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Making Bochets: Burnt Honey Meads

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To be forward and clear, here is a fact: heating honey does cause a loss of its aromatic properties. Here is another fact: cooking the honey to a boil and caramelizing some of the sugars replaces those lost aromatics with a whole new set of possibilities.
It's time to talk about bochets. I do see quite a few posters talk about wanting to make one but haven't gotten around to it yet. Bochets require no more or less skill than preparing a traditional mead must. There are more steps, but assuming you can cook spaghetti, you can overcome those new challenges.
Step 1. Grab a big pot (with a lid).
We will be cooking the honey to a boil. The honey expands to roughly 3-5 times its original volume. The honey will also move more freely as it heats up, almost like water before coming to a foamy frothy boil.
Step 2. Put Your Junk in the Pot.
By "junk" I mean "honey" of course. Honey selection is a bit different with bochet making, as those original flavors and aromas get changed out with new ones. Now is not the time to use your meadowfoam and tupelo stash. However, this doesn't mean go use cheapo depot honey. A basic wildflower or clover honey will work fine.

Add Your Honey To The Pot
Step 3. Heat Up the the Pot.
Heating up the honey is the new part of the equation. As the honey boils and foams, it will get darker. It will also throw off a few different aromas. How long you heat your honey depends greatly on the power of your heat source, so I can't provide a timetable for certain flavors or colors. However, in my experience, there is a range of aromas that get created in a specific order, and each of those create different flavors down the road. Remember that the aromas you are smelling are no longer in your meads.
The first aroma that comes in the boiling process is a kind of nutty one. This is very early in the process and is rather fleeting. The flavor contribution in your final mead is a thin sharp sweetness. I don't find it too enjoyable, so I usually continue cooking. Next there will be a reduced amount of aroma production.

Apply Heat To Bring Out Specific Flavors
When the aromas start coming out again it will be a warm toasted marshmallow. The marshmallow aroma is here to stay, and will continue to get stronger while adding a more burnt marshmallow characteristic as cooking goes on. Just going 5-10 minutes into this stage is a level I have found where I like to be at. The honey isn't always as dark as it could be, but the flavor profile is that of caramel and some burnt sugar.
The honey can continue to cook to a deep ruby black. If you do, there will be harsh burnt sugar notes early in the aging of the mead. These age out into a more burnt cherry kind of flavor.
With all of my bochets, time has done nothing but amazing things for them.

Caramelized Honey Dissolves Easily In Hot Water
Step 4. Cool Down the the Honey.
Your honey is now a molten mass of sticky goop. Don't let it touch you, or you'll be in a world of hurt since the hot liquid won't just run off you. Remember that lid? Now we're going to use it. To cool the honey down quickly (we need to or it will keep cooking), I add about a cup of HOT water to the honey. When I add the water, I put the lid on quickly after pouring it in. This is because the honey reacts violently to the rapid change in temp and shoots the molten honey upward. If you use cold water the reaction is even more violent. Once it calms down I add another cup and repeat. After 2-3 additions, the honey stops reacting and cold water can be added.

Extended Bochets Aging Time Works Wonders
Step 5. Clean up.
Clean up is usually easy, and has always been easy for me. Some honey may get caramelized to your spoon and pot. This can be dissolved in hot water. If you clean quickly, you shouldn't have any issues either, but using a junky pot can be reassuring.

Bochets Wonderful Caramel And Burnt Sugar Flavors
Everything else is just regular mead making (nutrients and aeration, etc). When it's done, depending on your original darkness, your mead will be a deep copper to dark ruby.
There is a Bochet Solera group brew on the forums located here if you want to join in the fun. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=481763
 
Very interesting! I have my first couple gallons of mead fermenting right now, and I think it's going to make me very happy.
The flavors you're describing sound very enticing. They also sound like they'd go great in a braggot. Those cherry flavors would make a lovely touch to many beers.
Have you experimented at all with cooking only part of the honey? It seems like you could get a mix of the fresh aromas and cooked flavors, but perhaps that would be too much...
 
@SatanPrinceOfDarkness No I haven't, but it should work just fine.
Regarding the cherry flavors, those come with a year or so of aging, so it would probably be something you blended an aged bochet with a beer.
 
In terms of scorching and cooking honey to the pot? No, I've made roughly 7 in 3 different pots and none have been damaged.
In terms of creating caramely flavors. Yes, but its happening throughout and not just the bottom. You are heating the honey well beyond 212F and are up in candy making temperatures. So think of it as caramel candy mead. You do create some unfermentables but should end below 1.020 anf if you use brett ,even lower
 
Thanks, the former was what I was curious about. To be boiling honey that isn't dissolved in any water, I just had this mental image of it scorching all over the bottom of the pot.
 
@drainbamage yeah i think what helps is adding Water during the cooling process. Any caramel that does get stuck to the pot after you're done, you can add water and heat it back up and stir it tip it dissolves.
I actually took a pic of the pot after cleaning but fogired it was kind of unnecessary.
 
not currently fermenting as i will be moving soon, but this is one of the first things i'm going to make once i'm moved and have my brew room set up. sounds delicious.
 
Nice.
Are you stirring constantly while cooking?
What kind of burner are you using and on what setting?
 
@Zuljin I use an electric stove top for these on Medium-High. If you used propane, I'd imagine you don't need much power as you're only heating a little over a gallon at most of honey.
I stir semi-frequently to make sure it cooks evenly
 
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