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Old 01-06-2013, 08:12 PM   #11
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I would be very interested to see the tasting responses of someone who did NOT know the differences between the three samples.

Want to do science? BLIND YOUR TEST.

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:29 PM   #12
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IME. the OP's tests have very little grounds for use with actual batches of mead. Or at least with those I've made to date. I made three batches in 2010. One was a blackberry melomel the other two were traditional batches. I bottled up two batches (one of the traditional and the melomel) after about 6-8 months from pitching. The melomel wasn't good at that time. 1-1/2 years later, it's significantly better. I also left the second traditional batch in bulk for about a year. That included over a month on oak cubes. That part was significantly better than the batch bottled earlier. The melomel went to 14%, didn't finish dry (used D47) and the traditional batches both used EC-1118 and also didn't finish dry. Even at over 1-1/2 years from mixing, the traditional batches had a bit of an edge to them. That has pretty much gone away once we hit the two year mark (from mix/yeast pitching).

I also agree with fatbloke about how making mead is more akin to making wine, NOT brewing beer. As with making wine, a LOT of how it comes out has to do with what you use when you make it. Using cheap/crappy honey will not produce a good mead.

BTW, just because you like your low OG meads young and cold, doesn't mean that the aging 'myth' is dispelled at all. Had you not dumped the two batches, you could have seen how they developed over time. IMO, you might as well have not made them at all.

IME, making great mead isn't for those who want something in their glass fast. You can make ok mead, with a low ABV, faster. Doesn't mean it's going to be better than a batch that's been given the amount of time it needs to become great.

Maybe if the OP did some blind testing, and documented flavor differences over several months (12-24), where others provided the blind tasting. I do agree with devianttouch that the tasting should be done where those sampling have NO idea which batch they are tasting. Otherwise, it's all bunk IMO.

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Old 01-06-2013, 09:25 PM   #13
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I missed the part about using craptastic honey, thought this was a serious thread! You probably just showed you can quickly ferment high fructose corn syrup. WVMJ

Originally Posted by WVMJ View Post
Read my posts, I keep saying the same thing, keep the yeast happy, give it nutrients, add acid blend to create the correct fermentation enviornment, also dont overload it at the start with to much honey and step feed if you want to boost the alcohol. Our melomels are ready as soon as they clear but we do age them about a year or until I need the carboy for the next seasons batch. I would save your honey and not waste it on future experiments and just adopt your best results and go from there. WVMJ


Last edited by WVMJ; 01-14-2013 at 07:58 AM. Reason: Craptastic Honey
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVMJ View Post
Read my posts, I keep saying the same thing, keep the yeast happy, give it nutrients, add acid blend to create the correct fermentation enviornment, also dont overload it at the start with to much honey and step feed if you want to boost the alcohol. Our melomels are ready as soon as they clear but we do age them about a year or until I need the carboy for the next seasons batch. I would save your honey and not waste it on future experiments and just adopt your best results and go from there. WVMJ
You also forgot to say don't use EC1118 or champagne yeast.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:37 PM   #15
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Missed the part about craptastic honey, thought this was a serious thread. WVMJ


I use EC1118, K!V1116 and Pastuer Red all the time, depends on what we want in the end. We also add a lot of fruit to our melomels so loosing a little fragrance isnt hard to overcome. If hunter would have used a standard mead yeast and bottled them up to taste later it would have been a better long term experiment but that doesnt seem to be his goal, the goal was early drinking of mead. My meads are drinkable young, but after a year, and 5 years + they get better, even the EC1118 WVMJ

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVMJ View Post
I use EC1118, K!V1116 and Pastuer Red all the time, depends on what we want in the end. We also add a lot of fruit to our melomels so loosing a little fragrance isnt hard to overcome. If hunter would have used a standard mead yeast and bottled them up to taste later it would have been a better long term experiment but that doesnt seem to be his goal, the goal was early drinking of mead. My meads are drinkable young, but after a year, and 5 years + they get better, even the EC1118 WVMJ
I actually agree with you.

