Mead can be an exceedingly simple beverage, but doesn't have to be. My mead that won the Best Mead in Show at the recent Cascade Brewer's Guild St. Patrick's day competition is a case in point. I had remembered it being a simple recipe, when in fact, it wasn't. Here's the recipe from my notes...
July 1, 1995
Bring four gallons of water to a boil, along with 3 tsp yeast energizer, 2 tsp acid blend, and 1 tsp yeast nutrient. Add six pounds Mountain Wildflower honey to the boiling water, stir a lot and turn off heat. Allow to sit for half an hour (in order to pasteurize the must), then chill as rapidly as you can. Toss onto dregs of Wyeast #1338 (European Ale) yeast in a glass carboy from a previous batch. Proceed to ignore. Measured gravity was 1.051.
Aug 26, 1995
Measured gravity is now 1.011. Rack into another glass carboy, and top off head space with one gallon of Heinke's Organic apple juice. The apple juice's gravity was measured at 1.045.
Oct 8, 1995
Measured gravity is now 1.008. Bottle with 7/8 cup of light wheat dry malt extract, boiled up with two cups of water.
This has yielded a light, dry, flavorful mead with just a hint of the fruity appleness of the cider. In retrospect, I would do things differently regarding the initial conditions that the yeast found itself in. I no longer add any acid blend before the yeast has finished it's fermentation. An experiment that I participated in, conducted by the Food Sciences department at Cornell University, demonstrated that an initial high acid environment stunts the yeast, delaying the increase in yeast population. This fermentation experiment, in which identical musts, pitched with the same yeast strains at the same time and fermented side by side, whose only difference was that one batch had initial acid added to it, showed that the initial acidification stunted the yeast by seven to ten days of total fermentation activity. This reduction in yeast activity is critical in the initial stages of fermenting, where rapid yeast growth is important to minimize the impact of contaminating wild yeast and bacteria that are always present in the brew house. In the high gravity environment typical of most mead fermentations, the yeast population needs all the help it can get. It is counter-productive to impede the yeast in any way. I now add acid blend (or whatever acidification process that I happen to be using, either a blend or a particular acid) at bottling time.
Also outside of my present mead making routine was the boiling of the yeast energizer and nutrient. What could have possessed me to do such a thing? The quantities are also out of line with my present practices. I now use about 1 teaspoon of nutrient, pitched into the must at the same time the yeast is pitched. This gives me the incentive to shake up the carboy, stirring in the nutrient, as well as aerating the must. In fact, I now use an aquarium pump to push filtered air into high gravity ferments to properly aerate the must. This attempt at oxygen saturation is also in keeping with the intent of giving the yeast the optimal conditions for growth at the beginning of the fermentation.
As far as the name of the mead goes, it was sort of a joke to myself. Calling something "No Name" is in fact naming it. I just crack myself up sometimes...
Copyright 1997 by Richard B. Webb, aka The Outsider.
This page is authored and maintained by Rich Webb.You can send E-mail to me by following this link to the contact page. And feel free to contact me if you have any comments, criticisms, or suggestions. I remain, however, perfectly capable of ignoring your useless opinion...
This document was placed here on March 25, 1997, and has been viewed countless times.