Mulberry Mead Recipe

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knotquiteawake

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I traded some computer work for a sample of a staff member's mead at my old work and was really impressed. It smelled very alcoholic but tasted amazing! I asked him about it and he gave me this recipie from some "Tastes of Anglo-Saxon England" book. I'm wondering what you guys think about it, it says its good to drink in 1-2 months.

3/4 gallon water
1.5lbs Mulberries (or any other berry)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2lb Raisins
1/4oz dry active/Wine yeast
1.5lbs of Honey
1 gallon glass jug
stopper

The directions summarized are to:
1. Crush fruit and cover in sugar and 6 cups of water and let sit overnight
2. strain fruit and get as much juice from it as possible, simmer juice for 3 min to sterilize
3. Boil Honey with remaining 6 cups of water for 20min.
4. Combine the juice and Honey and let cool
5. Add raisins and honey/juice to jar
6. Add yeast
7. after two weeks transfer to clean jug straining out the raisins
8. after another week rack to another clean jug being careful not to disturb the sediment.
9. Bottle in one or two months when it has stopped fermenting.

The guy said that after the 1-2 months its totally drinkable, from what i tasted I would agree.
 

wayneb

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Yup - that's a pretty basic melomel recipe, like the ones I used to make. It is fairly light in fermentable sugars (by my estimates, the starting specific gravity is around 1.070 or thereabouts), so it will make a fairly lightweight beverage, topping out at around 9% ABV. But the berry juice will add lots of flavor, and the addition of a little table sugar will cause the yeast to generate some fusels, which are probably responsible for the apparent alcohol edge that you tasted. The raisins will add some yeast nutrients, and will also add a touch of sherry-like flavor.

All in all, except for boiling the stuff (which I don't do any more, and I have not noticed an increased incidence of infections from skipping the boiling), it is a sound recipe. Lighter weight recipes such as this one are typically drinkable in the 2 to 4 month time frame.
 
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knotquiteawake

knotquiteawake

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great, sounds like I just need some jugs and stoppers and I'm good to go. I can find gallon glass jugs online but they are kind of pricey (plus shipping them since they are heavy). Any idea of any stores that might sell them or alternatives to using a couple glass jugs?
 

wayneb

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I've gotten all my glass gallon jugs free, since I buy a lot of locally produced fresh cider and at least until recent years, the juices always came in glass gallon containers.
 
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knotquiteawake

knotquiteawake

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two questions then.
What size stopper do most of those glass jugs come in?

For gallon batches how do you take gravity readings? with 5 gallons of beer I don't mind taking an entire beaker of beer out to test, but with only a gallon I wouldn't want to waste any of it.
 

wayneb

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Usually they take size #6-1/2 stoppers, but you can also get a #7 to fit some of them. Some of the newer ones will even fit a #6, although you're pretty close to getting the stopper to go all the way through the opening.

I wouldn't bother with more than an initial and a final gravity reading for this recipe. It is pretty foolproof, along the same lines as Joe's Ancient Orange (the supposedly bulletproof simple mead recipe that you can even make with bread yeast). In general I don't do anything too serious in gallon sizes any more, for that very reason - too much lost in the monitoring process. So these days I have empty gallons around only to catch the excess that I usually get since I ferment most of my "5 gallon" batches in primaries that start out in the 7 to 7.5 gallon range.
 

Pith

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How would you do this recipe without crushing the fruit? I really like the look of the whole berries in a carboy. :3
 

wayneb

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Well, my short answer is that I wouldn't make it without at least a gentle crush of the fruit, because my objective is to get that great color and berry flavor into the mead. But if you enjoy watching whole berries (especially during the early part of primary fermentation when the yeast are really going to town on the sugars and producing lots of CO2, which mixes things up and pushes those berries up to the top of the fermenting vessel, forming a fruit cap), then I suppose you could put a few extra berries in there whole. ;)
 

Pith

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Well, my short answer is that I wouldn't make it without at least a gentle crush of the fruit, because my objective is to get that great color and berry flavor into the mead. But if you enjoy watching whole berries (especially during the early part of primary fermentation when the yeast are really going to town on the sugars and producing lots of CO2, which mixes things up and pushes those berries up to the top of the fermenting vessel, forming a fruit cap), then I suppose you could put a few extra berries in there whole. ;)
Thanks. In reality though, if I make a pretty brew that means I'll want to watch it often, which will make me impatient and maybe make me try and hurry the thing up. The colour and taste is important to me, and even if it did happen with uncrushed berries, it'd take a helluva lot longer, which would not combine well with my impatience. Maybe I will blend/crush them.

Also, how would you feel about adding a portion to primary as well as secondary? What would be the pluses and minuses of having a higher proportion in either?
 

wayneb

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The end result of fruit in primary will be different than fruit in secondary. In primary, the vigorous yeast activity will change the characteristic of the fruit, in much the same way that fermented grapes don't taste the same as fresh grapes that have been soaked in a little alcohol. I prefer to use most to all of my fruit in primary, because I like the added flavor complexity that results. However there are lots of folks who prefer to add all their fruit in secondary, since that usually results in a much more "in your face" fruit presence in the resulting mead. The choice is yours, and you might consider trying two batches, one done one way and the second done the other. That way you can figure out what you personally prefer.
 

Pith

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Yeah. I have about 4.5 pounds of mulberries so far, with plenty more to be picked. I could do 3 x 1gal batches, maybe. And post a thread about it.

#1 - All in primary
#2 - 80% prim, 20% sec
#3 - 50% prim, 50% sec

I don't care about keeping the berries whole anymore, but the taste is still important and it would be nice to find the best way to do this, since I'll have access to mulberries every year and it'd be cool to perfect a recipe to my taste.

If I were to do these different batches, how else would I alter the procedure to fit each?

Also, is there a simple way to alter this recipe to be a "bigger" mead for longer aging and slower sipping, or would I have to change a bunch of other procedures as well? If this is too complicated to answer, don't bother. :)
 

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