Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meads, their making and stupid questions ?

Ok, so when making a mead, there's no real standard. Just various methods and some recipes that have been successful.

Yes there's some archaic and/or historic recipes, but they're invariably to limited in the info that was recorded, especially when it comes to some of the older rhetoric/terminology used.

Again, there's too many variables and that is pretty much why the mead world has ended up using wine making techniques and materials.

One of the problems that does arise, is that while some terms are used to describe slightly different types, some of them are historically accurate, some of the terms should be grouped under the more generic "weirdomel" i.e. the "mel" ending alluding to something made with honey and it being prefixed with weird, as it's ingredients not normally associated with mead making....

Then there's the idiot questions. I want to help, but sometimes just get bored reading, basically, the same question over and over again. I do admire some peoples perseverance when it comes to patience. But I'm starting to get cranky with people who either don't read/research before asking a question, or asking for confirmation, or they ask something so pointless that their question should be ignored or deleted. And yes, I was probably just as bad, but I do try to search/check/read around for my answers first.

A recent question at a forum I frequent, was about the maximum gravity that a honey must could be, before a certain yeast couldn't ferment it.

Ok, "valid question" you might say ? Well I'd say bollocks, it's a pointless question that wasn't even worth the effort to ask...... A lot of yeasts, especially the Lalvin brand ones, have a published tolerance i.e. a level of alcohol that they can ferment a must too before they can't make any more and die off. Ok, great. That doesn't mean that you mightn't want to mix a must that will, with careful management, ferment to that tolerance (perhaps a little higher), and still leave a certain level of residual sugars.

Fair enough ? Got it so far ? Alcoholic drinks will still end up tasting like whatever flavoured syrup after a certain point. I find a lot of dessert meads like that and the 4 that I did the mini taste test a couple of years ago, averaged at about 1.040 FG as sold, and to my taste, were too cloyingly/sickly sweet and not enjoyable. But I suppose that's relative and we all like different tastes.

So in truth, it doesn't matter how high a gravity can be before the yeast can't ferment it, it's just notable to know. Also how high the gravity (starting/original) needs to be to attain a certain level/% of alcohol. Plus some idea of the type of mead that you're aiming to make, so you know where it falls in specification of dry/medium/sweet/dessert - anything else, is bollocks....

Oh, and while I'd agree/admit that we all like different tastes when it comes to our products, there's probably more than a few ingredients that shouldn't be brought within a mile of a ferment. At the same time, the mead maker needs to think about whether certain flavours will actually go together, and less about how it tastes in their dreams! For example, I've seen a recipe for a mead/cyser called "Apple Pie". Now I have to presume, not having tasted it, that it alludes to a dessert type mead that has been made with the expected apple juice, with honey for both alcoholic content and residual sugar for sweetness and the spices usually associated with an apple pie (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves ? something like that ?).

Anyway, the mead maker needs to recall, that once honey has been fermented, it ceases to taste like honey. Which is one of the reasons that young meads, recently off the sediment, taste fucking awful. Yes, some of the alcohol flavours mellow/blend in, and it sometimes recovers some perception of sweetness, but it won't recover the sweetness. You saw to that, when you fermented the honey/water with the process that is basically the controlled rotting of the sugars in the honey by yeast.

Enough of my rant. If it isn't normally a flavour associated with alcoholic beverages then it probably doesn't belong in a mead................