A Hoist To Mead Making : III The Tasting

Seeing that it is fall time, the cool temps and the longer nights call for something a little higher in octane to keep you warm outside at the bonfire. Me personally, I have not found a wine yet that really has completely blown my mind in the very least. It all taste like grape juice that was fermented too high and has a ton of alcohol burn to it. Maybe I’m not drinking the right stuff.  Although if you haven’t checked prices on a bottle of wine these days, the are usually pretty pricey and comparable to a good bottle fermented Belgian Dubbel. So my dilemma, (as a beer guy), is to say the hell with wine and get a good bottle of Belgian brew for pretty much the same price and with a lot better taste. I really am hoping to change all of this,( I mean my negative wine perspective) because I respect wine makers or “vinters” as they prefer to be called for their appreciation of complexity. I do think it’s a SEVERE disrespectful notion to spit the wine into a bucket when tasting! After all wine is aged far longer than beer for the most part, and to spit it into a bucket just seems wrong! Would you spit your favorite brew into the sink after you swish it around in your mouth? I think not. But this is not about my displeasure, (ignorance) of wine or the way its tasted, this article is about my Memorial Day mead session. See (read) here : https://beaconhillsbrewhouse.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/a-hoist-to-mead-making/   and the second update here : https://beaconhillsbrewhouse.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/hoist-to-meadmaking-update/.

So I decide to bottle a small portion of this batch of mead and cap it. Mind you, the intent was to have a sweet mead as a final product. In fact I used a “sweet mead” yeast. White Labs Sweet Mead yeast to be exact! My intent was to have a full fermentation and to avoid a stuck fermentation at all costs. I thought a too sweet mead would taste really bad. So I injected a ton of oxygen and added yeast nutrient. I have heard that honey is 100% fermentable but this thing went from 1.092 OG to 1.004 final gravity which could dry out the mead like a dry wine and makes it about 11.5%  ABV. The mead in the aging carboy, until I bottled it,  still had a residual “winelike”, fusel alcohol burn to the finish. When I decided to bottle a small amount, refrigerate it and drink it like a wine…in a wine glass, most of that burn went away!

Aroma: it has a great sweet-smelling aroma. Honey-like aroma(big surprise). I do get some alcohol in the nose but some huge oak and a slight vanilla. (I did not oak this mead which makes the oak aroma even better).

Appearance: Bright straw color. A dull haze to the mead in the wine glass. This is something that matters very little to me however.

Flavor: for this to be a “dry” mead, it still has a very sweet flavor even at 1.004 gravity!  There is still some alcohol warmth,  but has subdued quite a bit.Because of the no-boil method I used, the subtle honey flavor still remains. It has major wine-like qualities but takes a huge turn into an excellent honey complexity. A hint of oak at the finish which again I say was not oaked at all.

Overall Notes:  I think I did an excellent job with this batch. It fermented completely and seems to be aging very well and I expect it to taste better as time goes on. It has excellent complexity and above everything a great flavor! This stuff is dangerous and will get you into trouble at an 11.5% ABV range, so I will be sipping in moderation.

Those of you who have not tried making mead I urge you to try it. It is MUCH easier than beer to make, takes less time, and tastes better than wine in my opinion. The only downside is aging the mead at a stable temp for many months. Mead and other high gravity brews will not reach peak flavor for many months, so be ready to get patient and don’t rush it.

I used the no-boil method to retain the subtleties of the honey. When I make my next batch of mead, this is the method I will use again. As long as your sanitation practices are flawless, you should not have a problem with any infections. Just pitch  a ton of fresh, healthy yeast, dissolve a ton of oxygen in the honey-water, add some yeast nutrients and you will make a great tasting mead. Remember to keep the fermentation temps low. As always, Cheers!


3 responses to “A Hoist To Mead Making : III The Tasting

  1. I’ve always wanted to try mead, and I feel like this winter in my modestly-heated apartment might be a great time to do so – so this series is a great guide for me. I have a 3 gallon glass carboy that hasn’t touched a drop of beer yet and I’d love to push it to a new limit with some sweet honey mead.

    One question I would ask would be for you to please post your recipe, specifically so I can creep on your choices of honey and batch size.

    • Well as I stated in my article, it is WAY more of a simple process than beer brewing. At the very core of it, its just basically warming the water enough to dissolve the honey and just add some yeast nutrient….and yeast of course. Even if you are not much of a wine guy…which I am not…the mead really does taste good. Give it a shot I say!

  2. Recipe Specifications
    Batch Size: 5.00 gal
    Boil Size: 5.00 gal
    Estimated OG: 1.098 SG
    Estimated Color: 3.1 SRM
    Estimated IBU: 0.0 IBU
    Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
    Boil Time: 0 Minutes

    Amount Item Type % or IBU
    2.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient Misc
    14 lbs 4.0 oz Clover Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 100.00 %
    1 Pkgs Sweet Mead/Wine (White Labs #WLP720) with a 2qt starter

    Added all honey at 115 degrees. chilled down with chiller to 68 F. Added oxygen with diffusing stone and then pitched yeast with nutrient.

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