Blackberry Mead
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Thread: Blackberry Mead

  1. #1
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    Default Blackberry Mead

    I'm wanting to make mead for the first time using honey from my hives. I also have frozen blackberries from my property and I'm considering also making a blackberry mead. Any guidance appreciated.......amount of blackberries to use, suggestions for appropriate yeast, etc. I'm not too concerned about the alcohol content but would like something maybe semi-sweet or maybe a bit sweeter and a little carbonation wouldn't be bad.

    I may make a must then divide it into different carboys and make a traditional mead from one and blackberry mead from the other.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    All I know is that it's tricky to brew a mead/beer using a sweet ingredient like honey and still retain the sweetness. The yeast likes to eat up all that sweetness and convert it to alcohol. I'm getting ready to brew a beer that uses 2 lbs. of honey in a 5 gal. batch. The ABV ends up at 9%. One quart of Muscat grape juice concentrate gets added to the fermentation. The yeast is WLP001.

    Another honey beer(wine) recipe I have uses 8 lbs. of honey and 3.3 lbs. of light malt. Yeast used is Wyeast 3184 Sweet Mead. Again, ABV is 10%.
    Regards, Barry

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Montrachet would be my choice in yeast, followed by champagne yeast. Montrachet would not be quite as dry as champagne.
    The simplest way to get a semi-sweet to sweet product is to back-sweeten it. Following the secondary fermentation, I like to add Campden tablets to retard yeast growth, then add the sweetener, whether honey, simple syrup or fruit juice.

    just fyi, Mead with fruit is known as melomel. My favorites are made with old storage honey and sour cherry juice or black currant.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    I also would like suggestions for recipes or proportions of fruit. I have elderberrys which make great jelly and would like to try a batch of melomel. Thanks

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Found this recipe by meadist Bill Savage that sounds nice and I may use it as I'm leaning toward adding the fruit at the secondary fermentation and from what I've read, it sounds like the 71B yeast mellows quickly so may be ready to drink a bit earlier.

    Lavender Blackberry Mead
    http://meadist.com/making-mead/mead-...y-bill-savage/

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Adding the fruit in the secondary is a bad idea for a beginner it requires techniques and equipment for a semi distill and chill that most beginners do not have. Inproper handling can introduce wild yeasts that can lead to off flavors and funky tastes. The fruit needs to be broken down during the fermentation to access its sugars and flavors. And results in a great amount of lees in the mead. prolonged exposure to seeds, especially blackberry can result in a bitterness to the mead.
    Fruit should be placed in a fruit bag and pectic enzyme added to the must to promote it's breakdown. It usually stays in the must for 5 to 7 days.
    squeeze the bag lightly and remove, then rack for the secondary.
    Also. THERE IS NO RUSHING MEADS OR MELOMELS! time and aging are what bring out the subtle flavors of the honey. A mead or Melomel that taste great at bottling can taste like crap in 6 months. only to become excellent after a year. I year should be considered the minimum for any mead or Melomel, or pyment.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Interesting TenBears. I read Ken Schramm's book "The Complete Meadmaker" and he states he prefers to add fruit flavors during the second fermentation. Also, the recipe linked above shows adding the fruit in the second fermentation.

    A couple of questions, can pectic enzyme be added at the second fermentation along with the fruit and still be effective?

    My blackberries are frozen which I've read breaks the cell wall. If I puree and add hot or boiling water to the fruit beforehand to kill any bacteria/yeast and strain off the seeds before adding into the secondary fermentation do you think I'll be ok?

    I've also read where folks add fruit in the primary fermentation but add it after it after a few days fermentation after it initial aggressive fermentation has stopped. Thoughts?

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeAttitudes View Post

    A couple of questions, can pectic enzyme be added at the second fermentation along with the fruit and still be effective?

    My blackberries are frozen which I've read breaks the cell wall. If I puree and add hot or boiling water to the fruit beforehand to kill any bacteria/yeast and strain off the seeds before adding into the secondary fermentation do you think I'll be ok?

    I've also read where folks add fruit in the primary fermentation but add it after it after a few days fermentation after it initial aggressive fermentation has stopped.
    Thanks for starting this thread!

    I too plan on making my first batch of mead. I plan on making 2-five gallon batches, 1-traditional mead and 1-flavored.

    My question is: has anyone made mead/melomel with choke cherries?

