I know I already wrote one post today, and yet, here I am, writing one more about our adventures in mead.
We joined the legions of mead makers early this year, using equipment Santa (me) brought for Christmas. This endeavor was a natural development from our beekeeping and investment in Nashville’s Honeytree Meadery. And when we tasted the first batch Darling Daughter’s Boyfriend made and found it delicious, well, it was clear we needed to try making some ourselves.
After the initial “racking” (bottling) in February, the next step would be to taste the mead and re-bottle it with a siphon into smaller (or at least freshly cleaned) bottles. This process separates the liquid from any flavorings that have been added, and leaves the majority of the sediment of the yeast behind.
Unfortunately, COVID briefly interfered by causing me to lose my sense of taste and smell for several weeks.
By the time we got to the job today, I was concerned the chili peppers we’d added to one growler had been in too long and would cause the mead to be overly zesty. As for the grapefruit zest we’d put in another, well, I’d read tales of citrus flavorings gone horribly wrong, making the mead so bitter it couldn’t be consumed.
Thus, it was with some trepidation we racked the first bottle, starting with what we expected to be the gentlest of the flavors — our “OH Honey!” basic mead.
I should interject here to say something about The Engineer’s calculation of ABV (alcohol by volume). According to Storm the Castle and other sources, this measurement varies, from 3.5% up to 18%, with an average of 7.5%-14%. The Engineer pegged ours at 16.8%.
I didn’t believe him, thinking he’d somehow used the wrong scale. There are several on the hydrometer, and if left to me, we’d never know.
After tasting OH Honey!, I believe him. Our meads are strong. OH, Honey! is also — how can I put this? — in serious need of more aging.
That’s the brilliant thing about mead. The longer you age it, the better (and clearer) it gets.
In the case of OH Honey!, this is a very good thing.
Next up was “Ginger Rogers,” flavored with grated ginger root I had in the fridge from our CSA share last fall. It was surprisingly not horrible.
In fact, it wasn’t bad, although a little cloudy in appearance.
“Sourpuss,” with the grapefruit zest was even better and less cloudy too.
What a relief!
The big surprise was “Hot Mama,” our chili flavored mead. It was delicious and nearly transparent, though it’s difficult to see the difference in the picture below.
Since we have an abundance of OH, Honey!, we’ve decided to make another batch soon and make it all one flavor. Unfortunately, we’ve gone through our own honey from last year with this lot and won’t have any more from our hives for a few months so I’ll have to buy supplies from another local beekeeper.
And I need to source some smaller bottles so we can share without decimating our own supply.
We’ll probably stick to Hot Mama for the next batch because its flavor and clarity came together without a long aging process. Since we plan to make another five gallons, it would be best to repeat a process that has worked once, don’t you think?