Medieval Burnt Mead!

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SeamusMac

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Hey guys,

During some valuable procrastination time I stumbled upon this video on youtube.

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoPbfJ3BwwM&feature=related]YouTube - Making a Burnt Mead recipe from 1593[/ame]

I did a search for burnt mead and I didn't get any applicable results so maybe this is new to the forum! I don't plan on trying it, although I thought it might spark some discussion.
 

digdan

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Fascinating! I used to burn malt when brewing beer to get certain flavors, but I would never had thought of burning honey. I would not have cooked it as long as the video did, but only to make a simple caramel complexity.

The mess part was funny :)
 

summersolstice

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I can't recall exactly but didn't Charlie Papazian have an article about something similar a few months ago in Zymurgy? He was visiting in Scotland, I believe, and he tried some very old mead made with carmelized honey, and supplied a recipe in the same article. Does anyone remember that?
 

The Blow Leprechaun

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Yeah, it's called bochet mead... I saw that video a while back, I think, and he didn't post any tasting notes, which would've been nice. Maybe he's updated?

Papazian did taste one of these in an article somewhere online... if you google for bochet mead papazian it'll probably come up.

I'd like to try one of these sometime, but I'd like to have some idea of what they'll be like first. If they taste like molasses or buckwheat, I'm not sure it's worth the honey.
 

digdan

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Do you think scotched honey mead would have distinctive seperate taste profiles for different types of honey? Or would all scotched honey taste the same.
 

DShoaf

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From my cooking expirience the sugars are carmalizing which should come through in the final product. I think that the flavor would be much richer and probably, depending on the level of carmalization, nutty. This is really interesting and is making its way onto my short list of things to brew. I am wondering though if you are burning the sugars then you are turning them back into their elemental properties and that means a lot more carbon and a lot less sugar. I don't know if carbon has an effect on fermentation, but a reduced amount of sugar certainly would. I wish someone had notes or a flavor profile on this so I could determine if I could get serious about it.
 

viking

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This is on my "To Brew List", but probably won't be started until this fall (I want to take advantage of fruit this summer). As far as the burning part, well, I'm going for caramelizing, not charcoal flavoring!
 

BeerRunner

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I can't recall exactly but didn't Charlie Papazian have an article about something similar a few months ago in Zymurgy? He was visiting in Scotland, I believe, and he tried some very old mead made with carmelized honey, and supplied a recipe in the same article. Does anyone remember that?
I've got that article. I made a 1gallon batch after I read that. I heated up some honey until it got a bit darker. A couple of weeks later, I read the article again. There's a photo of a glass of Bochet mead. It's much darker than the batch I had going, so I made another gallon. This time I burned it, but not to the point of making "coal" like in the video. It looked like a jug of root beer. It's now a dark, but transparent, red/brown color. I'll be transferring to secondary soon.
 

travestyofnature

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Hate to say it but I wouldn't suggest burning honey in the house for a Bochet Mead. I tried to do it once. Just once. The experience turned out similarly to my deepfrying a turkey in the laundry room.

[/IMG]

Just sayin.
 

socalamcor

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ok i didnt stick entirely to the recipe but i have something goin. i boiled down the honey until i started getting the white smoke very regularly. at this time the honey was a wonderful dark brown a bit between the colors of caramel and brown sugar. after adding in the water it looks almost pitch black in the carboy. sg is about 1.085 on a 6 gallon batch and i pitched montrachet. ( cooked it down on the stove. just gotta recomened using a big pot and to wait til the honey cools before adding the water!)
 

socalamcor

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Fermentation seems to have started far quicker on this one than my other meads. Airlock activity in less than three hours, this morning it seems to be goin pretty steady
 

viking

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I made a batch of Bochet this morning. I know, I said probably this fall, but I put off making a metheglin to give this a try! There are a couple of things that I learned when I was making this:

1. Honey expands A LOT when it boils. I cooked up the 4 kg. of honey in a 2.5 gallon pot, and the honey rose up to within 1/4 inch from the top!!!
2. Use a long metal spoon. The one that I used stuck out of the pot about 2 inches. I was glad that I had decided to wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt to caramelize the honey.
3. Honey splatters are not fun to clean up. (and my wife requested that I mop the kitchen floor as well!)
4. Water brings hot honey back to life! Pour carefully, and slowly.
5. Next time I'm going to caramelize the honey longer. I cooked it for 30 minutes, which was about 5 minutes after it started to have a change in smell to that of roasted marshmallows. A taste from the bottom of the pot, though does not seem all that caramelized. Time will tell.

