Water in mead

Discussion in 'Meads' started by tradowsk, Apr 6, 2019.

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  1. Apr 6, 2019 #1

    tradowsk

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    This may seem a bit odd, but I was in Trader Joe's today and saw bottles of "artisan glacier water" from Norway. It got me thinking about what effect the water used in mead making has on the final flavor profile, since pretty much everyone focuses on the honey flavor profile.

    So if I were to buy like an $8/gallon artisan water vs the $1/gallon generic spring water, do you think there would be a noticeable difference in the final mead? Or is this more of an issue for distilled spirits like whisky where the water sources are more special?
     
  2. Apr 6, 2019 #2

    sour_grapes

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    No.

    You asked my opinion, and I gave it! I don't need to give any justification! :)
     
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  3. Apr 6, 2019 #3

    Johnd

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    I think you’d just be out 7 bucks......
     
  4. Apr 7, 2019 #4

    1d10t

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    I just got back from Cleveland. I'm not used to water that has an odor or a flavor.




    That's not as random as it sounds. ;) Does the "artesian water" have some flavor profile that it brings to the mead? Beer makers recognize brewing as cooking. Is wine any different? You sample the ingredients and see what they bring to the mix. Who are you making it for? I know people that have demonstrated the ability to taste things I simply cannot. Not a problem. What I make is generally for me anyhow. If YOU or someone you make the mead for can taste a difference then it may be worth it to you. Don't assume paying more gets you more.
     
  5. Apr 7, 2019 #5

    tradowsk

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    @1d10t the genesis of my question was a whisky tasting class I attended where the distillery was super proud of their water source that was family-owned and had a unique mineral content, which got me thinking about the water added to mead.

    So perhaps with non-distilled spirits, it's more about not adding bad flavors rather than trying to add trace amounts of others since the mead flavors will dominate.
     
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  6. Apr 18, 2019 #6

    BernardSmith

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    I tend to be a contrarian. Looks like a number of folk on this forum are very quick to argue that water profile makes no significant difference to the flavor of mead. Not sure that brewers would agree that water makes no difference to their beer and like beer but unlike wine, mead uses a very large volume of added H2O to the amount of substrate (in our case , honey, not malted barley) that is fermented. Let's say about 3 qts water to every 1 qt honey (for a starting gravity of about 1.105). and so despite that, the mineral content of the water (AKA flavor, pH) would make no obvious discernible difference? I find that hard to believe, though , of course, if you were using fruit juice to dilute/dissolve the honey then the ratio of water to honey might be insignificant but even grape growers talk about terroir. Bottom line: I wouldn't reject the idea that all other things being equal, water profile might play a huge role in the final flavor. And tradowsk's thought suggests an opportunity for a real test where the only difference among a number of batches of traditional mead (honey, nutrient, yeast and water being the only ingredients) is the source and make -up of the water.
     
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  7. Apr 18, 2019 #7

    tradowsk

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    My next endeavor will be a bochet, but after that, I think I may try this experiment one a plain traditional mead with generic spring water and some fancy artisan water to see if there really is a difference. Will update if/when I do.

    But thanks for the input everyone!
     
  8. Apr 18, 2019 #8

    KAndr97

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    To some people, water is water and it all tastes like H2O. Other people claim that they can tell the difference between different brands or locations. I think Fiji and Voss taste slightly different from your average Poland Spring or Aquafina.

    However, once that very neutral flavor has been covered up with the strong flavors of fruit and alcohol, I don't think it'll make much difference. I once tried using some Coloradoan spring water that I had leftover from a road trip. I couldn't discern any distinctly Coloradoan flavors in the resulting wine.
     
  9. Apr 18, 2019 #9

    sour_grapes

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    Would you mind clarifying exactly what "fancy" water you were thinking of using? Is there such a thing as "artisan water." Or did you mean artesian water?
     
  10. Apr 18, 2019 #10

    skyfire322

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    Maybe? Water from different locales have different amounts/types of minerals, etc. so maybe that could alter the flavor? However, I think it'd probably be barely perceivable unless you're a somm.
     
  11. Apr 19, 2019 #11

    BernardSmith

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    When all you drink is water drowned in chloramines or chlorine I guess you are right- all you taste is chlorine and chlorine is chlorine is chlorine, but if you drink spring water you can certainly taste differences from one well to the next and from one spring to the next. And you don't have to be a sommelier to taste the differences. Ask anyone who comes from Europe and who drinks bottled mineral water.
     
  12. Apr 19, 2019 #12

    BernardSmith

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    The gold standard of testing is double blind randomized tests - where neither you nor those tasting know exactly who is being asked to , in this case, taste what. A third party needs to code and then create the samples to be tasted. You, are then "blind" and the subjects are randomly assigned what to taste/test. If you modify a double blind randomized test and use "triangle" testing so that you give each subject three samples to taste where two are identical and you ask the subjects which is different (not "better" but "different" because "better" is subjective) and neither they know which two are identical nor you know which samples are identical then you can - assuming you have enough subjects for the test to be statistically significant - absolutely determine whether folk CAN or CANNOT taste differences in water. And if your pool of random subjects can tell the difference then you have data that you can use until someone can offer a better , more convincing explanation of what was happening and why despite what you think you have demonstrated folk cannot taste differences in mead due simply to water. That is how science works.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019

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