In general, mead-makers will warn you off of using buckwheat.
This is because they are little girly-men.
However... you might not want to go 100%. I made a mead with 12 lbs clover and 3 lbs buckwheat, and it definitely adds a kind of a farmhouse/apple flavor to the whole deal. It's kind of appealing, but I wouldn't use it as more than 20-25% of your fermentables. If you do, though, let me know how it goes!
sounds great, you want about 3-4lbs of honey to the gallon of mead. Start your fermentation with 3lbs, but only fill to about 3.5 gallons. After initial fermentation, loosen up the extra lb. of honey with a little hot water add it to a clean fermentor, then rack your mead into that, and add a touch more nutrient.
Its ok to be inventive and creative when making mead. Let your palate guide you.
Buckwheat honey IMHO is the best damn honey there is. I decided to make a rather low alcohol level mead with it (12%). I used a gallon of buckwheat and mixed the batch to come out to 4 gallons. It is almost ready for secondary. I snuck a taste the other day since I was taking a gravity reading, and it is by far the most flavorful mead I've had. It's still a little rough (hot) around the edges, but it just finished fermenting out. Once I get some age under it, I know it will be phenomenal.
I have been quietly making noise at this end too ;-) I have a one gallon pilot of hop wine going, started with .25 cups of 3.0% Hallertau at (60) on one pound of buckwheat honey, then 1/4 c. Hallertau again at (30), (10) and (0), steep five or ten minutes. I also used a tiny bit of 4.4% Fuggles in a couple places. Lavin D-47.
After 7 days I racked it on to a second pound of buckwheat honey, and then a third pound on day 15.
I have a parallel version one week ahead in clover honey that just doesn't do it for me like the buckwheat one does.
Let me know how it turns out. I'll add that this is the first real mead that I have made, and buckwheat does have quite a strong flavor on its own. I have made mead in the past but haven't quite had the patience to let it age out. I will add that this honey adds somewhat of a bitterness by itself and should not need any additional hop bittering. As mine ages, I can see why people would want to mix it with a more delicate honey (i.e. clover) although mine has fermented quite dry since I used a champagne yeast. The FG seems to be holding steady at .92 (I started at 1.092 giving me about 14%) None-the-less, most meads I have tasted with delicate honeys taste more like white wine, no matter how long they have been aged. If this was what I was going for, I'd go buy a cheap ass bottle of Redtail. Once again, this is the beauty of home brewing.. or mead making. You have the ability to make something that satisfies your palette. Quite frankly, I don't give a flying crap if no one else likes a full buckwheat mead but I think it's delicious. I would recommend anyone to make a small batch just to test it out. If it comes out too bitter you for your tastes, you could always mix it with half of another batch of sweeter clover mead or back sweeten it. I still only have a month of age after full fermentation so I know I'm cheating myself. For what it's worth many bakers swear by buckwheat honey......... Let the chips fall where they may and happy brewing.
OK so the first mead I have ever attempted is:
12lbs Buckwheat Honey
Apple Juice ( for yeast nutrient/ acid purposes only probably 3 cups )
White Star Labs Sweet Mead Yeast
Now I'm not at the disadvantage that most meadmakers have of wine thieving, or drinking half of the batch before it's aged properly due to the fact that I started it 6 months ago and then returned to overseas duty BUT my wife tell me that it finished HOT! it was done fermenting in about thirty days. Before the first rack it smelled like a barnyard. After the second rack it started to smell more like dry mead, and according to her finished extremely dry. I have yet to taste it but look forward to all 5 gallons of it when I get home.
i've read through online research (the kind most people way too much before their first batch) that many old school traditionalists love to make sack mead from it because you dont add anything and the long ferment takes all the cons and only adds to the pros. but ive yet to even make a mead, however i have 2.5 lbs of it coming in the mail as i type to do just that for my first batch, so i am a lil biast,
I forgot to add!!! The smell is intoxicating! Very strong sweet smelling. I believe I will have to let this one age for a while! I just purchased a bourbon oak barrel. That way the must can age in the oak and maybe acquire some of that "acutissimin A" which is sometimes generated from the wine coming in contact with the oak. That way, the anti-oxidants from the buck wheat honey and the "acutissimin A" would equal one healthy drink! Hopefully and good and strong one too!
