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Old 03-06-2010, 02:29 PM   #1
Bush_84
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Default Critique My Strawberry Melomel Recipe

So here's my idea. I want everybody to tell me what I should do different as this will be my first mead.

-12lbs wildflower honey
-Additional honey for sweetening amount to taste
-2 gallons old orchard mixed berry juice
-water to 6 gallons
-12lbs strawberries or 8 lbs raspberries, whichever I can get first.
-yeast energizer/nutrient per NAS
-k-meta
-sorbate
-optional oak/vanilla beans (haven't decided yet)
-yeast 71B

Process:
-Sanitize all equip
-rehydrate yeast
-add juice
-add honey and water using no boil method
-add energizer/nutrient
-oxygenate
-add must to rehydrated yeast
-take OG
-pitch 2 packets of 71B
-continue to oxygenate/add nutrient and energizer per NAS
-ferment dry
-cold crash
-add k-meta and sorbate
-age
-once strawberries/raspberries are available to pick at farms rack onto berries/vanilla
-further age with oak
-sweeten to taste with additional honey
-bulk age
-bottle
-win?

Discussion-As you can tell I haven't made up my mind with a few things. Firstly I'm not sure if I want to use all water and honey or mix in some juice with it. The juice may add some nice berry flavor. Secondly I'm not sure about oaking or the vanilla beans. After reading Ken Schramm's book a few times they sound like absolute must haves in a recipe. What do you guys think?

I plan on back sweetening with honey. I am aiming to get a mead that doesn't have a whallop of a ABV but it still sweet. I figure short changing the sugar on the front end then back sweetening is my best bet. My wife and I prefer a sweeter drink. Maybe something like an orange blossom would go good here. I also plan on adding the fruit to secondary after fermentation has stopped. I read that you can get better aroma/flavor by doing it that way.

Anyways, feel free to rip my recipe apart. I want to do it right.


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Old 03-07-2010, 02:59 AM   #2
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Unless you can get fresh berries, why not use organic frozen strawberries? Should be fresher and more sanitary than supermarket berries.

The unknown in the recipe for me is the fruit juice. What flavor it makes might be nice or not. If you want to have fun and try it, I'm sure it won't come out undrinkable. If you have the containers, I would try a straight mead in one, and the melomel (fruit mead) in another.


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Old 03-07-2010, 03:33 AM   #3
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I was planning on picking berries in June. I figure let it ferment out completely. Rack off yeast, and then let it bulk age until I can get the berries. I can then rack onto the berries. From what I understand that's ok. I believe Ken Schramm's book states that is one way of doing it.
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:11 AM   #4
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If it were me, I'd leave out the mixed berry juice & just go with the 12lbs of strawberries in primary. I'd secondary with no fruit & wait till after it's crystal clear, then I'd rack it onto another 6-12lbs of strawberries and leave it on that fruit for at least a month or 2 before racking off it.

The reasoning behind this is to add depth to the finished product. You'll get the fermented strawberry flavour and you'll get the fresher fruit flavour on top of it. Since you're backsweetening with honey, I don't think the fruit will mask the honey flavour. I'd also halve or quarter those berries & freeze them, thaw them & freeze them again before thawing them out & racking on to them. This helps to break down cell walls in the fruit & will let you extract more flavour.

As far as the vanilla and/or oak questions, I can see where a little vanilla could make the berry flavour really pop & maybe sort of "soften & blend" the berry/honey flavours by being in the background. I think 1 vanilla bean, split (lengthwise) & scraped should do the trick. I don't think I'd oak this, but then you may want to. Well, that's my 2 cents worth. Hope you find some of this useful. Regards, GF.

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Old 03-08-2010, 05:01 AM   #5
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Disclaimer - I've never made a strawberry melomel, but I've judged them, and IME strawberry flavor is VERY delicate.

I agree with GF - leave out the berry juice and let the strawberries impart their flavor. Backsweeten with honey to taste. If you still feel at that point that it needs some vanilla, consider vanilla extract instead of a bean. Of course, use vanilla bean(s) if you want, but it's easier to control the amount of vanilla flavor with extract - just depends on your preference. And I wouldn't oak it. Again, it'd overpower the strawberries.

Good luck! Honey & strawberries are a perfect match, but it's easy to overpower the flavor of each.
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Old 03-08-2010, 04:24 PM   #6
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I'm in agreement with several earlier comments here -- strawberries are delicate, so the more that you can include, the better. I had good luck with 18 lbs of berries in primary and another 6 in secondary for a 6.5 gallon batch that I did a few years back.
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:21 PM   #7
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I added 12lbs of frozen costco strawberries, plus 2 more pints near the end of my primary fermentation and had plenty of strawberry flavor. Not that more would hurt, but I was happy enough with it use the same recipe again.
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Old 03-09-2010, 03:34 AM   #8
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That's a lot of strawberries. I won't be able to convince SWMBO to let me buy that many frozen strawberries (she's been pretty patient with my new hobby...so far), but I should be able to go to a farm and pick a ton later on. I'll have to put a smaller amount in primary and more in secondary.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:42 PM   #9
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You could also just make a straight mead now & then rack onto the berries when they're in season, or even later if you freeze them. That's part of mead's beauty, you can pretty much add fruit any time you want. Regards, GF.
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gratus fermentatio View Post
You could also just make a straight mead now & then rack onto the berries when they're in season, or even later if you freeze them. That's part of mead's beauty, you can pretty much add fruit any time you want. Regards, GF.
I'm kind of at a cross roads right now. The cheap/lazy part of me is saying just make the basic mead and get strawberries in season. The other part of me wants to buy a small amount of strawberries for primary and get more strawberries when in season. Will have to sit and think on that one.


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