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Old 05-21-2010, 03:22 PM   #1
Tread82
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Default Making a big melomel this weekend. Advice?

So I'm making a 5 gal batch based on a combination of recipes. My original was from the August 08 BYO that has 21 lbs honey and about 15+ lbs fruit (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries) and the Mambo in Your Mouth recipe from The Compleat Meadmaker book. I figured the first recipe is too big and would finish too sweet, but I like the idea of just going balls out and having something over the top, but also really delicious for the next few years. I think I will change the recipe to this:

15 lbs wildflower honey
15 lbs fruit mix
Narbonne yeast
all the nutrients as needed.

Blend 12 lbs of honey with boiled water, cover and bring down temp. Pitch yeast. 4 days later add fruit in a straining bag and 3 more lbs of honey with nutrient, stir, recover, let ferment for 4 weeks. Rack to secondary, add American and French oak for 2 months. Rack, bottle, enjoy for quite a while.

This is my first melomel (and post). Give me anything ya got!

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Old 05-21-2010, 03:52 PM   #2
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Having not made something like this, please take my comments with a slight grain of salt...

1) I can see waiting to add the fruit and honey as to not overwhelm the yeast with too much sugar up front, but only 4 days? I'd probably wait a minimum of a week, more likely 2.

2) 4 weeks + 4 days may not be enough to get this down to it's final gravity. It's a good plan to check it about that time, but chances are this thing isn't going to be done and may need to wait.

3) Good call on the oak. Be sure to keep an eye on it, so it doesn't get over-oaked. I don't know if 2 months might be too long, but just watch it.

4) It's 90% likely that it will not be ready to bottle in 3 months. This thing is going to have a LOAD of alcohol and will be quite pronounced if this thing goes dry. You're really better off letting that thing sit 6-9 months before you even debate bottling, and even then it's probably a little early. Gotta be patient with big meads. Even normal meads I make take 9-12 months to get drinkable, something this potent may need 12-18.

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Old 05-21-2010, 04:27 PM   #3
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Yes! Sorry, I should have specified. I'll bottle it probably at a year or when it feels right. I am definitely lazy for a reason when it comes to aging. I want to mix the fruit and second addition of honey in so early as something kinda inbetween secondary and adding fruit at the beginning of my process. My thoughts are that I will get a unique fruit character but also have some interesting fermentation notes since it will be introduced during the main part of fermentation, but the flavor won't blow off that much with the rigorous first few days.

But if it's going to be bubbling well for a few weeks, I should just plan on letting my hydrometer do the talking. Thanks for the feedback!

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Old 05-21-2010, 06:43 PM   #4
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Adding the fruit and honey will not overwhelm the yeast. 15 pounds of honey in a 5-gallon batch will give about 14% ABV, and when you add 1 gallon of fruit juice (15 pounds of fruit is going to give you about a gallon of liquid unless you are using dried fruit) that has a much lower gravity, you're probably going to wind up with about 13% ABV which should make for a great dry melomel (you can sweeten it if it suits you).

I'd put all the honey in at the beginning unless you want to hold on to some for backsweetening. Your reasoning for waiting to add the fruit until later is sound. The vigorous fermentation can scrub off aroma. However, adding some fruit at the beginning provides some advantages such as the extra nutrient that it gives the yeast to help them get done faster, and the buffering capacity that tends to prevent pH drops and make the fermentation smoother. My approach would be to add some fruit (1/3) to the primary, at the beginning, and add 2/3 to the secondary (or at the very end in the primary).

With the addition of the fruit, plus a little nutrient you can probably be done with the primary within 14 days or so.

It sounds very tasty! Good luck with it!

Medsen

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Old 05-27-2010, 05:04 AM   #5
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Started this Saturday (5/22) but did changed it on the fly. This was my recipe:

17 lbs wildflower honey
7 lbs strawberries
5 lbs blackberries
5 lbs blueberries
Narbonne yeast (2 packs, hydrated)

made 5 gallons of just honey, water, and nutrient. OG was 1.140. Yesterday, it had gotten down to 1.100. I added nutrient every day, and added fruit today (5/26). I now have 7.5 gallons of wonderful looking melomel. I did not take a gravity reading (cause I'm a jackass). I'm planning on taking it down to 1.0000 and a half. Can't wait! Apfelwein tomorrow!!!

Any advice on future fruit additions? More? Less? Good times ahead? Rough waters?

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Old 05-27-2010, 12:49 PM   #6
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I don't know if it will go dry in this case since you increased the starting gravity up a bit. Even with the dilution from the berry juice, it may still fall a little above what 71B can tolerate for ABV. Of course the berries often help push the yeast a bit beyond their typical alcohol tolerance, so you may get there. It is hard to predict, and you'll have to wait and see.

This should be quite good.

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Old 06-08-2010, 03:12 AM   #7
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Gravity is at 1.005 and still going! Holy cow! Tastes like a really young cheap wine. Really heavy on the blackberry which was what I was hoping for. When is the last time I should degas or push down the fruit cap on the mead? The fruit is in a large mesh bag floating on top of the bucket. I was planning on leaving it in for a couple of months.

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Old 06-08-2010, 02:10 PM   #8
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If you leave decomposing fruit in there, you run a high risk for developing off odors and flavors. By now, the yeast are done with the fruit, so you should pull the bag, and you can gently squeeze to get some more liquid out, but if you squeeze it really hard, it will add more tannins and bitterness from the seeds so you may want to taste it before you do that. You squeeze the bag into a separate container to compare the difference if you like. It is usually pretty apparent.

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Old 06-08-2010, 03:57 PM   #9
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I have a question on that note. DId you do all this in the fermenter? or did you rack to a carboy and get all that fruit in there somehow? If you did this in the fermenter how long do you keep the fruit in? just til the gravity stops dropping? Im wanting to make a blackberry melomel so lemme know any good tricks that worked good for you!

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Old 06-08-2010, 04:53 PM   #10
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This is my first melomel, but I did my research beforehand. I added the thawed, mashed fruit to a straining bag and just added the fruit to primary that was already in one of the 7.9 gal buckets. I had let the fermentation go for a few days to let some of the volitility calm down before I added my fruit.

It's doing very well now, although it is a little early to tell just how it will mature. I'm also planning on using French and American oak in secondary. In my minds eye I'm making a wine out of honey and fruit, so it will hopefully be dry, a little fruity, and a little oakie. I'll probably leave the fruit on until the end of the week if not a little longer.

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