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Old 01-25-2009, 05:02 AM   #1
TheFermenteer
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Default 25-year-old Mead

I'm trying to formulate a plan for my 25th Birthday Mead Recipe. I would like to brew a batch (10 or 15 gallons) of something strong and unique that I will age until my 50th birthday. I have thought about Charlie Papazian's Prickly Pear Fruit Mead as a candidate. However, I think I would rather just brew a 5-gallon batch of that this year (and every other year I can get my hands on prickly pear) separate from this project.

Some thoughts/possibilities to incorporate into my 25-year-old Mead project:
1. Right now I have a 5 gallon batch of Carrot Blossom Honey mead that is aging, and it's quite amazing. I also happen to have another 18 lbs of this honey waiting for another batch that could be used for this project. Carrot Blossom Honey is dark amber in color and has spicy flavors that are hard to fully describe.
2. I want to put at least 10 gallons of this into a refurbished oak barrel to age for up to 5 years, if there is any left over that doesn't fit in the barrel I will just bottle and age until my 30th for a "sampling."

Here are a couple recipe ideas, I was hoping for some input on honey selection and recipe and such. I think I would use either Orange Blossom or Sage Blossom honey as the base (I have use Orange blossom in the past with good results, but have yet to use Sage Blossom - I read that it is supposed to have a more intense "honey" flavor than most others). And then add in one or two more uniquely flavored honeys. I want to get the abv up to 18%, but still have some sweetness, so shooting for an original gravity of 1.140 and sweeten as necessary.

Recipe 1: (15 gallons)
30 lbs Sage Blossom Honey
18 lbs Carrot Blossom Honey
6 lbs Blackberry Honey

Recipe 2: (15 gallons)
24 lbs Orange Blossom Honey
18 lbs Carrot Blossom Honey
12 lbs Sage Blossom Honey
6 lbs Buckwheat Honey

Thanks for the help!

Oh, and my birthday is in October, so I really need to figure this out in the next couple of months in order to buy the honey and prepare, just to give you a timetable.

I'm also interested in other honeys, so any info on the taste (in meads) or where to get them would be helpful:
* Blueberry Honey
* Alfalfa Honey
* Apple Blossom
* Huckleberry Honey
* Desert Blossom Honey

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Old 01-25-2009, 01:57 PM   #2
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I have a couple of barrels that I've been using for mead and wine for a couple of years and there are some things you need to consider before deciding on barrels.

1. Barrels, even refurbished barrels, will impart a lot of oak - I mean a lot - in a fairly short time. On the new five and seven gallon barrels I have I had to take the first wine out after 5 weeks, the second after about 10 weeks, the third after 4 months, and so on. I'm at the point now where the current wine has been in the barrel for a year.

2. As soon as you remove the wine or mead you need to have something ready for bulk aging to go back into the barrel the same day.

3. You lose a fairly large portion to "the angel's share" and you have to top up your barrel at least once a month. That's not really a lot of trouble but it does take a committment.

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Old 01-25-2009, 02:44 PM   #3
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I can tell you from experience that Charlie's recipe is unbelievable. My wife used to work for him, and we were at a party at his house. I got a small glass of that original batch, that he aged on top of a hill near his property. That was probably the best thing I have ever drank.

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Old 01-25-2009, 04:14 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info guys! Yea, I have been playing with the idea of getting a 10 gallon barrel for a while. I thought perhaps I would age some wine in it first, then move the mead in there. I didn't realize it worked so quickly - you always hear about meads and wines aged on oak "for years" but I imagine those are older, well used barrels.

This mead will be again for 25 years, most of that in the bottle, so wouldn't a lot of oak dissipate over that time? You have me thinking that I might just use oak cubes, since that has worked really well for me the in past....

I do like the idea of having a barrel, though. I was hoping to re-use it a few times for meads and wines and then get a rolling batch of sour beer in there - every 6 months I take 5 gallons to bottle and add 5 gallons, and repeat on into eternity..

Charlie's recipe will definitely be made this year, but I think I will do it one it's own. It's pretty difficult for me to get prickly pear cactus fruit in Seattle, but I have some friends in California that should be able to get some this year...

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Old 01-25-2009, 05:03 PM   #5
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I'm actually pleased to be near the stage where I can consider my smaller barrel "neutral" in flavor. Barrels have a lot of benefits other than imparting the oak essence. A neutral barrel will age and concentrate the flavors in a way that glass or stainless just can't and one can always add oak beans to get the flavor.

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Old 01-25-2009, 05:06 PM   #6
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Well, it is still a worthy investment for sure, I will have to age a few things in it prior to adding the 25-year-old mead....

Any advice on the honey/recipe?

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Old 01-25-2009, 05:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFermenteer View Post
Well, it is still a worthy investment for sure, I will have to age a few things in it prior to adding the 25-year-old mead....

Any advice on the honey/recipe?
I think Acacia honey is the best honey out there, try a small jar of it for a taste. It's expensive, but it's light, delicate & quite floral. For such a grand project, you might consider using some rather special ingredients. It's just a thought, GF.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:58 PM   #8
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Sounds good. I can find small quantities online, but do you have a good source for it? I would prefer to get honey as least-processed as possible... I am still trying to see what varietal honeys are around my area, too..

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Old 01-25-2009, 08:01 PM   #9
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Fermenter - you might want to add your location your profile. It helps people answer your questions better. For instance, I could recommend trying Miller Honey for some of the special honeys you want but they're in California and if you're in Maine, the shipping might not be cost effective. Simarly, I think Tupelo honey is pretty exotic but it comes from the Southeast and if you're in Washington, the same situation applies.

I can't really comment on your recipes because I've never mused carrot or sage honey in a mead. Recipe #2 will have a very high OG so staggered nutrient additions and proper and timely aeration will be crucial for healthy fermentation.

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Old 01-25-2009, 08:31 PM   #10
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Thanks for the tip! Profile updated, I will get more stuff on there soon, too.

I am in Seattle, so the Miller Honey would not necessarily be a stretch, but the Tupelo might be...

Any other thoughts on honey types for such a grand project?

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