Today’s Work: Strawberry Mead

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Not a whole lot to say here, but I did rack the strawberry mead off the strawberries–about a week before the recipe says I should have, but oh well.  The ratio of strawberry to honey flavor is just about right, I think (although Morgan says that he expected more strawberry flavor), and I’m sure it will age into a very fine mead. The mead has a slightly more reddish tone to it due to the strawberries, which is pretty cool.

The strawberries got very discolored–a gross tan-like hue–and stank like the dickens, but that’s why you rack off of them, I suppose.  There is wisdom, I see now, to the idea of getting all of the juice out of the strawberries, or putting the strawberries into a mesh bag, to avoid this grossness.  But again, the mead is turning out just fine, so  for now it’s mostly an aesthetic issue, I think.

  • Started: 6 January 2010
  • First rack: 25 January 2010 (onto strawberries, in carboy)
  • Second rack: 14 February 2010 (out of strawberries, in carboy)

Today’s work: Chai Mead

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Just a few notes about bottling the Chai Mead.  The clarifying agent worked very well (even though I forgot to warm up the second stage of it before I added it, whoops), and it tastes delicious.  Note: I would like to have had more chai flavor in it next time, so don’t hold back.

Cleaning the bottles took about an hour, which is normal.  The rest took about a half an hour–I’d like to bring my overall bottling time down since it is the most annoying and generally most time-consuming part of the process, but that’s something to work on in the future.  Bottle brush was very helpful.

A note about the new sanitizer: it seemed to create more bubbles than I am accustomed to with the iodine-based sanitizer.  These extra bubbles worried me, but the necessity for “air-drying” after you sanitize should, ideally, take care of them.  I don’t really know how thorough one must be about this air-drying, but I haven’t been able to discern yet any negative effects on my mead from not completely air-drying the bottles (or the equipment, for that matter).  To get rid of the bubbles when I was bottling, I rinsed most everything before I put the mead in it…anybody have any thoughts on the rinsing after sanitization?  I know it’s not generally approved, but it seemed preferable to me at the time.

Anyway, it is delicious.  Here’s the complete stats for the chai mead, and I will leave it alone for as long as possible before I start drinking it.

  • Started: 1 September 2009
  • Rack 1: 29 September 2009
  • Rack 2: 18 November 2009
  • Rack 3: 3 January 2010
  • Potassium Sorbate added: 8 February 2010
  • Bottled: 14 February 2010

How many bottles of mead on the wall?

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For my own memory, and to help out others, potentially, here’s the breakdown of how many bottles I sanitize before I start the bottling step.  I like to have some beer bottles for when I want smaller quantities but a majority of wine bottles for gifts, looking fancy, and drinking larger quantities.

  • 5.5 gallons (about how much is left in the carboy after I make an approximately 6-gallon batch) = 704 fl oz
  • 24 bottles * 12 fl oz in each beer bottle = 288 fl oz
  • 704 – 288 = 416 fl oz left = 12.3 L
  • 12.3 L / .75 L in each wine bottle = 16.4 wine bottles

Final word: I clean 24 beer bottles and 16 wine bottles, usually leaving a few extra beer bottles.  This ratio works out fine anyway because the extra junk on the bottom doesn’t get bottled, and I always sample each batch at each step in the process.

Chai Mead, first post

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So first post about Chai Mead…I’m pretty excited about this batch.  As a general note, I think I’m going to make a page for each batch of mead that I make to keep track of all of them.  Just a thought, I think having posts tagged appropriately with the right batch of mead might be enough to keep track of each batch.  Any thoughts?

Chai mead was made with Bee Well wildflower honey, typical amount of honey (approximately 12 lbs, I usually get 1 gallon plus 1 quart of honey from Bee Well when I stop by).  I basically brewed a small pot of chai mead with some looseleaf tea that I got from Whole Foods a while back, then took that strongly-brewed pot and threw it all (tea included) into the must bucket with the honey and water.  I let it all get to a “warm” temperature (something mostly subjective at this point) and pitched the yeast.

The mead is smelling/tasting great, but the only holdup has been with the cloudiness of the mead.  For the first time I’m trying out a clarifying agent (see previous post) to make it more clear before I bottle it.  Currently I have let it sit for a while, tonight I added the potassium sorbate (to stop the reproduction of the yeast, now a required step with every batch to prevent bottle bombs) and later this week I’m going to add the clarifier before I bottle it.  I’ll post when I bottle to see how it went.

Stats:

Started: 1 September 2009

Rack 1: 29 September 2009

Rack 2: 18 November 2009

Rack 3: 3 January 2009

Potassium Sorbate added: 8 February 2009

Upping the game in a few ways

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I went back to Thomas Creek (see new link on the sidebar) for some supplies that I thought I would mention:

1) I plan to use a clarifying agent to make the chai mead clear…it’s been sitting in the carboy for a while and hasn’t gotten clear enough for my tastes, so I’m going to make it clear.  I may post about what kind of agent I’m using later, but for now I’ll clarify only that I know it’s a gelatin-based clarifier, not a clay-based clarifier (correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe those are the two main kinds)

2) I’m changing my sanitizer as well, away from the iodine-based sanitizer.  I think the iodine may be leaving some residue that is throwing off the flavor of the mead, especially with my plastic tools.

3) I bought a bottle brush!  Finally, the most annoying step of the whole process will hopefully be made a lot easier.  Cleaning and sanitizing the bottles is the most annoying but at the same time most necessary step…the brush will help that, hopefully.