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New to mead. Looking for advice on what to make.

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Robin0782

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So, I've only tasted two meads in my life. Both commercially bought. One was amazing, one not so much. The one I didn't like was made here in Indiana, and I found that it tasted like a light white wine (I'm not really into wine either), with little to no honey flavor or much other flavor at all. The mead that I did like was Apis Jadwiga. It was incredible with huge honey, vanilla, oak, and raisiny flavors. Rather sweet and alcoholic, and lovely.

I made a 1 gallon batch of JAOM last week. Obviously it has a ways to go. I was anxious to make something so I just put that together after looking over these forums briefly.

Now I'd like to make something a little more advanced. I've been reading this forum for the last week and I think I have a decent handle on what to do as far as the process. Some questions do come to mind, though.

1. If a mead is dry, fermented out to 0.998 or so, how much honey taste will there be typically?

2. If you make a dry mead, and backsweeten with additional honey, is the honey flavor going to be better/worse/different than if you just ferment with a sweet mead yeast?

3. How much of a role does yeast strain play as far as flavor? Since mead is aged so long, is it a large factor? I'd like to use something pretty neutral.

I am thinking about trying the Vanilla Mead recipe I saw in the Recipe Database. But it looks to be dry and so I'm wondering about the flavors. I'm guessing I probably prefer sweet mead to dry, but I'm unsure. I want to make sure whatever I make tastes good, with a lot of honey flavor. I'd love to try and make something similar to the Jadwiga, though I realize it's not likely I will make a mead of that quality. But with my limited experience with mead, it's the bar for my tastebuds! Something with similar big flavors at least would be awesome.
 

fatbloke

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The choice is yours. It sounds from your description that the one you didn't like was a dry one, while the one you enjoyed was possibly a Polish style one, at least a sweet one.

Back sweetened meads tend to have a bigger honey taste but equally it depends whether you used X amount of honey and fremented dry before back sweetening or whether you started with a smaller amount of honey then step fed extra honey in small increments to exceed the published tolerance until it cant ferment any further and you sweeten it (if necessary) making it a sack mead....

An average amount of honey is about 3lb in the gallon.

Yeast strain can be hugely influential on the flavour. For traditionals I favour D21 followed by K1-V1116.
 
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Robin0782

Robin0782

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Thanks for replying. The Apis Jadwiga is indeed Polish, and pretty sweet. I wish I had a bottle of that stuff right now!! I think the other one was just poorly made, very boring, and probably traditional with no extra flavoring.

Perhaps the best thing for me to do is wait for the JAOM to finish up, and see what I think of that. I may go ahead and make a 1 gallon batch of the Vanilla Mead from the database, here in a few weeks. If I'm unhappy with it as is, I could probably just go ahead and backsweeten it some. I know that mead is generally a time commitment before you can drink it, so I want to get another batch or two going fairly soon. I will have to look into that step feeding technique a little further, see what that's all about. Definitely going to keep reading and learning before I do anything, though.
 

fatbloke

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Iff you go over to the Gotmead forums front page their "NewBee" guide is linked in the top left dialgue/links box. It explains most of the concepts to the new mead maker.

Its a bit of a read but worth the effort......

Oh and the Polish style meads can be made too but I understand they take a bit of practice first....
 
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Robin0782

Robin0782

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Oh, very nice. Didn't know about that forum. I will definitely give that whole NewBee guide a thorough reading. Thanks!
 
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Robin0782

Robin0782

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Alright. So I've done some reading over at GotMead and I think I have it... just thought I'd ask here to verify I understand.

Let's say I want to make a sweet mead, with a FG of 1.025 and 14% ABV. I would want to have a SG of about 1.129, and use a yeast like Lalvin D47 which has a tolerance of 14%. 1.129 to 1.025 gives 14%. Sound about right?
 

Arpolis

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That is pretty close. But I always have a hard time with yeast going beyond their alcohol tolerances and I get more ABV than I want and end up having to back sweeten. My suggestion is to shoot for an original gravity of 1.104 and let your yeast ferment dry. Once fermentation stops and you are sitting at about the 0.998 gravity level. Add in crushed camden tablets and potassium sorbate to halt any further yeast activity and then add honey until you hit your 1.025.

That will give you your 14% ABV easily and you then control the sweetness level rather than hoping your yeast stops at the level you want.
 

Stovetop535

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Which vanilla mead recipe? I have been eyeing one of he vanilla mead recipes in the database and I planning on doing it today. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f80/vanilla-mead-31698/

15 Lbs. Fireweed Honey
6 Vanilla beans, split
6 bags Earl Grey Tea
Lavlin EC-1118 yeast
Nutrient & Energizer
8OZ bottle Pure Vanilla Extract

I going to jump in with both feet and make a 5 gallon batch. I dont have firewood honey, but with the vanilla added in I think it will be fine. I am getting a late start on it, but I hope a bottle or two will be ready by the second week in May for a graduation party. That gives me just under 4 months to the day.
 
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Robin0782

Robin0782

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Yeah, that's the recipe I was looking at as well. Whenever I end up doing it I won't use the Fireweed honey, either. Probably just clover, maybe wildflower. I'll just do a single gallon to see how things go. Perhaps backsweeten it the way Arpolis suggested. Just depends I suppose.
 

Stovetop535

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That is the process I am planning to follow if I back sweeten. Not to hijack your thread, but since it pertains to the same recipe I will ask.

I have read about the use of the lavlin yeast "blowing the flavors" out of the primary, and this recipe does not have anything added to the secondary. Would it be worth my time to add some vanilla beans into the secondary, or possibly using the extract in the secondary?

Also, not sure I can make up my mind on aging in the secondary or bottling and aging. This will be my first mead and I realize they are a time commitment. But after 4 months if it is decent I will serve some at the get together in May. Any suggestions for a first timer?

Again, dont mean to hijack your thread, but some of my questions are similar, especially with since were using the same recipe.
 
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