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    In case you are interested, here is a recipe for a Lavender Mead that sounds nice. And before the recipe, a word from the meadist:

    We made a lavender mead with fresh lavender. It looks like we put lavender into the primary and more in the secondary, sprigs with blossoms and used heat to sanitize. Our mead came out light, dry and sparkling with the merest hint of lavender hue. It got rave reviews from those who tried it. Our brew notes are here:
    http://www.unicornunchained.com/mead/ls.html

    U2M - Lavender Summer Day

    Brewed: June 21, 2001
    Bottled: April 4, 2002
    Fresh lavender sprigs and blossoms. Very fragrant.

    Ingredients:

    5 lbs. Rice's Lucky Clover Honey
    6 lbs. Madhava Mountain Gold Clover Honey
    Sixty-six sprigs of freshly picked Lavender
    1 tsp. yeast nutrient
    Eldorado Springs water
    Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast
    One hundred ninety-four sprigs of freshly picked Lavender
    1 tsp. acid blend
    3/4 cup corn sugar
    Yeast was re-hydrated at brew time.

    June 21, 2001 - Heated honey with water. Added yeast nutrient and lavender sprigs. Kept hot (about 170 F) for 15 minutes. Cooled and poured into bucket. Added water, pitched yeast, stirred. Made 3.5 gallons.

    July 7, 2001 - Heated more honey with water. Added acid blend and more lavender sprigs. Kept hot (about 170 to 180 F) for about 20 minutes. Cooled and added new must to bucket. Now we have 6 gallons.

    August 2, 2001 - Racked (SG 1.010)

    April 4, 2002 - Boiled corn sugar with 1 c water. Racked mead into bucket and stirred in cooled corn sugar solution. Bottled.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeAttitudes View Post
    Interesting TenBears. I read Ken Schramm's book "The Complete Meadmaker" and he states he prefers to add fruit flavors during the second fermentation.
    I don't think I've seen many people add fruit anywhere except secondary, maybe tertiary. Though I did in the boil once. That was the last time I put fruit anywhere else in the process.

    You are on the right track for a melomel though. Freeze, arrest the yeast, then add fruit in secondary. Not sure what the distillation bit was about above you? You can't go wrong with Schramm's book. His meads are really tasty and highly sought. I think he knows what he is talking about when it comes to mead.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Suprchunk, forgive my ignorance but what does "arrest the yeast" mean?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeAttitudes View Post
    Suprchunk, forgive my ignorance but what does "arrest the yeast" mean?
    I could have used a better word for "stop the yeast from fermenting". Campden tabs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet) were mentioned already (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) which does just that, if you were wanting to backsweeten or keep the sugars from the fruit from fermenting out so you get more character from it.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    If you are going to back sweeten I would use more than sulfites. Add some potassium sorbate to help ensure you don't wind up with exploding bottles later.
    Dan Boylan, When in doubt "It's mites".

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Quote Originally Posted by suprchunk View Post
    I could have used a better word for "stop the yeast from fermenting". Campden tabs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet) were mentioned already (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) which does just that, if you were wanting to backsweeten or keep the sugars from the fruit from fermenting out so you get more character from it.
    Ok, thanks. I'm surprised that folks stop the fermenting before adding fruit to the secondary fermentation. I guess literally that is adding the fruit after the secondary fermentation. Hmmm......never considered that. I'll re-read Schramm and see what he says. My thought was to hopefully add the fruit and part of it would be fermented and part not fermented due to the yeast reaching it's alcohol threshold. Probably easier said than done.
    Last edited by BeeAttitudes; 10-30-2015 at 10:06 PM.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Quote Originally Posted by John Davis View Post
    I also would like suggestions for recipes or proportions of fruit. I have elderberrys which make great jelly and would like to try a batch of melomel. Thanks
    John, in Ken Schramm's book " The Compleat Meadmaker", he gives recommendations for amounts of fruit to add to the secondary fermentation. For example:

    Rasberries (additions to 5 gal of Mead)

    Mild Fruit Character: 2-4 lbs (in secondary)
    Medium Fruit Character: 5-7 lbs (in secondary)
    Strong Fruit Character: 8 lbs or more (in secondary)

    Blueberry recommendations are a little over twice those amount. He doesn't list Elderberries in the table.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    So using the excellent information Brew Cat provided in the Intro Sticky (thanks again Brew Cat!) as well as the Mead Calculator from Mead.com for information of sugar content of blueberries, here is the recipe I'm using:

    Batch Size: 2.5 gal (found a 2.5 gal carboy with spring water at a local grocery ($15 for carboy) and I'm using a 3 gal food grade bucket/lid from a local bakery ($1, had frosting in it) for the primary fermentation.

    Per "The Compeat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm:5-7 lb of rasberries provide a Medium fruit character in 5 gal of mead added to the second fermentation. He doesn't show blackberries in his table; however, I'll use the rasberries as a guideline and go with 3 lb of blackberries in a batch half that size (2 1.2 gal). From the Mead Calculator at Mead.com: 3 lb blackberries adds about 5 points of specific gravity which would equate to roughly 0.6% ABV if it were all converted (sugar to alcohol).

