Mead Test Part 2: Acerglyn

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Kitchen

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So I found a reputable local honey farm about an hour outside Philadelphia (Swarmbustin' Honey if you live nearby and are interested) and picked up 51 pounds of honey from them this week. They sell a Spring wildflower, Autumn wildflower, a black & gold (3:1 mix of Spring and Autumn) and buckwheat, and I bought 24, 12, 12, and 3 pounds respectively. I also was able to pick up a couple different grades of maple syrup, dark and very dark (formally grade B & C), two types of dried roses and some apple cider, and I plan on doing a few different small batches of meads next month.

First on my list of tests with be producing some Acerglyn. I just mixed a tablespoon of maple syrup with a tablespoon of each Spring, Black & Gold, and Autumn, doing two mixes of the Autumn blend with a 1/4 teaspoon of buckwheat mixed into one of them. I know that the flavor after fermentation will be somewhat different, but I was trying to gauge which honey (mix) to use here. My favorite was the Autumn blend with a touch of buckwheat, and I was surprised by how much extra depth the buckwheat added with such a small addition. Certainly a great honey to use as a blend; by itself I cant see it producing an approachable mead though.

(Hey, but who knows. Great cigars also have that same barn yard smell, and I enjoy a good Habanos every now and then.)

I plan on now doing two half gallon batches by mixing the syrup and honey separately with water to get each to a 1.12 OG, and then blending the two together. One batch with be a straight 1:1 mix. The second will be a 2:1 mix of honey to syrup, but I will then add 1 more part of syrup mix after a week of fermentation. My thoughts here are that maple syrup may have some volatile flavors and adding part of the syrup after the most vigorous stage of fermentation is over may help with flavor retention.

I am thinking about using EC-1118, but I am unsure right now. Any thoughts on which Lalvin yeast to use?

I will also be doing 4 different 1 quart Rhodomel with the Spring honey adding dried roses in doses of 0, 1/2, 1 and 2 oz. per gallon. I will be cooking 9 lbs. and 3 lbs. of the Spring into a D-45 and D-180, respectively, color to make a Bochet. So I got some work cut out for me.
 

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Rice_Guy

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EC 1118 is good
mead is a high stress environment therefore 18% alcohol toleration is suggested
 

Kitchen

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Went with D-47 to it good barrel fermentation and Sur Lee aging potential. If I were to make this en mass, I would barrel ferment and Sur Lee age it in a heavy toast oak barrel, so I felt that was the best call.
 
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I've made show meads with buckwheat honey. The flavor is deep. The mead has a taste that I call the "flavor of the hive"* which is reminiscent of the aroma/odor that is present in the hive when you pull the cover during the time when the bees are bringing in a lot of nectar. That's May-June and mid-August to September in our neck of the woods. It kind of catches you at the back of the throat. It's not something you want to serve a first time mead drinker.

*By the way, if anyone has a better descriptor I'd love to hear it.

If anyone knows how to downplay that flavor or eliminate it altogether I'd really love to hear it.
 
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dmw_chef

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Unless you harvest your own maple sap or can get maple syrup for practically free, fermenting maple syrup in primary is only advisable if you also like setting $100 bills on fire. Make a solid dry trad and back sweeten with maple syrup. Much more cost effective.

That being said I made an estate 'no water' acerglyn where I concentrated maple sap to 1.070 then added another 70 points of honey, no additional water - it's the best thing I've ever made, hands down.

D254 is a fantastic yeast for maple wines and acerglyns.
 

Kitchen

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Unless you harvest your own maple sap or can get maple syrup for practically free, fermenting maple syrup in primary is only advisable if you also like setting $100 bills on fire. Make a solid dry trad and back sweeten with maple syrup. Much more cost effective.

That being said I made an estate 'no water' acerglyn where I concentrated maple sap to 1.070 then added another 70 points of honey, no additional water - it's the best thing I've ever made, hands down.

D254 is a fantastic yeast for maple wines and acerglyns.
Actually, I've found that it's not that much more expensive using maple syrup in the primary. Over the last few months, I have been keeping track of my experiments and making spreadsheets on cost for each, and if you produce 30 gallons of a show mead with a starting gravity of 1.125 and age it in a new barrel, the cost per bottle is $4.84 (not including the cost of nutrients or yeast). For making an Acerglyn by creating two separate 15 gallons mixes of each with a 1.125 OG, then blending and aging in a new barrel, the cost is $5.26 per bottle.