The OG was 1.098 and this is a 3-gallon batch. The color is about what an ale is, or imitation maple syrup. The flavor is definitely different from the "Canadian #1 White Honey" that I started with, and probably twice as dark.
 

viking

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Socalamcor - I used Lalvin 1118. The fermentation is going slow...after 5 days the SG had dropped to only 1.090...I am looking for some yeast energizer to see if that will help it along, but I have not been able to find any in this town. I did add another 1/2 Tbsp. of yeast nutrient, and I now have an acceptable amount of krausen on the top of the must.
 

viking

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**Update**

Yesterday I racked the mead into a carboy and added 1/2 Tbsp. of yeast nutrient since the SG was only 1.074. Today I added 1/2 Tbsp. of yeast energizer to the mead, and it came to life! It foamed up and got about an inch of foam on the top. This one seems to like the energizer.
 

KingBrianI

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I'm really excited about giving this one a try. And I'm thinking about burning the hell out of the sugar. I mean it's a burnt mead right, not a caramelized mead or something. And I don't think little black puffs of steam come out unless that ****'s scorching! Anyway, I'm a firm believer that the harsher, nastier and more disgusting something is now, the better it will be after aging for a long long time. So maybe I'll do a gallon batch for tasting in like 10 or 20 years, and an only slightly caramelized batch for drinking sooner. The less burnt batch might also be poured over gruit herbs while still hot for a bit of complexity. What yeast do you think will work well for this?
 

KingBrianI

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Alright, well, brewed this one up last night. Ran into a couple of problems, not the least of which was catching my stove on fire. Everything's fine though, and the fiancee didn't hit me or anything so that's good. Anyway, I made a gallon batch, and started with 4 lbs. of clover honey. Figured it didn't need to be anything special since all the aromatics would be burned off anyway. Upon heating, it almost immediately began to foam up, and didn't stop foaming up the whole time. Therefore, for the hour and a half I was cooking it on the stove, I was constantly adjusting the stove temp, stirring, and pulling it off of the eye when boilover was inevitable. After the hour and a half, the honey had turned a very dark brown, but not black, and the smell was beginning to develop a bit of "burnt", though not in a bad way. At that point I was tired of stirring and the constant attention necessary, so I figured it was dark enough. I watched the video of the guy on youtube making it, and although I thought for sure the sudden vaporization of the water when it contacted the hot sugar and the subsequent steam would throw his honey everywhere in a violent explosion, no such thing happened... for him. So armed with false confidence, I casually dumped 4 cups of water straight onto the molten sugar. And guess what. Yeah, I shot liquid magma all over the stove, the walls, the floor and not least of all, myself. Go figure, that's the kind of week I've been having. Luckily, it looked like most of the honey/water mixture stayed in the pot, so not to be dissuaded, I trudged on. My plan was to bring the mixture up to a boil, boil for 10 minutes, then take it off the heat, add the handful of sage and rosemary I picked from the yard, then let it cool overnight. I only made it 7 minutes into the boil. That's when the honey mixture that exploded and collected under the eye decided to combust. Now I had been smelling the burning honey for some time, but I was more like "hey, cool, roasted marshmallows" while I should have been like "dude, the stove smells like a marshmallow right before it becomes a fireball." So whoosh, the flames came up and danced merrily around the pot of boiling honey water. So I pulled the pot off the stove, dumped some baking soda on the flames (which worked very well actually to smother them), tossed the herbs in the pot, put the lid on, and began the arduous task of cleaning up. Luckily the fiancee was understanding and didn't injure me anymore than the napalm honey already did.

So that's the story. At one point I opened up the lid to look at the must and the herbal smell almost knocked me down. So I panicked and thought I must have added too much, so sanitized a slotted spoon and scooped them out. Luckily, this morning when everything was cool, I gave it a taste and the herbiness is just right. The sage and rosemary actually blend with the deep toffee and roasty flavors quite well. I pitched Nottingham because I had some handy. Hope that works out. Anyway I'm pretty excited about this one. Should come in somewhere between 15 and 16% ABV. I'm getting married in December so I'll plan on having a bottle then, though it will probably still taste quite young. Then again on anniversaries in years to come.
 

KingBrianI

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Oh yeah, here's how it looks for the curious. A bunch of small particles formed at some point during the caramelization, any ideas what they are?

