Monday, August 26, 2013

Moniack Mead... a mini review........ part 2

Right ho, thinks me. It's time for the pH meter. Now I don't have much acid testing kit, because meads are fuckers too test. You can get a pH figure, but titration tests etc are usually out the window as they test for tartaric acid etc, in wines. Plus when making meads, any reader who makes their own, knows that we have to keep the pH in the middle sort of area of the 3.X pH range. Because if it drops below 3.0 pH the yeast can throw their toys out their pram and say bollocks, causing a stuck ferment - this seems especially important with traditional meads, because basically there's bog all to buffer the pH and it can swing quite wildly. Melomels, fruit meads in general, this seems to be less of an issue as the fruit can buffer the pH some and you're less likely  to have to reach for the potassium carbonate.

Ok, check the pH meter, fuck....... run out of calibration solution. Ok thinks me, last time I checked the tap water, it was 7.01 pH and while this pH meter is cheaper than the old one (old one measured in hundredths, this one only measures in tenths), I can use tap water, calibrate to neutral (7.0 pH) and it should be close enough.

So, calibrated with water, then into the mead, fuck! that can't be right. Ok so down the shed for some new batteries. Installed, fine. Rinsed test meter again, 7.0 pH for tap water - should only be a hundredth out, fine, that's close enough. Into the mead and.........

2 point fucking 6 ? No wonder it didn't taste cloyingly sweet. I can't say for certain, but one of the known ways for masking excess sweetness is acid, or sometimes tannin addition.
Not surprising it's not as sweet as the other commercial meads I'd previously tasted. I can't say which acid might have been used, but I have to presume that's how it's been done. Could be wrong, but I add acid all the time to reduce sweetness in my own meads.

Personally, I like to use the mix suggested in Ashton & Duncans book "Making Mead" when I do this. It's 2 parts malic acid to 1 part tartaric acid, but I try to add it incrementally so as not to over do it.

2.6 pH ? Amazing.

So what was my over all view ?

Well, I like the colour, there's nothing to suggest whether they just happened to use a dark coloured honey, whether it might have been wild flower, or varietal like heather which can be dark but not always, or even sourced some dark buckwheat to do that. Don't know, just that it's a nice colour.

The aroma wasn't what I'd call very strong. I've mentioned a possible reason for that above, yet it's common for home mead makers not to boil or heat honey very much at all currently, as it preserves more of the aromatics of the honey, whereas boiled honey/must, apparently gives a nicer, less rough, more rounded sort of taste.

The taste was good IMO, didn't seem too sweet, a smooth after taste if the mead is held in the mouth for a couple of moments. Nice "body", good legs in the glass (even though I had to put it into the bottom of a pint glass, as all the other wine glasses are packed away while the bloody builders are shitting up the house......)

I'd give it a "very good" grade, peeking over the edge of excellent. Maybe that'd be a "high" 4 out of 5, almost 4.5 out of 5.

Compared to what I'd paid for half bottles previously, the advertised £8.40 a bottle (on the website, without shipping) didn't seem too bad at all.

My only real critcism is the "corporate generic" appearance of the label and the wording. That gets a "could do better", but WTF, it doesn't affect the taste.......

Moniack Mead...a mini review........ part 1

So, one of the members over at Gotmead, being a Brit, who now lives in the US, wanted to know a bit about one of his favourite mead tipples.

It's called Moniack Mead.

Now this isn't one that I'd come across before, certainly not when I was trying a few commercially made meads about 4 or 5 years ago.

So the only guide I had to go on, was my own mini reviews. Before today, of the 4 commercial meads I'd tried, I found that they all tasted fine. Sweet, yes but cloyingly so (if you want to read what I said, which is only personal opinion, but I stand by it. They might have improved/changed, I can't say. They were pretty expensive at the time, but I felt I should taste some of the offerings available locally).

Now, after a few exchanged messages with Tony, he explained that as far as he was aware, it was made from Heather honey - which from my own experience, tends to be quite expensive. He ordered a bottle and arranged for it to be delivered to me (didn't matter whether it was a load of shit or not, I thought it was a nice gesture as I certainly wouldn't say no to a free bottle of mead, or any booze for that matter).

