Beer Style: Other Fruit Melomel (25C)
Recipe Type: other
Yield: 5 US gallons
Wanted to pass on a rhubarb melomel recipe that I came up with about two years ago, and got quite positive comments on. This recipe came about when I wanted to create a mead that had a higher acidic content, but without adding a commercial acid blend. I wanted to get the acid from a more 'natural' source. So I got thinking, and maybe this is a wierd concept, but, 'what's the opposite taste to honey?' I finally decided that rhubarb was probably the closest; sour and acid v/s sweet and soft. My goal was a strong, balanced mead, with a bit of residual sweetness. Considering the champagne yeast, I'd have to continue 'feeding' it honey until the yeast pooped out. Here's how I made it.
My notes end here. The stuff tasted so bad, I just wrote it off as a bust effort. I know I racked and added honey one more time (what the hell). It seemed the yeast would NEVER poop out. After that the stuff was just ignored. I figured I'd get around to dumping it when I needed an empty carboy.
As it turned out, it's a good thing I have a few extra carboys. :-) When I next tasted the stuff, it was seven months later; March of 95. Most of the harsh, solvent tastes and strong acid had mellowed (probably due to malo-lactic fermentation, I'm guessing) and both the rhubarb and honey notes were present, though subdued. Good legs, too. The mead was still VERY dry, but that turned out to be OK; the overall presentation was similar to a chablis -- steely, earthy, complex. Didn't check the finish S.G., just started drinking it, but I guess it was around 0.990. Alc. around 15%.
Much of this mead was drunk by just tapping it from the carboy, so there was considerable oxidation over the next few months. Though I know this is bad form, it didn't seem to harm the taste. (Why?) Maybe it helped? Oh, and about half of the quantity was stored in a small oak cask for about a month (Aug 95), then remixed back into the carboy. In any case, I finally got some bottled, and the few I have left are still improving. (I think the oak flavour was important.)
This mead was a real hit, especially among my grape-wine drinking friends (and especially among the ones who've been conditioned to turn their noses up at anything that's not BONE dry).
The procedure I took to make this mead was full of accident and serendipity: I'd hate to try and reproduce it exactly. But I think there's good info in the recipe, which can be applied to other attempts.
Heated and skimmed the honey (with some water) for about 20 min., and then added the chopped rhubarb and let simmer for about an hour to extract the flavour and other components. Actually, because of the size of my pot, I had to do this operation twice, with half the ingredients each time.
94/06/11 This mixture was then put into a large primary pail, and topped up with water. BTW, my water comes from a well, and is VERY hard, so I didn't feel the need to add any minerals, like gypsum, to the must.
94/06/12 S.G. 1.080 Pitched yeast into primary
94/06/13 Going like crazy!
94/06/21 S.G. 0.996 ! Racked to carboy. Added ~ 1 K. (2.2lb) honey, which raised S.G. to 1.016. Topped up with water.
94/08/01 S.G. 0.994 Rack. Clearing well. Tastes horrible, acidic and solvent-y. My notes say I added .5 K. kilo honey, which raised the S.G. to 1.016. Looking back, that doesn't seem to make sense, but THAT'S what the notes say. *shrug* :-)
Source: Robert Alexander