This does assume you are buying honey and maple syrup 5 gallons at a time. Actually, most of the recipes are hoovering around that $5 per bottle price mark. Even a bourbon cherry mead I am experimenting with still comes out at that price point; the cherries are certainly expensive but the cost is offset by the fact an used bourbon barrel is so much lower in cost then a new one.

But anyway, fermentation is almost complete and I have found that the final product comes out better with using all of the maple syrup in the beginning as opposed to blending some in after the initial fermentation. In addition to doing this, I also maintained 4 different half gallon containers with two of them having oak in from the beginning to try and simulate barrel fermentation. Now that fermentation is almost over, I've blended the two with oak into one gallon and the two without into another gallon with added oak. Time to wait and see if barrel fermentation is the way to go.
 

Ty520

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IMHO, acerglyns need to be on the upper end of semi sweet because syrup taken dry has a very earthy, nutty and dry taste to it that needs sweetness to balance it out. I don't find that syrup is much more expensive then quality honey when bought bulk and from the right resources. I also prefer fermenting it in primary because both syrup and honey taste very different when present during fermentation, even if all the sugars didn't ferment, versus back sweetening.

I would also recommend betting careful with oaking, especially if you go on the drier end of the spectrum because when combined with the characteristics mentioned above regarding syrup, it can be too much.

And finally,I recommend sitting it on some vanilla. Really helps mellow and smooth it out
 

Kitchen

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IMHO, acerglyns need to be on the upper end of semi sweet because syrup taken dry has a very earthy, nutty and dry taste to it that needs sweetness to balance it out. I don't find that syrup is much more expensive then quality honey when bought bulk and from the right resources. I also prefer fermenting it in primary because both syrup and honey taste very different when present during fermentation, even if all the sugars didn't ferment, versus back sweetening.

I would also recommend betting careful with oaking, especially if you go on the drier end of the spectrum because when combined with the characteristics mentioned above regarding syrup, it can be too much.

And finally,I recommend sitting it on some vanilla. Really helps mellow and smooth it out
Thanks for the tips. My target FG is 1.010 using D47. The limit of D47 is 15% ABV, but could go as high as 16% under the right circumstances. I feel my current experiment should hit close to my target.

After, I plan on barrel fermenting a 15 gallon batch in a new barrel and perform a Sur Lee aging process like what is used with Chardonnay. In barrel fermentation, much of the intense oak flavor drawn out in the beginning is absorbed by the lees and settles out, leading to a more integrated supple oak flavor. I feel this could be key to getting the oak just right.
 

jgmann67

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Enjoying this thread and am just starting to experiment with mead. Been making wine for 6 years and my son expressed an interest in mead making. So, I got 20 lbs of locally sourced honey (Berks County, PA) and am happily starting down this path.

Just started two gallons of Maple Spice Acerglyn. 3:1 pure maple syrup to honey, orange slices, a handful or raisins chopped, cinnamon stick and clove on D47. Fermented dry it will produce about 12% ABV.

It’s dark and smells fantastic. Will leave it be for about a week or two, then feed it some fermax (hopefully not end up with a geyser) and then let it run its course.

Next up is a 5 gal batch of mead. Will take some of it and flavor it post fermentation.
 

David Violante

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And finally,I recommend sitting it on some vanilla. Really helps mellow and smooth it out
I have a Bochet just finishing primary fermentation (1 Gallon) and was thinking of oaking and vanilla. How much vanilla would you suggest? It smells and tastes amazing already... I’m going to have to hide it from myself to age...
 

Ty520

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I have a Bochet just finishing primary fermentation (1 Gallon) and was thinking of oaking and vanilla. How much vanilla would you suggest? It smells and tastes amazing already... I’m going to have to hide it from myself to age...
Depends on how much vanilla profile you want. If you want it almost imperceivable, Just Half a bean. But I usually go with a full bean for a gallon.
 
