Beer Style: Other Fruit Melomel (25C)
Recipe Type: other
Yield: 3 US gallons
For what it's worth, my first mead was a 3 gallon batch of orange melomel that I started on January 16, 1996 (actually 2-1/2 gallons in a 3 gallon carboy since I was warned to be prepared for very active fermentation using fruit). I used "Just Pik't" fresh frozen OJ (not from concentrate, unpastuerized; expensive but you could taste the difference). I basically followed the orange melomel recipe (#11) in Acton and Duncan's "Making Mead."
[Although note above says 3 gallon batch, the recipe in MLD was based on per gallon amounts, so ingredient list below reflects 1 gallon batch size. --Ed.]
Treated with 1 dissolved campden tablet per gallon. I waited 36 hrs (w/fermentation lock on) before pitching the yeast starter. As recommended in the book, I brought the room temp up to the upper 70s for the first couple of days and gradually brought it down to the mid to upper 60s for the remainder of the fermentation. The fermentation was active w/in 12 hrs. At its peak, it was bubbling like a coffee percolator (2-3 times per second) for the first few days.
A 1"-2" thick orange foam formed at the surface which I resuspended by "swirling" the carboy w/ the fermentation lock on (2x/day for the first few days only). The fermentation lasted less than 10 days. On the 12th day, I took a gravity reading of 0.994! The recipe recomended first racking at a reading of 1.005; I would have taken readings more frequently if I realized how quickly it would go. At that time, it tasted dry (no sweetness), somewhat harsh, with little orange flavor or aroma.
The color has been a deep orange brown and has been very clear since fermentation ended. After 2-1/2 months, it's dry but seems to be improving; more of a tangy orange taste. I used my new acid testing kit to get an acidity reading of 0.6%; right at the recom. level for fruit wines.
Only speculation at this point, but next time, I would use more honey and begin fermentation in smaller containers without the juice, rack at a gravity of around 1.050 (while fermentation is still active) into a larger carboy onto the juice. Hopefully, this would lead to a slower fermentation with less of the honey and juice flavors going "up in smoke" so quickly. I'd also try to have less head space to avoid possible oxidation problems. If I added any acid it would only be malic and/or tartaric (OJ should have been plenty of citric already). Lastly, I'd ferment at 60degrees and maybe finish off around 75 degrees for a short time only after the fermentation slowed. My other mead batches have started strong and done well at this temperature. Oh yeah, I'm also ordering some Florida fresh orange blossom honey.
Source: Michael Cuccia