My first batch of mead was completed just in time for Christmas. The batch was started Holloween and the yeastie beasties died right at 15% as promised the week before Christmas.
My goal was to make a cimmomon clove mead that I have been very fond of in the past. The flavor of the unflavored mead right out of the carboy has been great, but that was not my objective.
The hardest part of making mead has to be flavoring, hopefully it will become easier as I do it more. I was not real happy with the c/c flavor at first, but like most meads, the more you drink the more you like it. (hick) I did add a tart cherry to part of it and it made a drastic difference. The sharpness that I didn't like went away and was very palitable.
When I racked out the batch I put it all in one gallon containers. My thinking is that I can try flavors and still be able to cut it if it doesn't work out. Or if it really sucks,it wouldn't be too much of a loss.
I guess I have found another part of the hobbie to enjoy (hick).
I tried meed once on a container of honey that was fermenting.Turned out great,left in freezer till ice crystals,it even fizzed.Never had great luck since.How would yew add the cinimun flaver?
That's REALLY young mead. I usually age mine for a year or more. If you are drinking it right after fermentation, you must have an iron palatte and stomach. It is pretty sweet? The sweeter it is, the younger I can stand it.
95% of what I make is flavored. Most with fruit, but some with spices. I find that flavoring with spices requires longer aging simply because tannins leach out of the spices, creating an unpleasant bitterness.
To flavor with cinnamon, dump a couple of cinnamon sticks into your fermenter after primary fermentation is finished. Leave them in until it tastes slightly stronger than you want in your final product. Then age until it calms down a bit.
>That's REALLY young mead. I usually age mine for a year or more.
I still have two gallons left for prosperity. They will age so that sometime in the future I can open them and marvel how bad they are compared to what I learn to brew.
>If you are drinking it right after fermentation, you must have an iron palatte and stomach.
Every time I rack I (have to?) try some I would not drink too much, but my brother is proving to be the one with the iron gut.
>It is pretty sweet? The sweeter it is, the younger I can stand it.
I used 22 lbs of honey, so it is on the sweet side. Perhaps a second fermentation could sweeten it up a bit.
>95% of what I make is flavored. Most with fruit, but some with spices. I find that flavoring with spices requires longer aging simply because tannins leach out of the spices, creating an unpleasant bitterness.
It must be that bitterness I was calling sharpness. If that is the case there is hope that aging will help this first batch a LOT. Seems that nobody but me noticed it, or they are lying just to be nice. That doesn't explain my brother downing four bottles Christmas Eve...
>To flavor with cinnamon, dump a couple of cinnamon sticks into your fermenter after primary fermentation is finished.
Perhaps 15 WAS too many. With a tablespoon of whole cloves. Then again they were only in for a week.
>Leave them in until it tastes slightly stronger than you want in your final product. Then age until it calms down a bit.
Thanks for the tip. I'll try that on the next batch. I wasn't too far off this time. I put the spices in for a week right as fermentation was ending.
The second batch is almost ready and will remain unflavored. The third I have plans to play with all kinds of flavorings. So the next will be done as you sugested, between the bucket and first carboy.
BB, I saw your picture today and you do look like the kind of guy to have an Iron stomach (and a Harley for that matter).
I agree with the young age comments.
On flavoring, I have some experience. I made an apple juice/honey wine (cyser mead) that had 2 cinnamon sticks in the secondary. Half the fermentables from AJ, half from honey. The 2 sticks had previously been used in a recipe, I boiled them and put them in the mead. This was aged a good while. I took some to my homebrew club, everyone loved it, nobody noticed the cinnamon. I entered it in contests, favored well but the judges picked up on the cinnamon so it did not win. Educated pallettes at these things. Entered I think as a metheglin, it faired very well and perhaps even won some contests.
