This is the mead I brewed for Christine’s and my wedding.
June 29, 1996
- 12 pounds (1 gallon) Sunburst Starthistle Honey from American Mead Maker
- 3+ gallons Eldorado Natural Spring Water
- 1 packet (5 grams) Active Dry Wine Yeast – Pasteur Champagne from Red Star
- 3 teaspoons Yeast Nutrient (food grade ureu & ammonium phosphate)
Mike, Christine and I drove to Denver to pick up some bulk honey. We selected the Sunburst Starthistle. The notes stated “Starthistle is smooth, yet full of flavor, with a slight vanilla taste.” This is my first batch of mead, but not Mike’s; however, this is the largest batch he’s made to date.
We heated the water on the stove and opened the honey. Unfortunately the honey was crystallized. Mike said that’s not a problem, but it was difficult getting the honey out of the pail and dissolving it in the water.
Once dissolved, Mike stopped the heat and took a hydrometer reading. He cooled the sample to about 75F and gravity was 1.120. This was about right but we wanted to boil the must for 10 minutes, so we added 4 cups of spring water to boil off.
We turned the heat back on and stirred occasionally to bring to boil. Once boiling we started skimming off the foam that rose to the surface. We boiled for 10 minutes and added the yeast nutrient. Once off the fire we put the pot into the bathtub to cool the wort. We took another hydrometer reading.
Starting Gravity = 1.115
We transferred the must into a carboy and sealed it to settle overnight.
We were planning to transfer the must into a second carboy, but the must looked clean (no sediment on the bottom). The must is a cloudy golden color. We pitched the yeast after mixing it in a 1/4 cup of warm spring water and let the yeast oxygenate for 1/2 hour.
July 17, 1996
Racked mead for the first time. Immediate gravity reading was 1.080, but it climbed to 1.112. We’ll look for a better reading next time. We tasted it and it was very sweet. Really quite nice. We commented that we could drink it as is, but the alcohol level isn’t where it needs to be.
August 18, 1996
Racked mead for second time. Gravity is 1.068. Mead looks clearer but still can’t see through it. Lots of yeast sediment on the bottom again.Very estery smelling when racked; presumably there’s still yeast present in the mead. We are looking for the final gravity to be closer to 1.010. More potent in taste and odor this time, but still very sweet.
August 20, 1996
After racking there has been no noticeable fermentation, so we decided to repitch the yeast. I added another packet of champagne from Red Star.
August 22, 1996
Still no noticeable change in fermentation. I’ve repitched with yet another yeast, Champagne yeast from Lalvin and added 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient as well.
August 24, 1996
We now have vigorous activity. Fermentation is the best it’s been in a month. I think the gargoyle candle helped.
September 15, 1996
Still strong fermentation. We have been preparing the cask for this mead with barrelclean.
September 29, 1996
Lit gargoyle candle and racked. Success! Mead looks good and gravity is 1.010. Huzzah!
December 28, 1996
Today Christine and I were married. We served the mead from the oak cask that sat cold outside and was brought inside to the Garth Mansion in Hannibal on a bed of ice. The mead really needed to age much longer. It was strong and since the cask was so new, it smacked of oak. However, I don’t regret serving it. It was a fun project and appropriate for our wedding. Next time we’ll let it age a year.