Mixed Berry Mead Tasting

We take mead to the next level with this mixed berry mead. Making mead is fairly straightforward and easy once the basic techniques are mastered. Despite the simplicity in process, the flavor profiles achievable can be tremendous and complex. John’s mixed berry mead is is just that. Rivaling some of the better red wines I have had.

John employ the staggered nutrient addition method of mead making. This technique focuses on supplementing the yeast with nutrients otherwise not found in the mead must. Doing it this way produces a fermentation character from a very healthy yeast population. As we know and appreciate from beer brewing fermentation is everything. In mead making, helping the yeast along with the nutrients creates a cleaner more complete fermentation profile in a shorter period of time. This also means that the mead does not need to age for 12 months or more to really shine.

In this example, the mead was fermented with 10 pounds of mixed frozen berries. Along side a healthy dose of freshly harvested blackberries. The complexity of the fruit flavors in this mead recipe is amazing. It is jammy and full of dark fruit character. The acidity is well balanced against that fruit character. Notes of strawberry are in the background, but it really helps to support the fuller flavors of the raspberries and the blackberries.

The addition of oak is also subtle but provided a tannin like quality that makes the mead seem very red wine like. The oak works really well to help balance the fruity nature of the berries. The base mead is still very dry however. The acidity, fruit flavor and oak make the mead very complex while that dryness makes it very very drinkable.

Have you tried mead making yet?
Do you use fruits and or staggered nutrient additions?
We want to hear about it in the comment section!


Wedding Mead Bentonite Results

I think the heading of this post should have a question mark at the end of it, or maybe have the word results in quotation marks.

What would you think if you had experimented with a certain clarifying agent and had had dramatic results as a conclusion of that experiment but when you followed the same procedure again, you were underwhelmed with the outcome?

If you’re like me, you keep on trucking.  That’s all you can do.  The other thing about being me is that you have to blog about it.

So I had scheduled a week for the clarification process.  I added the bentonite to the secondary vessels and waited 7 days for the clay to do its thing.

After a week, I didn’t see much difference.  Take a look at this photo album of the mead depicting different periods of time during the bentonite process.

At the far left, the mead was put in the fridge to chill down before the bentonite was added.  The middle picture shows you what it looked like a week later.  If you look really closely, maybe it looks clearer?  The color is a little different but it still has a haze to it.  The photo to the far right is the mead after a racking and the oak spirals floating at the top.  You can see that the third vessel is a better bottle.  The volume of mead has been reduced a bit.  I probably left around a half gallon in the second vessel along with the yeast and the clay.

The mead now gets to sit and condition with oak for six weeks.  I am confident that during that time, the mead will clear up even more and will be looking beautiful by the bottling day.  We’re planning to bottle it on Saturday, August 30th and that is plenty of time for the rest of the haze causing particles to settle out.

I guess my biggest disappointment was the lack of a tremendous, overwhelming reveal after the bentonite phase.  Boo Hoo.

It’s clearer – you just aren’t blown away by it.  At least I am not.

Mead On.

Kohatu Hops

If you are researching new hop varieties like me, you have come to the right place.  For the past seven years, I have been writing up hop profiles for all the varieties that interest me.

Mostly, I was unhappy with the descriptions I found online and offline.   They were short, vague, and redundant across different websites.

What I try to do is to collect as much information as I can and present as much as a well-rounded profile post as I can.

I like the new hops that have been released lately, especially the ones that are influenced by the American craft beer movement over the past 20 years.

The hops of Australia and New Zealand have most of my attention lately.  There is a large collection of these hops in my basement fridge currently and I do have plans for a Down Under IPA.  This variety is another one that is worth a full investigation.  Here is my profile of Kohatu hops.

One of the things I did find out is that these hops have Hallertauer Mittelfrüeh as a parent. I think this fact plays into a few factors with the hops’ potency.

