View Full Version : Improvement?!

04-20-2011, 08:52 AM
Hello guys,

Just bottled my 1st 2 batches of mead last week, one traditional FG Of 1.012 about 12-14% and i brewed it jan 31st and the other a pineapple mel FG 0.990 about 17.5-19% ive worked out and brewed that march 7th.

All went well and to plain at basicly every stage, but they taste pretty savage haha ;D

My question is in 6 months to a year how dramatic is the change and is it possible to explain it to me?

Medsen Fey
04-20-2011, 09:35 AM
The change over a period lasting a couple of years will probably astound you. Mead takes time for the harsh flavors to mellow through a long series of chemical reactions, but when it does, it can be almost miraculous.

With that being said, if you ferment with poor management, it is possible to make something that will still taste like crap a year or two later (done that :) ).

04-20-2011, 12:49 PM
When I started making mead and was impatient I found that 4-6 months was when the mead had mellowed enough to usually be enjoyable as a drink. But, it didn't really have a honey taste, just a fermented "something" taste, almost like white wine. Unfortunately this meant I drank all my first batches then, which was a giant waste as I discovered later as other batches aged more.

After 10 months to 14 months it really smooths out, and the honey character comes back in a huge way. Assuming ferment was good and there isn't too much tannin, this seems to be a good age to bottle and start drinking for most of my meads. Also at this point, meads that were totally dry start taking on a surprising implied sweetness, and a thicker more full bodied feel in the mouth.

Getting up to 19 months (about as old as my batches get right now, I have a few bottles of older left, but I don't open them really), I just opened a bottle of mead made with junk honey, and even that had turned into something surprisingly good, totally dry, but with a smooth "sweetness" and strong honey aroma and taste.

Some of the meads I make are going to take longer, just due to the vast amounts of tannin present. At 14 months old I still consider them young.

The best way to stop yourself from drinking it is to avoid bottling it. Chances are it's not really going to be clear until 8 or 9 months anyways (even if you think it is, it's probably isn't unless you've fined it) so you should be avoiding bottling until then anyways. Once it gets into bottles people tend to drink it pretty fast!

04-20-2011, 01:59 PM
Wow, if it changes that much, I can hardly wait for some of mine to get that old!

In the mean time, I'll have to keep a pipe-line of beer & JAO going to keep me from digging in too early.

I'm still new at this, but as far as I can tell, patience is quite possibly the most important aspect of mead-making. Unfortunately for most of us (me included), patience is learned. I know I wasn't born with it. Trying to resist the temptation to open a bottle of "fresh" mead is almost unbearable for me. I just have to keep reminding myself that the longer I wait, the better it will be.

04-20-2011, 02:15 PM
Patience is definitely one of the most important parts. A mead at 6 months is night and day from what it is at 2 months, but still just a mediocre drink generally (not always, some do great at this age) and a mead at 1 year, or 1.5 years will generally blow the same mead at 6 months old right out of the water - you seriously might not even believe they started out as the same thing.

One trick I've learned is substituting forgetfulness for patience. I get so many batches aging at once that I literally forget about them, makes it a lot easier to wait.

I've finally now gotten to the point where I can let big batches age a year before bottling (small batches I can wait much longer, easier to forget about), and I'm working on getting myself to let them go more like 2 years.

04-20-2011, 04:40 PM
A few things I've found that helped:

- Don't bottle until it's finished. Finished, as in, you just tasted it, and it is AWESOME. If it isn't awesome, it isn't finished. Not crystal clear? Not finished. Perhaps it needs a little oak, or vanilla? How about backsweetening? All these things take time.

- Make lots of batches. We've got more than a dozen five gallon batches aging at any given time. Just trying to keep up with what needs to be done to them keeps us quite busy. This one needs some oak, that one needs stabilizers, etc etc.

- Make many batches of the same type over time. No hurry to bottle batch x if batch y is already bottled and being drank if they're essentially the same thing. This also affords the opportunity to improve upon your process and recipe.