where to get the ingredients... http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=2955.0

Reviews of my original batch with EC-1118 are here... http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=1620.0

I have yet to meet anyone who didn't think it incredible... Oskaar describes it as having "plenty of character to keep one going back to the bottle until it is empty."

;D ;D ;D .

Hope that Helps,

Wrathwilde

Oskaar
01-19-2006, 09:59 AM
Hi Adam! Welcome to Gotmead!

I think you have gotten good suggestions from Brewbear, WrathWilde (who loves getting in and posting while I'm writing a response), and Flatlandfiddler (hereafter BB, WW and FF). Here are some things that need to be figured into the mix.


Managing Expectations:

You've basically asked for a six month recipe; and while there are a number of them that fit the bill, we don't have a clue what you consider sweet, good, drinkable, swill etc. Also you are a brewer, so your understanding of mead, it's nuances, fermentation kinetics, etc. will be viewed from the perspective of a brewer as opposed to a mazer, as you stated in your post. This is an important distinction.

Considering the size of the batch you are proposing along with the constricted time frame and soliciation of an unknown "perfect sweet mead" recipe, I think that you really need to take one giant step backward and re-think this whole thing. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't do this, rather, you should manage your expectations and decide what is an acceptable compromise given the amount of time for making the mead, and your expectation of the quality of the end product.

Bear in mind that no one here is paid to provide mazing advice, it is a labor of love, and based on experience that is entirely subjective. What is good to one is swill to another and so on. Understand that your goal of a perfect sweet mead does not carry a consistant definition from mead maker to mead maker. I've tasted meads that ran over 1.050 that were incredible, and others that made me want to chase down the guy who made them and break all his fingers with a pair of pliers. Bottom line, taste is subjective.

Into the Breech:

OK, now that the Expectation Management of the post is over, let's take a look at a couple of things. Your honey bill is going to be the most cash intensive portion of the deal. Find a good honey to use. In this case I would recommend a blend of two honeys, a medium amber colored varietal (citrus, sage, etc.) and a lighter colored varietal (mequite, alfalfa, etc.) These two are nicely complex, lend good aromatics, and they age well relatively quickly.

Next consider your yeast. WW recommended his Maple Mead, I can attest that it is a great mead and will go on to age well. It is one of the meads that I spoke of that was over 1.050 that is pretty damned great. The yeast he used was EC-1118. If you're going to use this yeast I HIGHLY recommend that you use Go-Ferm to rehydrate and Fermaid K in the must, DAP at the end of the lag phase, and Fermaid K at the 1/3 and 2/3 sugar break, along with twice daily aeration through the end of the 2/3 sugar break. Personally in this case, with this timeframe I would use 71B-1122 because of the short amount of time you have to make this thing. 71B is a good yeast for quickly maturing meads (I'ts also used heavily in Noveau Beaujolais which are made to age quickly and be drank in a hurry) I like 71B in young meads because a bit of air (in a decanter, carafe or pitcher) and it mellows right out and releases a lot of the vinyl/phenolic character that is still present in young meads made with EC-1118. I recommend the same nutrient dosing and aeration schedule as for EC-1118. Keep your fermentation at 70 degrees for both of these yeasts.

FF mentioned tannins and fruit. This is good advice. Tannin lends to quicker clearing and early complexity with mid-palate softness. However, the fruit is dicey. Melomels tend to clear a bit quicker than most traditional meads. But, in plenty of cases they can get downright stubborn, so I would go with a clear pasteurized juice as opposed to fresh, frozen or canned fruit. Just a personal bias on my part as I've found that cleared pasteurized fruit juice has not had a problem with fast clearing in my experience. The lower the turbidity the better in my opinion. So if using clarified juice, I'd go ahead and add some tannin at 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of mead.

