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Old 11-22-2012, 04:40 AM   #1
Bosh
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Default Impatient Manís Mead?

I haven’t been able to do any brewing for the last few years because of babies but I’m looking to get into it by making my first mead. The only thing that makes me a bit leery is that recipes I’ve seen indicate that mead takes a long time to get drinkable and I’d prefer something that is ready to drink within 3 months or so after pitching the yeast. Is this possible?

What I’ve been thinking is shooting for a relatively low ABV (maybe 7.5% tops) since that goes hand in hand with less aging. In order to keep it from getting too thin and dry I’m thinking of trying to get my hands on the wimpiest yeast that I can find so that some honey sweetness gets left behind. I’m also thinking of putting in maybe a gallon of apple juice since apple juice (in my experience) starts fermenting really fast and easy which might help build up some yeast to chip away at the slower to ferment honey and apple tartness might complement the honey sweetness but not overpower the more subtle honey flavor. I could use corn syrup I suppose or caramelize some sugar in the frying pan and throw that in but I’m leaning towards honey with just a bit of apple juice.

Spice like cinnamon and cloves are, sadly, right out. SWMBO thinks they taste like (oriental) medicine and won’t drink it if it has them.

One advantage I’ll have is that I’ll be putting the carboy in a space kimchi refrigerator so I can regulate the temperature right down to the degree. I’m not sure what kind of honey to get, I’ll poke around the Korean internet to see what I can buy in bulk/on sale. Maybe it’ll be from some kind of flower that people here haven’t used much of. For my very first beer I put in about two pounds of some kind of random raw honey and the floral smell it gave the beer was just incredible, will try to replicate that…

Am I on the right track? Any suggestions? What’d be some good strains of yeast for a relatively low ABV mead that isn’t tooooooooo dry? How much honey can I get away with and still have it be drinkable in three months or so or should I just stick it out and make something bigger and wait six months?

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Old 11-22-2012, 04:57 AM   #2
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Hmmmm, on GMarket I'm finding acacia honey, acacia honey, incredibly expensive royal jelly and more acacia honey. Web search says it has a delicate flavor and a floral smell, that must explain the floral smell on my honey ale. Sounds promising...

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Old 11-22-2012, 06:14 AM   #3
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You could make an adaptation of Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Omitting the spices. Like you've said lower ABV will get you a drinkable product faster. The trouble is even the wimpiest yeasts don't kick out until around 10%, lowly bakers yeast makes it to +12%, frequently ~14%. The only way to get it to stop at 8% is to limit the amount of fermentables or kill the yeast once the desired ABV is reached. If you let it ferment to compelteion you might as well have gone for the full+12% since it will likely still have to age in order to be enjoyable. At completion there won't be any sugars left to hide imperfections.
So it looks like for your goal you're going to have to kill the yeasts. This can be accomplished with the old k-meta/sorbate 1-2 punch or stovetop pasteurization. You could also cold crash and rack a few times which some cider makers on here have used to remove yeast succesfully.
If you make a cyser(honey/apple juice like you mentioned) using ale yeast(nottingham or similar) you could probably have it drinkable in your time frame. Even 6 months for a mead is pretty quick. I've got a gallon of orange blossom and clover honey(2:1) that's 7 months old and it's just now starting to not smell like cough syrup.

I say you make a batch of cyser to hold you over while you let a batch of show mead age for a year. Like Tom Petty says: The waiting is the hardest part.

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Old 11-22-2012, 06:29 AM   #4
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Yeah the cyser looks like the best bet. Only problem is apple juice is pretty expensive here and honey is pretty cheap (compared to the states for some reason), what's the least amount of apple juice I could get away with and still keep things drinkable within a reasonable time frame?

Will probably end up using a standard dry ale yeast since I don't think there's mead yeast for sale in Korea. Should be OK, could use champagne yeast as well I guess since that tends to go through sugars really damn fast but dries things out bone dry.

I think I'll avoid getting rid of the yeast, but might back sweeten perhaps...

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Old 11-22-2012, 06:55 AM   #5
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I've not made cyser so I can't speak to the best honey:apple juice ratios. I suppose it all comes down to what character you'd rather have, more honey or more apple. I don't suppose frozen concentrate is any cheaper? At 8% the subtle apple nuances are likely to get covered up by honey flavors so no need to get unfiltered heirloom apple juice.

