I've gotten in the habit of putting together a few batches of mead each year and this is the first for 2010. At one or two years age before they are really good in most cases, I feel like I should continue doing this so as to eventually have a nice turnaround. My first attempt was last July (2009) and I bottled it early. I did several things wrong with it including pitching a weak yeast just before leaving on vacation so I couldn't feed it during the first few days. We also moved over the winter and the carboy got shook up more than I'd like on the car ride even though I was extremely careful with it. I also didn't rack it enough times and the bottles have sediment. It ended up with a very yeasty flavor to it which I'm hoping will mellow out a little with more time. For now, it's not great, but it's not something I would dump either. It's just below average in my opinion for now.
My second batch was started in early September of 2009 using cranberry blossom honey delivered by a friend from a beekeeper in Tomah, WI. I haven't tasted it recently, but I have high hopes that although it also didn't get the best treatment while moving, it will hopefully turn out better.
Now that I've done this a couple times and have some experience under my belt, I set out to make what I hope will be a much better end product. I pciked up 2 gallons of sour Montmorency cherry juice from a local store, 12 lbs of Wildflower honey from Northern Brewer, augmented with 4 more lbs of Basswood honey from our local homebrewing store in Racine.
Sour Cherry Melomel
brewed on: 6/13/10
12 lbs (1 gallon) Wildflower honey (northern brewer)
3 gallons water
2 gallons sour cherry juice (SG 1.051)
4 lbs Basswood honey (added later once yeast krausened)
aerated extremely well, added 2 tsp wine yeast nutrient & 1 tsp yeast energizer
More yeast energizer & nutrient added once per day for the next 2 days.
Re-aerated around 1.5 days later with addition of Basswood honey.
I'm shooting for something on the sweet side to balance the sour cherries, thus adding more honey. I was originally planning on 5 gallons, but it ended up being 6 with the addition of the Basswood honey. Possibility of topping up down the road with more cherry juice after racking.
I need to sit down and figure out the approximate OG on this one due to the late honey addition and cherry juice.
I didn't get to take an OG reading since the fermentables were not added together. However, I've calculated the gravity roughly as follows:
expected OG - 1.098
FG - 1.020
ABV - ~10.5%
7/13 - Transferred to secondary. SG @ 1.020. Alcohol a bit harsh. Still very cloudy. (Need to add a handful of raisins soon.)
12/10/10 - bottled. FG 1.020