MEAD#1 – Wildflower Mead

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I’ve been meaning to do a mead for a long time now. I finally got around to ordering a sachet of Lalvin 71B, which is a popular choice for mead makers. I also got some yeast nutrient, which I’ve never used before, but is crucial when fermenting honey. Honey, unlike malt, has no nutrients which allows the yeast to ferment fully and cleanly.

It took even longer to get around to sourcing some honey. I eventually sourced some in Holland & Barrett health food shop. Not exactly artisan product I know – “wildflower” is not a varietal honey, rather a catch-all term for honey made from unknown or mixed flower sources. I’m hoping that I’ve preserved whatever aromatics are in the honey by not heating the must at all.

Recipe

700g organic wildflower honey
900g blended honey
2tsp nutrient
1/2 tsp tannin
1 tsp citric acid
Lalvin 71B

04/10/2014 – I just blended the honey into the bottled water using a sanitised stick blender, along with the nutrient, tannin and citric acid. Worked a treat. Have some honey left, so might do a melomel or a metheglin. Will leave this on the yeast for a month before racking to secondary.

09/10/2014 – Walked into the room where this is fermenting and got a big bang of licorice. Not unpleasant at all, but unexpected.

06/11/2014 – Just had my first taste of mead! Not just my first taste of my own mead, but any mead! I tasted the mead that was sitting on top of the 71B yeast slurry that I’m fermenting my cyser with. Tastes pretty nice. The alcohol is still a little overwhelming, but this shows great promise. Lovely honey flavour and aroma. Would like to taste it with a little carbonation in though, so I’ll be looking into bottle-conditioning it.

30/11/2014 – Bottled my first mead into some 330ml and 500ml bottles. There was a bit of trub at the bottom of the demi-john after the secondary aging, but it looked weird. It was a black colour, not something I’m used to seeing at the bottom of a fermenter. It’s already very clear, but should clear more. Weird to be bottling a beverage without adding priming sugar of some description. It’s got a great aroma and flavour of honey, as you’d expect, but it’s surprisingly sweet. Will try to stay away from this one for a year.

27/09/2015 – I opened a bottle of this at a home brewing meet a few weeks ago and it went down pretty well. Today was the second bottle I opened, and I enjoyed it even more. It’s still got the big honey nose and some lovely melon fruit flavours. It looks like I went a little bit heavy on the acid addition, so I’ll dial back on this next time. The 330ml bottle is a good size to package meads as it allows you to have 2 small wine glasses, perfect for sharing but not too much if you open one on your own.

22/11/2015 – Side by side tasting of the wildflower mead with the cyser. Wildflower has a massive, almost overwhelming floral honey aroma. It’s also got some melon fruit aroma. Flavour is moderate honey, some fruity esters, alcohol prominent but not hot. Finish is acidic and slightly mouth watering, making it very drinkable. The cyser aroma is predominantly apple, not too much honey, some alcohol. Colour is a shade or two darker than the wildflower mead, as you’d expect. The cyser is not as sweet up front, mouth watering, nice meld of apple and honey flavours.

20/12/2015 – This is almost gone! It’s extremely good, but not perfect. First thing that stikes me about it is the amazing and almost overwhelming honey aroma. It’s almost perfume-like. From the aroma alone, I can see why people fall in love with this stuff. The flavour also has the prominent honey character you’d expect in a show mead, but thereis a serious flaw in that I seem to have overshot on the acid addition. It’s a little out of balance. It is quite literally mouth watering, in that a taste will get the salivary glands going. It’s not unpleasant though, and certainly invites another sip and keeps the mead drinkable. Though I just don’t have enough experience with mead to know quite how serious this flaw is. It’s certainly better than having something that is sweet and insipid. On the whole, I feel this is an amazing score for my first attempt at a mead, and I’ll certainly be doing lots of these in the future.

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