Well, apart from the stuff that I've already mentioned, I've got ideas for 2 other mead type wines. The recipes for both, I got from one of the home brewing forums that I read/post at. Both are really winter drinks, one actually has a name i.e. Barshack Ginger Mead, though ginger, being a spice, means that it should really be called Metheglin (derived from a Welsh word), the other being a mix of a metheglin and a "Melomel" i.e. a mead but made with fruit. It hasn't got a name really (winter mead/winter melo-meth might be appropriate), but it's made with a mix of cranberry juice and apple juice (strictly speaking an apple juice/cider mead is called (I think, I'd have to check) a Cyser or Cyster). Being in the UK, getting fresh cranberry is a PITA. It's more of a "christmas"/American thing. Not that thats a criticism though, it appears that the making of meads is relatively popular amongst our home brewing "cousins" across the pond.
Anyway, the recipes.
Barkshack Ginger Mead
Ingredients for 5 USgal. (19 L)
7 lbs Light Honey
1.5 lbs Corn Sugar
1 to 6 oz freshly grated Ginger
1 tsp Gypsum
1 tsp Citric Acid
3 tsp Yeast Nutrient
¼ tsp Irish Moss
Boil for 15 mins in 1.5 gal water. Top off to 5 gals in primary.
When cooled to 70-78F add Champagne yeast.
After gravity has fallen to 1.020 or within 7 days rack to a carboy. Age 1.5 months.
Bottle with ¾ C Corn Sugar (optional – if you want sparkling mead).
Age at least 6 months. Flavors will mellow (ginger). Best after 1 year.
and the "winter mead/winter melo-meth" is
Winter Mead (melo-meth)
Recipe Type: Extract
Yeast: See below
Yeast Starter: 1 quart
Batch Size (Gallons): 3
Original Gravity: ??
Final Gravity: ??
Boiling Time (Minutes): 00
Color: deep red
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 days/70
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 56 days/70
Additional Fermentation: 6 days/70
Here's the recipe:
6 to 9 lbs honey - I used 9 lbs of clover
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice (crushed)
3 2-inch cinnamon sticks
1 gallon apple juice
1 gallon cranberry juice
water to top off
I actually got this recipe from a newsletter I used to get and had it laying around with plans to make it someday. Last September I decided it was time. I got real anal about the juices, since that makes most of the fluid, and I don't know how much of the flavor to account to those juices or not. I went to the local Whole Foods Market and got pure, not-from-concentrate, cranberry juice, which was surprisingly hard to find, for about $7 per quart. I also got the apple juice, same way from the same market.
The original recipe calls for Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast but I used the White Labs Sweet Mead yeast.
I heated the honey enough to be able to pour easily, no, I don't pasturize or boil, and some water to put in the container for the remainder. I filtered the juices into the carboy, again, no heating, and added the spices and honey. I then added water to top off the carboy, checked the temp, and pitched the yeast. The recipe says let sit for two weeks and top off with water but I racked it here and topped it off. Then after another 2 months I racked it and added wine conditioner to kill the yeast and resweeten some. I let that sit for another week and bottled it. When I bottled, I got a taste and, unlike all other meads I've made, it was good right then. I've had several people try it after that and they all liked it.
Some minor issues do occur when using recipes that originate in the US. For instance, the "Barshack Ginger Mead", well the recipe says about using 1.5 lb's of "corn sugar". I asked the bloke in the local home brew shop, and he explained that he didn't stock it because there wasn't much call for it. He also said that there was a strong possibility that the use of "normal" sugar would work just as well (in the UK, the "normal" sugar would mean that if it's produced by "Tate and Lyle", it's cane sugar, and if it's produced by "British Sugar" it's beet sugar). So in my case, I'm gonna see whats easiest to get in the local Supermarket.
Also, with the "Winter Mead (melo-meth)" recipe, theres a couple of issues e.g. the yeast isn't so easy to obtain, and the honey suggested isn't that easy to get hold of, certainly not if I want to keep the costs down.
Thats a bit of a bonus really, because while it means that my mead doesn't have the subtle differences of the specialist honey thats often suggested in some recipes, as I just use the "normal runny honey" thats available in the supermarket, it's already been pasturised for retail sale so it means that I don't have to boil/heat so much (particularly with "basic" mead recipes).
I'm gonna do the Ginger Mead recipe over this weekend, and I will heat that as per the recipe instruction because I'd need to extract as much of the ginger flavour as possible (I'm actually actively hunting for a "ginger wine" recipe that will produce something close to commercially available ginger wine, such as "Stones Green Ginger wine").
As for the "Winter Mead (melo-meth) recipe, well as soon as I can get hold of the cranberries to make the juice (if I can't get fresh, I'll have to try to get dried ones) and then work out what yeast I can get to use, thats at least similar to the suggested ones. So thats for the near future. Oh and I did email the person who posted the recipe on the forum, to ask about other possible fruit to try as a substitute for the cranberry (raspberries, currently being in season), he just said that I should try whatever is available - so it'd be even more of an experiment.
p.s. Oh and I'm wondering if I can find out what the difference is between "corn" sugar and normal sugar. I suppose I'll have to post to one of the forums and see if anyone else has any idea about that!