Sunday, September 18, 2011

#7 - Viking Mead [Extract]

Years ago, when I went to Wacken in Germany I was introduced to mead for the first time. It was absolutely delicious! From what I can remember it was definitely a sweet mead, which had a slightly red colour to it but I cant remember tasting any spices. I would speculate that it had low alcohol content (5% at a guess) as I drank a lot of it over several days and never really got drunk from it. My guess would be that it was racked to secondary with a load of cherries to give it the red colour.

I spent a lot of time searching around for a nice Mead recipe. There aren't that many sources of 'Viking' recipes and inevitably I came across a good recipe on one of the less well known mead websites. This recipe is for a 19L batch but I didn't want to brew something that large while having now idea how it would turn out. I instead attempted to scale back the recipe to suit a 5L batch.
The Ingredients for a 5L Batch of Mead
Mead Recipe
  • 1.2kg pure raw honey (for sweet, stronger Mead)
  • 5 Litres spring water (Bottled, not tap unless chlorine free)
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (Citrix Additive)
  • 1 tsp. acid blend (combination malic/citric acid)
  • 2 oz. sliced ginger root (1 finger's length)
  • 1-2 whole cloves (optional, as desired)
  • <1 vanilla beans (optional, as desired)
  • <1 cinnamon (optional, as desired)
  • 1 Allspice (optional, as desired)
  • <1 crushed fruit (peaches, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, apple & others)
  • 1/4 tsp. Irish moss (to clarify Mead)
  • 1/2 packet yeast (Ale yeast )

The process of preparing the mead can be seen in the instructions on the original recipe but my main advice is don't try to make this in a 2L pot!  I ended up making the mead using 2 pots, I spilt bits of it everywhere and the entire kitchen and living room table was sticky for several days despite cleaning!

This is the stages of the mead over several months, it has a slightly red hue which goes away while the yeast is active during the initial fermentation and then is visible again once it beings to clear. In the 3rd image I was racking it for a 2nd time after 2 months ageing. It was at this point that I took my first sample.

It looks a a lot clearer in the glass than when it is in the demijohn but after the first taste I immediately regretted using the champaign yeast. It was extremely dry and I forgot to take a SG reading but I would guess it was at or below 1000 giving an alcohol content of over 12%. I don't think any amount of ageing is going to make this mead taste better. I am considering stabilising the fermentation and adding some dextrose to back sweeten but that mightn't be enough to save it. The spices mainly contributed to the aroma but it has definitely faded over time. I read somewhere that its sometimes recommended to make a 'spice tea' later and add it to the brew which I may consider the next time. Either way it is still ageing in the demijohn while I decide what to do with it.

Started - 4.6.11
Racked - 7.7.11
Finished - NA
Bottled - NA
Code - 1007
Yeast Brand - Young's Champagne
Yeast Code - 28032013
Y-Temp - 26.0 
Beer/Product Type -  Viking Mead
Malt/Sugar Type - 1.2kg Honey + multiple flavours
Volume -  5L
OG - 1092
Proof  - NA

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