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Old 05-01-2011, 05:27 PM   #1
Wyrmwood
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Default First mead

My (first) mead was clear as a bell so I bottled yesterday. If interested, you can follow the journey here, http://www.homebrewtalk.com/blogs/wyrmwood/752-mead-1.html.

I went ahead and tasted some, even though I fully intend on giving these out at Christmas time. I was very surprised to find it tasted like dry white wine. There was virtually no honey flavor. I've had mead in the past, including more recently a Redstone Traditional Dry, and I seemed to recall more "honey" character.

I also added 4.5 lb of honey to the secondary of a beer I brewed recently and it was fantastic, with mouthfuls of honey, but I imagine that's because I caramelized the honey before adding and didn't use a super high ABV yeast, and I also carbed with honey.

Anyways, so I was surprised to see how little honey taste there was in this mead, especially since I used 14 lb of honey, 5 of which was "dark".

So, if I want more "honey" character, what do you suggest? I imagine the caramelized honey would not ferment out as much. Should I try an ale yeast? Something that won't go beyond 10% or so? Or, is this a matter of age, and it the mead will gain honey character with age? As I mentioned, this is for Christmas



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Old 05-01-2011, 05:53 PM   #2
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My guess, and from me asking similar questions last week, that it should get more tasty with age.



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Old 05-01-2011, 11:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Wyrmwood View Post
My (first) mead was clear as a bell so I bottled yesterday. If interested, you can follow the journey here, http://www.homebrewtalk.com/blogs/wyrmwood/752-mead-1.html.

I went ahead and tasted some, even though I fully intend on giving these out at Christmas time. I was very surprised to find it tasted like dry white wine. There was virtually no honey flavor. I've had mead in the past, including more recently a Redstone Traditional Dry, and I seemed to recall more "honey" character.

I also added 4.5 lb of honey to the secondary of a beer I brewed recently and it was fantastic, with mouthfuls of honey, but I imagine that's because I caramelized the honey before adding and didn't use a super high ABV yeast, and I also carbed with honey.

Anyways, so I was surprised to see how little honey taste there was in this mead, especially since I used 14 lb of honey, 5 of which was "dark".

So, if I want more "honey" character, what do you suggest? I imagine the caramelized honey would not ferment out as much. Should I try an ale yeast? Something that won't go beyond 10% or so? Or, is this a matter of age, and it the mead will gain honey character with age? As I mentioned, this is for Christmas
Well, to start with, judging from your brewing blog, it's quite "young" i.e. started in February ???

So ageing is likely to be required, at least 6 months.

Also, your brew blog lacks a lot of gravity readings, but it looked like the final reading taken before bottling, was 1.000 so that's like a medium dry.

Dry meads can indeed, taste very "wine like", especially when young. Though how much of the honey character is likely to be restored by ageing, I don't know. I'm not familiar with that yeast.

There's plenty of stuff out there about yeasts, their characteristics etc, both here and over at gotmead.

If you want to include a specific honey flavour, then you're probably gonna have to back sweeten some. So it'd be a case of sorbate and sulphite to stabilise, then add honey gently to raise the gravity. I like my meads at about 1.010 - 1.015 and I dislike the so called "dessert" meads that have gravities in the 1.040 area

If you add a certain honey to an already clear mead, then it's entirely possible that you'll get a haze, which needs either to be aged out or hit it with finings. It's why I generally taste my meads when they're part clear, to get a general idea of how they're getting on, then I'll stabilise them, then add just enough honey to bring the gravity up, then finish with the clearing/ageing process.

Your mead, so it's up to you what you try.

Oh and another handy way of back sweetening, is to use something like Chenin Blanc grape concentrate. It's quite honey like anyway......

and doesn't usually haze much, if at all

regards

fatbloke
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Old 05-02-2011, 07:00 PM   #4
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So it sounds like this should improve by Christmas. Thanks for the responses! So the timing of brewing a mead around the first of the year for drinking/gifting at the following Christmas sounds reasonable?

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Old 05-02-2011, 07:30 PM   #5
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Maybe. Yes. No. It depends.

Like a fine wine, it will get better with age.

Just based on past experience - I couldn't even handle my JAOM until it was at 9-10 months. And that is supposed to be a quick, down and dirty mead that is drinkable ASAP. Now, granted, I missed a couple months in the middle ... but I was sick and tired of tasting rocket fuel.

I went to a demo by a local homebrew club showing how to make mead. One guy brought in a mead made with avocado honey. He said it tasted foul until 3 years out. He said before it tasted like somebody had dropped a couple avocado's in there - that it had an almost "fatty" mouthfeel to it and strange off flavors. But after 3 years, he wanted to free up the korny, took one last taste, and WOW was it good. So he bottled it and brought it. And WOW was right.

So, the original smart alec answer stands. Maybe. Yes. No. It depends on when you consider it drinkable, and how much patience you have.

My recommendation would be to make it, baby it, bulk age it as long as possible, then taste it at the last minute. If it's good to go, it's good to go. If not ... there is always next year, right?

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Old 05-04-2011, 03:53 AM   #6
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Also, your brew blog lacks a lot of gravity readings, but it looked like the final reading taken before bottling, was 1.000 so that's like a medium dry.
OK, read your blog a few times, and without a doubt, you are the mead man, that's just how it is. Now, about the gravity readings; SEVEN readings is LACKING? OK, now, let's see, my hydrometer needs about 4 oz, so that's 28 oz --- OVER A FIFTH* LOST TO GRAVITY READINGS. OK, maybe I'm getting a little excited, but that seems like plenty readings Really, until I get a refractometer, I'm tempted to read OG on brew day/ prep day and FG on bottling day...


*~750ml for metric folks.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:09 AM   #7
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I've been wondering this for a while, but is there any reason you can't put the sample back in the fermentor afterwards?

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Old 05-04-2011, 01:43 PM   #8
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Contamination possibilities is the prime reasoning. Just drink the sample.

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Old 05-04-2011, 01:55 PM   #9
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Sure, but on a small <= 5L batch, thats a lot of your brew to be drinking, and your then increasing headspace unless you top up with water. Surely its just as risky pouring in new water as it is pouring back the sample (assuming you cleaned your hydrometer)...

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Old 05-04-2011, 02:57 PM   #10
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In small batches, I often pour the sample back in. As long as you keep everything sanitized, that will do no harm.

Wyrmwood,
My compliments on that excellent brewlog!
I haven't used that Merlot yeast before, but most of the high ABV yeast are fast fermenters that blow off a lot of aromatics. This may be exacerbated by fermenting at higher temps (and 72 F is high enough). If you try this yeast again, you may want to consider fermenting in the basement - the tolerance of the this yeast is 60F, so you should be able to conduct fermentation there OK, and this will keep more of the honey aromatics in, though you will have a much slower fermentation.

Dry traditional meads often lack honey aroma, but it tends to come back in force with aging, though that aging may take 12-24 months to peak.

I'm a little concerned that you didn't follow the gravity reading more at the end. A gravity of 1.000 is often not "done." Due to the low gravity of alcohol, wines/meads often get a finished gravity as low as 0.990. I hope your batch does not start to ferment when it warms back up again.

Medsen



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