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At long last! Bottling Day (Technically day after bottling day…) for Mead V

June 17, 2011

And V is for vanilla (also its the 6th mead I’ve made, and the letter V is the roman numeral for 5, which makes sense since I think it makes sense to start at counting at 0*), which this mead should have plenty of.  Particularly when you consider that it fermented in the company of a handful of vanilla pods.  You know how good vanilla ice cream has those little black specks?  Those are vanilla seeds (or at least that’s what they’re supposed to be), and this mead has them too!

By far this is the most aromatic mead I have brewed yet, the combination of heretofore relatively short boiling time and buckwheat honey (from Weeks Honey Farm in Omega, GA) along with the complexity of flavors that the vanilla pods bring along seems to have really worked in its favor.

The timeline on this mead goes something like this:

May 5th – The must (unfermented honey/water mixture) is created.  The O.G. (original gravity**) is 1.082.  This means if all of the sugars ferment the mead will have an alcohol content of 11%

June 2nd – I check the specific gravity again to see if its time to bottle – fermentation is still occurring, although slowly.  The gravity is at 1.020 which means the mead still has some more room for fermentation.

June 16th – Bottling day!  At this point even if the mead is at a higher specific gravity than I wish it to be at I’m obliged to bottle.  The yeast have done just about as much as they are going to do, and if they remain in the primary fermenter for too long the risk of ‘autolysis’ increases.  Autolysis is basically yeast suicide – and this lends a distinctive flavor to the drink – although not necessarily a bad flavor.  In any case – the flavor wasn’t what I was looking for so time for bottling!

Bottling was an excruciating process as I was taunted with the floral bouquet of honey and vanilla.

Pleasantly, the final gravity was 1.016 which is about what I wanted.  Although I wouldn’t call this a sweet mead, it is distinctly sweeter than the dry meads I have been making due to the residual sugars.  An additional result of the residual sugars is a slightly lower alcohol level than the maximum possible.  This mead was bottled at 9% ABV.  I feel as though the yeast has basically eaten its fill so I don’t expect the mead to dry out too much (and consequently carbonate) as it ages; however I do expect the flavors to co-mingle and grow in complexity as time goes on.

November, 2011 – this is about the time I expect to open the first bottle.  Depending on how much self-control I can muster, I’ll only consider half of the batch complete at this time.

June, 2012 – This is the point where the other half (if they remain unopened) will be considered aged enough to drink.  At this point the flavors will have manifested themselves fully and this should really demonstrate the potential of aging.

*after all, when you countdown (say for a rocket launch) you don’t say “3,2,1” and just stop there – the ‘blast off’ part is 0.  Just ‘blast off’ sounds cooler.

**Specific gravity is the measure of density of a liquid.  The higher the number the greater the density – sugars add density to water because they are heavier than water, while alcohol reduces the density of water because it is lighter.  Original gravity is a term used to refer to the starting density of a fermenting liquid; combined with the knowledge of the final gravity (F.G.) one can deduce the amount of alcohol in a drink.

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