October 23, 2018
Lower Alcohol Meads
Problem: Meads tend to take a long time to age and are too high gravity to quaff as a refreshment. Solution: Mini-Hefe-Hydro-Melo-Mel.
Here at the NB warehouse we like a good refreshing beverage from time to time ... every day. And while mead is wonderful, you don't always want to kick back a pint of 15% Metheglin at the end of your workday. Myself and Dan Boody, customer service ninjas at NB, decided to set out to brew a low gravity, very refreshing mead that could be turned around in a short period of time. The result was a tasty melomel that was ready to drink in only two weeks.
Here's what we did
First, Dan and I made 5 gallons of a low gravity melomel using a can of Oregon Blackberry Puree and 6 lbs of Wildflower Honey. A packet of Lalvin's Narbonne yeast and some yeast nutrient and energizer kicked our little experiment out of the starting gate. After 3 days fermentation was essentially complete, but we waited until 7 days were up before racking into a keg and taking samples. Here was where the real work came in. Using a measured 500 ml sample we made adjustments and tasted until we were satisfied. Dan's tasting notes are below.
The mead started out fairly thin, with some dough-like yeasty flavors along with fruitiness. We decided to add both acid blend and some additional honey for sweetness. Several formulations were tried until we came up with one that we liked, then we simply scaled the amounts up proportionally to the 5 gallon batch. Cold crashing, stabilizing, and carbonating came next.
The final recipe looked something like this:
- 1 can of Oregon Blackberry Puree
- 6 lbs of Wildflower Honey
- Yeast nutrient and energizer
- 1 packet Narbonne Yeast
- Ferment for a week, rack to a keg, then add:
- Potassium Sulfate to stabilize
- One cup of Wildflower Honey
- 4 Tablespoons of Acid Blend
Cold crash and carbonate in the keg After the cold crashing and carbonating, we pulled off a pint or two of yeasty sediment and the refreshing Mini-Hefe-Hydro-Melo-Mel was ready to go. Dan's tasting and adjustment notes:
- Appearance- Pours a hazy, ruby garnet. Still cloudy with yeast, but has a deep red that could develop into a beautifully clear raspberry color.
- Aroma- Some berry and fruit open, giving way to a strong floral aroma, finishing with smells of dough and yeast. The floral scents lingers with grass, and meadow flowers.
- Flavor- Acid bite (from addition) is immediate and apparent, followed by a sweet fruitlike character. It tastes somewhat sweet, yet finished dry and mouthpuckering. Bread dough comes through again, mixed with fruit juice and a tangy bite.
- Sugar addition- Adds a nice sweetness to counteract the acidic bite, thickens up the body slightly.
- Honey addition- Adds needed sweetness and body, while contributing more honey flavors and floral notes. Makes the sample taste more like an actual mead.
- Added 1/4 tbsp of acid blend and 1/2 tbsp honey to the sample. Calculated to 3 cups honey and 10 tbsp acid blend for entire batch. Starting with 1 cup honey and 4 tbsp acid blend, as both additions to sample were a bit strong. Stabilized and put on gas 3/9.