It has been a long time since I posted anything and I think that it is time for a mead update! I made mead a few months ago and I can report that it has been finished and bottled for about a month now. So how does it look? How did it get here? And, most importantly, how does it taste? In this followup to my earlier post, I’ll go through the fermentation, conditioning, bottling and first tasting of the mead.
So I started making this mead back at the end of July. You can read more about that in this original post. Basically mead it just water, honey, and yeast but the important part comes with the addition of yeast nutrient at regular intervals throughout the first week of fermentation. One thing that is important is to make sure that the mead is degassed at least twice a day. This not only removes some nasty eggy off flavours, but also ensures that you don’t make a mess when adding the yeast nutrient which triggers an effect not unlike adding mentos to coke if there is still too much CO2 desolved. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick thinking enough to get a photo of that.
To degass the mead I found that swirling the bottle for about five minutes was sufficient to remove excess CO2 and off flavours along with it. It is often suggested that degassing is done by stiring with a clean spoon but I found that this way works fine and does not carry the same risk of contamination as introducing unnecessary cuttlery into the equation.
After the first week, no more yeast nutrient is needed and the mead can do its own thing for a few weeks with only occasional degassing to prevent off-flavours. It can stay in the primary fermenter (the first one) until a couple of weeks after a sediment forms at the bottom of the vessel that you can just see in the above photo. Two weeks or so (no longer than three) after the sediment appears, it is time to move the mead to a secondary fermenter.
Just like the primary, this new fermenter needs to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised before transfer, as does whatever you use to transfer the mead. I use my trusty autosyphon for the job. During the transfer, you will lose some of the mead but it is worth the loss to make sure that your end product is the best it can be.
Once it is safely in the secondary fermenter with a fresh sterilised airlock, you can leave it again for another three or four weeks. Again degassing when necessary.
After a few weeks, the fermentation should have come to an end and mead really starts to clear up nicely. There’s also some more sediment at the bottom of the secondary fermenter. At this point I transfered the mead back into the first fermenter which was cleaned and sanitised thouroughly. Again this meant some more loss of liquid but I really do think it is worth ditching a small amount so that the end product can really shine.
I left this to condition for another couple of weeks to condition and clarify further. The end result is pictured below:
As you can see, the mead is far lighter and clearer than the original must and looks quite appealing as drinks go. The it was time for bottling in mid-October. This was done using my autosyphon connected to a bottling wand straight from the fermenter to the bottle.
So I ended up with 3.5 Litres of mead and it turned out pretty dry as well, reaching a final gravity in the range 0.996-1.003, and an ABV of around 16.5%. So not too shabby for a first attempt.
But the most important thing is how does it taste? I’ve now tasted this mead both hot (as is typically served in Germany) and cold and I have to say that it is really quite pleasant. It is pretty dry, without much of the sweetness that you typically get in a hot mead seved at the Herbst festival here in Heidelberg. The high alcohol content also made it a bit of a challenge to have hot but it was quite nice warm when it had cooled down a bit. I think that it is best drank cold though to be honest. It has nice fruity notes of mostly melon and a nice floral aroma which makes it quite a nice reminder of summer in the cold autumnal weather.
This has been a fun little experiment with some delicious results and I can say with certainty that I will definitely be making some more mead next year.
Hey! Why not check out this post about some IPA? Or maybe even this post about why I needed to make the IPA from extract in the first place? If you don’t want to, no problem. Either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed this read and feel free to comment below if you have any questions or… well comments I guess.