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Help with a lavender Meadowfoam mead for my Fiancée

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cburley

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I am relatively new to mead making and wanted to do something special for my Fiancée for the holidays and our wedding next year. We both love mead, and have both shown interest in making mead in the past, so I thought that I would brew a special mead for the occasion based on things that remind me of our relationship (corny I know). What I was thinking was a mead with a lavender undertone as this is one of her favorite flowers. I originally thought that It would be a good idea to use Lavender honey, but I have instead been thinking about using part Meadowfoam honey part some cheaper honey(not sure which to use) and using lavender flowers instead. Then I had thought about using blackberries and strawberries. I had thought about hints of sage, but I am skeptical as to whether or not that would pair well with the other flavors I had thought of. I am going to be using Premier Blanc Champagne yeast. I am not entirely sure about the amounts and I am up for suggestions on what I could use to make this mead something that we can both enjoy on our honeymoon next year!
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Cburley and welcome and congratulations on your forthcoming wedding. This is not an answer to your question as much as a strategy for you to use to find the solution that best suits you: rather than work to make a single batch of this mead destined for your honeymoon plan on making three or four separate batches (say, 1 gallon batches) that before you bottle you bench test to determine the ratios of each to each other.

In other words, make a gallon of meadowfoam mead; a gallon of a mead made with blackberries, another mead made with strawberries; and perhaps a mead made with some lavender flowers (noting that too much lavender can make people think of soap rather than a pleasant drink). Decide which flavor you want to have dominate and that will form the spine of your mead and then add quantities of the other batches to that mead to add to the complexity of the flavors.

If this were me, I would use the same amount of honey in each batch (say 3 lbs) and for the fruit I might use 2-3 lbs of fruit I had frozen and thawed and added pectic enzyme to help break down the cell walls to extract the most juice and flavor. Best then to ferment these batches in buckets rather than in carboys but after active fermentation has ceased you can then transfer the mead into glass carboys and bang home bungs and airlocks (not needed during active fermentation. Anyway, that's what I would do..
 

Maylar

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Meadowfoam is not cheap, and it has unique marshmallow qualities that might skew the taste away from what you're expecting. I have had a commercially made lavender mead that was very nice. If I was going to do that I'd probably make a wildflower traditional and use lavender in secondary.
 
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cburley

cburley

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Are the marshmallow qualities usually very overpowering? What if they are mixed with a different kind of honey like wildflower or clover?
 
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cburley

cburley

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Hi Cburley and welcome and congratulations on your forthcoming wedding. This is not an answer to your question as much as a strategy for you to use to find the solution that best suits you: rather than work to make a single batch of this mead destined for your honeymoon plan on making three or four separate batches (say, 1 gallon batches) that before you bottle you bench test to determine the ratios of each to each other.

In other words, make a gallon of meadowfoam mead; a gallon of a mead made with blackberries, another mead made with strawberries; and perhaps a mead made with some lavender flowers (noting that too much lavender can make people think of soap rather than a pleasant drink). Decide which flavor you want to have dominate and that will form the spine of your mead and then add quantities of the other batches to that mead to add to the complexity of the flavors.

If this were me, I would use the same amount of honey in each batch (say 3 lbs) and for the fruit I might use 2-3 lbs of fruit I had frozen and thawed and added pectic enzyme to help break down the cell walls to extract the most juice and flavor. Best then to ferment these batches in buckets rather than in carboys but after active fermentation has ceased you can then transfer the mead into glass carboys and bang home bungs and airlocks (not needed during active fermentation. Anyway, that's what I would do..
Thank you for the reply! If I were to do this how long do you think I should wait before bench testing the meads and trying to make I decision? I know it probably depends but I was wondering how long I should let the others sit with the primary mead. I want to do this, but it might be tough seeing as I am an a bit of a budget right now finishing up school and saving for the wedding..
 

Maylar

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bernardsmith

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Thank you for the reply! If I were to do this how long do you think I should wait before bench testing the meads and trying to make I decision? I know it probably depends but I was wondering how long I should let the others sit with the primary mead. I want to do this, but it might be tough seeing as I am an a bit of a budget right now finishing up school and saving for the wedding..
This is a tough question to answer. My first thought is to say, you need to wait for as long as it takes for the mead to be ready.. and while that may sound like an unhelpful answer it is actually quite accurate. How long mead takes before it is ready depends on a large number of factors that include, the temperature of the fermenting mead, the amount of yeast you have pitched for the volume of mead, the strain of yeast, the amount of honey you are fermenting, how much nutrient you are providing etc.

The other thing is that if you have never made a mead before (or a wine for that matter) while the yeast do all the heavy lifting you need to know how to remove all the obstacles from the yeast to let them do their thing... and what that involves requires some experience. Being able to make a really good traditional mead - honey, water, yeast (and nutrient) is both simple and incredibly challenging. Being able to make a good melomel (mead with fruit) or metheglin (mead with flowers or herbs) is both easier - because the additives can mask flaws - and harder - because there more opportunities for flaws to occur that will stand out like a sore thumb.

Dismiss what I say, but IF - IF both time and budget are issues (and by your account they are) then perhaps you should aim lower... Look for a more simple mead that you and your fiancee might enjoy; a mead that you can make from scratch and bottle and taste two or three times in the period you have between now and your wedding - so that you can practice making and improving (if need be) between now and then... and in the course of your married life together you can make this special mead for your first anniversary with a better understanding of how honey and yeast interact and what you need to do to keep the yeast happy producing not just "ethanol" but the flavors and mouthfeel that delight you and your wife-to-be...
 

A-man

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Is there a honey that you would recommend in my situation? Thank you!
If you are going to add fruit which will largely cover the varietal character of a honey you can go less expensive, like raw Clover honey, but if you want the honey to shine it's hard to go wrong with a quality raw Orange Blossom.
 

Maylar

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With lavender I would look for a "floral" honey, either wildflower or clover. Avoid Costco, Walmart, etc though. Use honey from a reputable source.
 

dwhite60

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Best mead I ever made was a Chamomile. Made a gallon at about 12% abv. Put it in a secondary with about a dozen Celestial Seasonings chamomile tea bags and let it sit a couple months.

Bottled it and dropped a whole tea bag into a couple of the bottles. This was heaven after a year. Absolutely beautiful golden colored. Just used plain, cheap, clover honey.

If I was going for the lavender thing I'd use a bland base honey, like clover, to let the lavender shine through.

All the Best,
D. White
 
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