Read more about the details of Kohatu hops:

Origin:  Named after a tiny village south of the hop-growing region of Nelson in New Zealand (not to be confused with the village of the same name in Estonia).  It also  may take its name from the Maori word meaning stone or rock. They were bred in New Zealand  and were released commercially in 2011.  They are a product of the NZ hop breeding programme.

Aroma/Flavor: Pineapple is the leading descriptor mentioned in all the sources that I read.  One went so far to state “sweaty pineapple pants”.  Pine needles, lime, and classic Hawaiian Punch flavors.

Alpha Acid: 6.0 – 6.8%

Typical Usage: With the low alpha acids, Kohatu hops are an flavor or aroma hop, added later in the boil.  The sources I read concluded that they were not as strong as the other Southern Hemisphere hops so using lots of them in your beer would not be a bad thing.

Beer Styles: Any beer that you want to showcase fruity, tropical flavors.

So the Hallertauer hop parent makes me think that this variety is a little more refined and subtle than the other Down Under hops like Nelson Sauvin or Motueka.  Kohatu may be hops to purchase if you are looking for something to try out but you are not ready for the over the top flavors of the other AU or NZ hops.

Immersion Chiller Compression Fittings

We set out to diagnose a common issue with most copper immersion chillers. At some point the compression fittings that are the connection point between hose and coil become loose. The weight of the hoses once filled with chill water and normal handling can wiggle them loose. Eventually, water make seep or worse squirt out the back or side of the fitting. We show what it looks like and how to tighten the operation up for continued great service out of your IC.

Generally speaking as the fittings move up and down slightly over time they can become loose. All that’s needed to fix this usually is a pair of wrenches to squeeze the two opposing nuts together a bit more.

It should be noted that both copper and brass are fairly soft metals. It is certainly possible to over tighten these type of fittings and create more of a leak that you had before. (I have seen the same thing happen on rubber O-ring based bulkhead fittings on kettles and mash tuns.)

The worse case scenario fix for these things is to cut back the tubing some to where this is good, non-deformed tubing and place a new ferrel (compression sleeve) before the nut and re-apply the compression fitting. In John’s chiller it might have required cutting the tubing back so far that we might needed to go before the 90 degree bend. Bend a new section to 90 degrees (or keep it straight, which might be weird), and put the new fitting together there.

To keep these type of repairs from becoming a regular nuisance, handle this part of your chiller with care. Don’t pick up the chiller with heavy hoses attached without also supporting the hoses with your other hand. Don’t lift or carry the chiller by the fittings, carry it by the tubing. Of course, soldering on permanent fittings would also take care of this issue all together, but that’s a different tool set and for another video!


BIAB Series – SMaSH Beers for Hops Learnings

Keeping up with plans for the Brew In A Bag series (BIAB), here is the rundown of the single malt and single hop (SMaSH) experiments that I have planned for the summer.

There has been one idea in the works for a few months but with the BIAB series, we need to add a few more varieties to the mix to lengthen the series and add to the fun.

The hops that will be a part of the series are as follows:

The Mosaic hops have their own SMaSH recipe so they will be the first ones to be brewed. The Equinox hops have been purchased and will probably follow the procedure as the Mosaic recipe. El Dorado hops need to be purchased, which should be done soon.

As I look over the SMaSH recipe for the Mosaic hops, it was built for 5 gallons. The leading thought for the BIAB series was brew small batches. I think these experiments would be good for 2 gallon boils/1 gallon beers. That way, we could brew them all on the same day, ferment them during the same time periods, and taste them for the same video in a few months. That would be pretty cool.

I will have to take out the calculator and figure out how to reduce the recipe from 5 gallons to 1. After I am done, I should put up an update – probably for the brew day post. The session could be worthy of an event.

Maybe we can set these brews for a homebrewing club meeting?

All of these hops are pretty new and are fairly hyped. To brew them all in the series would be a great way to really know from my own perspective how all of these hops taste.

The Red Wheat vs. White Wheat experiment is first in the series but soon after will be the brews for hops learnings.

Brew on.