The Mead Bug

My post-post refractory period led me all over the place which, as usual means twitter and reddit.

This post gave me some ideas:

I don’t know why the hell I never thought of doing this before.

One of the reasons I don’t screw around much with mead anymore is because I just couldn’t be bothered with feeding schedules, keeping an eye on specific gravity and such. It’s all a pain in the ass…BECAUSE the amount of overhead on each batch that may end up crappy is just too high. Yeah I can play the 70% game of just throwing some crap in a jar, letting it ferment and clear, then seeing if it’s any good. But that just tends to produce “huh. Neat. This isn’t awful” mead.

Now one of the other things I’m known to do that’s pretty damned lazy with melomels (mead with fruit) is to put the fruit in primary fermentation (the first fermentation.)

But something happens with fruit when it’s a part of the original fermentation. The digestion of the sugars in fruit does NOT produce the fruit flavor you’d expect. I find this most notable with something like a strawberry mead. Now, Strawberry Mead sounds amazing. Just…amazing. As do any of the berry meads. But putting those fruits in the primary fermentation ends up with something tasting…suggestive of the fruit in question. But the flavor is really not strong enough to make it worth it. This is ESPECIALLY true with strawberry as they don’t really have much in the way of flavor density. So you end up having to have a tremendous amount of strawberries blended and cooked down into a near syrup just to get enough flavor to tell what the hell is going on.

BUT if I put them in the secondary fermentation I’d be much better off.

Now…take that bit of information then look at the picture on the reddit post.

There’s no reason not to put a plain mead (honey + water) in a primary fermentation then split it into smaller secondary batches with differing flavor additives.

That way it would actually be worth doing all the work on the front end to get the ending alcohol and sweetness level just right, since that work multiplies to 5 or 6 smaller batches of interesting meads (probably a control + 4 more.)

Now that amount of work I could see being well worth the effort. Previously I would have made at least a gallon of each permutation I wanted to try and frankly I just can’t face that.

This way if I come up with something I really love I can then dedicate another full gallon to the task at will.

So I’m gonna do some poking around and order a bunch of wine yeast and put a gallon or two down and try to pay attention to the finer details, like the aforementioned feeding schedule and such.

Mead takes a LONG time, especially compared with every other fermentation I’ve ever looked in to. So it should be fun.

Of course what I’ll end up doing is starting 2 batches of 1 gallon each, then after a couple months getting impatient and starting a 5g primary.

Feels good to have the bug again though. Especially now that I’ve got a house and can set up a full mead station in the basement where things can just ferment along happily in large racks.

I’ll keep you updated.