 

Freezeblade

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The only problem I see is that Nottingham will not take you to 15-16% It just won't make it up that high, it's ok for now, but you should probably grab a pack of 1116 or 1118, unless you want to keep it sweet.
 

KingBrianI

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The only problem I see is that Nottingham will not take you to 15-16% It just won't make it up that high, it's ok for now, but you should probably grab a pack of 1116 or 1118, unless you want to keep it sweet.
How far do you think nottingham will take it? I thought it had a pretty high tolerance. I'd like to end up semi-sweet. Like maybe 1.004-1.008 or so. I'm not sure, I don't have that much experience with meads so I don't know what FG would give me a bit of sweetness without being cloying.
 

issack

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I have been interested in trying this as well.. Even more now that i hear you guys talk about it. Hmmm I wonder what boiling 24 pounds of honey would be like..
 

KingBrianI

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What happens if you wait 20 years to try it and it's the best thing EVAR? I'd make a 10 gallon batch. Just sayin'...
Good point! Let's see, I'll be 47 in 20 years, so that would make me 67 by the time I had another batch of the stuff aged 20 years. If after a year it's tasting like it has some potential, I'll brew up some more!
 

nealf

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Yeah, it's called bochet mead... I saw that video a while back, I think, and he didn't post any tasting notes, which would've been nice. Maybe he's updated?
This is the guy from "BrewCrazy" named Johnny Max i believe. I'll shoot him an email and see if I can get an update.
 

Freezeblade

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I think the nottingham will probably take it to 10-11% or so, depending on your oxygenization, nutrient and energizer schedule.
 

nealf

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Here is my response from Johnny Max about his mead:

Johnny Max - I am thinking it will smooth out in 100 years. LOL
It has a very strong roasted marshmallow flavor and it is black as tar.
I have not tasted it in a long time, I am waiting...
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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OK, this I have got to try, I think I still have around 3lbs kiawe honey, now what other heavy and rich honey can I get without selling my first born, (still working on that BTW).
 

GuitarBob

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Just brewed this earlier today. I used ec-1118 (atleast I think thats what it's called), and I had an OG of about 1.090. I hope I picked the the right yeast, I'm thinking about adding more honey, but I'm not sure.

I noticed some floating things when I took my hydrometer sample does anyone have any idea what those could be. Maybe pieces of burnt honey.
 

KingBrianI

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Just brewed this earlier today. I used ec-1118 (atleast I think thats what it's called), and I had an OG of about 1.090. I hope I picked the the right yeast, I'm thinking about adding more honey, but I'm not sure.

I noticed some floating things when I took my hydrometer sample does anyone have any idea what those could be. Maybe pieces of burnt honey.
I had the same thing. You can see it in my gravity sample picture below. I'm not sure what they are either but assuming, like you, that they're either bit's of burnt honey or some protein in the honey that has clumped together and fallen out.
Oh yeah, here's how it looks for the curious. A bunch of small particles formed at some point during the caramelization, any ideas what they are?

 

GuitarBob

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That's exactly what mine ended up looking like. I basically cooked it until it smelt like it was burning then paniced and started adding water.

By the way how much honey did you use? I got a much lower OG and I used 4 lbs per gallon.
 

KingBrianI

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I used 4 lbs of clover honey. Final volume was slightly less than a gallon. Did you take the gravity while it was still hot?
 

GuitarBob

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I used 4 lbs of clover honey. Final volume was slightly less than a gallon. Did you take the gravity while it was still hot?

I didn't measure the temperture with a thermometer but it felt cool to touch, so it had to be close to room temperture. I had a little bit of honey stuck to the sides of the pot that I wasn't able to dissolve into the water I added, I'm guessing that may have made a small difference. It's also possible that my final volume was slightly over a gallon.

Still even when considering all these factors a difference of almost 40 gravity points seems pretty high.

I did use wildflower honey (not the best choice for meads, but I figured since it was going to be burnt it wouldn't matter.) I wonder if the different type of honey made a difference.
 

EvilTOJ

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I'm starting a batch of this as we speak. I'm starting out with 6 lbs of cheap CHEAP walmart honey. Although I've noticed something that wasn't mentioned in any instructions. You know what happens when you make a brochet mead outside? You get a ****ton of bees, that's what! It was not even boiling 5 minutes before a bee landed in it. mmmmm bee parts.....
 
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