Beer Style: Other Fruit Melomel (25C)
Recipe Type: other
Yield: 5 US gallons
On 9/25/94, I put together the first three honeys listed along with a gallon of apricot juice and enough water to make 2.55 gallons. There was no reason for the strange selection of honeys; I was just cleaning out the cupboard. The apricot juice came from apricots from a tree in my backyard. I pureed the apricots to get a thick paste, froze the paste for about a year, then thawed it out and left it sitting in a gallon jug in a refrigerator for several months. >From past experience I knew that the solids would almost never clear out of the mead, so I waited until the juice separated and just used the clear juice. At any rate, I pasteurized this concoction for 90 min at 150 F and pitched the yeast. The SG was 1.115 and the must tasted rather sour, even with all that honey. I thought that I might need to correct the sourness somehow later.
I didn't touch the mead again until 4/15/95 (my son was born on 10/20/94, so I was very busy). At this point I racked the mead, which was still sour, but had a nice apricot character. I measured the acid content at 1.3% as tartaric, 8.5 ppt as sulphuric. The SG was 1.001 and the clarity was good.
On 5/16/95 I removed a sample and adjusted its acidity to 6.5% tartaric with CaCO3, decided that was too much (too chalky) and tried to adjust acidity of whole volume to 9.25% tartaric by adding one ounce of CaCO3. I measured it to be 9.3%. I then added sodium benzoate to kill the yeast and some extra clover honey (20 min at 160 F with 1 pt water) to counteract the residual acidity and give honey character. I let it sit overnight for the chalk to precipitate out before bottling.
I entered this melomel in the 1995 NM State Fair as part of their wine competition (8/27/95). It received a Gold Medal and a score of 6.80/10, which was the highest rated mead, and the second highest rated wine (highest was 7.04). Judges noted excellent acidity-sweetness balance, good apricot and honey character, some spiciness (maybe the Questa honey?), and some sediment (the chalk), but otherwise good clarity. In the future I will try to wait until the chalk precipitates out to bottle, but at that time I needed to free up the carboy. You can see a chalk layer in the bottom of each bottle, but the mead can be easily decanted off of it.
Source: Michael L. Hall