Archive for January, 2016

MEAD#5 – Randy Monk Raisin Mead


This mead has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while. I’ve had some dark candi syrup hanging around since I did my Belgian dubbel and quadrupel in 2014. I had the idea that using some in a mead would be really interesting way of using it up. The idea then took flight and I started thinking about getting some more of those characteristic flavours of dark Belgian beers into a mead. So I started thinking about spice along with raisins and other dried fruit. I don’t want this to be a heavily spiced metheglin, but the idea of vanilla in a sweet mead is really appealing.

In order to get those dried stone-fruit flavours into the mead, I’ll be using lots of raisins. Raisins are actually a common addition (in small amounts) to fermenting meads because they supply the yeast with some of the necessary nutrients for a healthy fermentation. They are also a valuable source of tannins which gives the finished mead a satisfying flavour. But this mead will have raisins as a primary flavouring. I’m also going to produce a malt wort by steeping some crystal malt and adding this to the must. Not enough to make this into a braggot, but just something to supply extra nutrients to the yeast and maybe give the mead an extra dimension in terms of flavour and mouthfeel.

As a final flourish, and I do hope this is not going too overboard, I’m planning on adding a very small amount of rum-soaked oak chips to the mead in the secondary fermenter. This will add a little more tannin to the mead and give it what I hope will be a mature and rounded flavour.

09/01/2016 – Sanitised fermenter. Boiled muslin bag in water for 10 minutes. Added stick blender attachment and left to stand. Re-hydrated sachet of Lalvin 71B. Heated 2 litres of water to 70C and steeped 50g of c120 and 50g of C40 in a muslin bag. Left to stand for 30 minutes and then removed the muslin bag from the pot. Heated the “wort” and then add 200g light dry malt extract and 100g dark candi syrup to the pot. Brought the pot to the boil and left to simmer gently for 10 minutes to sanitise everything. Blitzed 200g raisins in food processor and put in a muslin bag. Put bag of raisins in the hot “wort” and left to stand for 10 minutes. Chilled the pot to roughly 20C. Removed the bag of raisins from the pot and set aside safely. Transferred the contents of the pot to the sanitised fermenter. Added further 2 litres of water to the fermenter and add the honey. I used 1 x 900g of blended honey and 3 x 340g organic wildflower honey. Added 1 tsp Youngs yeast nutrient, 1/4 tsp acid blend, 1/2 tsp pectolase, 1/8 tsp tannin powder. Blended with the sanitised stick blender to heavily aerate the must. Added bag of raisins back to the fermenter and pitched yeast. Must is a really good colour, though a shade or two darker than expected.

11/01/2016 – Added 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient to the fermenter and agitated the bucket to remove some of the CO2.

12/01/2016 – Added another 1/2 tsp of yeast nutrient. Mead very murky, but I’d expect that. Lovely smell.

20/01/2016 – Fermentation appears to have slowed right down now, so I’m going to rack the mead to a demijohn this weekend. It’s not as dark as I had hoped it would be. More crystal malt and candi sugar next time.

24/01/2016 – Racked to secondary. Smells nice, it even reminded me of a dark Belgian ale. Nowhere near as dark as I wanted. I was expecting to fill the demijohn right to the top as I had almost 6 litres in the primary fermenter, but I was just short. Will keep indoors for another few weeks before transferring to the shed for extended ageing. I haven’t decided when to add the vanilla.

02/02/2016 – Bubbles from the airlock have stopped now and it’s starting to become really clear.

28/02/2016 – The vanilla pods were pretty tiny when I opened the container, so I used a full one. I scraped the seeds out with a knife and put the lot in.

13/03/2016 – There’s still bubbles coming from the airlock, every so often. This mead is an absolute beast. Smells quite intense. Strangely, I get an oaked aroma from it.

29/09/2016 – Racked to tertiary and started stabilisation with half a campden tablet dissolved in a little water.

01/10/2016 – Added half a teaspoon of potassium sorbate dissolved in a little water.

08/10/2016 – I suspected the gravity reading would be right down to 1.000, and so it proved. It’s dry, but surprising mouthfeel for such a low FG.

09/10/2016 – Back-sweetened with 340g organic wildflower honey from H&B, dissolved in some water. Demi-john is now fully topped up.

11/10/2016 – Oh dear.. I think fermentation has kicked off again.

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