My Attempt at a Mixed Berry Mead

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

OP
OP
T

Todd Peterson

Active Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
32
Reaction score
27
Location
Tennessee
That is a great story. D47 and heat equals paint thinner in my experience. I’m glad your cursed batch is coming around. It’s visually appealing for sure.

Todd Peterson
 

Ren06

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 8, 2022
Messages
106
Reaction score
583
Location
Buffalo,ny
Took the plunge and bottled up the gallon of cherry-vanilla melomel made last year after 14 months or so bulk-ageing. It's been a problem-case from start to finish - got caught in a 90-degree heatwave just after pitching a D47 yeast last year and had nowhere cool to move it to. Finished fermenting to about 14.5% ABV and 0.997 in 3 days in the bucket and was foul when it cleared. I didn't rack it more than once and chucked in a vanilla pod so it sat on that plus too much yeast fallout - and headroom. Thank goodness I didn't add more vanilla - it's very evident, but it didn't oxidize Nearly chucked it out - had a hot, almost chilli burn after all that time ageing. In moving and trying it, I'd whacked a bung on the demijohn instead of replacing the airlock and at some point it blew its bung (no doubt from degassing). But still wasn't showing any detectable signs of oxidation or vinegar-contamination.

Decided with nothing to lose to throw in a really good few slugs of smooth barrel-aged French brandy to make a feature of the hot taste, and added 2 caps of brewer's glycerine to try to help with the mouthfeel. Then slipped and managed to shake up the yeast again ... cue the 2-part liquid finings as I just wanted it bottled or down the drain by then ! Next day it was clear and ready to bottle but by this time I'd managed to flood the garage floor after overnight watering the garden above it a bit too hard and accidentally leaving the hose connector (which had burst open) near the wall behind the garage which pooled enough water to breach the damp-proof course.

Feeling cursed and sweeping out floodwater, I tried it - mouth-puckeringly dry, but silky-smooth and the 'hot' taste (and semblence of battery acid) had both entirely gone overnight. Hopefully they stay away ! I racked it onto Campden tablet and wine stabilizer with a generous swig of honeysuckle syrup made last year which brought the FG up to 1.000. It was still dry but at last actually drinkable (before you keel over from the hidden strength - I think you really need a mead-horn for this one). Leaving it on the D47 residue for so long had, however, left something of a 'yeasty' back-note I'm not keen on. It was into the half-bottles again and I'm going to forget about it for a couple of years plus I think. Hoping that yeasty background taste ages out and the vanilla subdues a bit so it's less 'adolescent', or it's going to end up making some local teenagers very merry indeed (our drinking age is 18 over here). On the plus it looks OK. There's always one batch which gives you a load of grief 😅

View attachment 781568
That sounds like hell 😂. But it seems like it turned out right and the brew looks BEAUTIFUL!! Probably in a year it’ll be mellowed and come back a year later I can’t even imagine what it will be like. I’ve had a few brews I’ve had trouble with that came out just fine but it’s part of being human and enjoying the hobby 🍻.
 
OP
OP
T

Todd Peterson

Active Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
32
Reaction score
27
Location
Tennessee
09/28/22 Update

I racked the mead to secondary this evening resulting in a full 3 gallon carboy with minimal headspace.

The hydrometer reads 1.015. While I believe fermentation is complete, I will leave the mead in secondary under airlock for several months prior to bottling. I am hoping this clears on its own as the mead is still cloudy.

I was initially unhappy with the taste of the mead coming out of primary. I am definitely picking up the sweetness of the residual sugar coupled with the berry flavors. To me, the taste of the young melomel improved as the glass sat for a while. Could the off putting taste that I am picking up be the CO2 in suspension?

I will provide an update to the group as the mead ages in secondary and is subsequently bottled in the future.

I am enjoying a glass of the young triple berry mead as I sit here putting together this post. Its not horrible for a young mead I suppose. Would definitely win some awards in a prison brewing competition.

Looking forward to seeing how this ages.

Todd Peterson
 

Attachments

  • 52EB4A24-AE63-4B2A-BBDD-AC81291FD5C8.jpeg
    52EB4A24-AE63-4B2A-BBDD-AC81291FD5C8.jpeg
    1.4 MB · Views: 0

Ren06

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 8, 2022
Messages
106
Reaction score
583
Location
Buffalo,ny
Took the plunge and bottled up the gallon of cherry-vanilla melomel made last year after 14 months or so bulk-ageing. It's been a problem-case from start to finish - got caught in a 90-degree heatwave just after pitching a D47 yeast last year and had nowhere cool to move it to. Finished fermenting to about 14.5% ABV and 0.997 in 3 days in the bucket and was foul when it cleared. I didn't rack it more than once and chucked in a vanilla pod so it sat on that plus too much yeast fallout - and headroom. Thank goodness I didn't add more vanilla - it's very evident, but it didn't oxidize Nearly chucked it out - had a hot, almost chilli burn after all that time ageing. In moving and trying it, I'd whacked a bung on the demijohn instead of replacing the airlock and at some point it blew its bung (no doubt from degassing). But still wasn't showing any detectable signs of oxidation or vinegar-contamination.

