MEAD#9 – Orange Blossom

This honey has been sitting in a corner of my house for a long time now, and finally got it together to make a batch of mead with it before it goes out of date! (Honey goes out of date??) I’m using 14 x 340g jars of Tesco Finest Orange Blossom honey, which will finish with some residual sweetness hopefully. In 12 litres of must, it should have a target alcohol of >15%. But the idea is that the Lalvin 71B yeast I’m using to ferment this batch will reach its alcohol tolerance at 14-15% and the yeast will give up the ghost, thereby leaving some sweetness in the mead. At least that’s the theory, this is still a little new to me.

My meads in the past have all fermented out to complete dryness, so after some research, I’ve decided to increase my fermentables considerably in the hope of getting at least a semi-sweet mead.

I’m not sure whether the Tesco honey will result in anything delicious, but it was cheap enough, so I’ll give it a go. The labels says it’s a “Product of Spain and Mexico”. I’d like to split the batch in the two, one half will be a base orange blossom mead, with the second half flavoured with juniper or vanilla.

13/01/2018 Brew Day – very enjoyable afternoon making this mead. This is my first time doing a 12 litre batch. I plan to ferment this in primary as a whole, then split into separate demijohns for aging. I took a gravity reading with my refractometer, but it was off the scale! So it’s over 1.100.

15/02/2018 – This has developed a worrying layer of yeast on top. It’s a little like a film yeast with a couple of bubbles. I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling it a pellicle. Not sure if it’s worth saving. I have been neglecting its progress over the last couple of weeks. Not sure what to do with it now, might be drain pour.

17/02/2018 – Decided to rack this to secondary. If it is infected, it will show up in secondary too, but no sense in chucking it at this early stage, when I’m not sure. Took a gravity reading and it’s down to 1.002. So my strategy of having the yeast crap out hasn’t worked. Either there is some batcterial or wild yeast infection, or my nutrient additions were too generous and helped the yeast go the extra mile. After some reading up, I’ve learned that the alcohol tolerances given by yeast manufacturers are an average and only to be used as a guide. So basically, there’s no guarantee that Lalvin 71B will finish at 15%. More worryingly, when I tasted the sample from the trial jar, I instantly spat it out. Seriously alcoholic. This might mellow out, but will probably take a year or two.

04/03/2018 – No pellicle or signs of infection in the demijohn. It’s been happily bubbling away for the last couple of weeks.

14/03/2018 – Still the occasional bubble through the airlock, but I think this has finally finished fermenting.

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