Oregon Grape Mead
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  1. #1
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    Jan 2014
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    Louisville, Colorado, USA
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    Default Oregon Grape Mead

    Oregon Grapes......Mahonia Aquifolium......not grapes at all but a low bush, tough as nails, grows in my yard in a couple places. Never gets any water, nor any care from me. Does very well. The small yellow flowers are quite popular with the bees and there are clusters of dark blue berries in the fall. The berries are not sweet at all, kind of like Elderberries.
    I never knew they are edible until this year. The plant has medicinal qualities, especially the roots.

    Anyhow, I picked 28 ounces of the berries and crushed them, mixed the pulp with a quart of honey, added water to make one gallon.

    I put in some yeast nutrient and some metabisulfite to kill the wild yeast. SG reading was about 1.120. Next day strained the must and pitched Lalvin EC 1118. Should ferment out to about 15% alcohol?

    Right now it is fermenting like crazy.

    I am hoping it will have the rich, earthy flavor of the berries and I may back sweeten a bottle.
    The color is amazingly dark blue. Beautiful.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Knox, Pa. USA
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    More like 18.16% ABV and Lalvin EC-1118 will tolerate that alcohol. I would have left all the pulp and skins in the mix, and added 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme. It would do wonders for the body. Let us know how it turns out.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    Well, the seeds can be bitter, so I wanted to avoid that. I did squeeze out as much juice as I could so maybe some of the pulp got in there. I let the fruit soak over night before I strained it.

  5. #4
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    May 2012
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    The seeds will only impart bitterness if crushed or left in the mead too long. I use fruit bags and remove pulp after 5 days as a rule. But racking off the lees as soon as the SG reaches 1.015 or less works too.

  6. #5
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    Jan 2014
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    Thanks, Tenbears. Your tips are appreciated.
    I'm doing what I can to catalog your advice from the various threads into a body of knowledge for my mead making.
    The attention to detail will help get from good to better to great.
    Thanks, buddy.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    I cannot begin to tell you how greatly improved my mead making has become since The advent of the computer. saving information so as to have it available at the touch of a button is far superior to looking through dozens of notebooks. or relying on memory. Most fortunately for me the PC came along at the right time because my memory was starting to slip. LOL.

  8. #7
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    Jan 2014
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    On 11/22 I racked this to a new gallon jar. The fermentation had slowed down quite a bit.
    Tasted it and it is still a little sweet, but the flavor is fantastic. Sweet on the front of the tongue but with a nice tart finish. Lots of fruit flavor.


    I added some yeast nutrient and a tiny bit more yeast just to help it ferment a little better.
    As of today it is still fermenting slowly.

    This one has potential, I think.

  9. #8
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    May 2012
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    Arnie: did you take a specific gravity reading? it seems a but long for fermentation. My guess would be the fermentation had finished with residual sugar, You started wit 1.120 which provides for 18.16 alcohol. and used 1118 yeast which has an alcohol tolerance of 18% with very low fluctuation. which indicates that a complete ferment will leave .16 residual sugar. accounting for the sweetness on the front. the tartness cones from acidity Which is nice because a wine with a lower pH preserves better. I suspect the bubbling you still have is the mead off gassing cO2. Take an SG reading three days in a row. if it remains unchanged. the ferment has ended.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Louisville, Colorado, USA
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    Default Re: Oregon Grape Mead

    Welp, I took a peek at it today and it is starting to clear! Still bubbling. It has a lot of sediment now, so I will rack it into another jar pretty soon.

    The berries are incredibly tart so it really does need some of that fruitiness up front.

    SG reading is 1.006, so when I rack it I may top it off with a little honey water so it doesn't lose that slight sweetness. It tastes less sweet now by a little bit, than when I tasted it before.

    Still good. Now it needs to age a couple years, I think.

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