FF also mentioned open fermentation which is covering your bucket or carboy with a sanitized cloth. I agree and recommend that you do this. Again, following the nutrient and aeration schedule as described above. Once you hit the 2/3 sugar reduction, and aerate for the last time at the 2/3 sugar reduction nutrient dose you will need to hit this sucker with an airlock. Once it is racked make sure that you keep your temperature at a constant 70 degrees + or minus 3 - 4 degrees. Don't vary the temperature radically from the plus to minus side and expect to have great results in a short amount of time.

Adjustments:

The rest of it is really aging, stabilizing back sweetening and bottling or kegging (if it's me, I'm kegging this a couple of weeks in front of the celebration and using a constant pressure to carbonate to slight pettilance)

You may also add some extracts to increase or lessen astringency, acescence, cloying sweetness etc. I will say that a combination of slight amounts of citrus, vanilla and cinnamon will tend to mask several faults associated with youth and insolence.

Anyhow, that's my .02, if you need more PM me. As always, my standard rejoinder . . . Take a chance . . . Custer did!

Cheers,

Oskaar

agfisher
01-19-2006, 10:02 AM
Hey guys, thanks for the responses!!!

I might end up giving that maple mead a try

Coming from beer brewing I oil everything. It sounds like in that recipe there is no heat involved at all. Is that correct?.

Thanks again,

Adam

Oskaar
01-19-2006, 10:05 AM
Yup,

No heat.

Cheers,

Oskaar

WRATHWILDE
01-19-2006, 10:10 AM
I might end up giving that maple mead a try


You'll be glad you did... I really do suggest using 71B for your batch. You're going to love it!!!

Wrathwilde

agfisher
01-19-2006, 12:03 PM
1 gallon wildflower honey from GloryBee

Add 1/2 gallon Grade B Dark Maple Syrup (stir well, but don't aerate)

Wrathwilde


Quick question about ingredients.

First the honey. I know this is probably Taboo but I was given 30 lbs of honey someone bought from Costco. Its standard Clover Honey I believe. I have a lot of it so I would like to use it. But I understand that this stuff is probably not the best.

Second, Grade B Maple Syrup. I've seen A around before but never B. Does it matter which I use?

Thanks,

Adam

SteveT
01-19-2006, 12:07 PM
1 gallon wildflower honey from GloryBee

Add 1/2 gallon Grade B Dark Maple Syrup (stir well, but don't aerate)

Wrathwilde


Quick question about ingredients.

First the honey. I know this is probably Taboo but I was given 30 lbs of honey someone bought from Costco. Its standard Clover Honey I believe. I have a lot of it so I would like to use it. But I understand that this stuff is probably not the best.

Second, Grade B Maple Syrup. I've seen A around before but never B. Does it matter which I use?



That clover honey will work well... I use it for some of my Cysers.

Grade A Maple Syrup, sometimes called "Fancy", is a clearer, lighter product. And, more expensive. Save your money, use the Grade B, which is darker, and in my opinion, generally a better tasting product.

Steve

WRATHWILDE
01-19-2006, 07:07 PM
I suggest the Glorybee wildflower, it comes from wild sources in the cascade mountains and provides an excellent way to provide the complexity that helps make a good mead. A lot of other wild flower honeys are mixes from stock that companies don't feel are true to the character of the honey it was originally purchased as. As an example, Miller Honey has informed me that their "wildflower" is mostly buckwheat.
Grade B is is darker, more full flavored, cheaper, and provides more nutrients for your meads... no down side there.

Hope that helps, if you want good mead, stay away from the honey from Costco... it can be hit or miss from what I've read, why chance it for your big day?

Oskaar's yeast test used Costco Honey, read his reviews here... http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=650.0

Wrathwilde

agfisher
01-19-2006, 09:33 PM
Has anyone used this honey in their mead

http://www.dutchgoldhoney.com/store/product.asp?dept%5Fid=8&pf%5Fid=82&mscssid=XE2UGBHLRNB88KGGD31L6WEXH7TPAGK0

Just currious. I have 20 lbs of it and was wondering if I could use it.

Adam
Boston, MA.

