Originally Posted by jezter6
Why make mead hard?
Aside from using different honey, it's not like beer in the myriad of small ingredient changes that truly change a beer from being a mild to a IIPA.
Most recipes are that easy. Amount of honey, type of honey, fruit additions, nutrients, and yeast.
Hey! Them's fightin' words.
Since beer is just water, malt, hops and yeast, the range of flavors in beer is no where near as great as what you can get in mead. A mead can taste like a beer (braggot); it can taste like a white wine; it can taste like a red wine; it can taste like a lot of different fruit; and of course it can taste like honey (many of which have very different flavors). It can be bone dry or syrupy sweet; still or carbonated; oaked or plain. The variety of flavors that even small changes in fermentation practice can make is enormous.
You don't have to make it complicated, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a lot of variables that can be adjusted.
Just in a strawberry melomel, there are several different ways to approach it. You can put all the strawberries in at the beginning and use a yeast like RC212 and get a very wine-like but light-colored result. You can ferment the honey with an ester producing yeast like 71B that will have a fruitier aroma and then add the strawberry into secondary to give a much more direct strawberry aroma and flavor, and perhaps hold more color. If you ferment it cool, you're likely to keep it more fruity and keep more of the strawberry. If you ferment it warmer, you'll get more tannin and possibly more color. Pectic enzymes may aid the color extraction. There are a lot of ways to tweak it to get what you are aiming for.
Klcramer, for your batch, I would not use EC-1118. It will blow off more of the aromatics and may be more bitter. K1V is a better choice. If you ferment it cool (less than 60 F) if will preserve more of the esters. For what you are describing, I'd mix up the must and add about 5 pounds of berries in the primary. I'd add 10 pounds to the secondary (or into the very end of the primary). More fruit will give more aroma an flavor so adding another 5 pounds will give it more strawberry - I'd say if you have it, use it. Even if you don't want it sweet, a touch of residual sugar will make the strawberry flavor pop out more.
The 15 pounds of berries will add about 1 gallon of liquid so when you are done you should have around 5.5-5.75 gallons.
The big question is what honey will you use. Strawberry aroma is somewhat delicate, so I'd suggest a light, mild honey. I stay away from dark, bitter wildflower honey, and other really dark honey.
I hope you get a great mead.