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.........
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.......