Over the past few months, during a couple of bottles shares and a one or two black & tan moments, I’ve got to know David, or Dave, Yes! Ale Blog. (Though our first Beernomicon bottle share was interrupted by the birth of his first born child, how selfish. You can read about Dave’s account of the day here and Laura, Dave’s wife, covers it wonderfully too.)
As well as being a very snappy dresser, Dave is a very snazzy homebrewer, last year winning ‘Best In Show’ at the Manchester Homebrew Expo during MCR Beer Week. So when he invited me to pop round to his homebrewery / garage to give him a hand with some mead he wanted to brew I said ‘Count MEad in!’.
Being only a novice, but enthusiastic, drinker of mead I had thought about brewing some myself, but I knew it took up to six months at least to do so, which meant I could possibly put 100 odd days into something that could turn out being worse than the brown sludge I saw leaking out of a skip the other day. But I was more than happy to let Dave do most of the leg work, while I could breathe down his neck, learn a little and have some great mead at the end of it to drink. Plus, having tried Dave’s past brewing I knew he had the talent and knowledge to pull it off.
On June 6th I went over to Dave’s place with a few cans, a notebook and a dread about knocking on the wrong door (I didn’t, though Edit: Dave tells me I DID knock on the wrong door. I tried the front door, they use the back. Sorry Dave.). Dave showed me in and we talked about the mead and how he had decided to also brew an IPA for the upcoming MCR Beer Week Homebrew Expo; he wanted to win it again.
He showed me into his garagebrewery; complete with keezer for kegs, gallon jugs full of bretted beer, copious amounts of bottles (empty and full) and his brew kit, which for a homebrewer I was quite impressed with. We cracked open ‘Haven’ a decent pilsner from Mikkeller and commenced work on the IPA. It featured 5g Nelson Sauvin at first wort (basically means before the boil), 50g Mosaic, 50g Vic Secret and 100g Simcoe whirlpool at approx 70C, with 300g of dry hops going into it over 3 additions, first one prior to fermentation completion, which according to Dave ’causes biotransformation which it supposed to make the aroma even bigger and survive longer’. You can see why he is the homebrewer winning awards and I’m the glorified-ape drinking beer asking him questions. Either way I’m pretty sure it’ll be great, look out for it at the homebrew expo. (Sidenote: There was a little extra after the boil so Dave is brewing a hopfenwiesse from the remainder. Lovely stuff.)
While the mash was on for the IPA we went back to Dave’s kitchen, me with another beer in hand and Dave with his white wellies on, to get started on the mead brew. We got chatting about the stuff while Dave set up, and I opened a can of Cloudwater Brew Co. ‘ IIPA Centennial’. We both had our mead awakening at the same time, not far from one another in a foreign land without knowing it. We both attended Copenhagen Beer Celebration in 2016, and the Superstition Mead we tried there opened both our eyes to the possibility of the honey-joy. We didn’t know each other then, but drank the same beer in the same building.
Besides a run down of the events of the evening, the main goal of this is to give a little extra info on mead.
Main ingredients are water, honey and yeast. Of course added extras are encouraged (i.e. fruits) but thats up to the brewer.
Measurements for our brew with 6 litres of water, 1360g of honey with a special mead yeast from Mangrove Jack’s ‘MO5 Mead Yeast’. The honey was shop-bought clear honey, nothing fancy. You can go over and above on the honey cost if you want but it didn’t feel necessary for this.
Dave put the heat on (just using an Aldi bought pot on his kitchen stove) and before the water boiled we added the honey, stirring as we went so the honey melted and didn’t congeal at the bottom.
Once the water and honey mixture had reached boiling point we let it boil for 15 mins then took it off the heat.
The boil now needed to cool down naturally to around 24C, when it reached this temperature we could pitch the yeast and move the mead brew into the fermenter.
While we waited for that to cool we went and checked on the IPA mash, transferring it over ready to boil and add the hops. Dave let me pour some barrel aged farmhouse sour that he’s had kegged for about 8 months and had kept cold, it tasted bloody great.
This is where our evening ended as I had to get home as I had work early next morning.
In my absence, Dave added the yeast and moved all of it over to the first fermenter.
On June 11th Dave sent me some pictures during the primary fermentation. Looks great and has a quite a floral aroma according to Dave. The original gravity is 1.070, which in layman/Ross terms means its about 11% at the moment. Dave reckons it will probably drop below 1.000 by the end.
From here it will sit in that fermenter for 1 month, at that time it was will transferred to another fermenter with a cup of water, honey and yeast nutrient added. At that point some fruit will be added too. Dave was thinking blackberries which I was very happy about, but that’s yet to be decided.
After that first transferal we’ll leave it for a further month, then do the same again, moving it to another fermenter.
This moving of the mead keeps it clear and gets rid of any muck at the bottom.
Once the mead has been moved twice it’s ready to sit and ferment for 6 months, with an aim for it to be about 11% by the time its done around Christmas.
I’ll keep updating this post as the mead grows and ferments.
Thanks to Dave for letting me bother him with all this.
Go read his blog, he can writted much better sentence than us.