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M2A: Ontario Cyser

I got apple cider at a farmers market in January, fresh pressed the day before. One of the advantages of buying cider late season is they often contain more cider appropriate apples: aroma, sharps etc. The cider I used for this was mostly desert apples, but definitely had some of the later season varieties. I also added Granny Smith apples with their skins for acid and tannin. I made 6 gallons, used three gallons to made a clone of Kurt’s apple pie from Moonlight Meadery, put one gallon on a vanilla bean, and left the other as is. All got oak cubes. The Kurt’s apple pie was very good but ended up with more notable cinnamon than vanilla. The one gallon that sat on the vanilla bean, really smoothed out, and helped bring out the apple quality. You don’t notice the vanilla per say but you would notice if it is missing, which is exactly the problem with the plain cyser. Despite the cyser finishing at a FG of 1.01, the oak tannin really dried it out and brought out the perception of alcohol in the cyser without the vanilla.

Recipe:

  • 18 lbs honey
  • 17 liters of sweet cider
  • Added petic enzyme as per instructions on pack
  • 3 lbs Granny Smith blended in a food processor
  • 4x 5 gram packets of Lalvin 71B-1122

Specs:

  • Target FG: 1.015
  • Actual FG: 1.010
  • Recommended 242.1/2 = 121.05 YAN using The MeadMakr BatchBuildr
  • Fermaid-K: 1.5 tsp ~ 4 grams (YAN)
  • DAP: 2 tsp ~ 10 grams (YAN)
  • Total actual YAN: ~ 110
  • Fermentation Temperature 62f.

Implementation:

  • Split the juice between two six gallon buckets
  • Put the blended apples in a mesh bag in one bucket
  • Fed 1/4 tsp Fermaid-K and petic enzyme immediately
  • Made a 1.5 liter activation starter for 2.5 hours which showed lots of activity
  • Split starter between the two buckets
Starter before pitch

Starter before pitch

Fermentation:

  • + 24 h – Aerated with wine degasser and 1/4 tsp DAP 1/8 tsp Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • + 36 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP each bucket, 62f
  • + 48 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP and Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • + 56 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP each bucket, 62f
  • + 72 h – Aerated with wine degasser and added 1/8 tsp DAP and Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • + 5 days – Added 1/8 tsp addition of Fermaid-K each bucket, 62f
  • Shook every couple of days and got lots of CO2 from the one without fruit.
  • +2 weeks – strained apples out of bag and had a baseball size clump of skins left. The one with fruit on top started bubbling aggressively once fruit was removed.
  • Shook every couple of days and both bubbling for a while after being shook.2017-02-06 21.33.35.jpg

Secondary Fermentation:

  • + 1 Month – transferred to 5g carboy. Read 1.008. Added 0.5 liters of water to top up carboy.
  • +5 weeks still degassing, some apple pieces floating on top. still cloudy so added 1/4 tsp petic enzyme.
  • + 7 weeks – transferred to tertiary. Still cloudy.
  • + 10 weeks added two stage clarifier – finally cleared within a few days
  • + 11 weeks –  transferred to a three gallon carboy and two one gallons, and a half gallon carboys. The half gallon got some sediment. Read 1.010!?
  • +12 weeks – added a vanilla bean to 1/2 gallon, three gallon, and the one gallon. Put 1/2 tbsp cinnamon  in a tea bag in the 3 gallon carboy, and 1 tsp of cinnimon in a tea bag in 1/2 gallon.

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More futzing:

  • + 4 months – bottled from the 1/2 gallon, got two bottles of the half vanilla bean and back of cinnamon. Presence of alcohol, no floral-musk character, strong vanilla almost too much. Checked the other vanilla meads. Left some in a glass and let sit out for an hour, it really opened up and the apple and cinnamon came out more and the alcohol turned into warming alcohol at the back-end. Apple vanilla nose come out more clear and mellowed out. Tasted off-dry.
  • +6.5 Months – took out vanilla bean and cinnamon from 3 gallon carboy. Added oak (two cubes American, one French, been soaking in vodka for 3 months) to vanilla, 3g carboy.
  • +6.75 Months – tested the vanilla cyser but couldn’t taste the vanilla. Had the intense floral /musky smell of the honey.
  • +7.5 Months took a 750ml bottle bottled from the 1/2 gallon to a local mash-up. Tasted ok, but lacking acid. Some muskiness was still there and it is quite off-dry tasting so hard to notice apple much. More vanilla than anything.
  • +8 months – tasted the larger carboy. Most of the alcohol nose is gone, vanilla is coming though, medium bodied. Tannins are coming through and the vanilla is there but no as much as the cinnamon. May not want it to sit on the oak too much longer. It looks more dark then the other batches. Could use some acid to brighten it up.

