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Caramel Apple Mead

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Bodenski

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Well I've started my most adventurous mead to date. Based upon a recipe I found on another website.

Caramel Apple Mead - 3 gallon batch
6 lbs mesquite honey
fresh pressed cider to 3 gallons. (I think it was from Hartland orchard out on I66. About a third Stayman apples according the guy that did the pressing, so nice and tart!)
2 lbs 60L malt
1 lb amber DME
1 lb turkish honey
1 vanilla bean
Yeast: Lavlin 1116

Initial SG: 1.136

The 60L malt was seeped in 1/5 gallons of cider at 155 for 45 minutes. Grain sack was then rinsed with the rest of the cider. Added DME. Added campden tablets, then waited 24 hours before adding 1116 yeast (rehydrated with GoFerm).

Plan is to ferment until the yeast poops out, then rack into another lb of honey & sorbate (Probably turkish honey from Trader Joes. Original recipe called for buckwheat honey but I don't have a local source for that.) After 3 weeks in secondary plan to rack again onto a vanilla bean and then let it go for a year. (Not sure I'm patient enough for that. We'll see.)

One mistake? Adding the DME when the liquid was too hot. It kind of turned into hard nuggets. I think it has all since dissolved, but I'm not 100% sure. Next time I'll let it cool a little more first.

Taste before adding the yeast was really nice. This is only my second attempt at seeping grains. I can really appreciate the caramel flavors from the 60L Crystal malt. Yeast was added last night, and this AM I can see a few bubbles on the top of the liquid. I imagine I'll have to aerate the heck out of this one, and I do plan on some timed additions of nutrient/energizer.

I'll be back in several weeks with an update.
 

BernardSmith

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Interesting recipe, Bodenski. A couple of observations: You mention adding the DME when the ? was too hot but you don't say what you heated. I assume (but that is perhaps wrong) that you "mashed" the grain and then boiled the wort but you say you steeped the 60 L malt in the apple juice and the 60L (I think) will add only flavor and color and not alcohol. So if you boiled the mash in the apple juice you may have cooked the juice.

The thing about DME and heat (or steam) is that DME clumps if it is in the same city as moisture. Others, I know, disagree, but DME has been pasteurized up the wazoo so there is really no need to heat DME at all. It will dissolve just as easily (perhaps even more easily) in cool liquid. In fact subjecting DME to heat changes its nominal character. That's why heating DME will make it darker.

As for any thought about the need to remove DMS by boiling it off, dry malt extract (DME) is a dried wort and not a dried mash. Insofar as their may be any DMS involved , it was already taken care of in the processing.

This is a version of a braggot - but you could perhaps have made a less complex BOCHET by putting aside the Turkish and Mesquite honeys and simply caramelizing some common or garden clover or wildflower honey. You could caramelize, say, 3 lbs of the honey in a large pot for 30- 45 minutes at about 320F stirring constantly (the volume can double in an instant and you can have a flow of scalding hot (I mean SCALDING hot ) honey all over your kitchen stove. Caramelizing the honey completely transforms the flavors (think toffee) . Truth is, I just started a candy apple wine (not a mead) - caramelizing the sugar in my microwave for about 6 minutes to try to capture the flavors of candy apples. I concentrated the juice to obtain a starting gravity of about 1.075 and added it was an additional cup of sugar that I caramelized only for the flavor. My plan is to add a 2 inch piece of cinnamon in the secondary next week to close the deal
 

Bodenski

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I added the DME when the wort (I guess I'd call it that) was too warm from steeping the grains in the apple cider. Here's a link to the crystal malt I used. https://www.northernbrewer.com/briess-caramel-60l-malt That's what is giving the caramel flavor. I've caramelized sugar before (when making apple butter) but for this recipe it comes from the crystal malt. If I make this again I think I'll let things cool a little more before adding the DME, and I'll certainly whisk a lot more pouring it in.

It's a braggot-cyser combo I guess. I don't know which component takes precedence! All I know is right now I like how it tastes, and hopefully once the sweetness goes down I'll still be a fan. I think I will be.

I use the mesquite honey since that's available at Trader Joe's at a good price point for 3 lb containers. And it still seems fairly mild in flavor. Some day I'll buy some bulk clover honey. After all, it never goes bad, right??

That candy apple wine sounds interesting - kind of like the think I'd like. I'd be curious how it comes out.
 

Bodenski

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Time for a follow-up.

1. I should have started with more cider. The original recipe called for apple juice, and I thought I'd go big using the cider. Well there was a lot of particulate that has settled from the cider, leaving a lot less liquid than had I used apple juice. I think I'll have 2.5 gallons, which makes it tough to age in a 3 gallon carboy. I could add apple juice to fill it back, but I'm not sure that's great idea.

2. SG went from 1.136 to 1.020. ABV 15.22%. So I could dilute it down a little with water/apple juice to get back to 3 gallons. It's already stabilized since i added honey when I transferred it to secondary.

3. I am digging the taste of this already. I can't wait to see how it ages.
 

Bodenski

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Apparently I didn't read the recipe very well. I was supposed to age it in the secondary for a month or so, then dump it on top of the honey and add the sorbate. Instead I dumped in from Primary into secondary on top of 8 oz of honey and some sorbate. But the yeast was still going well and it ended up kicking into pretty regular fermentation again. At least I think it has. I need to really check the SG to see where it's at, but the bubbler is going strong when it wasn't doing anything anymore when it was in primary.

I'll recheck maybe tonight and see where the SG is at. I figure if the added honey is fully fermented out then it's just a stronger drink. I'd have to see what 8oz of honey would raise 2.75 gallons of juice, but I don't think it would be that much of a hit. But if the ABV is higher then the SG might meed to be raised a bit to make sure it balances out. Or I need to let it age even longer!
 

BernardSmith

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It will raise the gravity about 4-5 points from the original SG - so assume the starting gravity was about 1.075 rather than 1.070
 

Redbird1

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If you make it again, you can save time on the steep. No need to do it for that long. 15-20 minutes should extract pretty much all it has to contribute.

A wire whisk should take care of the DME clumps.
 

jmac

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If you make it again, you can save time on the steep. No need to do it for that long. 15-20 minutes should extract pretty much all it has to contribute.

A wire whisk should take care of the DME clumps.
I agree. I just finished bottling 5 gal of a very similar recipe to this put in in March. My CM was steeped for 45 min. It came out rich and dark and braggotty. A nice Back sweetening took the edge off, but still retained more of a smokey flavor that somewhat took the front. A definite yummy rich success though.
 

Bodenski

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The DME clumps are all gone. Nice to know I don't have to steep as much next time. I'll be transferring again (lots of lees still) this next weekend and then let it sit for a while. What I'm tasting so far is good. Different than the melomels I normally make!
 

Bodenski

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I snuck a taste last night. Definitely a dessert mead! Much darker than I expected, and like jmac said above it's very braggotty. In a way that is quite enjoyable right now. I can't wait to see where this is in 6 months.
 

Bodenski

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This one is coming along nicely. I would definitely do some things differently next time.
1. Not steep the grains for as long.
2. Use regular store -bought apple juice as opposed to fresh pressed cider. (Would have dropped the price tremendously)

I don't know if "caramel" is how I'd describe the taste, but "yummy" is one of the adjectives I'd use for sure. I have a little over two gallons aging away right now. It's one of the many batches I have in bulk right now. I have no open 1-gallon carboys at this point, so I'm going to have to either bottle something or buy another one! (Probably should bottle some. I have some that have been aging for over 6 months now that could probably be bottled).
 

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