Sunday, November 07, 2010

Disheartening Results.......... more thought..........

So, ok, I've been putting more thought into what it is that I want, or are at least aiming for....

What is it then ? Well, I "think" I'm aiming for a strong(ish) mead, that has good aroma, but also a distinct honey taste. Sweet, well sweetish, though not as cloyingly/sickly sweet as the commercial meads I tasted the other year. So I'd guess something that has a final gravity of around 1.010 to 1.020 and not the 1.040 mark of the commercial ones mentioned before, they were just like drinking watered down honey.

The actual honey type may, or may not be an issue, as might the yeast(s) used. I sort of like the idea of using D21, which according to the writings of the late Brother Adam (of Buckfast Abbey, bee breeding/mead making fame) alluded to as being a good yeast for meads. But, when I dig around, there's a lot of other yeasts used, especially by the members over at Gotmead. The problem is, that apart from the "usual suspects" by Lalvin/Lallemand i.e. EC-1118, K1V-1116, D47, 71B, RC-212, they (Lalvin/Lallemand that is) do a hell of a lot of different yeasts. So which one is likely to be the best for meads like that ?

There's also the issue, of whether they're available in "home brew sized packs". A lot of them aren't, but if I could only work out the best choice, even if it's not available in home brew packs ("morewine" seem to repackage some that are normally only available in commercial size packs/quantity).

I've seen mention of DV10, ICV-D80, ICV-D254 and R2 also used successfuly in mead making (remember, that some, like RC-212 and R2 are mainly for "reds") so whether I'd need to check those out as well.

As for the honey ? Well, yes, it's possible to get honey from lots of places, plus from a lot of the reading that I've done, it suggests that the strongest tasting, darkest coloured honeys are the best for mead making. Though higher levels of alcohol and sweeter tastes suggest making meads more of a port/sherry type (not using the same techniques, just sweeter and darker etc). For anyone who reads this blog, you'll know that with the kind help of one of the members at Gotmead and a work colleague, I managed to get hold of a 14kg bucket of Buckwheat honey from Poland. Now this isn't quite like the Buckwheat I've read about in many places, it's not as dark as I'd expected, though it is darkish. Plus it's different tasting, but doesn't seem to have the "farmyard" type character I'd read about, but it is quite "malty" tasting and less of the strong honey taste you get from a lot of the blended honeys (blended for eating/cooking I'd guess).

Realistically speaking, I have to rely on what is available from Paynes, my local honey wholesaler. Who have some nice honeys, but not a huge range and nothing like the wonderfully exotic sounding honeys available from places like the Bee Folks and other wholesalers in the US.

Of course, not all of the ones available from the Bee Folks (and similar wholesalers) would lend themselves to mead making, but there's also the problem of shipping. For example, having worked my way through their website, it seems that the cheapest method of shipping would be the USPS (the United States Postal Service). So to make it anywhere near cost effective, (I've used a 5 gallon/60lb bucket of "Killer Bee" honey in my example - which would cost £153.98 at the moment) the cheapest method of shipping is "USPS Priority Mail International" and that's gonna cost £143.21 so only about £10 less than the honey (I don't mind that it might take a while to get here). So the cost of the honey would be £297.19 which equates to £4.95 per lb of honey. That's the kind of price I'd expect to pay for a "very premium" type honey, like Scottish Heather honey. But it's the cheapest way to get it from the US.

So, as you can see, all the "what's best" kind of thing is a bit of a PITA.....

Ah well, I guess I'll just plough on and try to make meads that have come out better than most of my attempts have thus far........

1 comment:

Aristaeus said...

Temperature is a factor, even 5 gallon batches need a lower temperature. 60F to 65F is my optimum range, -8C to -5C. much aroma and flavor are your rewards for the effort.

I started fermenting 60 gallons honey blended and pasturized into 400 gallons in 50 gallon batches; on November 15, 2010. Using ambient temperature to moderate fermentation.

Temperature control for that much mead is the difference of a $100 more to my electric bill, to cool durng the Summer months; and heat during the January/February month in Oakiehoma, during fermentation. After fermentation, 68F is optimum for storage.