Decided with nothing to lose to throw in a really good few slugs of smooth barrel-aged French brandy to make a feature of the hot taste, and added 2 caps of brewer's glycerine to try to help with the mouthfeel. Then slipped and managed to shake up the yeast again ... cue the 2-part liquid finings as I just wanted it bottled or down the drain by then ! Next day it was clear and ready to bottle but by this time I'd managed to flood the garage floor after overnight watering the garden above it a bit too hard and accidentally leaving the hose connector (which had burst open) near the wall behind the garage which pooled enough water to breach the damp-proof course.

Feeling cursed and sweeping out floodwater, I tried it - mouth-puckeringly dry, but silky-smooth and the 'hot' taste (and semblence of battery acid) had both entirely gone overnight. Hopefully they stay away ! I racked it onto Campden tablet and wine stabilizer with a generous swig of honeysuckle syrup made last year which brought the FG up to 1.000. It was still dry but at last actually drinkable (before you keel over from the hidden strength - I think you really need a mead-horn for this one). Leaving it on the D47 residue for so long had, however, left something of a 'yeasty' back-note I'm not keen on. It was into the half-bottles again and I'm going to forget about it for a couple of years plus I think. Hoping that yeasty background taste ages out and the vanilla subdues a bit so it's less 'adolescent', or it's going to end up making some local teenagers very merry indeed (our drinking age is 18 over here). On the plus it looks OK. There's always one batch which gives you a load of grief 😅

View attachment 781568

My cherry melomel 13% ABV 2mos old
C1BFD61A-401C-4670-BEDB-D58FF0E589B9.jpeg
 
OP
OP
T

Todd Peterson

Active Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
32
Reaction score
27
Location
Tennessee
My cherry melomel 13% ABV 2mos old
View attachment 782503

That is beautiful. How does it taste?

I think I have figured out that the “wet dog smell/taste” is the berries breaking down in the must. I’m thinking this will go away in bulk aging.

I was very encouraged that I didn’t taste hot alcohol. I think SNA and low temp during fermentation helped that a lot.
 

Dan O

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Messages
848
Reaction score
579
Location
NH
That is beautiful. How does it taste?

I think I have figured out that the “wet dog smell/taste” is the berries breaking down in the must. I’m thinking this will go away in bulk aging.

I was very encouraged that I didn’t taste hot alcohol. I think SNA and low temp during fermentation helped that a lot.
Yes, those would have greatly reduced the rocket fuel effect.
 

Ren06

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 8, 2022
Messages
106
Reaction score
583
Location
Buffalo,ny
That is beautiful. How does it taste?

I think I have figured out that the “wet dog smell/taste” is the berries breaking down in the must. I’m thinking this will go away in bulk aging.

I was very encouraged that I didn’t taste hot alcohol. I think SNA and low temp during fermentation helped that a lot.
It’s cherry nose with subtle spice. The taste is cherry with a bright honey note and subtle spice(cinnamon) on the back and a small kick of alcohol. For being so young it’s very delicious. Even had clarity that you can’t see in the bottles only the glass once it’s poured.
 
OP
OP
T

Todd Peterson

Active Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
32
Reaction score
27
Location
Tennessee
Good morning folks. I wanted to give an update on my mixed berry project and, in doing so, resurrect this thread.

Opened the glass carboy for the first time this morning since initially racking the mead from the fermentation bucket. The mead has been in secondary for a little over 2 months. Hydrometer reads 1.015. Hasn’t changed since initial racking.

The mead is crystal clear. It’s a little boozy and has retained some of the cherry cough drop flavor. I’m thinking this may be from the cranberry juice included in primary.

The more I drink the sample I pulled, the more it’s growing on me.

Planning on bottling in late December.

Not sure what additions, if any, would help this mead. Has some residual sweetness. A little acidic from the berries maybe. I don’t hate it. As the mead sits in the glass an airs out, it gets better.

Anyone have any feedback on what to expect from the flavor as she ages?

I appreciate your feedback.

Todd Peterson
 

Attachments

  • DE9CCC72-9BC0-4D06-B37B-0637B0595138.jpeg
    DE9CCC72-9BC0-4D06-B37B-0637B0595138.jpeg
    61.6 KB · Views: 0
  • 277FCE3F-B321-4F66-AB1D-0EFAD414108D.jpeg
    277FCE3F-B321-4F66-AB1D-0EFAD414108D.jpeg
    133.4 KB · Views: 0

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
6,888
Reaction score
5,640
Location
Bremen
Good morning folks. I wanted to give an update on my mixed berry project and, in doing so, resurrect this thread.

Opened the glass carboy for the first time this morning since initially racking the mead from the fermentation bucket. The mead has been in secondary for a little over 2 months. Hydrometer reads 1.015. Hasn’t changed since initial racking.

The mead is crystal clear. It’s a little boozy and has retained some of the cherry cough drop flavor. I’m thinking this may be from the cranberry juice included in primary.

