Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Racking a batch off the lees

So yesterday, I decided it was time to rack the batch that I made of the "Gales Honey Book Modern Mead".

This was the batch that was made up as 3 gallons, but then split into 3 x 1 gallon demijohns. Each 1 gallon mix being pitched with a different yeast - a mini experiment if you will.

The first one was the mix that was fermented with Lalvin EC-1118 yeast. This is, apparently, a champagne yeast - you'd have to google it to get a full spec. The taste was the usual "medicinal/mouth wash" sort of experience (as mentioned in Ken Schramms book "The Compleat Meadmaker"). Which I still understand isn't unusual when a yeast that is alcohol tolerant, is used. It seems that this type of yeast ferments out the sugar to quite a dry taste, with little residual sweetness. It did have a medium (the only way of describing it that I can think of right now) residual honey flavour.

Of the 3, I'd say that this was #2

Then I racked the mix fermented with Lalvin K1V-1116 All Purpose/Montpelier (the numbers right I think the naming/nomenclature is, but thats from memory). This turned out to be 3rd in a race of 3.

It was the (now) usual medicinal/mouth wash sensation, indicating to me that it had fermented out all the sugar, leaving a harsh, dry mead. There was little residual sweetness of any kind and little residual honey flavouring. A "definite" for aging for at least 12 month.

Last, was what turned out to my mind, the champ of the 3. This mix was fermented with Lalvins 71B-1122 Noveau/Narbonne yeast. I'd looked up their product descriptions so wasn't that convinced that it would "do much".

How wrong I was.

The flavour was only a little medicinal/mouth wash, it had retained more residual sugar and sweetness, plus it had kept a distinct honey flavour/aroma. Of course, I racked it to bulk age, but to my taste, I could have drunk the whole lot, there and then! It reminded much more of the commercial meads that I've tasted. Definitley one to brew again, but trying different honey's.

I also racked off the apple wine I made last year from it's failed attempt to restart the fermentation. I'm not going to bother any further, but I intend to mix it with something (maybe some distillate alcohol or maybe one of the dryer more medicinal tasting meads, I haven't decided yet). It's still far too sweet etc.

Finally, I was pointed toward an excellent link by the "good burghers" of the winesathome forums. It comes, as far as I can tell, from the US national honey board, it's a .pdf about the basics of mead making and the sort of thing that I'd have like to have read before I started, as it would have saved me a lot of wasted time and the asking of stupid questions


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