My blackberry melomel (my very first, and only so far) was clear and in bottles early. I just didn't know enough about how blackberries work in a melomel to know how long it would take before it became really good. I used enough fruit during the process to retain color and flavors. It just needed time to mature and become more. I gave a bottle to the owner of the LHBS to get his input on it. He loved it, so I gave him a bigger bottle (first was a 375ml, second was a 750ml) to enjoy. He's also enjoyed the other meads I've given him. The mocha madness surprised him with how good it was (not a flavor combo he would have thought of using).

Personally, I'm letting all my batches of mead go at least a year before I bottle them up. I'm sure they've cleared more than enough before then, but I have no issue with giving them time. I have one that I wasn't that impressed with several months back. I'll be aging it with some MM46 oak pieces for a while to see what that does. IMO/IME, as long as you start with at least decent honey (better is better of course) you'll get at least a decent mead. IF you treat it right early on. If you give it enough time, almost any mead can become really good (unless you screw the pooch on it). I've also found that if you either give a batch enough honey (either stepped or all up front) even using EC-1118 will produce a great mead. Just don't let it go to dry and expect to have much there. Of course, proper yeast selection is a rather important part of making a mead (as it is with wines and brewing beer). Just tossing any old strain in, due to price, will give you an unknown result. At best it will be ok to good. At worst you'll get something you cannot drink.

Pretty sure we've debunked the OP's "dispell the myth" thoughts.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:10 PM   #17
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Ok, from what I saw of your experiment basis. All three are good methods but it is generally agreed that a few things can help the taste of mead a lot.

1. From what I read, step nutrients are a must. I haven't done it yet but I find good results with my current methods.

2. Making a yeast starter is a neccessary arangement. Me I just mix the yeast starter up when I begin my processes. First thing I do, by the time I toss the yeast it is about 1/2 hr later.

3. temp control is good. Generally I have found that the meads that I do in the winter more tasty. My brew room is about 55-62 degrees without any help. But if you narrow your temp variance to 50% range of what the yeast goes for you should be fine.

I also find that oaking makes a mead drinkable sooner.

Given that, I still need to wait 6-8 months after bottling (I bottle age) before drinking. I have found that it is neccessary. Many times I have opened up a mead bottle too early and got poor results, especially prominent in Melomels due to the fact that the fruit flavor takes some time for the fruit flavor to come back.

Mostly when the advice to be patient and let it age for at least 6 months if not a year it is not meant to be discoraging to the nebie brewer. Most brewers love to hear someone starting brewing. It is not a myth that wine and mead needs to age, indeed mead has more in common with wine than beer but I consider it an entirely different brew process than either. You really can't equate them. Mead takes techniques from both beer and wine.

This fall I plan on doing an experiment of step nutrients vs no step nutrients and seeing the difference. I did one with oak and no oak and the answer on that was difinitively Oak. The oaked came out less harsh and less bite. I then did a test with the three types of oak. Light, Medium, Heavy. And found the taste difference so that I can match the oak toast level with the type of brew I want. Light fruity Melomels need light toast. A robust taste yet still sweet medium toast. A less sweet more scotchy or smoky taste use heavy toast oak. I did not do a test with different types of oaks. Hungarian, French, American are the most common.

So really, as a mead maker, you develop better and better brew through your care and processes.

In my development, I plan on learning about what different processes and ingredients do what and then use that knowledge to tailor the taste that I want and refine it. That's the fun of brewing.

So, your experiment is interesting but I don't feel that the batches were really different enough to judge if you can make an ageless mead. Sure it's possible but at what cost.

Hope your next experiment goes well.

Matrix

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Old 01-07-2013, 04:38 PM   #18
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From what I have seen, experienced, and read it is not a question of does my mead need to age. We are looking more at the fact that aging makes it better.

