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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > My Apple Mead (cyser)
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Old 08-31-2013, 05:56 PM   #1
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Hi fellow Homebrewers,

I'm fairly new at making mead, and just want to see what your opinion is on my latest batch. I am making a cyser using a bit of a mix and match recipe (aka. no recipe) using left over ingredients from a couple batches of mead, and a jug of apple juice from the store.

My "recipe" consists of:
8.7Lb Honey (Superstore Special, was just easiest to get)
2.83L raw unpasteurized apple juice
aprox. 18.5L water
2.5tsp spagnols yeast nutrient

I pasteurized the honey and AJ by heating at 145-150 F for 5 mins, added the nutrient, then cooled in a cold water/ice bath (next time I'm buying a bag of ice). I added the mixture to my bucket at about 80 F, and topped up to 24L with water. Pitched the yeast, and left it for about 2 weeks before transferring to my secondary about a week ago.



The OG was 1.053, and the FG was 0.997, with ABV of 7.3%.

When I racked it, I tasted a bit, and it had a bit of a strange taste to it, almost bitter, some may describe it as tart. Will this age out? I was thinking of backsweetening it with a bit of brown sugar to bring it up to ~1.006 SG (medium-dry according to a chart I found on a forum).

I'm not worried about it, but what are some of your opinions/experiences with recipes similar to this. I know as a rookie I probably should have used an existing recipe, but I like to live a little dangerously, and experiment with things .



Edit: Another important thing I forgot to mention was I used EC-1118 yeast. I have used KV-1116 yeast before, but 1118 is more available for me. What is more commonly used for meads?

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Old 08-31-2013, 06:14 PM   #2
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Mead can taste really horrible when it's young and most mead needs months, if not a year or more of aging before it's a truly enjoyable drink. You can stabilize and backsweeten it now if you want or wait a few months and see how you like it then. As for the recipe it sounds good but from everything I've heard pasteurizing honey is a waste of time at best and cooks all the aromas and flavour(volatiles) out of the honey at worst. The apple juice was already pasteurized in the jar.

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Old 08-31-2013, 07:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lungus View Post
Mead can taste really horrible when it's young and most mead needs months, if not a year or more of aging before it's a truly enjoyable drink. You can stabilize and backsweeten it now if you want or wait a few months and see how you like it then. As for the recipe it sounds good but from everything I've heard pasteurizing honey is a waste of time at best and cooks all the aromas and flavour(volatiles) out of the honey at worst. The apple juice was already pasteurized in the jar.
Hmm...Yeah, I was considering bottling in a month, but perhaps I will just transfer it to a tertiary, and leave it for a month or 2.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:39 PM   #4
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The idea is fine but you have to consider a few fundamental errors.

Your dilution is far too high. Alcohol has little preservative effect below 10 %.

The heating process isn't just considered injurious to the honey but also completely modified the juice flavour. If it was pasteurised it would have been "flash" pasteurised otherwise it ends up with a "cooked" flavour.

Most cyser would be made with more AJ and less honey, typically giving a start gravity of about the 1.100 sort of area.

In respect of your comment about yeast, EC1118 works fine but its known to blow aromatics and volatile flavours straight out the airlock. K1-V1116 is considered better as its less damaging to flavours and aroma, still does the business for strength and has "form" for being good with meads......

You should most likely fermented it dry using hydrometer readings as a guide. Timings are pointless as you have no way of knowing whether the batch is ready or not.

Your idea of back sweetening is fine, though honey would likely be a better source of sweetness, but it will need stabilising first....

If you could force carbonate it, then you'd have something with cider like qualities.....

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Old 08-31-2013, 10:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
The idea is fine but you have to consider a few fundamental errors.

Your dilution is far too high. Alcohol has little preservative effect below 10 %.
Yea, I was using up some honey from a previous batch. Nothing wrong with a 7% ABV though, right? What is the best idea to preserve <10% meads? Sulfites?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
The heating process isn't just considered injurious to the honey but also completely modified the juice flavour. If it was pasteurised it would have been "flash" pasteurised otherwise it ends up with a "cooked" flavour.
The first time I made mead, I actually boiled it. It turned out fine, but read up on pasteurization, and found that I could do it at lower temperatures for longer. Perhaps I should use sulfites to pasteurize? I mostly just want to make sure wild yeasts aren't a part of the process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
Most cyser would be made with more AJ and less honey, typically giving a start gravity of about the 1.100 sort of area.
This was more of an experiment to try to make an apple flavoured mead. It's not a typical cyser then I guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
In respect of your comment about yeast, EC1118 works fine but its known to blow aromatics and volatile flavours straight out the airlock. K1-V1116 is considered better as its less damaging to flavours and aroma, still does the business for strength and has "form" for being good with meads......
Thought as much about 1116 vs 1118, gotta go get some KV-1116!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
You should most likely fermented it dry using hydrometer readings as a guide. Timings are pointless as you have no way of knowing whether the batch is ready or not.
I was using a hydrometer as my measurement, I like to know how long it took though

