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Old 11-10-2011, 02:37 PM   #1
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Default First (or actually third) time making mead - questions

1) So two nights ago I brewed my "first" batch of mead. I say "first" because previously I had only done two batches opf this - http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f80/joes...pe-mead-57190/ - with fairly good success - but I had wanted to make a more traditional mead. What I ended up using was:

15 lbs of Dutch Gold Clover honey
4 gallons of Water
5 tsp of Superferment
2 Packets of Lalvin 71B-1122

I then spent yesterday reading quite a few posts about how for a show mead you should really use more quality honey, and that some folks have had bad experiences tastewise with traditional meads made with Dutch Gold. So my thought was to get some better quality and make a straightup mead with that and with this batch possibly add fruit / spices to get a more balanced profile to outweigh the lesser quality honey. Does anyone have any suggestions on recipes that I could try that just entails adding fruit and or spices in the secondary (I don't want to add anything to the primary as fermentation is already underway). Thoughts?

2) Is bulk aging preferable to a longer bottle aging? I had been thinking of once the primary ferm is complete (~2 weeks from brewing), racking to secondary (with whatever I end up adding), waiting for it to clear (guessing another 4 weeks), racking it off whatever else fell to the bottom again to bulk age (3-6 months), and then bottle aging for another 6 months.

3) Is there any preference as to temperatures for bulk aging? My basement stays a pretty decent temperature, but I also have space in my keezer and was thinking of maybe aging there if there is any benefit from lower temps (38 degrees)

Thanks!

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Old 11-10-2011, 05:09 PM   #2
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Hi Jeebas,

My DB and I use Dutch Gold for our traditional meads, but we do use a 50/50 mixture of Orange Blossom and Clover. We haven't had an issue, but now you have me curious as to what people are saying. I'm gonna have to do some searches myself.

As to adding fruit to the secondary, 5 pounds of fresh cranberries will work. ('tis the season for them in the grocery stores) 12 to 15 pounds of Strawberries is good too. These will be a little harder to find fresh, but two cans of fruit base from your LHBS should work. In fact there are a bunch of different fruit bases you could choose from.

If you are using fresh, you will want to freeze, thaw and bruise the fruit before adding to the carboy. It helps break the fruit down a bit and gives the yeast an easier time. Some fruits will make the yeast take off again, so you will want to use a larger carboy for the secondary or you may end up with a big mess.

Most people prefer bulk aging. You get a more consistant taste from bottle to bottle and, once you bottle, you can no longer "play" with the mead. We've made that mistake a few times and have started bulk aging this year. Make sure you top up the carboy once you rack off of the fruit. We make an extra gallon batch of traditional to use as a top up.

Lastly, We age at room temperature (65 - 75 degrees) but I cannot say if that is optimal, its just what we've done. Hope this helps.

Rebecca

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Old 11-10-2011, 06:14 PM   #3
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Before you throw in the towel on the current batch, you may want to let it age and mature for a bit. It may yet surprise you. If you do decide to make melomel with it, try to keep at least a few bottle of this as a traditional mead.

You can certainly add, fruit or juice or spices and other whatnot into a traditional mead to give it whatever flavors you want. Is there a particular kind of flavor you'd like to try in a mead? If so, we can help you dial in a recipe.

After you add whatever you decide to add, the clearing stage may take a lot longer than 4 weeks. For a traditional mead it can sometimes take 9-12 months to clear. Once it is clear, it can be bottled. Personally, I like bulk aging because I like to wait to make sure I'm really happy with a batch because I don't want to waste time, energy and good cork on something that isn't going to be up to snuff. I also have a tendency to make small tweaks with small additions of acid, or tannin, or oak over time. But once you are satisfied, it is safest to get your mead bottled and under a good closure.

I don't know that there is any advantage to bulk aging over bottle aging. As for aging temp, if it is too cold, the aging will be slowed. Ideal temperature for aging is probably the same as for wine, mid 50s Fahrenheit, but I keep most of my stuff stored at 75 F and it does OK.

Medsen

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Old 11-30-2011, 03:38 PM   #4
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Thank you for the answers!

I think I am gonna go ahead and rack this onto some cranberries. I'm not expecting perfection and might even experiment a little - maybe adding some jalapenos (not many and definitely not any pepper hotter than that) - was looking at winemaking: requested recipe (Jalapeno Wine) for some ideas.

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