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Old 03-27-2013, 02:49 AM   #1
lowtones84
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Default Polish mead

So I've never made mead before but I've been interested for quite some time. I have Polish ancestry and mead is a pretty traditional Polish table drink. I found this recipe in a recipe book. Of course it's in a book of food recipes so it's not really intended for people with lots of brewing experience. Anyhow, what do you folks think?

1 quart honey, 3 quarts water.
nutmeg, ginger, piece of dried orange peel (amounts not specified)
1 tsp hops (sweet!)
1 tsp juniper berries
1 1/2 oz. fresh yeast.

Cook honey with water for 1 hour. Place nutmeg, ginger, orange peel, hops, and juniper berries in a piece of cheesecloth, tie it closed with a weight on one end and place in honey mixture. Boil another hour. Cool honey and place in a carboy (goes into detail of finding one and an airlock surprisingly).

Dissolve the yeast in a little of the honey mixture, then add to the mead. Seal carboy, let ferment 6-12 months yadda yadda yadda.

So I would like to keep the ingredients the same, but not boil the honey, or at least not boil most of it. If I want to use the hops, should I boil a small portion of honey with the hops? I also feel like boiling the juniper berries, nutmeg, ginger, and orange peel for an hour is a little much.

Opinions? Also, what sort of gravity would 1 qt. of honey (I know that's not the best way to measure) to 3 qts. of water give me? Anything else I should consider, other than proper sanitizing procedures and perhaps using a yeast other than bread yeast?

Thanks a bunch all! Na zdrovye!

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Old 03-27-2013, 05:59 AM   #2
BennyBrewer
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Don't take my word for it but my guess is. They have you boil the honey so it blends better in the water. So what I'm thinking and what I have read about hops you have to boil them in the water to convert an essential chemical in it and to impart more of the hop flavor and the heat of the water will pull out more of the flavors in each ingredient so if you decide not to boil the honey I would still do the water then add the honey turn off flame and stir in the honey. I would leave the cheese cloth in while you mix the honey in.

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Old 03-27-2013, 08:11 AM   #3
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I would say it sounds fine, other than the needless boiling of the honey. I don't know much about hops (it's the part of beer I don't like), but think you get different flavours out of them depending on the boil length. Maybe talk to your LHBS guy about hop variety and boil times. Boiling the juniper, ginger, and maybe nutmeg should be fine (if you're worried keep a tight lid on the pot), but I suspect that you would loose some of the essential oils from the orange peel with prolonged boiling . I don't think boiling a small amount of honey with the hops would be needed, but who knows--maybe the sugars are needed...

On the amounts:
1 quart of honey is roughly 3 pounds--it should get you to around 1.108 or about 14% ABV.
Nutmeg--a little goes a long ways. Remember you can always add more.
Ginger is something that is personal--some people (like me) like lots, others can't handle it. I recently used about a finger (index) grated into a botchet and thought it was nice and balanced with the orange (I used a full peel's worth), didn't get any spice from it.
Orange zest I would use a couple teaspoons.
I would up the amount of juniper berries (especially if using dried) to around 10 berries.

Because it was in a recipe book it probably didn't consider anything other than bread yeast--and for that matter, I've read an old folk wine book and every recipe called for the stuff. All the strains we have now just weren't available to the regular consumer 50 years ago.
Personally I would probably use Red Star Cote-des-blancs, or maybe Lalvin D-47 (if I could keep it in the right temp zone)

On whole it sounds good (other than the hops--and with the right variety...), and I might be adding it to my brew book (just because).

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Old 03-27-2013, 08:30 AM   #4
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Brann mac consider it like this (and I fully agree with you). Do you like pepper by itself or salt? Maybe trying the hop with a sweeter drink will give them a better reputation. Just like koolaid tastes like crap with no sugar or how people dislike diet sodas. I say if yer not afraid of spending a little money then do so and try it to find your perfect drink. This is what this hobby is for me. Its finding something I like with alcohol and going with it. So go with it and if you want the most authentic polish mead I say do as it says or look into it a little more and go from history. Good luck and good drinks sir!

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Old 03-27-2013, 08:32 AM   #5
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And may I add when cooking sugars it changes their flavor look at a regular marshmallow and a burnt one decide what you like and go with it. There's no rule book as to what you can achieve.

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Old 03-27-2013, 02:38 PM   #6
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If you look up the various "grades" of the Polish meads, there are no set recipes per se. The grades seem to be about the honey to water ratio. The one that is 2 parts honey to 1 part water would end up pretty much unfermentable, but as far as I'm aware, there is no particular time when the honey actually gets into the finished product.

So if you know that a 9 litre batch (2 imp gallons) would have a total of 6 litres of honey, there'd be no reason why you couldn't start with the 3 litres of water and 1.5 litres of honey, just to get the fermentation sorted mostly, then maybe step feeding up to the max honey requirement. Yes I know that's a pretty extreme example and you'd have to look the grades up to decide what you're making, rather than taking a recipe which may or may not emanate from Poland.

I don't speak any polish but I did manage to get a translated version of the Polish government regs that govern each type/style (as far as the honey/water ratio is concerned) posted over at gotmead. I don't know of the date when they were issued etc, but it might be worth searching for them if you want some authenticity.

As to how you might incorporate the other flavour elements, the others have alluded too.....

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Old 03-27-2013, 03:43 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies everybody, very helpful. I was looking up other recipes and all of these ingredients seem pretty common. I found the different "grades" of Polish mead as well and I'm considering taking this up to a 1:1 ratio. I'm also thinking of doing another 1 gallon batch without any spices.

Has anyone used linden honey before? Linden and acacia honey are apparently common, as well as buckwheat. I'm not going to use all linden honey because it seems pretty expensive, just wondering about the possibilities of adding a bit more complexity/more layers.

Thanks again!

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