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Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
Your idea of back sweetening is fine, though honey would likely be a better source of sweetness, but it will need stabilising first....
Do I still need to stabilize even if I leave it for a couple months?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
If you could force carbonate it, then you'd have something with cider like qualities.....
Don't have force carbonation may try to naturally carbonate a few bottles though. There goes my backsweetening for those ones though
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Do I still need to stabilize even if I leave it for a couple months?
Yes, the yeast may be dormant but they are there and may take a while to get revved up but that is when your bottles would start exploding. I have a bochet cyser going that stopped fermenting at 1.050. I pitched a champagne yeast to restart it, it didn't budge off of 1.050. I put it on the shelf and forgot about it for a month and a half and lo and behold I looked the other day and it had fired up active fermentation again. So never trust a brew with residual sugar without stabilizing unless it has sat for a very long time.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PCChazter View Post
Yea, I was using up some honey from a previous batch. Nothing wrong with a 7% ABV though, right? What is the best idea to preserve <10% meads? Sulfites?
For the moment, I'll say maybe/possibly.
Quote:
The first time I made mead, I actually boiled it. It turned out fine, but read up on pasteurization, and found that I could do it at lower temperatures for longer. Perhaps I should use sulfites to pasteurize? I mostly just want to make sure wild yeasts aren't a part of the process.
Newer mead makers often read up some, prior to having a go and get a bit obsessed with the wild yeast idea (and it can be worse if they've made beers beforehand).

Pasteurisation is the technique appropriate for dairy foods, as the flavour/taste change is negligable. Fruit is "a different kettle of fish". Heating some fruit i.e. red/blue/black type fruit, generally enhances the flavour, but white/green fruit is reduced in acids and other elements giving a cooked taste.

Hence in most cases heat isn't the way to go. Sulphites do a better job, don't affect the flavour and if used at the appropriate dosage (50 ppm or 1 crushed campden tablet per gallon), there is no bleaching and with loosely covered containers and a little stirring, dissipate so as too cause few issues to the intended yeast pitch (increased lag phase some times).
Quote:
This was more of an experiment to try to make an apple flavoured mead. It's not a typical cyser then I guess.
Well it really only differs by the dilution really, inasfaras, you find most recipes replace the water with juice and at most only use a little water to correct racking loses or to bring a must up to a target volume if there's not quite enough juice.

Yours does seem more apfelwein in style but sweetened with honey for the ferment......
Quote:
Thought as much about 1116 vs 1118, gotta go get some KV-1116!


I was using a hydrometer as my measurement, I like to know how long it took though


Do I still need to stabilize even if I leave it for a couple months?
IMO (and others), k1v1116 is superior for mead making. EC-1118 has its place but its not the cure all answer for high gravity musts that most HBS suggest/recommend it as.

Timings can only be the vaguest of guides i.e. as to when to do a hydrometer test. Honey and yeasts being natural products will work to their own timetable - they're in charge, not you. The only way to help or speed them up is to be a good assistant .

You'd still need to stabilise if nothing more is done and you're gonna add more fermentables. There's anecdotal evidence of yeast cells restarting the ferment with extra sugars being added as far as a couple of years down the line.
Quote:
Don't have force carbonation may try to naturally carbonate a few bottles though. There goes my backsweetening for those ones though
No, not entirely. You could just as easily use a non-fermentable sweetener like lactose or even a little Xylitol to bring that back to where you wanted it. Then after making sure that your choice of honey isn't gonna cause a protein type haze, use the honey for the bottle priming/carbonation process.....
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Old 09-05-2013, 04:44 PM   #8
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I would recommend having a couple cans of apple juice concentrate on hand as fermentation comes to it's completion. If you find that your "cyser" tastes very bland, you can try adding the concentrate to add more apple flavour.

Just keep in mind that cheap ingredients make a cheap drink. The better quality your ingredients are the better quality your brew will be.

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Old 09-08-2013, 09:12 PM   #9
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Thanks for your replies, it helps out allot!

Devo9, I actually have a bunch of good honey ordered from a local bee keeper! A bit of fireweed, maple, and wild flower (which I was told should be mostly clover)

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