After conditioning in a glass carboy for four and a half months, it was finally time to bottle Sam’s Mead. The mead had settled very nicely, and was wonderfully clear. It has a light straw color, and a surprisingly smooth taste for being so young. There’s just a slight “hot” note, that I’m presuming will mellow out over the next few months.
We got 43 12-oz. bottles (and one half bottle) as well as one 22-oz. bottle. The final gravity was spot on at 1.000, down from 1.119. This works out to around 15.6% abv. Bottling was completed on April 11, 2013. We plan to open the first “official” bottle on Sam’s birthday in November, and set aside a few bottles for special occasions through the years.
The other great thing about this mead was that both sets of grandparents helped/were around for either the brewing or bottling. A true family product!
With the arrival of a new human in our family, I thought I would brew up a batch of mead in his honor. The general idea is to have an “heirloom batch” that can be kept on-hand for special occasions – first birthday, 21st birthday, etc. Hopefully it will last long enough for that! With five gallons, this will allow the occasional sampling down the years.
The recipe is slightly modified from the Antipodal Mead in Charlie Papazian’s Complete Joy of Home Brewing. The main adjustment is the addition of lemon juice (instead of acid blend) and apple cider (to add some nutrients, because I didn’t have yeast extract on hand – I may get some and add it to the secondary fermenter later).
The lemons were from a local lemon tree (picked ourselves), and the U of Minnesota honey was from Sam’s aunt (currently a graduate student at U of M).
- 5 pounds University of Minnesota Department of Entomology honey 2012 (slightly dark)
- 5 pounds University of Minnesota Department of Entomology honey 2011 (slightly dark)
- 5 pounds wildflower honey (originating in Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay) (relatively dark)
- 1 tbs. gypsum
- 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (6 small lemons)
- 1 quart (4 cups) apple cider
- 1/4 tsp. Irish moss
- 5 packets champagne yeast (0.88 oz; 25 g); Lalvin EC-1118, Saccharomyces cerivisiae (ex-bayanus)
- Heated 1 gallon of water to boiling; turned off heat, added honey, gypsum, cider, and lemon juice. Rinsed honey jugs using 3 cups of water total, which were added to brew pot.
- Heated water to boil; boiled for 15 minutes. Add Irish moss after 10 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, chill mead. Add to fermenter, top up to five gallons with cold tap water.
- Proof yeast in 1 cup water (boiled and then cooled to ~100 degrees).
- Add yeast to fermenter. Seal fermenter, add airlock.
The recipe was brewed on December 28, 2012, and initial gravity was 1.118 at 72° F. This converts to 1.119 at 60° F, resulting in an estimated a.b.v. of around 12% (assuming it ferments down to ~1.03 or so).
Because I needed the primary fermenter for my IPA, I transferred over to a glass carboy on January 1, 2013. At this point, the gravity was 1.090. My plan is to let it ferment/settle/condition for about six months before bottling.