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Old 12-05-2008, 04:45 PM   #1
ContinentalDrifter
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Default Questions abou The Finer Points of Mead Flavor

I'm a relative noob to homebrewing and meadmaking, and just working out the basics right now, but I wonder if someone can answer these two related questions:

1. Is there any flavor enhancement to be gained from using fruit in the primary fermenter? It is my understanding that fruit will provide nutrients for the yeast, but I don't hear much about the flavors thrown off by the yeast as they feed on the fruit. Most posts just say that fruit in the primary is a waste of potential flavor (so fruit should be placed in the secondary), but I wonder why not put some fruit in the primary and then rack onto fruit in the secondary as well? Will the flavor difference go unnoticed?

2. I'm still not clear on the best temperature for dissolving honey in water. It seems the current trend is to avoid boiling the must. Is it best (speaking from the standpoint of flavor) to heat the water, dissolve the honey, then cool to pitch the yeast without reheating? What is the appreciable difference in flavor between boiling the must for a short period and not boiling at all? I'm inclined to believe that a proper and strong yeast pitch is sufficient to overwhelm most wild yeast, so I'm concerned at this point mostly about flavor.

I hope my questions are not too complex. I thank all of you for your wisdom in advance.



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Old 12-05-2008, 05:48 PM   #2
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Secondary fruit additions will indeed add more flavor, color and character. But I have made a blueberry apple wine by splitting the additions to both primary and secondary and loved the outcome. So it ends up being personal preference and belief at this point.

Heat the water to whatever temp you want. If you are concerned with your water's cleanliness, boil it or use bottled water. But I say it should be just warm enough to mix in the honey. There really isn't any reason to boil honey as far as I am concerned. Almost nothing can live in honey by nature, so it is pretty much sanitary right from the container.



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Old 12-05-2008, 05:50 PM   #3
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As for the flavour question: I'd say "yes and no." I've discovered that I can sort of layer flavours by adding fruit to primary and then later to secondary. I made a plum melomel that way & got 2 noticably different flavour profiles that complimented each other well. I even got some "cinnamon-ish & cherry candy-ish notes from the fruit in the primary; while from the fruit in secondary, I got all that ripe/tart plummy goodness. I don't know if it would work with just any fruit though.

Now for the dissolving honey question: I use warm water from the kitchen tap, I never took a temp reading on the tap water, but I'd guess it would be around90 - 100*F. I use a blender to mix/dissolve the honey & warm water is better than cold when mixing. It works for me, maybe it'll work for you too. Regards, GF

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Old 12-05-2008, 06:01 PM   #4
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Either primary or secondary additions of fruit will work just fine. I have usually done primary additions to make things easier and cleaner (less trub in secondary and second transfer is not usually necessary). There is still lots of fruit flavors (depending on fruit and quantity). Secondary is popular because it produces a fresher and perhaps more potent flavor. Give both a try to see which you prefer.

I use room temp water when making my must. I just mix vigorously using a wine degasser. I do use a little hot water to clean out the honey jugs but not enough to significantly warm the must. I have not boiled any of my meads but it does make sense that the flavors would change. I say an article on one small experiment that said the boiled must seemed to be a little smoother and fuller bodied but with a more subdued aroma. Seems to indicate that boiling may be beneficial at times. Still the experiment was small and simple so it may be more complex than indicated. I don't boil or heat because it is easier not too. I guess I am just lazy

Craig

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Old 12-05-2008, 06:03 PM   #5
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1. Use staggered or non staggered additions of yeast nutrient and energizer to give the yeast what it needs......not fruit. Flavor enhancement from fruit will best be shown when using fruit in the secondary.

2. Don't worry about disolving your honey in the water. Every time I have 1 gallon of honey sitting at the bottom of the primary with 4 gallons on top of it. The yeast do the mixing over time themselves.

Honey is sanitary, dump it into a sanitary primary. Use sealed water jugs from the store and dump those in too. Chances are your honey and water will be at room temperature so you won't need to cool. Throw in your yeas and put on the airlock....give the primary a nice gentle swirling and don't worry about it. Mixing happens naturally.



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