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Old 10-31-2011, 04:56 PM   #1
ajbram
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Default First Mead in the Primary... any input would be helpful

So I decided to make a mead. As with everything else, I'm never happy with using a previously tried recipe. I want to customize things to my purposes. In this case, I wanted a few things:

1. Drinkable (hopefully good, but at least drinkable) by Xmas.
2. Off-dry and sparkling
3. Relatively light on the ABV (around 9-10% so that guests can drink it like beer).
4. "Christmassy"

I had a look at several recipes and decided to merge a few ideas from other recipes with some of my own thoughts and this is what I came up with.

This is a 20L batch

I steeped 2 small cinnamon sticks and a split vanilla bean in some hot water until my kitchen smelled like some sort of cake.
I added 4kg of clover honey dissolved in warm water (clover honey to make a neutral mead base), cooled the lot and dumped it into the fermenter with the cinnamon and vanilla included.

Dumped in 5g of Lalvin EC-1118 (like I said, I'm hoping for drinkable by xmas) and some yeast nutrient, airlocked it and let it go on Friday evening.

OG was 1.082

This morning, SG is ~1.040. Honey flavour is starting to become muted and some nice dryness is creeping in. Vanilla "cakeyness" is still there and its nice. The cinnamon note is really being expressed in a big way, and I'm hoping it becomes muted a bit in the secondary.

The plan is to let this go until it's down to about 1.010 in the primary then rack to secondary and let it rest for several weeks with a couple split vanilla beans and a bunch of orange peel. Once it has fermented dry, I'm going to backsweeten with Makuna honey (for some nice caramel notes) to about 1.008 or so and bottle carb then stovetop pasteurize.

Does this all sound reasonable for the goals I am trying to achieve with this batch?

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Old 10-31-2011, 07:12 PM   #2
TimothyChurch
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When it comes to mead aging is the key. Yours is a drier lighter mead so it will finish faster than a sweeter mead but Christmas might be pushing it. I'd say open a bottle or two for Christmas but save the rest and let it age a while. Normally I give my dry meads 6 months but the longer the better. If you are looking for something faster that would be nice for christmas, I'd say a spiced apfelwein is the way to go. It also gets better with time but it is damn tasty young. I have a batch with just cinnamon and it tastes like an apple pie.

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Old 10-31-2011, 07:21 PM   #3
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Thanks Timothy. I figured on bottling into beer bottles, so 20L divided by 350mL = about 57 bottles. I'll definitely put some away and open one every couple months until its at its optimum, but I figure on having 12 bottles or so to offer up for guests. I have an applewood conditioned sparkling cider on the go as well.

Nice boat, by the way. do you race?

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Old 11-01-2011, 01:23 PM   #4
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Ya I put up that picture because it is prettier than my boat. I used to race before I came to college. Now I just sail for fun and help repair the A&M sailing clubs boats. I do get to do the occasional beer bottle race though. Sailing is always better when beer is involved.

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Old 11-07-2011, 04:39 PM   #5
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Progress update: Mead has been in the primary for 10 days now. S.G. is 1.006. It's still bubbling away about 1 bubble every 4 seconds. It's beginning to get very dry and right now has a lot more cinnamon to it than I would have liked (I kept 2 small cinnamon sticks in the primary). The plan is to move to secondary as fermentation begins to slow over the next few days. I plan to add a couple split and chopped vanilla beans and as much orange peel as my wife and I can generate in the next few days. Eventually, I'll backsweeten and prime with a couple pounds of Makuna honey and bottle carb.

My question is this: Seeing as how I'm thinking there's too heavy a cinnamon character at the moment, would it be better to get the mead off the cinnamon earlier than I would like to have it out of primary? Also would the vanilla and orange flavours be more enhanced if I get the secondary goign earlier, or if I let the alcohol content build a bit for better extraction efficiency?

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Old 11-08-2011, 03:30 PM   #6
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If the cinnamon is too strong now then yes get it off of it as quickly as possible. The reason is that the cinnamon character will get stronger when it ages. I definitely would put in some zest and when you backsweeten that should thin out the spice a little. Possibly the orange zest (no pith or white of the peel) and some actual juice should thin it down, The vanilla will help too.

Matrix

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