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David Violante

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Great thank you - how long do you usually let it sit? I'm more inclined to use a full bean.
 

dmw_chef

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I typically add vanilla with my oak cubes and rack off at 4 months, but I think vanilla beans should be mostly extracted at a month.
 

dmw_chef

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It’s dark and smells fantastic. Will leave it be for about a week or two, then feed it some fermax (hopefully not end up with a geyser) and then let it run its course.

Next up is a 5 gal batch of mead. Will take some of it and flavor it post fermentation.
You want your nutrients in the first few days, and the package dose of fermax is likely not enough. A honey must is lucky to have 40 YAN, so you need more nutrition up front than in wine. You've picked a diva of a yeast that gets real pissed when not well fed, so don't judge mead based on this ferment. Ping me when you want to start another batch and I can help you with nutes.
 

jgmann67

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I check the mead daily and agitate it to mix things up. It’s been happily bubbling away for about a week and a half now. Last night, we added a teaspoon of fermax to each gallon of mead. As anticipated, it geysered a little bit on me. Lost maybe 1/4 cup out of each gallon.

Persnickety yeast or not, it smells great and seems to be chugging along nicely.

I’m going to make a coffee mead and blackberry mead next. If I were to switch yeasts, what do folks recommend?
 

dmw_chef

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I check the mead daily and agitate it to mix things up. It’s been happily bubbling away for about a week and a half now. Last night, we added a teaspoon of fermax to each gallon of mead. As anticipated, it geysered a little bit on me. Lost maybe 1/4 cup out of each gallon.

Persnickety yeast or not, it smells great and seems to be chugging along nicely.

I’m going to make a coffee mead and blackberry mead next. If I were to switch yeasts, what do folks recommend?
Adding a random amount of nutrient to a must at a random time is not how you use yeast nutrients, especially ones that contain DAP like Fermax.
 

jgmann67

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Adding a random amount of nutrient to a must at a random time is not how you use yeast nutrients, especially ones that contain DAP like Fermax.
I didn’t think it was random.

The directions suggest between 1.0 and 1.5 tsp per gallon (I opted for the lower amount) and adding nutrient about 1/3 the way through a ferment is what I typically do with wine (granted, I also add nutrient on the front end with my wines and didn’t do that here because the ferment really took off so nicely).

But, this process is a learning one. It will be interesting how this washes out in the end. I haven’t started any other meads. So,thoughts on:

a. Best yeast for meads like coffee, blackberry and straight up?

b. Based on yeast selection, are there any nutrient needs that must be satisfied along the way?

I’m watching/reading a bunch online and very few include adding nutrients. But, I’m a fan of keeping my yeasts happy and decreasing their stress.
 

dmw_chef

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The directions suggest between 1.0 and 1.5 tsp per gallon
Package directions assume you're making wine or beer, which inherently brings significant YAN to the table honey barely brings any. That is going to be a wild underdose, especially at higher OGs.

nutrient about 1/3 the way through a ferment
Did you verify with gravity readings? Do you know for certain you weren't closing in on 8%ABV?. A properly nutrient supplemented must should be screaming past the 1/3 break usually by 72 hours, especially if you use goferm.

add nutrient on the front end with my wines
A wine must is likely to have 150-300 YAN inherently, at the start of fermentation. A mead must is lucky to have 30 YAN. Your mead is going to need nutrients far earlier than the 1/3 break compared to wines, and my understanding from conversations with Scott Labs it's best to supplement nutrition for wines at the 1/3 break instead of up front.

This is a good read if you'd like to dig a little deeper:

 

jgmann67

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Package directions assume you're making wine or beer, which inherently brings significant YAN to the table honey barely brings any. That is going to be a wild underdose, especially at higher OGs.



Did you verify with gravity readings? Do you know for certain you weren't closing in on 8%ABV?. A properly nutrient supplemented must should be screaming past the 1/3 break usually by 72 hours, especially if you use goferm.



A wine must is likely to have 150-300 YAN inherently, at the start of fermentation. A mead must is lucky to have 30 YAN. Your mead is going to need nutrients far earlier than the 1/3 break compared to wines, and my understanding from conversations with Scott Labs it's best to supplement nutrition for wines at the 1/3 break instead of up front.

This is a good read if you'd like to dig a little deeper:

excellent info. Thank you!
 
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