Once opened, I was surprised to find that the bottle was different to how I'd expected it to be. I suspect Tony hadn't had any for a few years and the bottle is nicely done, if a bit "generic corporate", in label design. There was no mention of heather honey, but some of the wording made me thing that it had been made elsewhere as it was "specially selected". A term you see when supermarkets buy in something made somewhere else, but sold under their label/branding. I have no way of knowing if that might be the case.

Anyway, here's what it looked like in the bottle.......

So not the best of photo's but enough that you can see it's a nice colour, a reddish amber of medium sort of darkness (actually looks better in daylight, but I had to put a piece of white paper behind it so the colour of the liquid wasn't blanked out completely by the flash).

Ok, so looks fine. Like the greedy git I am, pop the cap and take a sniff.

Nothing remarkable there. Like a traditional mead sort of smell, not in your face aromatics, but given some of the stuff I've read recently and what I'll say further in, I'm wondering if they boil or at least heat the must during the early stages of making......

Next, the taste....

A decent flavour, not, seemingly, as mega sweet and cloying as the other commercial meads I'd tasted (and I guessed wrongly, more later). Nice, enjoyable. I decided it would likely fall in the the "dessert" mead a.k.a. after dinner, category.

Ok thought me, time to get the hydrometer out. So with a test quantity (eventually I did drink it - well you would, wouldn't you, free mead and all that). The test picture looked like this......

Now, again, not the best photograph. I had to lean the hydrometer slightly, but hopefully it's clear enough so that you can see it was measuring 1.036......

Which is higher than I thought it would be, given that it was sweet but not cloyingly so like my previous tastes of commercial mead were. I thought it might tip the scale in the mid .020's or so.

Yet it tasted good, sweet but not........ etc etc.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Before I forget (nutrients etc, for meads)........

 One of the members over at Homebrewtalk, by the name of Jeffjm (full credit there sir, a bloody good article), posted this link on a thread where another member had asked about "Mead Books" worthy of reading........

I've downloaded a copy to read and even though I've only read the first page and a half, it makes for excellent reading.

I do hope it will continue to be available to others.

I think (not checked) it's from Zymrugy mag........

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nightmare on the mead making front.....

Had a few minor victories recently. One of the members over at Gotmead kindly sent me a small strip of Fleischmanns bread yeast, so that I can have a got at a benchmark batch of Joe's Ancient Orange (it's not a UK brand so is unavailable here).

But the nightmare is, that about 6 to 9 months ago, my partner Clare, decided that she wanted the kitchen changed. Ok thinks me, shouldn't be a problem. She gets the ball rolling and gets plans, permissions, etc sorted and arranges the money to pay for it, etc etc. Again, fine.

She starts moving stuff around (she's a serial organiser/planner) in good time, etc etc.

As the start date for the work approaches, I start to worry. Moving 3 rooms worth of crap into the rest of the house and the shed, is starting to make things a bit cramped.

We get a bit closer to the start of the work and it's starting to dawn on me that I'm pretty much gonna be screwed for the 3 months or so of the works.

At the time of writing this, the old rear house extension bit has been demolished, the footings have been dug, re-inforced and the concrete has been poured. The brick layer is due in on monday morning.

The hassle really dawned this past week. The footings were due to be poured on the wednesday, but the concrete pump arrived and then promptly broke down, so the concrete had to be sent away  and the pump went back to the depot etc. So as the builders had nothing to do, they literally sawed the back third off the kitchen and boarded it up, along with the back 1/3rd of the dining room (both these rooms are being knocked into one anyway). This is all so that they can put the steels in for the roof supports of the new, bigger extension bit.

I suspect you get the picture. If I can actually do anything during the building time, I'll be very lucky. I've got to try and find room to do a bit of racking etc, as some of the batches I've got settling, ageing, steeping etc, need to be racked to reduce down the amount of space they take up.

God forbid, I'm even likely gonna have to put anything that isn't turning out Ok down the bloody drain - which I don't want to do as I'm a great believer that you can normally salvage any batches that come out rubbish, even if it's only to recover the alcohol to be able to use it for something else.......

I'll post again once I know how things are progressing etc.

For the time being, my home brew is "aaarrrrggggghhhhhh".......