Unfortunately you can't sweeten fermented beverages without doing something to kill/remove yeast. Most ale yeasts can make it up to 12% and a few into the teens. Champagne yeasts obviously go well into the teens so unless you're going to ferment to the strains alcohol toxicity level you're going to get launched corks or bottle bombs. The good thing is honey and apple juice are fairly nutrient poor so you might not reach the listed alcohol tolerance of the yeast. Use your hydrometer to ensure the yeast are done though.

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Old 11-22-2012, 07:17 AM   #6
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Well the problem is I've never seen apple juice concentrate in Korea

For sweetening you can use artificial sugar, I did that with a grape cranberry wine awhile back and it was very very popular, would try to avoid that if possible but if it's too dry I'll be the only one drinking it...

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Old 11-22-2012, 09:18 AM   #7
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Looking at a low ABV Cyser like that for 1 US gallon you are looking at:

1 lb honey
32 fl oz apple juice
Water to one gallon

That will get you a gravity of about 1.052 so fermented dry at about 7.25% ABV. Apple juice has a lot of malic acid and I like to reduce that where I can. Lalvin 71b yeast is a great yeast for Cysers since it metabolizes more malic acid than any yeast I know. This will give you a smoother profile which will be good for drinking young. here is the description for 71b off of Lalvins web site:

Quote:
The 71B strain is a rapid starter with a constant and complete fermentation between 15° and 30°C (59° and 86°F) that has the ability to metabolize high amounts (20% to 40%) of malic acid. In addition to producing rounder, smoother, more aromatic wines that tend to mature quickly, it does not extract a great deal of phenols from the must so the maturation time is further decreased.

The 71B is used primarily by professional winemakers for young wines such as vin nouveau and has been found to be very suitable for blush and residual sugar whites. For grapes in regions naturally high in acid, the partial metabolism of malic acid helps soften the wine. The 71B also has the ability to produce significant esters and higher alcohols, making it an excellent choice for fermenting concentrates.
Also to help with body think about adding 10 - 20 raisins torn in half and adding in 1 cup of black tea.
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:36 AM   #8
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For the tea is that a cup of brewed tea or a cup of tea leaves? Raisins are easy, should I boil them to sterilize them?

Unless I order internationally my yeasts are limited to (excluding lager yeasts, although I suppose using them would be an interesting experiment):
-Fermivin wine yeast (website doesn't say which strain).
-Safale s-04.
-Morgan ale dry yeast.
-Wyeast assorted liquid beer yeasts: American ale, Irish ale, forbidden fruit (wit beer yeast it seems)
-White Labs assorted liquid beer yeasts: California ale, English ale, London ale, Irish ale, Hefeweizen, Belgian wit, Belgian golden ale, Bavarian weizen,

I think I could also track down champagne yeast but that's about it

Ugh looking at the sites I'm not seeing yeast nutrients either, should be easy to order that internationally though.

Am leaning towards Safale s-04 due to lack of options

Many thanks for the advice all!

edit: oh wait, that lavin yeast you're recommending is a dry yeast. Yay! I can order that. I like the maltic acid taste myself but SWMBO can't stand it so that'd be perfect. I'll use that one, many thanks.

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Old 11-22-2012, 12:55 PM   #9
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For the tea that us a cup if brewed tea. I have also done loose leaf cold steeped with good results. If you do that anywhere between .5oz - 1oz loose leaf would work for a gallon. The yeast nutrients are great for having yeast with as little stress as possible but if you can't order any then a tbs of bakers yeast boiled in a cup of water over 15-30 min will kill and break down the yeast and make a decent nutrient addition.

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Old 11-24-2012, 04:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
For sweetening you can use artificial sugar
Oh, color me stupid. :~)
Dunno why I didn't consider sugar substitute.

Have you looked into any braggot recipes? You had mentioned your enjoyment of a previous brew you made. There are tons of honey brown ale recipes out there too.

As for melomels since apple juice is hard to find or pricey what about other fruit juices(persimmon, pear, rasp/mul -berries, cherries?). There've got to be some local fruits you can use to stretch the honey and make a great quick mead.
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