Chestnut Honey Mead

I thought, when I made my last few meads, that I was done with meadmaking, but then I happened to accumulate some other honeys — which will be featured in other upcoming projects, including a braggot and some beers.

However, I also came across 1.5 kilograms of chestnut honey. By all accounts, this makes a really interesting mead, so I figured I’d just go for it with the chestnut honey on its own; having racked my pomegranate melomel and my minty metheglin to new containers the other day, I have one spare 4-liter jug on hand.

The recipe is dead simple: 1.3 kilograms of chestnut honey and a little yeast nutrient, and two more (small) additions of yeast nutrient/energizer over the next week or so. As I warm up the water, I’m still trying to decide what yeast to use to ferment this, but I am leaning towards a Belgian high-gravity yeast, since it will be able to take the higher alcohols (at least to some degree) and will also have a more interesting flavor profile.

The original gravity should be approximately 1.101, and the final gravity is likely to be below 1.000, with a likely ABV of 13.5%. I’m going to take great care to ferment this cool, starting with chilling it overnight in my brewing fridge before pitching anything, and letting the must and the yeast warm up together tomorrow, after everything is good and chilled. If the yeast responds well even in the fridge (which sits at about 10°C) I may even leave the mead in there for the duration of the fermentation, though I doubt that will happen.

UPDATE (same day): So, it always pays to read labels. Or at least, it often sucks not to do so.

I thought the bottles were half a kilo each, but in fact they were 600 grams each. That means my chestnut honey mead is really more like 1600 grams of honey, not the 1300 I intended. That gives me a starting gravity of 1.160, which is simply not realistic for this mead… so, once again, I find myself in a funny situation. I figure the best thing I can do is to chill it for now, and then divvy up the wort between the 4L and 3L containers I have free, and then dilute them to my target gravity. I have a little more chestnut honey left over, and can also top one up with more of another honey… or make a thinner mead with it, since I’m curious about how that affects aging. But I think I’ll go for the same gravity in both, and ferment them with different yeasts to see how the results compare.

UPDATE (11 April 2012): Well, the 4L jug is now clearing in a fridge, but on 9 April I bottled the smaller, 3L jug. The mead finished out very sweet, at 1.040FG, but it tastes good. I probably could have repitched some new yeast (I don’t remember what I used originally) but I figured we could just consider it an after-dinner wine or something. It tastes very light and very good, too, at least to my palate. Hope I can try a 5G batch with this stuff sometime, but it won’t be in Korea!

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