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November 2005 -
Made a starter (1 cup of LME boiled in 1 quart water) 4 days prior to mead day using White Labs sweet mead yeast.
One gallon raspberry honey
One 48oz can Oregon raspberry puree
5.5 (???) gallons of water (Was going to start with 4 gallons, but my 13 year old daughter miscounted her 1/2 gallons apparently and I didn't notice until I added the honey.)
4 Raspberry Royale tea bags boiled in 2-3 cups of water (tannins?)
1/2 cup chopped raisins (nutrients?)
Added raisins to water, brought to temp, dissolved honey in 170 degree water, stirred in tea, let sit covered outdoors until it was cool, went to pitch the yeast and noticed an odd odor in the starter. I decanted the liquid, tasted it, and it had that funky rancid tea / astringent flavor that has infected some of my beer in the past.
I ended up tossing in a smack pack of Wyeast #1338 European Ale yeast.
Fermentation was rolling by the next morning. Lots of wonderful raspberry and raisin bits floating around.
Jan 06 - Racked to secondary, added 2-3lbs of honey dissolved in some water.
Jan 07 - Added 2 lbs of honey dissolved in some water.
Mid Feb 07 - Racked to tertiary.
Feb 27, 07 - Sorbated and Sulphited
Feb 28, 07 - Added sparkalloid
March 6, 07 - Bottled
Things I've been told to not do and / or will try on the next batch...
Take more detailed notes and use my hydrometer. Don't heat the honey up like I did. Add raspberry puree to secondary instead of primary. Use more honey up front. Don't boil the tea. Will add a small amount of yeast nutrient.
I was originally going to shoot for a sweet mead with lots of in-your-face raspberry flavor. This was my first try at a non-beer product. I made a lot of mistakes but someone was happy with my attempt and blessed it. Ending volume was 6+ gallons.
The mead turned out great. It's semi-sweet (more on the semi than the sweet) with a good balance of delicate honey flavor and raspberry flavor. Mouthfeel is good. Not thin, not syrupy. I took it to 2 local homebrew shops before stabilizing and fining. They gave it high praise (as did some customers). I took a 1.5 liter bottle to a club the other night and it was well received by several of the patrons (one a professional chef). There is a slight alcohol finish that will probably age out after a few more months. You almost have to look for it with all the flavors that are happening.
I'm happy to trade a bottle if anyone would like to try it.
Not sure what the next batch will be, but here is what I'm currently fermenting:
5 gallons dark IPA (Deeper Shade of Pale Ale, anyone?)
5 gallons Kolsch
5 gallons white grape / peach wine (for mom)
1 gallon welch's concord "wine" (3 cans concentrate, Cote des Blancs)
1 gallon white grape / raspberry "wine" (4 cans concentrate, D47)
1 gallon cyser w/ D47
1 gallon pineapple mel w/ D47
1 gallon pomegranate mel w/ Cote des Blancs
1 gallon JAO - almost 2 months old! (sampled last week... didn't like it. Hopefully time will "heal" it.)