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Old 02-15-2012, 07:05 PM   #1
c10250
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I currently keep bees. Each year I have PLENTY of honey that I don't know what to do with. Last year I harvested 126 lbs of honey off of one hive! This year, I'm planning on having two hives.

I've been a home brewer for about 25 years and started to brew some honey beers (wheats and browns). They've all turned out excellent. I would describe them as more of a lawnmower-type beer for the summer. It's definitely something for me to do with the honey though.

The thing I've noticed about honey, is that it ferments DRY and really thins out the beer. You need to balance the dryness with more malty tones to have an excellent honey beer.

I've never had a mead I enjoyed. They've all been sweet and I dislike sweet wines. I'm sure that the sweetness is to balance the honey's dryness.

My question is: Is it possible to brew a dry mead that tastes good? Are there any commercial dry meads out there for me to try before I try to brew one?

Thanks,

Ken

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Old 02-15-2012, 07:38 PM   #2
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I never liked mead before, for those same reasons. However, my brother loves the stuff. I made him 5 gallons from some local Gall Berry honey and it's amazing 7 months later! (13.5 to 14#s of honey, mixed and topped off to 5 gallons, hand full of raisins, White Labs sweet mead yeast, racked after 2 months, aged for 5 more.)

It really was that simple and it is like nothing I've tasted. Very enjoyable and easy to drink, with quite a punch, too. The sweetness that I hated in other meads is not there, just a nice honey flavor. I don't know that I would consider it a "dry mead," because the body is nice, but it just isn't sweet.

I say give a few gallons a shot, age for a few months and see what you have. Do some experimenting, hell I know I would be with that much honey.

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Old 02-15-2012, 07:41 PM   #3
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It's very possible to get a dryer mead. It's actually how I do most of mine. My rule of thumb is about 2 pounds of honey per gallon of mead usually comes out pretty dry as long as you use a decent wine yeast. You can add honey to get any desired sweetness from there (even adding it post fermentation if needed).

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:26 PM   #4
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Hell with that much honey, just go crazy and experiment.
Make a bunch of 1gal. testers.

What do your bees polinate if you dont mind me asking?

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Old 02-15-2012, 11:17 PM   #5
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What do your bees polinate if you dont mind me asking?
Thanks for the responses. I might have to try some experimenting.

To answer your question, my bees pollinate anything within 3 miles of my house, however, bees don't make honey from pollen, they make it from nectar.

I'm fortunate to be able to harvest varietal honey at different times of the year. My season is Black Locust honey in the spring, Linden honey in the early summer, wildflower honey late summer, and my FAVORITE, Goldenrod honey in the fall. Brewing with goldenrod honey is incredible.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:19 PM   #6
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I made him 5 gallons from some local Gall Berry honey and it's amazing 7 months later! (13.5 to 14#s of honey, mixed and topped off to 5 gallons, hand full of raisins, White Labs sweet mead yeast, racked after 2 months, aged for 5 more.)
Can you share your recipe?

Thanks,

Ken
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:19 PM   #7
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Look at c10250, excercising the rights!!! Sorry, inside joke...

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Old 02-15-2012, 11:43 PM   #8
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wish you were in CO. I could take some of that honey off of your hands.

You can make a mead with any desired sweetness you want. Sounds like your honey is awesome. The great thing is that honey doesn't go bad. I would try using less amount of honey and racking onto things like rosehips or other spices. Less is more and less than 1/4 oz is needed for a 6 gal batch. Some like mixing in rose water or using strong brewed tea, a cup or two for flavor and the tannins to do it. Also, OAKING will smooth out that cloying sweetness if you are getting it.

I would recomend that you try a few 1 gal batches with varying amounts of honey from 1 to3 pounds and a few different yeast strains. Oak for 2 weeks for a month after clear and then age at least 8 months. Then try it. Keep good records. You also can ferment quite dry and then stabalize and back sweeten to taste. Keeping in mind that even a sweet mead is going to taste very astringent prior to aging. It is easy to oversweeten when back sweetening. Mead is actually more flexible and more prone to variations than both beer and wine. Mixing in local fruits and the like. I once heard someone make a very dry Fig mead that was awesome on taste. But to me it sounds like your tastes will run to the dry end an just require a little flavoring such as a little spices. Depending on the flavor of the honey it could be AWESOME. Brewing mead is like brewing an extract beer but less work. I suppose you could even use beer yeasts but dont forget to add some nutrients as honey doesn't have as much as grains for beer.

Good luck.
Matrix

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Old 02-16-2012, 02:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by c10250 View Post
My question is: Is it possible to brew a dry mead that tastes good? Are there any commercial dry meads out there for me to try before I try to brew one?
YES! I also like a dry mead much better than most sweet meads, although I'm really starting to appreciate a lightly semi-sweet mead (backsweetened to ~ 1.010) -- the slight sweetness can really make some flavors pop

Sorry I can't help you out much with commercial meads...they're pretty hard to find in general, and I've not tried many (the ones I have were sweet, which is much more common to find commercially, as you mentioned.)
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