Two other spiced meads for me. I had some explosive straight meads that needed additional time. I was keen on having more competetion entries so did a one gallon batch of allspice and the same of ginger. THe allspice was made with crushed up whole allspice and the ginger with ground up ginger root, maybe boiled a little. Upon racking after several months, we could not taste any of the flavors. So I added some ginger powder and allspice powder (most of our spices and seasonings come from Penzey's). When it came time to rack and bottle for the comps we STILL could not taste anything. So I added more. THis time, into each 12 oz bottle, I added 3-4 bruised but whole allspice balls or about 1/4 tsp of a candied ginger paste. Over a period of 6 months and 3 competitions, these all scored very well, I think one even won a best of show. For Christmas, the big bottle of Allspice was opened, favored by many. THose that liked it thought of it as a perfect sit around the fire sipping drink.
A question was never really posted but this is my experience on flavoring meads. I have made a 5 gallon straight mead, then flavored in the secondary in smaller batches until the taste was right. THese are all now about 2.5 years old.
A technique I love for spicing meads and beers is making tinctures. By steeping the spice of choice in alcohol, you gain several advantages. 1) easy sanitation, 2) retention of the more volatile aroma compounds, and 3) the ability to add the spice exactly to taste at any point in the mead's life (with the caveat that aging will gradually diminish all but the most potent flavors). Tinctures also allow more delicate additions, like mints, say, to come through with a little more authenticity I feel.
Here's what I do:
Take your spice, I usually double the amount the "regular" recipe calls for, and put it in a clean mason jar. It can be lightly cracked in the case of cloves, cinnamon, pepper, etc, but powders can be hard to filter out later.
Add enough neutral spirits (vodka, cheaper the better) to cover the spices and then some. Put on the lid and set aside for a couple to a few weeks, swirling it around when you care to.
Before adding, filter through muslin or a coffee filter, though any dusk/gunk will settle out and be left behind at racking. Add to a mead no longer actively fermenting (this so that the evolving CO2 doesn't scrub those nice smells) to taste, plus a frog's hair more as Scott mentioned to allow for a bit of fading over time.
This adding "to taste" merits some additional points... don't add it, dip a glass, taste, and repeat, as bugs from your mouth (esp. lactobacilli) will then be transmitted to the mead, contaminating it. After adding and GENTLY mixing thoroughly, use an intermediary vessel like a sanitized baster, pipette or even shot glass to remove a sample which is then poured into your taster. What others have stated I find to be true also... flavors added to mead tend to be barely noticeable for several conservative additions, then mild for a couple, dead on for like half of one, and then over the top very quickly so go easy. I use around an eight to ten ounce tincture, and add an ounce at a time.
As a lazy man, I usually do a single tincture with multiple spices if I plan on multiply spicing, though for the more conscientious several tinctures would allow more control of the balance of flavors.
A variation of the tincture is to add liquers to finished meads... orange, chocolate, mint, ahhh. Again for the purists the flavor might not be EXACTLY like a fruit right off the tree, but to me and my sort-of-discerning guests we dug it a bunch. This would be great to try with one of those 1-gallon splits off the main batch.
I'm all about the tinctures. Again, lazy! There is a bit of alcohol added but it's well under a percent most of the time, so I don't sweat it. Note that the liquers do often have sugar, which will throw off gravity readings (sample for gravity before adding) and potentially renew fermentation as discussed in another thread. Cheers!
Ben Rodman brewing in Lyons, CO
[This message has been edited by Brewcat (edited December 28, 2004).]
Cool idea with the tinctures! I've been trying to find a way to make mint mead or at least homemade creme de menthe. And I haven't yet found a good way to extract mint flavor from leaves without getting nasty flavors along with it. Perhaps I'll try a tincture.
Edit: Now that I think about tinctures... Has anyone ever played with adding essential oils to mead as flavoring? My wife is ordering them in large quantities for soapmaking, so I've got them on my mind. I think you'd have to be careful with quantities, as they are super-concentrated. But that would be a heck of a lot less effort than making a tincture.
[This message has been edited by ScottS (edited December 29, 2004).]
That's a great question... I have a friend who is also into soapmaking/candlemaking/lotions, creams, etc. and plays with essentials a lot. Her take off the cuff was that they might well be OK, but that the essential oil is one player on a tem that makes the flavors. I know for sure that hop essential oil is very different from the use of actual hops, since the hard and soft resins have more impact on the character the hop imparts. Anyone care to experiment and report? I would guess at the least that they might be very effective for imparting aroma...
Ben Rodman brewing in Lyons, CO