WRATHWILDE
01-20-2006, 09:08 AM
I've contacted dutch gold about their honey before... they heat their honey and filter it, which drives off some of the taste and natural complexities. If your going to do the maple mead, I'd say go ahead and try it if you have 20 pounds, the Grade B maple syrup will help mask the thin taste from the honey. If you can mix it with the wild flower I suggested, say 1/3rd Wildflower and 2/3rds your Clover I think you'll still be able to get away with it, it won't be as complex as an all wildflower batch, but it should still be fairly good. I make no promises when deviating from my ingredient choices.

Wrathwilde

agfisher
01-23-2006, 12:09 PM
How does this place look to you guys? Anyone ever use them?

http://www.bostonhoneystore.com/MVAwholesalehoney.htm

I was thinking about using the Extra light or Blueberry for that maple Honey mead above.

Dan McFeeley
01-23-2006, 12:39 PM
Uh oh . . . Vickie's gonna be giving all of us the "Mom" look. Joe Mattioli's "CW Sweet Mead" recipe, ready in three weeks, is on the front page of the GotMead site. Yeah, me too. I didn't see it either until I happened across it using the search function for "CW Mead." ::) ::) ::)

Anyway, there's a quick URL for the recipe:

http://www.gotmead.com/component/option,com_pccookbook/page,viewrecipe/recipe_id,119/

And another one for discussion on the recipe:

http://www.gotmead.com/smf/index.php/topic,380.0.html

The "C.W." stands for Chuck Wettergreen, whom Joe named the recipe after. Chuck is the master of natural meadmaking, using no chemical adjuncts whatseover, yet turns out high quality meads that ferment easily, in a very reasonable length of time.

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-23-2006, 03:28 PM
Has anyone used this honey in their mead

http://www.dutchgoldhoney.com/store/product.asp?dept%5Fid=8&pf%5Fid=82&mscssid=XE2UGBHLRNB88KGGD31L6WEXH7TPAGK0

Just currious. I have 20 lbs of it and was wondering if I could use it.

Adam
Boston, MA.

agfisher,

I have used Dutch Gold Orange Blossom with good results although I would say that it is a bit light on the sugar content in comparison to other Orange Blossoms I have gotten from other sources. But the honey will be clear and of good quality...

The other comment would be that you are paying around $100 for 30 pounds of honey. You can get a 5 gallon pail (60 pounds - twice as much) for the same price. It's a little harder to work with but you get twice as much mead for the same price. I ordered three 5 gallon buckets a couple months ago from Dutch Gold and am about halfway through it.

Good luck,
Pewter

agfisher
01-23-2006, 03:34 PM
I ended up finding a local place near me with 5 gallon pails for 90 bucks. how do you measure out your honey with sure a large bucket? I think thats my big question right now :-)

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-23-2006, 03:42 PM
I ended up finding a local place near me with 5 gallon pails for 90 bucks. how do you measure out your honey with sure a large bucket? I think thats my big question right now :-)

I break mine down into gallons using the containers from previous honey. I add honey based on volume (so many quarts) assuming that a gallon is roughly 12 pounds. Then I add more to tweak the SG to exactly what I want.

WRATHWILDE
01-24-2006, 09:04 AM
How does this place look to you guys? Anyone ever use them?
http://www.bostonhoneystore.com/MVAwholesalehoney.htm
I was thinking about using the Extra light or Blueberry for that maple Honey mead above.


Honey stored and packaged without heating above 100 degrees

That's what I like to hear!!! What type did you end up getting?

I'd like to try the blueberry.

Wrathwilde

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-24-2006, 11:00 AM
WW,

How about you, Angus, and I (plus anyone else in our neck of the woods go in on a bulk order? We can have it shipped to you (or me) and use picking it up as an excuse to have a mead tasting. If we get enough we could get it shipped on a pallette and save a lot of shipping costs... I'd probably take two blueberries right now...

