In this experimead, the use of acid blend is tested for its flavor and aroma contributions in a dry short mead. The acid is added to a 5.5% cream soda, bottle conditioned, short mead. Triangle tests are conducted to see if participants can correctly identify the difference between the two meads. Correct respondents also provide feedback on the differences perceived in the two meads.
The base recipe for this experimead starts with the Psychopomp Recipe Clone from Havoc Meadery. I modified the recipe according to my taste. I uses 2 kg of frozen Polish fermentation cherries, and used the TANG nutrient profile. After fermentation I also modified the recipe by adding Costco Vanilla extract, and bottle conditioned to 2.3 vol. Some of the bottles were given acid blend additions and some were left as is.
Recipe: 5.5%, TANG Cream Soda Mead, Aug 28th 2017, 6 gallon
- 6 Gallon/23L
- OG = 1.038
- FG = .998
- 6 lbs Raw Hogans Golden Wildflower Honey
- 2 kg of Poland Sour Cherry
- 5 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
- 2.5 tsp of acid blend
- 5 packets Lalvin D-47 yeast
- Recommended YAN by The MeadMakr BatchBuildr is 78.7 YAN
- 8.5g Go-ferm (45 YAN)
- 4g Fermaid-K (17.6 YAN)
- Total: 62.6 YAN
- Note: I reduced the YAN since the fruit provides some nutrient
- Made an activation starter using 5 packets Lalvin D-47 yeast the 8.5 g Go-ferm and for 3 hours
- 5 ish gallons water in bucket (one gallon distilled and rest spring – used the larger green spring water from Costco which I used for secondary)
- Mixed in 6 lbs Raw Hogans Golden Wildflower Honey
- 2 kg of Poland Sour Cherry
- Added 4 g Fermaid-K to must
- Fermented started at 64 f after two hours of pitch
- +12 h not bubbling yet, at 72 f.
- +24 h opened up and bubbling like crazy. Dunked the bag in several times. Had to press down the lid down to get the co2 to stop sneaking out around the side. Smelled great. Like sweet sour cherries.
- +36 h 78f opened up and bubbling like crazy. Dunked the bag a few times. Smelled great. Like sweet sour cherries.
- +3 days – degassed, dunked cherries. Done fermenting, looks like degassing. Temp at ~78f moved to top of box of bottles to make room for the cyser.
- +~7 days – removed fruit and let sit at 78f
- +2 Weeks – transferred to carboy, added Vanilla and the must dropped clear within a couple days.
- +2.5 weeks – bottled at 2.3 vol with little foaming. So many bottles! Added acid to most bottles at a rate of 1/8 of a tsp per liter.
Initial Tasting Notes
This stuff is great. Despite the high fermentation temperatures, the mead came out really clean. The phenolic of the yeast were present, but it added a malty character. It tastes better than a cream soda, but you can drink it all day, because it is dry. I had originally left some without vanilla and acid, but it was kind of boring. Cherry doesn’t taste like cherry without acid. I ended up opening up the remaining bottles and adding the vanilla and acid. The batch also went really fast. I was happy with it and made a lot so gave most of it away. I will be making this recipe again!
Tests were evaluated when the meads were 2 months old at the Toronto Brew Slam Competition Canada’s largest homebrew competition. Participants were given a score sheet that asked participant to identify the odd mead out. Participants were asked their experience level with meads, how blown their palate was, and a their status as judges and home/professional brewers. If participants were correct, they were asked to say which mead they preferred and provide some comments on overall impression, aroma and flavor characteristics of the meads.
There were 15 participants, of which 13 were BJCP beer judges and 3 were BJCP mead judges. Gordon Strong was among the participants and was able to correctly identify the meads. Out of the 15 participants, 6 were able to identify the odd mead out. Of those that identified the odd-mead out, all preferred the mead with the acid addition. Here is a summary of the results:
There again seemed to be some discrepancy between being able to identify the odd-mead out and experience level with the meads. Also, the evaluations were done during the second break on the second day of the competition (after IPAs were evaluated) so those with less blown palates (Palate=1-3) seemed to be able to be correlated with being able to identify the odd-meads out.
Similarly, mead judges were more likely to identify the odd mead out, as well as home brewers. Being a beer judge actually made it less likely to be correct – possibly due to the correlation of being a beer judge and having a blown palate.
Most importantly, the six correct participants provided tasting notes of the meads. They all identified acid as the characteristic difference. Acid seemed to provide more berryness, more complexity, mouthfeel, cleanness, and brightness.
It was a lot of fun to do this triangle test, and it was great to get so many BJCP judges. There is not much of a familiarity of short meads, and showing off a 5.5% dry mead that people liked was a novel experience for most participants. While the p-value from the ability to correct identify the meads was not significant, I found it more interesting that those who correctly identified the meads all preferred the meads with the added acid. Beer judges are often looking for bitter-sweet balance and the acid-sweet balance that are so important in meads and ciders are often foreign to them. Acid is more than ever an important part of my toolbox.
Sean Kerry, PhD. Participant in study
I’ve participated in a few of Stephen’s triangle tests and structured mead tastings. I can attest to the rigour of his method and his data collection process. The high quality of Stephen’s base meads are the result of his attention to fermentation process, staggered nutrient additions, and yeast health. With regard to this experiment, the effect of acids in other alcoholic bevarages (see Cook’s Science, May 2017) has previously been substantiated. The experiment has demonstrated that acid blend additions can result in flavor enhancements in meads and melomels, particularly as it relates to the perception and character of the fruit.