Futzing with acid:

  • + 9 months  – Did a tasting of the spiced 1/3 gallon batch and found that 17.5-20g per 100 ml of acid blend was the preferred acid level. Made a big difference, and really brought out the apple character. Added 21 g of acid blend to the topped 3 gallon carboy. Withdrew some mead, mixed in acid, and dumped back in. Tasted great, but the vanilla and the cinnamon were hints and not as forward as hoping. Put 6 grams (5 acid blend, 1g citric) into the two one gallon carboys.
  • +9.5 months – bottled all the meads.

Impression:

Submitted the vanilla cyser as a cyser and the Kurt’s apple pie clone to GTA brew slam, Canada’s largest homebrew competition, when the meads were 10 months old. The cyser won second place and it scored 41/50 by two judges including Gordon Strong. Complete scoresheets. I submitted the vanilla cyser as a cyser since the vanilla was not a distinct flavor in the cyser. The vanilla cyser tasted much better than the oaked cyser, despite not much vanilla character coming through. I really helped smooth and round out the aroma and flavor profiles. It also helped cut through some of the alcohol nose that was merely amplified by the presence of oak in the cyser.

The Kurt’s apple pie clone was one of my favorite meads. Despite the cinnamon not being intense in the carboy, it really came out after a month in the bottle. The cinnamon lingered as noted by two judges, it tended to dominate, not amplify the apple character. It only scored a 35/50 and a 37/50 by two judges at the same competition. See full Kurt’s apple pie scoresheets.  Next time I would add two vanilla beans, and pull out the cinnamon earlier.

I made a couple of mistakes with this mead, and I would not follow what I did as instructions. I should have oxygenated the meads with pure 02 as the wine whip was insufficient. I would have also liked the meads more if they finished out a little sweeter, maybe 1.015. The alcohol became present later in the fermentation, and it could have needed more organic YAN. As I have mentioned elsewhere this was an earlier batch of mead for me and I was still using a wildflower honey that had such an intense floral character that it came across musky. I now would use a golden or white wildflower honey – or would do a 50/50 blend of orange and raspberry blossom varietal honey. It also could have used some rehydration with Go-ferm or substituted most of the DAP with Fermaid-O.

Another thing is that I decided how much acid to use using a 1/2 gallon batch of Kurts apple pie, then scaled up and added that amount to all the batches. In retrospect I should have added malic acid. The citric acid came across a bit sharp and stood out from the apple – malic character. I should have also determined how acid I needed by testing each spin-off batch separately. The traditional cysers needed less acid than the spiced cysers, and adding the same amount per gallon to each batch overdid it for the traditional. Finally, when determining how much acid I wanted to use, I should of cut it by 75% from by preferred – or confirmed my preference the next day. Tasting all the different acid levels at once blew my palate and lessened by sensitivity at testing. I would have added less after the fact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M2B: Pyment, Maxed Sack Concord

You know you are a meadiac when your walking down the aisle at the grocery store and think “I could ferment that.” Well that’s what inspired this recipe. I found organic concord grape juice on sale and decided to get three liters. I had an extra packet of K1V-1118 when I was putting together the Great Canadian Short Mead Yeast Experiment and decided to start this at the same time. I was so concentrated on the experiment, I totally neglected the mead. By no means is this a recommendation on the recipe, but maybe evidence on how sometimes you get lucky?

Recipe (if I can call it that):

  • 5 grams K1V-1118
  • 6.5 g Go-ferm in starter
  • 0.5 grams potassium bicarbonate
  • 900ml hogans white honey that tasted super sweet and sour
  • 3 liters organic Concord grape juice

grape

Specs:

Implementation:

  • Rehyrated yeast using Go-ferm adding must every 15 minutes for 1.5 hours
  • Added grape juice and honey to carboy
  • Added 3.5 grams Fermaid-O (all up front!)
  • Aerated by shaking for 1 minute

Fermentation:

  • 24 h – blew air lock onto the floor, put back on and shook to degass
  • 48 h – added 1 gram Fermaid-K, Aerated heavily, gravity 1.112
  • 52 h – degassed
  • 72 h – aerated heavily, added 1 gram Go-ferm, tasted super sweet and clean, more wine but lots of concord 1.086
  • + 9 days  – 1.032, tasted sweet, clean and nice and concord like. Couldn’t taste the alcohol.
  • +10 days – 1.022

jug.png

After Fermentation:

  • +21 days – 1.010 super hot and alcohol, but otherwise clean. Racked to a glass carboy.
  • +5 weeks – amazing! Concord juice wine, sweet, clean with alcohol in taste. So much aroma and flavor. Added oak (two cubes American, one French, that had been soaking in vodka for 3 months)
  • +5 months – bottled 6 x 375ml bottles

Impressions:

This is a funny drink – like wine that reminds you of the grape juice box you had from your younger days. That said, it is delicious. There is a tonne of flavor and aroma and it is almost candy like in the way it drinks. I would have left it slightly sweeter, maybe a FG of 1.015-1.020. Despite how much I neglected this mead, it turned out quite well. I also added quite a bit more YAN than necessary, but it didn’t seem to be a problem as there was no off-flavors detected. I was really happy at how well the mead turned out. I will be using K1V-1118 again!

Won third place at Brew Slam, Canada’s largest home-brew competition. See the detailed feedback on the scoresheets. Gordon Strong was a judge at the best of show table when the mead was picked for third. After the mead judging, Gordon kept this mead, and the coffee mead (I think he might of sweetened them up a bit) and gave a presentation on the BJCP and on evaluation techniques. The whole time he was carrying this pyment and told the head judge don’t let anyone touch it – as he was judging beers. Can you tell I was happy?

 

Acid Additions in TANG Cream Soda Mead

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

CHERRY.png

TANG nutrients:

  • 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

At pitch

  • 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

Fermentation

  • +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

Secondary 

  • +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!

2017-11-14 20.10.29

Triangle Tests 

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:

pvalues.png

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.

exp.png

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.

attri.png

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.

tastingnotes.png

Conclusion

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.

Peer Review 

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.

M3A: Basil With A Hint Of Lemon, Short

I really enjoy the refreshing quality of short dry meads. When I was in Nova Scotia early in 2017 I went to a farmers market where a farmer was selling honey and said that she only kept a few lives on their wild blueberry, wild cherry, and apple farm. I bought a 6 pound bucket and make this wonderful traditional short mead.  I bottled some as is and split the batch and did five variations. This included a gallon each of  1 pound of whole frozen blackberries and currents in secondary. I also made a mojito mead, a dry hopped mead with 1oz each of Amarillo and Cascade, and a lemon basil mead.  I only made a half-gallon of the basil and mojito meads, so four 12 oz bottles. The berry meads were jammy/ fruit skin flavor that overpowered the delightful honey character. They also needed acid, and I found myself adding acid blend to the glass to brighten them up.  The metheglin’s on the other hand were amazing! For both the basil lemon and mint lime meads, the herbal flavors and citric acids accentuated the honey character. Here is the recipe for the traditional short mead and the basil lemon metheglin variation.

Traditional Short, 7.5%, US-05, 5 gallons, June 24th, 2017

  • 4 gallons of water, spring water with the following profile:

spring

  • 5 gallon glass carboy
  • Rehydrated 12g US-05 in 8.5g of Go-ferm (Contributed 54 YAN)
  • Feed starter for 1 hour
  • 6 lbs of wild flower honey from Nova Scotia, wild blue berry, wild cherry, and apple.
  • 1 lbs of Hogan’s golden honey
  • 1 liter of filtered tap water in starter

Specs:

  • OG-1.059
  • Tar. FG-0.998
  • Act. FG- 0.994
  • ABV-7.5-8%

TANSM Nutrient Protocol:

Fermentation:

  • +18h – degassed, .5g Fermaid-K, foamed over but had sanitized before
  • +24h – degassed, 1 g Fermaid-K, 1.5 g of DAP, foamed over but had sanitized before
  • +36h – degassed, 1 g Fermaid-K, 1.5 g of DAP, no foam over – gravity read 1.039
  • +48h – degassed, 0.5 g Fermaid-K, 0.8 g of DAP, foam over but had sanitized
  • +3 days – degassed, foamed up but not over.
  • +4 days – degassed, foamed up but not over. 1.022 tasted amazing!! Sweet was balanced. Not too yeasty. Smelled of sweet honey, cherry, apple
  • +3 weeks – degassed, no big foam up. Still quite hazy. 0.994!! Clean but really dry.