Thanks,
Pewter

WRATHWILDE
01-24-2006, 11:25 AM
Pewter,

Two Gallons? ???
Two 5 gallon Pails? :o
Two blueberries? :-\
What do you want Pewter? ??? LOL

Wrathwilde

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-24-2006, 11:28 AM
WW,

Two buckets... I don't do anything in small quantities...

BTW, you available in mid_February for a tasting? We should get Angus there too...

Pewter

WRATHWILDE
01-24-2006, 11:35 AM
BTW, you available in mid_February for a tasting? We should get Angus there too...


I'm sure I'll be free at some point... I work just 3 or 4 nights a week (12 hour shift 6 pm to 6 am) I have every other Friday, Saturday, Sunday Off.

Wrathwilde

Angus
01-24-2006, 12:34 PM
Eager to meet up somewhere for a Mead tasting (I will actually have more to try this time Wrath). I was thinking that, if possible, we could meet up at a Meadery to add that tasting into the trip. Spurgeon Vineyards is sort of in the middle (a bit further for you Pewter), but this may be a good place to meet up for a tour, followed by our own little tasting event.

www.spurgeonvineyards.com

Let's PM each other and see what can be arranged.

Angus

agfisher
01-24-2006, 01:36 PM
How does this place look to you guys? Anyone ever use them?
http://www.bostonhoneystore.com/MVAwholesalehoney.htm
I was thinking about using the Extra light or Blueberry for that maple Honey mead above.


Honey stored and packaged without heating above 100 degrees

That's what I like to hear!!! What type did you end up getting?

I'd like to try the blueberry.

Wrathwilde


I'm picking up a pail of Blueberry for 90. He said they never go above 100 degrees and all that they do is strain the honey. Seems like a real good deal and I don't have to pay for shipping!

Adam

SteveT
01-25-2006, 09:27 AM
<<I'm picking up a pail of Blueberry for 90. He said they never go above 100 degrees and all that they do is strain the honey. Seems like a real good deal and I don't have to pay for shipping!>>

Let us know you you like the company and the BB honey? I'm probably a 1.5 hour drive from there...

Steve

byathread
01-26-2006, 02:49 PM
I'm picking up a pail of Blueberry for 90. He said they never go above 100 degrees and all that they do is strain the honey. Seems like a real good deal and I don't have to pay for shipping!

Adam


Good call! I like to buy local, unrefined honeys whenever possible. I'm also a big fan of blueberry honey. I consider it nice and full-bodied, buttery and with a sophisticated fruitiness.

agfisher
01-27-2006, 03:35 PM
Well I just got back from MVA (http://www.bostonhoneystore.com/MVAwholesalehoney.htm) to pick up my 60 lb. pail of blueberry honey. I dealt with a guy named Wes who is a member of the family that runs the business. They have over 12000 hives throughout the east coast and run a great operation. Haven't had a chance to taste the honey yet but It was a great price and they are VERY friendly. They also said they have some type of honey available for pickup all year long. If any of you are in the Boston region, this place is a good place to get bulk, natural honey.

Adam
Boston, MA

SteveT
01-28-2006, 10:31 AM
Well I just got back from MVA (http://www.bostonhoneystore.com/MVAwholesalehoney.htm) to pick up my 60 lb. pail of blueberry honey. I dealt with a guy named Wes who is a member of the family that runs the business. They have over 12000 hives throughout the east coast and run a great operation. Haven't had a chance to taste the honey yet but It was a great price and they are VERY friendly. They also said they have some type of honey available for pickup all year long. If any of you are in the Boston region, this place is a good place to get bulk, natural honey.


Thanks for the update Adam! How does the honey taste? Hints of BlueBerry?

Steve

agfisher
02-01-2006, 12:04 PM
Tasted the honey last night and it was great. I didn't pull any blueberry hints out of it but they might have been there. I have a low-level cold that could be affecting my taste.

Oskaar
02-01-2006, 07:21 PM
Well, remember that the honey is from the blossom rather than the fruit, and while many varietal honeys have hints or character of the actual fruit, the honey will be more of a superset of the flower then the fruit.

Cheers,

Oskaar