I tasted my first Buckwheat honey just the other day and thought it was the most interesting honey I've ever tasted. I'm using 14 pounds of it as well as 12 pounds of clover in my next 5-6 gal batch. I will also use three pounds of very dark inverted sugar made with cardamom, cloves and orang peel. I will also use 1.5 pounds of dried plums and 2.5 pounds of dried currants in the secondary along with six pounds of chokecherries. The yeast I'm using goes to 18% I may have to use another yeast to finish it out.
I made two gallons of buckwheat honey about 7 months ago. Unfortunately they got infected, but the taste up to the turning point was definitely promising. Maybe not something I would do full strength a second time, but I'd like to try a blend in the future.
I have a gallonish batch that I did (4pounds of buckwheat honey, 1 gallon water) that is odd. I'm not a huge fan of the buckwheat honey I used as I have an odd Menthol note from the honey. It also has a lot of grapey esters. Time will tell with this one, as it is super clean and drinkable, on the dry side of semi-sweet. I'd give it a go with a better buckwheat honey again, though.
I just did a third racking of a buckwheat bochet I started summer of 2013. Burning the honey was nasty, smelled like a manure filled barn burnt down in my kitchen, but it did the trick and removed the bad smell and taste from the honey. What is left is a rich, robust semi dry mead with heavy molasses flavors. No more manure though. Will try this again with another honey, but buckwheat holds up well under the burning process which improves the flavor of the honey
I recently made a buckwheat Hydromel. The honey was from a Polish shop in Croydon which has a good Polish community.
The honey was great but the mead had a very strong manure taste and smell to start with and I very nearly chucked it.
Then I forgot about it and it quietly aged away in the back of the cupboard for a couple of months (less ageing for hydromels).
It now tastes lovely but in Hydromel form I wouldn't say the character of the honey really comes through. I would still use orange blossom over Polish buckwheat.
I started a 3 gallon batch of 100% buckwheat traditional mead just about a week ago.
10lbs buckwheat honey
2 hand-fulls of raisins, washed, sanitized and halved
Water to about 2.5 gallons to leave head-space in my 3 gallon carboy
1 crushed campden tablet
Waited 24 hours and pitched 1 packet of rehydrated Lalvin D-47
Tomorrow will make about 5 days in primary fermentation, it took almost 48 hours to see any activity in the airlock.
I'm looking forward to oaking this batch during bulk aging. I only wish I could get my hands on a slightly used bourbon barrel.
At my last brew club meeting I tasted a buckwheat show mead that was "forgotten" for 4 years in some dark hole in the basement. It was mahvelous and yet strong but with character. I don't think I would have wanted to taste it before then. BTW - it did win some awards reciently. I'll see if I can get that member to post something about it and I'll forward a link. I encouraged him to enter it in this year's Mazer Cup.
I don't think I have the patience to forget anything that long. Kegs are a precious resource these days.
I have a show mead I just racked over to secondary made with 5 lbs. Buckwheat Honey and 8 lbs. Wildflower Honey fermented with Red Star Pasteur Blanc. OG was 1.100 and SG at racking was 1.002 so it's at 12.81% ABV. I have to say that the combinations was really awesome. The sample was on teh dry side and had notes of Sherry and Cognac with a touch of Vanilla. It was not hot in the least but rather warm and wonderful. I added 2 cups of strong brewed black tea and some Bentonite. Going to give it 2 weeks and I'll rack it off the Bentonite for a couple more weeks before preparing it for bottling.
I've worked with it before and not planning to again anytime soon. I have one Oaked Pear melomel with 12 lbs buckwheat. The pears and oak helped mask the "barnyard" notes with vanilla and spiciness, and since I'm aging it I feel it's improving. That said I find it to be a hit or miss honey depending on personal taste. I threw out the last few lbs as I don't even like it in tea. It's a beastly one to work with but CAN work, especially in non-show styles imo.
Not sure that you need a will but you need to know what you are using. Different parts of the US have very different buckwheat honey. East coast buckwheat honey is great for cooking but in my opinion makes an unpleasant mead - all but undrinkable. West coast buckwheat honey makes a completely different mead.
This thread was resurrected fortuitously! I'm actually planning on making three batches with buckwheat (a traditional, a chouchen, and one split between buckwheat and acacia) once my fermenters free up in about two weeks time. It'll take a while before things are ready to taste-test, but I can follow up and let you know how they all go.
Note: using west-coast buckwheat for the traditional and chouchen, and east-coast buckwheat for the acacia/buckwheat split.