Brewing day-Mead and Cyser

The Sunday before last was mead and cyser (cider with honey) day. I racked a mulberry mead, made a mead with this years grapes and made a cyser. I spent about 2 1/2 hours in the kitchen, most of it was washing or sanitizing equipment. Brewing is mostly about getting everything clean, making food for your yeast and letting it do it’s job.

The mulberry mead. This was started in July. The recipe:

  • 12 pounds honey, from the local Co-op.
  • 1 1/2 pints mulberries from the back yard
  • 1 cup left over cherries from the cherry tree.
  • WLP720 Sweat mead yeast, from Whitelabs.

I wanted to do something different with this mead, so I pressed the berries through a stainless steel colander to separate the juice from the berries. I took pictures, but my old camera memory quit working and I lost the photo.

I started by adding 1 gallon of water into a 6 gallon carboy, then the honey. I 1/2 filled the honey jars with water, caped them tightly and shook until the left over honey dissolved. The dissolved honey was then added to the carboy.

I capped the carboy and plugged the hole in the cap with my thumb and shook, shook, shook. It takes quite a bit of shaking to mix the honey and water. I then added another gallon of water and shook some more.

The juice and left over berry skins went in and more shaking. Finally, I brought the water up to the 5 gallon mark, added the yeast and give it one final shake, caped it and filled the airlock.

If you don’t know where the gallon marks on your carboy is, you can figure it out by filling it, one gallon at a time and marking the carboy with stickers or tape.

That was 2 months ago. Now, I racked the Mulberry mead into a sanitized 5 gallon carboy. This was done with a siphon hose and racking wand. Once in the 5 gallon carboy, it was given a newly sanitized airlock and cap. It is important to take the mead off of the dead yeast and spent berries, once the fermentation ceases, to avoid unpleasant flavors, but really I needed the 6 gallon carboy for my cyser.

The 6 gallon carboy was washed and sanitized.

Apple Cyser recipe:

  • 4 gallons Apple cider
  • 6 pounds honey.
  • Whitelabs WLP775 English Cider yeast.

I followed a similar procedure to the above mead. 1 gallon of apple cider was added to the carboy, then the honey. The honey jars were 1/2 filled with cider and shaken to dissolve any remaining honey, then added to the carboy. The carboy was capped and shaken to dissolve the honey into the cider. I continued to add cider and shake until all 4 gallons were in the carboy. Finally I added the yeast and gave it one last shake, capped it and filled the airlock with water.

I used to heat my meads, to kill off anything wild in the honey or fruit, but quit a few years ago. I was talking with a professional mead maker and he said that heating it changes the flavor and that honey is naturally anti-microbial. He was right! I haven’t had a batch go bad since.

This Frontenac mead was created as a way to use the grapes I grew over the summer. I only harvested about 1/2 pint of fruit, so I decided to make a small, two gallon mead.

  • 6 pounds honey
  • Frontenac grapes, 16 oz. jar.
  • LALVIN K1-V1116 yeast
  • 1 3/4 gallons of water.

Since this mead was smaller, I made it in a 3 gallon, carboy. I didn’t actually have one, but had been meaning to purchase one for smaller batches, so I took this as prefect opportunity.

I had wanted to press the grapes, as I did with the berries for the mulberry mead, but I hadn’t purchased the yeast or carboy when I harvested the grapes and since I was concerned that wild yeasts would start the fermenting process, so I froze the grapes.

I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to thaw the grapes and press them and in a comment on WashingtonWineMaker.com, Erroll indicated that the freezing process should be sufficient to “crush” the grapes. He was right. I started with about 1/2 gallon of water in the clean/sanitized carboy, added the honey and then rinsed the remaining honey out of the honey jars with water and added this to the carboy. I gave it quite a few shakes to throughly dissolve the honey into the water, added the grapes and yeast, and brought the water to 2 gallons. One final shake, then it was capped and airlocked.

In is interesting to note that the grapes have just about lost their color and the mead took on a very slight blush, especially compared to the cyser.

They have both been bubbling along quite nicely. Since their ferments are off to such a nice start, I moved both to the basement. At about 62 degrees, my basement is a bit cold for these yeasts, which prefer something around 70 degrees; however, I have found that fermenting at too cold a temp is better than a to warm a temp, as long as it keeps fermenting. The higher temps tend to yield to more medicinal tasting alcohol.

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