2013 Holiday Special Part I

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

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.

The Merry Mead Label
The Merry Mead Label

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.

Pumpkin Apple Bochet

Here is a little batch I put together last week, using some leftover ingredients frozen last year.  Let me know what you think!  No word yet on whether it’ll be any good, but initial tastes give me hope it’ll turn out alright.


  • 1 frozen baking pumpkin (cubed last year while uncooked, frozen)
  • 1 pint granny smith apples (frozen, cut into small slices)
  • 6 lbs orange blossom honey
  • 1 packet D47 yeast
  • Depending on flavor, may add pumpkin pie spice (cardamum, cinnamon, clove) after primary fermentation
  • 2 tsp yeast nutrient (3/4 tsp at pitch, 3/4 at 24 hours, 1/2 tsp at 48 hours)
  • 1 tsp yeast energizer (1/2 tsp at pitch, 1/4 at 24 hours, 1/4 tsp at 48 hours)
  • SG = 1.123 (15.88% potential ABV)


Bake frozen pumpkin at 400 deg F until roasted (15 to thaw, break up pieces into pan; 20 minutes, flip pumpkin pieces; cook additional 40 minutes, mush pumpkin in pan).  Remove pumpkin from heat.



The pumpkin baking process. Top left, frozen pumpkin and apples. Top right, partially thawed. Bottom left, partially baked. Bottom right, baked and mushed together.

Boil honey and 2 cups water (used to dissolve honey remaining in container) until honey is dark golden with a good portion burnt (approximately 1 hour), stirring continuously.  Add one half gallon cold water at the end of the boil to cool the honey, and redesolve the now very thick, somewhat burnt honey.  Chill to 70 degrees.

Boiling the honey. Be careful, honey volume will increase greatly during boil.  I used a 5 gallon brewpot to boil 1/2 gallon of honey, and nearly had the honey boiling over.

While must is cooling, rehydrate D47 per packet instructions.  Add pumpkin and frozen apple pieces to cheesecloth bag over brewing bucket. Tie cheesecloth bag.  Add rehydrated D47 to bucket, and let sit while bochet must cools.


 Adding pumpkin and apple pieces to the cheesecloth. Tie the cheesecloth bag well. This will ensure a minimal amount of pumpkin and apple pieces drop into the fermenting bucket, to minimize racking losses.

Pour boiled honey into fermenting bucket with apple and pumpkin cheesecloth bag.  Add water to 2 gallons.  My original SG was measured as 1.114 (14.84 % potential).  Add 3/4 tsp yeast nutrient and 1/2 tsp yeast energizer.

Ready to ferment. Bubbles on the top are undissolved pieces of burnt honey.

Follow yeast nutrient additions as outlined above.  Aerate twice daily during initial fermentation, and punch down cheesecloth to discourage spoiling organisms from growing.

Since this is D47, make sure to ferment under 70 degrees.  We keep our house at 67 during winter, so hopefully I’ll be okay on the temperature requirements.

Notes from the batch so far:

  • Mead is very slow to start.  Evidence of krausen formation from must on the bottom of the bucket lid, but no foam was noticeable on the surface after 24 hours.  During stirring, a good 1/2 layer of foam formed, but dissipated rapidly, leaving me to believe this recipe will not foam much.
  • Original SG was 1.114, but after 24 hours had jumped up to 1.123 as stated in the recipe above.  I believe this is caused by the burnt sugars dissolving after pitch and additional sugars from the pumpkin and apples leeching into the must.
  • Tastes very much of toffee, no noticeable pumpkin flavor, and hints of apples.  Am intrigued to find out where this goes.  Tastes good now, but bochets may turn out to be too ‘dark’ for my tastes (I’m thinking stouts/porters, but without the body).