The original resource on authentic Honey Wine - THE Reinheitsgebot of MEAD!





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mead: "A long time."

Mead has a reputation of taking forever to ferment, age, and be ready to drink. Many Mead makers say that their Mead does not taste good for at least several years. There are many reasons for this.

1: The yeast was not handled correctly (hydrated and fed).

2: The wrong strain of yeast was chosen.

3: Not enough yeast was used or it was outdated.

4: The Mead was not given the proper amount and type of nutrients, or added at the correct times.

5: Poor quality honey was used (just like quality grapes make quality wine).

6: The Mead must was boiled or pasteurized.

7: The Mead was fermented at the wrong temperature and or inconsistent temperature.

8: The pH of the must was not addressed and the yeast became stressed and produced off flavors.

If you follow my directions you can make a Mead that is delicious in just a few short months. I brought some of my Mead to Leon Havill, of Havill's Mazer Meadery in New Zealand it was less than 5 months old. Leon is THE Mead God and has been doing it the longest. Here is what he had to say about my mead: 

“It was a pleasure to taste some Authentic Mead from the USA, it was excellent almost too good to be true - we could hardly believe our taste buds. Over the years we have tasted many American offerings a lot of fruit wine with added honey labeled '' Mead '' which it is clearly not. It is great to find someone who has taken the time to produce some very, very good Authentic Mead. You appear to have the skills so get out there and sweep these would be if they could be Mead makers right off the shelf with a quality product.” – Leon Havill, Havill's Mazer Mead Company, Rangiora, New Zealand.




Friday, October 26, 2012

Heat vs. Cold process?

The majority of professional Meaderies are started by home beer brewers who know nothing about professional white wine making (but with passion and good intentions!) and that is why you still see the antediluvian practice of heat pasteurizing or boiling the honey must, and or because the Meadery owner(s) does not want to invest in the equipment or labor necessary to cold-process their honey wine. In addition, they may just be are unaware that it can be done cold. The Meadery might make a great product with heat, and I have tasted many of these Meaderies imbibes that were quite good, but there is no question their product would be even better if they cold processed it. Grape wineries do not heat pasteurize or boil their must for a reason, they know what they are doing. If they heated their must you would see a damaged product. There are even more delicate flavor components in honey than there are in grape sugar and grape compounds that are negatively affected by heat. So the argument if anything should be that Mead, more so than grape wine, should never be heat pasteurized or boiled.

It is unlikely that an established Meadery that heat pasteurizes or boils their product will change their methods do to this information. However a new startup Meadery can and should follow a cold process protocol. If you want to start a Meadery, I  can help. I consult with several Meaderies and I teach how set up the cold-process way.

Another thing to consider is that there are many compounds in honey that are beneficial to your health. When you heat pasteurize or boil your honey you destroy much of that health advantage.

Prost!

~dr

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Redstone and me


The always colorful, David Myers, from Redstone Meadery stopped by to say hello. He went home with some of my Mead which I think is about time since I have drank so much of his over the years! ;) David is a good guy. Be sure to pay Redstone (Redstone is one of the largest Meaderies in the world) a visit when in Boulder. Prost! ~dr

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kookoolan Dwójniak

Kookoolan Dwójniak by Traditional Mead
Kookoolan Dwójniak, a photo by Traditional Mead on Flickr.
Here is my first offering as a wine making consultant for Kookoolan World Meadery. It is a traditional Mead made with a massive amount of Orange blossom honey. One part honey to one part water, which means 8 pounds of honey per gallon! I then aged it to perfection in bourbon oak barrels. We released this imbibe and in 3 weeks was completely sold out. I have been told by many that it is the best Mead they have ever had.

Prost!

~dr

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Mead show!

Hey friends! I recently was a guest on, In one day radio. I'm about 50 minutes into it, however Sean and Jenny are a lot of fun so I recommend listening to the whole show. Anyways, I talk about Mead in general, but we got to try the new release for one of the Meaderies I do consulting for. The release for this Mead will be at Mainbrew in Hillsboro, Oregon, Thursday September 27 from 5-7 pm. 503-648-4254. This particular mead is the greatest thing I have ever made or drank. We aged it in Bourbon Oak barrels and it is devine! Get yours soon, because it is not going to last long!

Click HERE for the Mead radio show!

~dr

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mead and appropriate fermentation temperatures.

 © 2012 Douglas Remington

I thought I would post a quick rundown of the proper temperature protocol for the fermentation of Mead since I have gotten several emails about this lately. Note this is an advanced/professional method of Mead fermentation and will require the resources for temperature control.

Mead should be fermented and made exactly like white wine (not beer!) varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc. The correct temperature depends on the honey type and the yeast used. This of course takes much experience (citrus blossom honeys can benefit from a bit more heat and the use of a Sauvignon Blanc yeast for example), but in general we are looking at: 10-18 Celsius or 50-62 Fahrenheit. I shoot for around 12-14c to start my fermentation off. These numbers are lower than most commercial Meaderies (but similar for white grape wine producers), but in my opinion it is simply because they either do not know better or they are trying to get their product out faster: time = money, warmer = faster.

The reason white wine and Mead should be fermented relatively cool is to make it more focused. Warmer temperatures such as 20-25c makes a Mead more fruity, confusing to the palate, and damages the varietal character of the honey. Honey is a product from flowers so we try to retain as much of that floral character as possible. Now when I talk about these temperatures I am talking about the initial fermentation, not the final fermentation temperature. It is most important to keep the fermentation at these cool temperatures for the first 72 hours. That is when the majority of off-flavors are developed if fermented warm. After 72 hours I raise my temp to 15c where it remains there until fermentation is nearly complete and then raise up to 18-20c until fermentation is finished. The 18-20c step permits the yeast to reabsorb any off flavors and finalizes attenuation. From there the Mead is racked off and cold conditioned for a short time at -2c, and then racked off one more time and kept at 10c until filtering and bottling.

On the home scale this can be accomplished by getting a large chest freezer and a dual temperature controller (such as a Ranco that mainbrew.com sells) and some of heating element or ferm-wrap. What I do at home is I have a thermo-well in my fermenter(s), and I have a ferm-wrap attached to the fermenter. When the fermenter warms over the target temperature the controller kicks on the freezer until the desired temperature is reached. If it needs to warm up, the controller kicks on the heating element. You can control your temp within 1 - 2 degrees in this manner and ramp it up to whatever you wish. On the professional scale we do the same thing but with a glycol jacketed fermenter. A glycol chiller pumps cold glycol around the fermenter to control the temperature.

I recommend the following yeast strains for cool Mead fermentations: Lalvin R2, DV10, EC-1118, RHST, Cross Evolution, W15, BA11, Maurivin Elegance, Vitilevure 58W3, QA23, Quartz, CHP.

Prost!

~dr

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dwójniak

Oh my gosh Droogs, I just bottled my, Dwójniak! A Dwójniak is the Polish name Mead that is made with equal parts honey and water. This particular one was just a 10 gallon batch. I aged it for 4 years before bottling. In this 10 gallon batch I used 81 pounds of honey which consisted of 40#'s of Fireweed honey. 40#'s of Orange blossom honey, and 1# of buckwheat honey. It is 21% ABV and is simply divine! To put into perspective. Most traditional Meads use between 2.5 - 3 pounds honey per gallon. This baby got 8.1 pounds per gallon!

Tasting notes include: Honey, honey dew, apricot, pear, apple, melon, rose petals, sherry, orange and fireweed blossom, beeswax, vanilla, cinnamon and spice, and is somewhat icewine-like.

No, I do not ever enter my Meads in contest on principle, but soon you can try a similar Mead I made for a commercial Meadery. I do consulting, and right now I have taken the reigns as head Mead-Maker at a commercial Meadery (the owner is still very active in the process, I handle the technical stuff, most of recipe development, and the heavy labor). We are making some really good stuff. I will share more about this in the near future.

More later my friends...

~dr