After Fermentation:

  • +3.5 weeks – Transferred to secondary. Got five gallons. Filled two in 1.9 liter glass mason jar with dregs.
  • +3.75 week – Added juice of one lemon and four basil sprigs to the 1.9 liter glass mason jar. Sprayed the basil leaves with star-san, gave them a good spanking.
  • +3.75 weeks+24 hours – removed basil which as all brown and gross.
  • +4 weeks –  added clarifier
  • +6 weeks – Bottled 4x 375 ml at 2.5 vol using table sugar
  • +7 weeks – Tasted bottled traditional and most of the ale yeast flavour is gone. Little honey coming through, thin and watery.
  • +9 weeks – Traditional tastes great. Fruity and light, but still not fully carbonated.  

Won silver at the Winnipeg 2017 Pro/ Am Brew Challenge (at three months). Rated 40/50 and 45/50 by the two judges.  Scoresheets.

In retrospect, should have added a tad more lemon juice and some rind. Either that or some citric acid, just to help it pop a bit more. The mead finished with a really low gravity, 0.994, so even though I gave it 2.5 volume, the mead only slightly carbonated and I suspect it conked out around 0.998. I would of preferred using honey to prime next time. It would also be more accessible if I was to backsweeten with a sweet mead to say 1.002, to appease those who are dry snobs. Sometimes its hard to tell how to finish a short mead at bottling, since I expect to get more acid from the carbonation. Now, I almost always add some citric or acid blend to my short meads to help them pop a bit.

2017-10-31 07.53.40

M2C: Triple Berry Sack

I used whole berries and not just juice. I made this with my 2-year-old daughter and will be saving one of each bottles till she is of age. I made this at the same time as my current mead.

Recipe:

  • 0.75 kg frozen raspberries
  • 0.5 kg frozen blueberries
  • 0.3 kg frozen black currants
  • 1.33 liters of wildflower honey
  • ~2 liters of clean, filtered tap water (up to 4 liters total)
  • 5g of 71B-1122
  • 1/2 tsp of energizer and DAP
  • 1 gram potassium bicarbonate

kingston

Specs:

  • Fermented at 62°F
  • SG: 1.128
  • Target FG: 1.020
  • Actual FG: 1.018

Procedure:

  • Put thawed fruit through food processor till chunky.
  • Given 1/4 tsp of energizer and dap in must. Mixed heavily with drill and aerated. Strained out the juice in bucket and put remains in mesh bags.
  • Pitched with 5g of 71B-1122, using a starter for 1.5 hours. 

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Fermentation:

  • +24h had white foam on top. Added  2/3*1/4 tsp dap 2/3*1/4 tsp energizer. Mixed with drill to aerate. Added potassium bicarbonate. Smelled sweet.
  • + 48 hours 1/2*1/4 tsp of DAP and energizer
  • + 72 hours current is at 1.086 and tasted amazing.
  • Swirled bucket every morning and evening for first first three weeks.

After Fermentation:

  • + 3 Weeks:  transferred to one gallon carboy. Had a musty smell and alcohol heat on back end.
  • + 4 weeks: car boy was bubbling away. Lots of sediment on the bottom almost two inches. They all cleared up quite a bit.
  • +5 weeks: transferred to 1g carboy and cleared out well in a few weeks.
  • + 2 months:  bottled. Super clear. Tasted alcohol heat, strong fruit balanced honey well. Could of added clarifier.

 

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Impressions:

I really liked the fruit blend as it gave it a complex, rounded flavor. I could have added more berries, but there just the right amount to have the honey character shine through.

Won Gold at Winnipeg  2017 Pro/ Am Brew Challenge competition October 2017 (mead was 9 months old). Scored 44/50 from two judges. Scoresheets.

2017-10-31 07.54.08

I had this mead judged at three and four months and it only scored a 32 and a 39, respectively, by the judges. The mead definitely improved with age, but I also made other mistakes submitting for the competition at three months. When I submitted it to the first comp (at three months), I didn’t specify the berries used and just said triple berry. The judges got all hung up on not being able to discern the three berries themselves. Lession learned: always spell out the berries used as it helps the judges look for the flavors.

Also, there was a muskyness in the honey (you could taste it in the raw honey) that is common of late season wildflower honey from my region. This aged out after six months or so and I should of waited. I graphed the scores over time to see how much the scores improved with the age of the mead. I extrapolated between months 4 and 9. The first observation could be downward biased from the description.

