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The end of a hiatus

May 10, 2012

It has been far too long since I have made mead.  But its time to fire up the…ladle?  Mead doesn’t actually have to involve any heat I’ve found – so perhaps the metaphor is a little weak.

Ah!  But the ladle – this is a solution to the problem that had been vexing me when I ran out of honey so many months ago.  I say ran out of honey.  This is blatantly untrue.  Rather than actually run out of honey, I ran out of the oh so convenient to pour honey.  And when I say “oh so convenient” one has to take into consideration that pouring honey is never a simple task (ever fought one of those 1lb bear shaped containers?) and to successfully pour honey from a 50lb container while trying to weigh out a specific amount, while not rocket science, is not simple.

So, that container ran out of honey.  My next 50lb container of honey resembles a large plastic paint bucket, made of food safe plastic and filled with delicious honey, but still…large and paint bucket shaped.  Well – equipped with a ladle, some waxed paper, a digital scale, and a bowl – I found that the task was not nearly as challenging as it had been in my head.  Although it should go without saying that the process was not entirely without its drips, it was considerably less sticky an affair than I had been assuming.  Not only was it not a particularly messy way of moving honey, it was much easier to get exact amounts of honey.

Speaking of exactitude’s and honey – this is Georgian wildflower honey from Blue Ridge Honey Company.

So – now to the mead.  This was the first double batch I’ve ever made – 10 gallons of mead done at the same time.  The batches (XIII and XIV for those who are counting) are identical in composition.  Both are honey, water, water hardener, acid buffer, and marmite.  Both have the potential to ferment to just north of 8% ABV, and are using a tried and true high alcohol yeast, so I expect neither will have a problem reaching that level.

But – they are different in preparation.  One batch has had the honey completely dissolved, and the other has not.  If you’ve ever added sugar to tea without stirring (or even honey for that matter) you’ve probably noticed that sugar doesn’t dissolve that rapidly.  Taken on a grander scale of a 5 gallon carboy with filled with several inches of honey and then topped with water, the process of dissolution takes a significant amount of time without stirring or heat.  The reason for the difference is to compare how yeast respond to differing sugar levels.  The unstirred mead wort will give the yeast less to eat at first, but the sugar level will gradually raise.  The stirred wort will have an initially high sugar content that will only drop as time goes on.

I look forward to drinking the results!


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