The more I drink the sample I pulled, the more it’s growing on me.

Planning on bottling in late December.

Not sure what additions, if any, would help this mead. Has some residual sweetness. A little acidic from the berries maybe. I don’t hate it. As the mead sits in the glass an airs out, it gets better.

Anyone have any feedback on what to expect from the flavor as she ages?

I appreciate your feedback.

Todd Peterson
Zou might as well just bottle it now. Aging will continue in the bottle. I cannot tell you how it will develop exactly, but I can tell you that it will develop further within the next two or three years. My aproach would be bottling now, waiting till it is one year old, have a bottle then and from then on, each 6 months another one, till it does not get better any more.
 
OP
OP
T

Todd Peterson

Active Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
32
Reaction score
27
Location
Tennessee
Zou might as well just bottle it now. Aging will continue in the bottle. I cannot tell you how it will develop exactly, but I can tell you that it will develop further within the next two or three years. My aproach would be bottling now, waiting till it is one year old, have a bottle then and from then on, each 6 months another one, till it does not get better any more.
Thanks for the response Miraculix. Can you, or anyone for that matter, tell me what impact the addition of medium toast French oak cubes would have on the mead. Will it add body to the mead?

Currently, this mead may be a little thin. Looking for options to add some body.

Thanks.

Todd Peterson
 

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
6,888
Reaction score
5,640
Location
Bremen
Thanks for the response Miraculix. Can you, or anyone for that matter, tell me what impact the addition of medium toast French oak cubes would have on the mead. Will it add body to the mead?

Currently, this mead may be a little thin. Looking for options to add some body.

Thanks.

Todd Peterson
Honestly, you do not know what the mead is lacking, because you do not know what it will taste like when it is at it's best. So adding anything now will be gambling. I would just let it age and learn from it. Next time you got a mead like this, you will know what you can expect it to be and what it might be lacking.

Btw. oak does not give any body. It gives loads of unpleasentness when overdone though, and it is overdone fairly easily if you ask me. I would leave it out.
 

SimPilot

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
107
Reaction score
49
addition of medium toast French oak cubes would have on the mead.
My experience with American Oak- It gives vanilla taste and sweetness feels more sweet...if that makes sense.

And as Miraculix said, leaving oak for too long can give a taste like you're eating woodchips. Not many enjoy that...
 
Last edited:

MightyMosin

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
109
Reaction score
111
Wood chips are the worst offender for adding that single dimension oak flavor and color. You are better off with cubes, Xoakers, or spirals if you want to avoid Chateau de Plywood. Chips need to be checked fairly often to make sure you haven't taken the taste past where you want it.

Oak will add tannins which will give some astringency which can help balance against acidity and sweetness... if you need it. Tannins can also aid in the age-ability of a mead, though I'm certainly not an expert on that aspect.
 
OP
OP
T

Todd Peterson

Active Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2022
Messages
32
Reaction score
27
Location
Tennessee
Wood chips are the worst offender for adding that single dimension oak flavor and color. You are better off with cubes, Xoakers, or spirals if you want to avoid Chateau de Plywood. Chips need to be checked fairly often to make sure you haven't taken the taste past where you want it.

Oak will add tannins which will give some astringency which can help balance against acidity and sweetness... if you need it. Tannins can also aid in the age-ability of a mead, though I'm certainly not an expert on that aspect.
I am grateful for the feedback. It sounds like I need to make a 5 gallon batch of a recipe, split it into 1 gallon jugs post primary, and do some experimenting on my own with oak and other additions to get a first hand knowledge of the impact to the final product.

I have a poor palate and a tough time describing the taste I am picking up. I see folks using bench trials for adjustment. Not something I want to do with every batch, but I can see the benefit in learning what additions impact flavor/feel of the mead.

I appreciate everyone’s input and feedback. I’ll update the thread again at the 6 month mark in case anyone else in the future is trying a similar recipe and wants to know how this batch progressed.

Todd Peterson
 

Raptor99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2020
Messages
232
Reaction score
140
Wood chips are the worst offender for adding that single dimension oak flavor and color.
I use medium roast french oak chips, and I have been pleased with the result. I only add a small amount of chips and leave them in for a month. Since I use a small amount, there is no danger of over oaking. I wonder if a longer time on the oak produces a more complex flavor? It makes sense that some of the compounds in the oak are extracted more quickly than others.

To be fair, I have not tried oak cubes or spirals, so I don't know if they would be better. But in a blind taste test, blueberry with oak chips was the clear winner over blueberry without oak.
 

MightyMosin

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
109
Reaction score
111
I'm not trying to poo pooing on using chips and your approach of using small amounts is probably preferable to using a larger amount for a shorter amount of time.

The big difference when using chips vs. cubes/spirals/barrel/etc. is that on larger pieces, the toast is heaviest at the surface and lessens as you get deeper. That gradient of toasting provides varied areas that are going to impart different flavors. There is, potentially, more character imparted with pieces bigger than the chip size.
 

Latest posts

Top