AgeScore.png

 

One of my biggest regrets is sending the mead out too early, and only making a one gallon batch of this mead. While I still have a bottle left, I would have liked to send it to more comps and see how the mead improved with age. I will make a three gallon batch of this mead again soon.

 

M4C: Coffee Maple Standard Dry

This was the first batch of mead I ever made. I made 5.5 gallons of 12.3% ABV wildflower traditional mead using EC-1118 using a recipe I found from the American Homebrewers Association. I learned lessons from this batch, and made mistakes and I will try to elaborate. Basically, I made the batch and after two months split the batch into six batches which I flavored in different ways. The coffee maple meads was one of my favorites.

The fermentation was very clean and after a month only had slight alcohol on nose and backend. Initially, I found that the honey had a musky note that I was finding rather unpleasant. I know that this came from the honey. It left the flavor and aroma after 6 months and has opened into much more honey and floral character. After I made the mead, I conducted a honey tasting of all the meads in the area, and have since switched to Hogan’s golden wildflower honey. That said, at the time of bottling, I was trying to find flavors that would beat out the floral musk flavor. This recipe does do it for the flavor and mixed well with the honey character.

Recipe:

  • 5 g EC-1118 yeast hydrated 15 m in water (no Go-ferm)
  • 15lbs of wildflower honey
  • Tap water to 6 gallons (use filtered)
  • Gravity 1.09 post pitching
  • Fermented in 6 gallon bucket
  • 12.3% ABV
  • Whiped well with the wine whip when mixing the must, but I suggest adding oxygen at pitch and at least again after 24 hours.

kingston

Fermentation:

  • +24h – 1.5 tsp DAP and 0.75 tsp of energizer. Degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on)
  • +36h – added 0.5 tsp  DAP and 0.25 tsp energizer. Degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 64f.
  • +48h – degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 64f.
  • +70h – 0.25 tsp  DAP and 0.125 tsp energizer, 62f.
  • +8 days – degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 62f.
  • +10 days –  airlock activity slowed. FG 0.995. degassed with spoon with lid on (not recommended to keep lid on), 62f.

 

 

After Fermentation:

As mentioned, I was looking to flavor override and the mead was really dry. I steeped 3 tbsp (1/3) of maple coffee (light/medium roast coffee with real maple sugar granules) and 6 tbsp (2/3) Brazil and Sumatra blend from Mola Mola coffee per half gallon in over sized and sanitized tea bags. Steeped for 24 hours and let sit for another 24 hours. Residual sweetness before was 0.995 and ended at 1.001. I would recommend stabilizing the mead at this point. I didn’t and it didn’t seem to matter. None of the bottles restarted fermention.

Impressions:

Initially, the maple added a tonne of residual sweetness and gave the impession of being  semi sweet. In fact there was so much perceived sweetness that it really needed to be carbonated to cut through the sweetness. Importantly, you need to force carbonate the mead (which I did with refrigerated mead in soda-stream bottles). I tried bottle carbonating the meads but they ended up too dry and astringent and were not nearly as nice (scored high 20s, low 30s in two other comps because of too much astringency with comments that they needed sweetness).

 

2017-05-29 12.44.00

Vanbrewers 2017

 

Won second place at Vanbrewers 2017. Rated 36/50 and 40/50 by Judges. 197-1, Judge 2.  197-2. After 9 months of aging, both the sweetness and astringency mellow and melded to create a very balanced mead. In fact, after 9 months, I preferred the mead still. I found that it was off-dry with a white wine character. The astringency from the coffee and sweetness from the honey maple were very balanced. If I submit it again to competitions, I probably won’t carbonate the mead, but leave it still.

Lessons Learned:

As mentioned this was the first batch of mead I ever made. In doing so I made some mistakes – or at least some things that I wouldn’t do again. For example, I fermented this mead in a 23 liter bucket and it was really full. When degassing, the mead kept foaming up and it was slow going to ensure that it did not spill over. Next time, I would split the batch into two buckets or only put 3-4 gallons in a 23 liter bucket. Second, the mead would have been much better with a golden honey or a nice varietal. I used a wild flower honey which had a floral character so strong, it was pungent, with a perfume-musk smell and flavor. I would of also rehydrated in Go-ferm and add pure 02 in the primary for the first pitch and the within 24 hours. The wine whip clearly did not add enough 02, and there was some alcohol heat that took this batch some time to smooth out. Finally, I should have cold crash, or back sweetened from blending, or whatever, so that’s its not too dry. It finished at 1.001 after adding the coffee, which given the maple coffee gave a tonne of perceived sweetness. Lesson learned. I made so much that I still have some and it will be fun to see how this mead further ages with time.

