Amy & Mitch’s Third Anniversary Mead

IMG_5586Every year since our first anniversary, my girlfriend, Amy and I make a batch of mead. Starting with our second anniversary, we enjoy our first glasses of the previous year’s mead as we work.

It is a fun (and romantic) tradition that gives us a chance to celebrate the past year and simultaneously look forward to our adventures to come in the next year. Our First Anniversary Mead was the standard first-time-mead-maker situation.

We used Orange Blossom honey, but not as much as we probably should have. We fermented with Champagne yeast, which dried the mead out way too much. The result was a bone dry, thin, mead that is drinkable but sort of lifeless and dull. Luckily, when we drink it, we get to think of all the great things that we have done together, especially those that happened around the times that we were making and tending to the mead.

For our Second Anniversary Mead we made a strawberry melomel which I will post tasting notes on soon. Learning from experience and a little bit of research, I had the idea to go back to our original recipe and just try to do it right this time. That meant three main changes.

First of all, we used a lot more honey, a total of seventeen pounds in a five gallon batch. Second, we switched from Champagne yeast to Lavalin ICV D-47. This yeast is used mainly for white and blush wines in addition to mead and will leave a bit more body and sweetness, especially with so much honey. Finally, we used staggered nutrient additions. We added three teaspoons of each, Yeast Nutrient and Yeast Energizer when we mixed up the mead, then an additional teaspoon of each every day for three days. We stirred and degassed the mead each time we added the nutrients.

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I did some half-hearted internet research to prepare for making this batch. To be honest, I had trouble getting into the research because I don’t have much experience drinking mead. I want to learn to make great mead, but I don’t even have much of an idea of what my perfect mead would be. I tried to get Amy’s ideas but she had similar problems expressing what she was even looking for.

This podcast from Beersmith with Michael Fairbrother from Moonlight Meadery is what helped me finally grasp enough of what would be necessary to hopefully produce at least a good mead. It was easier to swallow the information by listening to a conversation than trying to read in depth articles. It also helped that Fairbrother specifically mentioned Dutch Gold, headquartered in Lancaster, PA, as a good source of honey. We’ve been getting our honey directly from their factory store since our first batch.

Amy & Mitch’s Third Anniversary Mead is still sitting in the bucket, untouched since the last nutrient addition. I plan to check the gravity in another couple weeks and determine if it is ready to rack. If so, we will rack it into a carboy and give it another couple months. Depending on how it clears, we will either rack it again if there is lees, or just take it down to the cold basement to condition until we’re ready to bottle. Hopefully, this year we will get around to bottling it earlier and then let it sit in the bottle for a while before finally opening one on December 30 while we mix up our Fourth Anniversary Mead and plotting the course for another year of adventures.
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Amy & Mitch’s Third Anniversary Mead
Style: Semi-Sweet Mead
Batch Size: 5.00 Gal
Brew Date: 12/30/2014
OG: 1.122
Expected FG: 1.020
Approximate ABV: 13.3 %

17 lb. Orange Blossom Honey
2 packets of rehydrated Lavalin ICV D-47
Staggered additions of Yeast Nutrient and Yeast Energizer

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