Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Mead

My 2010 Mead in the foreground with the new 2012 
mead in the demijohn in back. See the clementine peels floating 
at the top.
Mead is the easiest kind of wine to make, and this very old and traditional beverage is getting more popular. 

I wish I knew a beekeeper, but I bought my honey at the store. I bought a few different kinds including dark honey and wild flower honey. The clover honey is the cheapest, and least flavorful. 

It feels expensive to make mead since you buy all the honey at once, but it is no more expensive than making wine from fruit. My mead will be about $3/L. 

For some reason people like to flavor their meads; perhaps because the flavor of honey is so mild, and  because the old-time recipes often have spices or fruit. No one flavors grape wine or fruit wine in this way. 

I think it is smart to find a dark, strongly-flavored honey. Having said that I like the flavor of orange in mead, and the acidity is needed in a wine like this. In my 2010 mead I liked the little bit of spice I added. 

2012 Mead Recipe
18 lb honey (6 lb of clover honey, 3 lb of wild flower honey, 9 lb of dark honey)
Water sufficient to make 15 L = 4 gal total
2 t yeast energizer (t = teaspoon)
1.5 t pectic enzyme
Juice of 13 clementine/tangerines /no pulp
Peels from 13 clementines
3/4 t nutmeg
0.5 t allspice
2 T ground vanilla beans
1 packet Red Star Pasteur Champagne Yeast

I did not boil or otherwise pasteurize the mixture as some recipe's say to do. My honey was all pasteurized.  I put it all in a 15 L demijohn, and added the yeast. I also used tap water so there are some minerals for the yeasts to eat. 

You might ask "Why use pectic enzyme since there is no pectin in honey?" There isn't, but there is a lot of pectin in the orange rinds. 

The refractive index of the must was 1.35, which makes for 20% alcohol. [GT 2017 -- not sure what this meant, 1.35 g/ml is way too dense to make sense, and it makes far more than 20%] I expect the fermentation to stop short of 20% leaving me with a strong, but still sweet wine. That is what happened in 2010, and it is really good. My DW especially likes it, but you can't drink too much because of the sweetness and the potency.

The fermentation took hold rapidly, and it is bubbling hard at less than 24 hours. 

May 13, 2012 Update
This is a big winner. The flavor is honey-like, but a little complex. Sweet and potent. It is a real winner.