I do not deny that your experiment has shown the importance of temperature control and step feeding. However if you browse the forum, you will notice that the same members that encourage aging your mead will also be the ones encourage the use of nutrients and temperature control. The experiment was not a waste of time, it was not done poorly, and it is nice to see people still running experiments. The problem was the conclusion you came up with. No myths were dispelled, aging your mead is still a good idea. Some meads, despite proper temperature control, yeast nutrients, acid management, using good quality honey, keeping the lees to a minimum, and being careful with all other factors, will still require aging before it can be properly enjoyed.

Yes, HBT patrons have said that 2 months is not enough time to brew good mead for a wedding/anniversary/birthday. This is meant to discourage potential mead makers, but when a brand new mead maker is looking for a fast and good mead ready is a ridiculously short amount of time, we do not want to see them disappointed by their experience. The chances are that someone new to the art will not be able to pull off a perfect mead that is ready to drink in a short amount of time. If a new brewer goes in with these high expectations for their first mead, something will almost certainly go wrong. Did your first brew go exactly as you planned? (if it did, you are one of the very lucky few) Even if the mead is drinkable in 2 months, it will probably be 100 times better, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years later. No new brewer should try to make a fast ready to drink mead. It takes experience and hard work as your experiment shows.

The main reasoning I have heard for aging your mead has been when people have complained that it doesn’t taste good. With mead, aging fixes most flavor issue (not all, but most). It can help an inexperienced mead maker salvage a less pleasant brew, it can help clam a wild mead with a high ABV, and it can help bring back some of the desired flavors that the brewer was striving for.

Please, keep experimenting, but be careful with your conclusions. And remember, that if you are going to contest a wide held belief like aging your mead, try comparing your young mead to an aged version of the same mead. If you kept those “hot” meads around for a year, they may have been phenomenal. Another suggestion, try not drawing large encompassing conclusions like “you don’t need to age mead” based off of such a small scale experiment. There are so many factors you did not look at like ABV, different recipes/ingredients, different honeys, and personal tastes of many other people.

I am not trying to criticize or discourage you, I am just trying to share some knowledge.

Good luck with your future brews and experiments.

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Old 01-07-2013, 05:58 PM   #19
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I am no expert at making mead. I would like to say, however that saying a brewer has to keep the temps in line and a meadmaker also has to because both are using "yeast" is not scientifically accurate information.

Yeast alter their fermentation characteristics to their environment they are in. So yes, fermenting at cooler temps may reduce the amount of fusel alcohols in the finished product, but this may not necessarily be the case.

For starters, there is a reason why certain yeasts are preferred for making mead and wine. They have a higher alcohol tolerance, different pH preference, etc. And they may work better in the food source they are given.

Fusel alcohols may not be as big of a problem for mead due to the type of yeast normally used, or because the wort/must may not cause excessive fusels to be leaked from the cell walls.

There are still lots of answers to be found. I admire the fact that you are experimenting and I don't doubt that your results are accurate as far as you've taken it. But I also think that many people here already understand that yeast need proper temps.

What would be great would be further experimentation with lots of other variables, and even some analysis with specialized equipment that can pinpoint just how much of certain compounds are in the mead at specific intervals along the fermentation period.

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Old 01-13-2013, 05:51 AM   #20
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Id love to see more experementing done homercidal.. unfortunately i dont have the equipment to conduct such tests.

Again i was contesting the satement that mead NEEDS to be aged, which is incorrect. You may want to age mead,but its entirely possible to make a table mead in two months.. or even less. Yes I agree aging can bring out more honey
character and residual sweetness.

If I had a better source for bottles I would have aged them, but at $3 a bottle I would have more in bottles than it was worth seeing as the honey was cheap and very craptastic.

matrix I think your confused on what I meant by yeast starter. Its essentailly rehydrating the yeast [which is what you described] then pitching the rehydrated yeast into a low gravity must [usually in the low 1.050s for me]. It gives the yeast a chance to get used to the high pressure on there cell walls before dumping them into a high gravity must.the concept behind it is essentailly controlled introduction of osmotic [sp?] pressure. It increases yeast health and decreases cell death.

For those who seem to think im new to mead making, I'm quite a few batches in, bout 4 years expierence. Far from a master but not a novice either.

pardon spelling errors typing quickly and in a hurry

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