M1A: Oaked Traditional Short Mead

This was my first attempt at making a traditional short mead. The recipe was inspired by Groennfell meadery, but I modified the nutrients as I didn’t have Wyeast nutrient at the time. I made a two gallon batch, which I split and oaked one and dry hopped the other. My dry hop was falconer’s flight 7c’s hops following Havoc’s meads Bitter Bee recipe. The dry hopped version was one of my favorite, as everyone liked it, but only scored 30/50 at the Vanbrewers competition. It just replaced the oak with 0.4 oz of falcon 7 hop blend. Evaluations of the hopped mead 200-1  and  200-2. I learned some lessons from this batch, and made mistakes I should have learned from. I don’t recommend following the nutrient regime for this recipe as is. Made mid-March 2017, evaluated mid-May 2017, at 2 months old.

Recipe:

  • 10 g D-47 yeast
  • 1 litre honey, 0.5 litres Hogan’s golden honey, 0.5 litres Toba’s golden honey.
  • 7 litres of clean filtered tap water
  • 2 cube medium toast American oak
  • 1 wine soaked medium toast French Oak

2017-03-19 11.23.10-1

Specs:

  • OG – 1.046, 7% ABV
  • Total recommended YAN from MeadMakr BatchBuildr = 99 YAN
  • 12.5g Go-ferm (198.2 YAN)
  • 0.7 g DAP (19.5 YAN)
  • 0.5 g potassium bicarbonate
  • 0.6 g Fermaid-K (8 YAN)
  • Total: 225.7 YAN

kingston

Fermentation:

  • – 3 h – made a 1.8 liter activated starter
  • +0 h – mixed up honey and water, added 0.2g Fermaid-K, whipped with degassor for several minutes. 62 f
  • +12 h- foaming. fed 0.2g Fermaid-K and 0.35g DAP, 62 f
  • + 24 h –  Read 1.038 fed 0.2g Fermaid-K and 0.35g DAP and gave 0.5 grams potassium bicarbonate. 62 f.
  • + 48 h- gravity 1.026. Tasted honey sweet clean yeasty. Yummy. Stopped feeding.
  • +72 h 1.008 yum.

After Fermentation:

  • + 10 days. FG 0.998. Transferred to two one gallon carboys. Added two cube of medium toast American oak and one wine soaked French Oak.

2017-03-23 20.58.47

After I had transferred from bucket to carboy, I noticed plastic strips floating around in the mead. It took me a while, but I realized that it was part of the bucket that I was scrapping away using the wine degasser when I was aerating. Ewww. I now use glass carboys and aerate by shaking or with a pure 02 stone instead of whipping using a degasser.

  • +3 weeks – tasted young and yeasty with a light sulphur on nose, so degassed by splash racked a third time.

2017-03-23 21.50.54

  • +4 weeks added clarifier, tasted better than last week before degassing.
  • +5 weeks bottled using cane sugar to 2 vol. Had trouble carbonating so next time  use corn sugar or 2.3-2.5 vol when priming.

Impressions:

This was a tasty short mead after about three months. As mentioned above, at three weeks the batch tasted young and yeasty with sulfur notes. I chalk it up to two things. First, trying to oxygenate the must with a wine degasser is not the best method as you cannot get enough oxygen into the must. Second, there was a yeast overload in this mead due to not taking into account the amount of Go-ferm in the total YAN contribution. While I managed to get most of the yeast flavor to drop out after a couple of months, as mentioned by the judges, there was a notable green apple flavor that hung around. I suspect that the nutrient overload made it less likely for the yeast to clean up some fermentation by-products. However, I am not sure the judges really minded the green apple off-flavor. I would recommend taking the YAN contribution of Go-ferm into account by using the TANG nutrient regime next time.

At two months old, the mead won third place at Vanbrewers 2017. Rated 38/50 by two Judges. 203-1, Judge 2. 203-2. Evaluations of the same mead dry hopped with falconer’s flight 7c’s hops is available from 200-1  and  200-2.

2017-05-29 12.44.00

Vanbrewers 2017