    I have no illusions that in can control the final alcohol/sugar content within 5 points so I think I'll ignore it. So it may add an additional 1/2% sugar content in the final product but I can live with that.

    I want to be in the 14% ABV range so I've chosen to use Lavlin 71B-112 yeast. This is one description of this yeast:

    A rapid starting and constant fermenting semi-dry white wine yeast that will enhance fruit flavors and add fruity esters, ideal for fermenting with neutral grapes or concentrates. Limits phenol extraction and may neutralize up to 40% of malic acid producing a smooth and rounded "nouveau" wines that will mature quickly. A low foaming strain.

    So I think it's a good fit as Mead is considered a white wine and if I add some under-rip berries from the freezer, maybe this yeast will reduce the sour notes by consuming some of the malic acid. Bonus that it matures quickly!

    I want this to be semi-sweet so I'll target 2% residual sugars (be a bit more with the sugars from the blackberries but 3 lb isn't a lot). Using Brew Cat's recipe methodology, 14% (sugar for alcohol) + 2% (sugar for residual sweetness) = 16% initial sugar. From the chart Brew Cat provided, 16% equates to an initial specific gravity of 1.107 so that is what I'll target by adding honey till I get this reading.

    To get an idea how much honey this will be, 107 points/gal X 2.5 gal = 267.5 total "gravity points. 267.5 gravity points divided by 36 gravity points/lb honey = 7.43 lb honey. So I'll have 7.5 lb honey on-hand but decide when to stop adding honey when I get to a specific gravity reading of 1.107.

    Recipe

    - 7.5 lb (roughly) Arkansas Wildflower Honey
    - Spring water (add to make 2.5 gal)
    - 1 packet (5g) Lavilin 71B-1122 yeast
    - 1 tsp yeast nutrient
    - 1/2 tsp yeast energizer
    - Initial Specific gravity Target: 1.107

    To secondary ferment add:
    - 3 lb Arkansas blackberries (previously frozen: thawed, crushed, seeds removed)
    - Lavender tea made from 1/2 ounce dried lavender seeped in hot water

    That's all I have now. About to put it all together right now.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    I finished everything on Sat......but not without some rookie mistakes.

    To re-hydrate the yeast I used the bottled water that was in the carboy I purchased. Afterwards I tasted the water and it was very soft.......soft enough it made me wonder if it was filtered. The I remembered I probably should have used tap water.....or at least some type of hard water as soft water can hurt your yeast.

    The other mistake I made was starting to start re-hydrating the yeast before I checked the temp of my must. It was still high at 92F so I placed the plastic bucket in the sink full of cold water. It was very slow to cool. Finally the yeast had been re-hydrating for over 30 min and I had the must down to 88F so I pitched it. On the package it says the yeast can work to temps up to 89F so I made a tough call.

    Finally, I added the yeast nutrient before the yeast and I've since learned I probably should have waited a day to add the nutrient.

    So with all that said, I'm 27 hours post yeast pitch and very little to no activity. It may kick off or it may not but i think using the soft water for re-hydration coupled with the high temp may have done the yeast in. 71B is supposed to be a rapid starting yeast, so.......

    If it hasn't started up by tomorrow should I re-hydrate (properly) and add another package of the same yeast?

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Normal yeast activity should be apparent within 24 hours or less, though sometimes it's not so apparent, and can sometimes take a little longer. You did oxygenate the must, si? If you are using an open container, you should gently stir daily for the first few days.

    I suspect that temp was still a bit high. There is a little fudge room in kitchen thermometers. It won't harm anything to pitch another sachet of yeast. An although rehydrating dry yeast will give it it's best chance to thrive, it is not absolutely necessary. I have pitched many a sachet of yeast directly into the must or wort and ended up with a great batch of beverage.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Thanks HB. And I did stir the must vigorously right before pitching the yeast. I stirred today and some foam rose up to the top. I should get parts in tomorrow to connect to a disposable oxygen bottle so I'll oxygenate tomorrow and add new yeast if needed.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Blackberry Mead

    Unfortunately, my local home brewing store is closed on Mondays so I wasn't able to pick up another packet of yeast and re-pitch today. I checked and stirred the brew just now. I can't see any activity but it does smell like yeast. I checked the Ph with a test strip and it appears to be around 3.2 so I will probably buy ingredients to raise the Ph when I pick up the yeast tomorrow.
    Last edited by BeeAttitudes; 11-02-2015 at 05:04 PM.

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