I've yet to try an oaked mead, but it's something I've been curious about since I first read Ken Schramm's Compleat Meadmaker. He raves about the character oak can add to an already good mead. Now that I've got my 10-gallon Peach Brandy barrel this is my chance to find out!
I looked at some of the St. Paul homebrew club's info on staggered nutrient additions, pH adjustment, etc for meadmaking. Kristen England has a powerpoint online from a mead presentation he gave, and there is a good interview (w/ 2 recipes) from Curt Stock on Brew TV as well. With info in hand, I got some KOH from one of the guys in the Milwaukee Beer Barons club while taking my BJCP exam earlier this month and set out to make a big Stock-inspired melomel.
We have around 20 lbs of rhubarb in the chest freezer from my grandma's garden last year. I saved the really thick stalks for mead/beer since they are too big and stringy to work well in pies. (My grandma makes the best rhubarb pie ever, just for the record!) I also went out and bought a bunch of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and 2 containers of Blueberry-Pomegranate juice concentrate. Along with 40 lbs of honey from 3 different sources, I split this all up into 2 buckets and did my thang. . .
Peach Brandy Barrel Aged Rhubarb-Berry Melomel
brewed on: 3/30/11
FG (bucket 1): 1.033
FG (bucket 2): 1.012
18 lbs - Wildflower (Sean's dad's apiary, Fall '10 harvest)
6 lbs - Wildflower (DP. Wigley, funky/earthy smelling & crystallized)
16 lbs - Wildflower (Jim Payne, older honey, crystallized, but very clean tasting)
8 lbs - rhubarb
7.5 lbs - strawberries
5 lbs - blueberries
3.5 lbs - blackberries
2 cans - blueberry-pomegranate juice concentrate
25g Lalvin Narbonne 71B (split 12.5g/bucket)
Nutrients & pH adjustment schedule:
Day 1 (per 5 gallon bucket)
4.5g Wine yeast Nutrient
12.5g 71B yeast, rehydrated
Days 1, 3, 5, 7
stir to degas
Days 2, 4, 6 (per 5 gallon bucket)
stir to degas
4.5g Fermaid K
50ppm KOH (10 ml, 2M solution)
Fermented at 63F ambient temp
Added to Peach brandy barrel after 2 weeks. Average FG of 1.022.
5/17/11 - blended FG in barrel 1.017. Picked up just a hint of the oak & brandy barrel character. Also deepened the color to a deep orange. Cleared Nicely. Bottling tonight. Refilling barrel with RIS.