Originally Posted by Howling_Moon_Woffie
Over the years I have seen many formula for mead but just the past few years there has been more and more debate on if boiling the Honey helps or hinders.
I need advice and I hope your answers might get me thinking like a brewer again.
I'm looking to start a 5gal batch of Semi-Sweet Blackberry Vanilla Still Mead.
Question: Would you suggest one honey over another? I am trying to find 12-15lbs of raw filtered Local honey. What Honey would you NOT use?
With "flavoured" batches, invariably, it doesn't matter too much about the actual honey as the fruit/spices that you're thinking of using will mask and flavour that might be gleaned from using a varietal. Even cheapo supermarket stuff would do IMO.
The plan is just heating most of the filtered water to temp. Warming the honey in a water bath and just dumping it all (including the Blackberry pure' and vanilla beans) in the Primary Without Boiling it. Mixing in the carboy until temp is under 80F. Take my readings then pitch the yeast
Will not boiling the raw filtered honey cause problems?
If everything was sanitized...where are the holes in my plan? Should I add more Berry/Vanilla on second Rack?
Would you suggest one yeast over another? How do you choose one over another?
Sorry if these are new-blood questions but I rather than looking at recipes that list the what and when...I am also looking for WHY.
Thanks Again everyone!
If you heat honey, by the time that you get it to so called "pasteurisation" temperature, it's hot enough to drive off most of the volatile aromatics and most likely some of the finer, more subtle flavouring elements - much more important when making traditionals, but I don't heat any of my honey period!
Even crystalised honey is just weighed out and then mixed to the target volume, then the fermenter is covered/lidded/sealed and left. At most, I might just hit it with a stick blender (sanitised) a couple of times until it's completely liquid.
Putting the fruit into primary will change it's taste completely. When people think of adding X ingredient, they usually have it's original taste/flavour in mind, but fermentation changes that because all of the fruit sugars that make it taste how it does in it's original form, will have been fermented/replaced by alcohol.
So I either go for 1/3rd in primary and then the rest in secondary, or all of the fruit in secondary. That way, as long as you stabilise the batch after the ferment is complete, then it should retain most of the original fruit flavour. I don't tend to make my batches to try and compete with grape wines. We're very familiar with the fermented grape flavour, but much less so with other fruit.
For yeast choice, I use mostly D21 and K1-V1116 as they make good traditionals, and while I understand that both were historically used in reds (a larger proportion of wines from the Languedoc being reds) for trads and higher alcohol batches they're good. If you're aiming to ferment some of the fruit in primary, then RC-212 or even BDX are both good, as they retain more of the colour pigmentation and flavour associated with red fruit batches.
Many yeast carry caveats. D47 is good for trad's and other meads, but it is known to produce fusels when fermented at over 70F/21C, so needs to be kept low (relatively speaking). 71B is good with fruit, especially malic fruit like apples as it can metabolise upto 1/3 of the malic acid, but equally, it's known not to be good for ageing on the lees, so there is a guesstimate of about 2 months after the ferment is complete as the maximum amount of time so that you don't get any autolysis off flavours from the lees (gross lees that is). It's known to be reasonably good for quicker drinking younger meads.
I don't like EC-1118 for meads, it seems to blow most of those same volatile aromatics and flavours straight out the airlock. It's very good for what it's meant i.e. a champagne yeast, plus it's handy for restarting stuck ferments, but I find it leaves a bland, characterless brew. High alcohol.
There are many yeasts to look through. I usually suggest using Lallemand/Lalvin ones, mainly because it's no effort rehydrating, whether you use GoFerm or not. They're cheap enough and Lallemand/Lalvin publish more data/info about their yeasts than any other maker. There's only about 5 or so strains that are routinely available in home brew sized packs, but morewine appear to keep pretty much all of their strains - presuming that the commercial type ones are just repackaged down.
Vanilla pods ? Just split down the middle length ways and put into secondary. You can just take regular tastes to achieve the level of flavour - and they extract nicely in alcohol......