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High ABV Alert! Need advice on mellowing!

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shunoshi

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I posted this at GotMead.com as well, but figured I'd shoot a copy to my HBT buddies who dabble in meadmaking:

On a whim I decided to make a 1 gallon cyser using 3 lbs. of grocery store bought clover honey and filling the remainder with pure apple juice. I warmed the honey slighty just to get it out of the jar, added apple juice to fill the 1 gallon jug, tossed in a cinnamon stick, 6 cloves, and a 1/4 tsp of Fermaid-K, GoFerm, and DAP. I shook the hell outta the bugger and took an initial gravity reading.....1.137. It hadn't really occured to me at the time that adding apple juice to honey with no dilution would make for a serious high gravity beverage.

I determined that my rehydrated Lalvin D-47 wasn't going to cut it anymore and pitched a rehydrated Red Star Montrachet yeast instead. I figured if it's good enough for EdWort's Apfelwein it's good enough for my cyser and I knew the alcohol tolerance of Montrachet was relatively high. I proceded to shake up the carboy for the next couple days to keep it aerated and then left it to do it's business.

It's now 5 weeks later. I took a gravity reading and we're sitting at 1.008. I took a sip of my sample and it was sweet, had an apple aftertaste and went down my throat like a shot of Blue 100. Wow, napalm. I plugged the numbers into an ABV calculator and I'm looking at roughly 17.1% ABV.

Sorry about the long and involved post, but I wanted to set the stage. On to my main question. Am I going to need to try and backsweeten this in order to get something palatable or will this mellow out with a little conditioning time (and by little I mean a lot)? I know from experience that big beers require some extended conditioning time. Is this going to be the same case? I suppose I should just take it one day at a time, but a 1 gallon batch can only handle so many samples.

Also, I was considering if oaking would help smooth out some of the heavy alcohol....

Oskaar, from GotMead.com suggested oaking with some French Medium Roast. Being new to meadmaking and having never messed with oak before I am clueless on oaking time/amounts. Can anyone clue me in?

Also any other suggestions on how to make this drinkable in the end would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 

clayof2day

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I'm far from a mead expert, but 5 weeks is no where near enough time. Leave it for 6 months or a year and see how it tastes then! You can always back sweet at that point or at oak if you're bulk aging it.
 

Yooper

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I was just going to say that you have the makings here of an outstanding mead! I would NOT oak it, at least not now, because mead is so delicate flavored that oak can overpower it. The alcohol will mellow greatly with age. But, you must be patient! I think in 3 years this mead may be drinkable, and in 5-7, I think it'll be very good, maybe even great. Also, oaking takes a while to mellow, too, so you may want to go ahead and oak half of it, just to see what happens. But, don't think that oak will smooth the alcohol- if anything, you'd have harsh oaked flavored rocket fuel for the first two years.

Right now it's rocket fuel. But trust me, once it mellows, it will be wonderful!
 
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shunoshi

shunoshi

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3 years?!


I'd still like to try a little oak. It was suggested that I use a mere 1/4" oz. of medium roast French cubes and taste weekly for up to 4 weeks. I'll have to ponder this.

In the meanwhile, I guess I better start up a 5 gallon batch of some mead (and actually monitor my starting gravity so as to not need a half decade to age ;) ).
 

malkore

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even with a lower SG, you still gotta age mead.

if you think making beer takes a lot of patience and is hard to wait....mead is 10 times worse.

but the payoff is 100 times better. I have bottles of mead from 1998.
 

david_42

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Here's a few quick meads: http://www.greydragon.org/library/basic_mead.html The key to all of them is lower ABVs. A quick mead will use 2-2.5 pounds of honey per gallon and be under 8%.

For a real quickie, Master Robyyan's recipe:

Add one. pound of honey to 5 quarts of water, bring the mixture to a simmer and skim the foam as it rises, until there is no more foam, approximately 30 minutes. Add approx. 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh ginger, the juice of one lemon, and 8 cloves, stuck into the lemon peel for easy removal. Boil for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm. Place the wort in a jug, straining the ginger and lemon pieces out. Add 1/4 tsp. ale yeast, and fit a fermentation lock.

After 48 hours, bottle and store at room temperature. After 48 hours in the bottle, refrigerate.
 
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shunoshi

shunoshi

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Yeah, I knew mead takes aging along the lines of grape wine. I just totally blew off calculating what my OG was going to be and now I'm paying the price. I'll just start up a new batch and try to forget that this one exists. I'll bottle up this wee one gallon batch sometime this spring and forget about it again. Maybe it'll make a good Xmas present for myself. ;)
 

NurseNan

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I wouldn't even worry about bottling it this spring. You will need to rack it to another jug first. Just tuck the whole gallon jug in a cool dark place, and forget about it. Check it every few months to make sure your airlock has not dried out. Next September, taste it. If you want it a little more apple flavor or sweetness, try adding a can of frozen apple juice concentrate. Let it sit a bit more. Bottle near the end of November. Voila, a fabulous Xmas beverage!
 

Chriso

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My brother-in-law helped produce a single batch of cyser on the orchard in Oregon where he worked. It's barely drinkable after 2 years, and is VERY hot to the taste. He recommends opening more after 5 total years of aging too. His is also 16-17% like youre talking about.
 

SpamDog

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Well aging will do the trick.. also sweeten it up some should help.. I have never used oak chips tho.

However, Oskaar from GotMead = The MAN! He knows more about mead then anyone I have ever met.. if he says to do it.. I would..

SpamDog
 

gyrfalcon

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clayof2day said:
I'm far from a mead expert, but 5 weeks is no where near enough time. Leave it for 6 months or a year and see how it tastes then! You can always back sweet at that point or at oak if you're bulk aging it.

Ditto this comment!!!

Sounds like a cool mead, wouldn't mind sampling it if you're ever in the cities! :mug:
 

z987k

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if you want a quick mead do something really sweet. Good to go in probably 3 months.
 
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shunoshi

shunoshi

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Per Oskaar, I racked it off the lees onto 1/4 oz. of French Oak Cubes (medium roast). I'll taste it weekly to ensure it doesn't get over-oaked (probably keep on the oak for a month). Then I'll play the waiting game. I'll probably try a bit come Xmas to see how it's coming along.
 
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shunoshi

shunoshi

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I pitched one full pack of rehydrated Red Star Montrachet wine yeast. I think one pack is 5 grams.
 

dan_slaughter

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shunoshi said:
I pitched one full pack of rehydrated Red Star Montrachet wine yeast. I think one pack is 5 grams.

cool, i might try this recipe out and save for special occassions.
 
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