Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Brew #3: Semi-Sweet Mead

Mead is one of those things that everyone knows about but only a few have tried.  The local homebrew club has an award winning mead maker who brings his good stuff to some of our functions.  Tasting his a couple of times completes the catalog of my mead experience (not including a bad experience with Ethiopian Honey Wine).  At the club holiday party my friend and I tasted a sweet mead that was really enjoyable and we figured why not give it a try.

If this mead turns out well we will go through it quickly and if its bad we can probably dose our tea with it (3 gallons of mead would dose quite a bit of tea!).  Without doing much research I went and bought some honey, 6 lbs of the orange blossom variety.  The man at the farmers market told me that most mead makers are using his orange blossom or his avocado honey, but orange blossom sounded safer.

After taking the honey home I conducted some research and realized that my local homebrew shops don't  carry any mead specific nutrients or supplies.  It seems that this time we'd be screwed since we had to make the mead in the next couple of days.  We decided that for our first mead we would just use some regular yeast nutrient and hope all goes well.

On brew day (is it brew day?) the process brought back memories of making my first beer about four years ago.  It seems like every step forward was two steps back.  We started by slapping the Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast in the morning and cleaning all the equipment.  We poured the 6 lbs of honey into the 3 gallon carboy then added 2 gallons of cold water.  We figured since we only needed 2 gallons that it would be easy to get some from the store but I didn't realize that my friend grabbed the water jugs from the fridge instead of off the shelf.  After adding the cold water we had 2 gallons of water sitting on top of a 6lb blob of honey.

After realizing that cold water wasn't going to help dissolve the honey we attempted to stir the must.  We soon discovered that we had nothing that was long enough or narrow enough to fit through the mouth of the carboy.  After several attempts at stirring with random objects we put the carboy in a hot water bath and shook it until it all mixed together.  After all this we pitched the yeast and hoped for the best.

The brew day was Monday and the first signs of fermentation (airlock activity) started to show on Thursday.  I was sort of nervous since this has never happened to me with beer.  Maybe it's because I make starters or maybe it's because the Smack Pack was left on top of metal shed roof for an hour on an 80 degree day.  By Friday morning the fermentation looked to be full blown with a 1/2 thick layer of krausen on top.  By Friday night it had all dropped.  I'm curious to see how this will turn out.

Semi-Sweet Mead

6 lbs Orange Blossom Honey
2 Gallons Water
1 Wyeast Sweet Mead Smack Pack

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