Fall mead

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You can give many names to the different kinds of mead that exist: metheglin for meads with spices, melomel for meads with fruit, even braggot for mead/beer combos. That said, I don’t think there is a name for meads made with vegetables, and yet here I am. Fall comes to Greenville and while everyone else is out making  jack-o-lanterns (a neat but wasteful pastime), I iconically consider fermentation the highest virtue to be bestowed upon anything that contains sugars.

Here are is the recipe for the Sweet Potato mead (dubbed “Sweet Sweet Potato”), the must has a wonderful smell to it:

  • 6lbs sweet potatoes, diced, baked until soft, mashed, and cooled
  • 4.5 qts honey (approx. 12 lbs)
  • water up to 5.5 gallons (a little more because the sweet potato takes up so much space)
  • 2 tbsp whole allspice, 2 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1.25tsp irish moss

And the Pumpkin mead (yet unnamed):

  • 3 medium-sized, flat, cream-colored pumpkins (on the recommendation of the farmer’s market cashier for sweet pumpkins “like for pies”). Baked with cinnamon, skinned, mashed, pitched.
  • 4.5 qts honey (approx. 12 lbs)
  • water up to 5.5 gallons
  • 2.5tsp DTP (yeast energizer)
  • 5tsp Fermax yeast nutrient
  • 1.25tsp irish moss
  • 1 packet D47 yeast

Bottling

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Bottled two batches of mead today! The Chai3 is more cardamom-y than the other two but still delicious. Sometimes, in a batch, I like the actual mead part. Sometimes I like the spices/additions. In this batch, I’m not so happy with the actual mead part but the spices/additions are just about right. As always, I’m going to give it time. Stats:

  • Started: 11 Aug 2011
  • First Rack: 1 Sep 2011
  • Bottled: 10 Oct 2011

And for the blackberry, the same applies. Delicious, of course, but I think it is still too dry.

  • Started: 11 Aug 2011
  • First Rack: 1 Sep 2011 (off of blackberries)
  • Bottled: 10 Oct 2011

Beer/mead?

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So I guess technically this is a batch of beer, and for that definition I rely on the fact that I am using barley, hops, and water–the ingredients included in the famous reinheitsgebot of 1516–and am using a beer yeast (Belgian Trappist Ale, in fact). Who said I couldn’t add a gallon of honey to a batch of beer? Yeah, that’s me. Broke into my 3rd 5-gallon bucket of honey with a beer-mead fusion. Suggestions for names are welcome.

I used the idea/recipe from this wine making blog post which hasn’t been followed up on (I will definitely be emailing the blogger when I get some results). It’s worth checking out the Washington Wine Maker, he (I’m pretty sure it’s a he) does a good job of providing technical descriptions but at the heart of his articles are pretty practical applications.

Anyway, here’s the step-by-step of what I’ve done:

  • Boiled 1.5 gal water, removed from heat and steeped 1lb light crystal malts for 30 minutes (if you want to know more about malts, check this section of the great online resource “How to Brew”…there are some great gems like “If grain with enzyme diastatic potential is steeped, that is mashing.”
  • Added 1/2gal honey, return to a boil. Dumped the other 1/2gal into my brew bucket.
  • After it returns to a boil, reduced temperature to a simmer, added .25oz Golding hops for flavor (another great entry in “How to Brew” about hops)
  • Let it simmer for 25 minutes, added .25oz Golding hops for aroma, simmer for another 5 minutes
  • Poured into bucket (with rest of honey already in it), added 6tsp of Fermax yeast nutrient, filled with cold tap water up to 5.75 gallons (aimed for 6 gallons according to recipe, but wanted to leave some space at the top)
  • Added Wyeast 3787 after it cooled to 100F, sealed the bucket.

It reeks of beer (a good thing!) but has this sweet honey smell to it as well. I am really curious about what this batch will do, I may have tried to do too much at once. I have this thought that the Trappist yeast was probably a bad call, but it’s already in motion. I’m worried I messed up the hops because I don’t know what I’m doing with them, or maybe that the crystal malt flavor will overpower the honey. Time will tell.

Oh! I did some research. Seems a honey/malt/hop combination should be called a “braggot”. Will do more research later, but it’s late. Here‘s a recipe that seems a close approximation of what I’ve done..I only wish I had read it before I tried my batch? Anyway for the most part it supports the decisions I made.

Cysers

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I racked the two cysers tonight, one is strangely dry and the other has a beautiful sweetness. The former was almost entirely settled out and I’m imagining the fermentation happened very quickly and directly. I’m fine with that, it is still delicious, reminisces of last year’s apple cider. Much different from the other, which was still relatively cloudy and perhaps even a bit sparkly. Why are they different? It seems like I should be able to answer this question, but alas. I am not a scientific meader, though I try. I did a dumb thing when I added the yeast by dissolving two packets simultaneously into 1/2 cup of water and trying divide that evenly over the two buckets. Maybe I should cut corners like that. Anyway! Stats for the two batches:

  • Started: 18 September 2011 (yeast on 19 Sep 2011)
  • 1st rack: 4 October 2011 (added 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract)