This holiday season, I have bottled two batches and labeled these as gifts for friends and family. This is a discussion of the first, TBM’s Merry Mead. I’ll cover the second as I finalize the label and bottle the batch.
Merry mead was a recipe created from the dregs of one of our Wedding Meads. During the bottling process for the Blackberry Bliss, I realized there was approximately one gallon left of blackberry and blueberry mush (the fruit had dropped out of suspension during the fermentation, and was not pressed to harvest the remaining liquid). Seeing the opportunity, I quickly added 12 pounds of orange blossom honey, topped the carboy up to 5 gallons, pitched some more yeast, and let it ferment.
I have never had any problems with bread yeasts creating off flavors during prolonged aging, so the five gallon carboy remained buried in a closet for months. After nearly a year of primary fermentation (20 Nov 2012 to 18 Nov 2013) this mead was racked to a 3 gallon and a 1 gallon carboy. The 3 gallon carboy came out perfectly clear, but the 1 gallon still has some remaining lees to settle. Merry Mead is exclusively from the 3 gallon carboy, bottled on 16 Dec 2013.
I am very satisfied with the final product. The berry flavor compared to Blackberry Bliss is barely perceptible, leaving the orange blossom honey and cinnamon as dominant flavors. The cinnamon leaves a slight numbness to the tongue during tasting (similar to the effects of cloves, but I’ve double-checked the recipe and couldn’t find any in my notes). The mead finished very sweet, but not cloyingly. There is enough residual acid and cinnamon to create a balanced mead, highly drinkable and great as an after dinner apertif.
Given the recipe process, I don’t have an accurate measure of alcohol content for this batch, but have approximated it around 10%. The previous Wedding Meads settled in right around 10%, and it is doubtful this batch made it much further. After a single glass you could feel the punch.