Raspberry mead is one of the recipies that has the potency of becoming a stable in any mead-makers repertoire.
There’s something special about the smell, the taste, the color and the clarity, it just goes straight to your heart and soul.
A fantastic summer drink then cooled, and a great winterdrink when sitting in front of the fireplace, enjoying the season. Heck – just drink the mead, its great 365 days of the year – provided you have the stamina to let it age properly.
Todays mead recipie is set for the standard 10 liter batch. I follow the metric system, so for those who want it imperial – grab yer calculators.
You will notice i change yeast types for mead recipies frequently. This has a clear reason, as i believe the distinctiveness of any mead come from any of the ingredients, as well as the methods used. For this recipie i like to use Lalvin Ec-1118, which is a champagne type yeast.
2 liter honey of great quality – flower honey ( summer) is a great choice.
4 kilo raspberry ( frozen is preferred )
1 package Lalvin EC1118 yeast
1 vanilla pod of great quality – don’t skimp on this one.
I’m not going to write much about cleanliness and tools – by now you should already have read the starter articles here and know the basics.
What is ever important is the yeast starter. Always, always always make a yeast starter – it will save you so much trouble down the road.
The reason for this, as mentioned in prior blogposts, is that by rehydrating your yeast, and familiarize it with the sugary environment it will live in in the mead, you will avoid problems with stalled or slow fermentation, and as such, the risk of infection in the must.
This mead recipie will introduce you to another fine practice – using fresh resources and making it into what you need rather than just buying it. Whenever i make berry type meads, i buy berries, and make my own juice concentrate. This is THE best way to have control over your process.
Making concentrate is simple . You get a berrysteamer such as in the picture ( link to norwegian place ) – im not actually sure what these are called in english, but im sure you can figure it out, or something similar to this product.
The concept is simple. Berries in at top – Water cooks from below. Juice concentrate comes out in the middle.
This is what i flavor my berry style meads with. It allows me to avoid all sludge, mold and a lot of other risks, while still retaining that fantastic flavor of fresh berries. I let this concoction simmer and steam till i have collected 2-3 liter of berry juice. We want flavor of raspberries – not mead concentrate. So now we have appropriately 2 liter of honey, 2,5 liter juice and 5.5 liter water to introduce to our friends- the yeast. Lets not forget to cook the yeast nutrients in a cup of water ( or as the package describe) and mix this in the must.
Remember the Yeast starter ? .. ohhhh…. its going to LOVE this mix. Berry meads are some of the fastest fermenters i know of. the berries already give nutrition, and the acidity in berries help drive down PH in the brew, thus helping the mead get going. Whenever i make a yeast starter where i have yeast, water, some nutrient and berry juice, the yeast start foaming very very quickly. Wihtin a few hours i have a starter that would usually take me twice the time – its really fascinating.
Now pitch the starter in the must, cover it up, connect the airlock, and youre all ready to go. Measure your SG, and aim for it to hit a sweetspot of your choosing, inregards to alcohol levels and residual sugars.
One issue about this mead recipie. It has the potential to really foam. The yeast, the Lalvin EC1118 is quite aggressive, and if you don’t leave enough headspace in the fermentation container – you could end up with foam climbing up the walls, and through the airlock. and it has a tendency to happen whey you least expect it, and absolutely don’t want it. Trust me – cleaning your white ceiling of fermenting must is not something that will win you points with the missus.
leave enough headspace ; if you’re fermenting in a bucket – 5-10 cm should do. If you’re in a carboy – a 10 liter carboy would have space – don’t go past exactly 10 liters total….
You though i would forget about the vanilla, eh ? Oh,no. The vanilla is the “piece d’resistance“. The frosting on the cake. This i usually put in whole, when i rack for clarification. Note that i nearly always rack 3 times. Fermentation, secondary to clarifying ( and crashing), then ageing. I drop the vanilla pod into the mix when i set the mead for crash ( a week in the fridge ) and clarifying. This i spend a good week at, so i know that i get this permeating vanilla flavor in the mead. The time the pod spends in the mead will vary between days, depending on the strength of flavor i’m aiming for.
when all then is said and done, we rack again for bilk ageing, and later to bottles. I recommend giving this mead no less than 12 month total ageing.
Thanks for reading, do try this recipie – its well worth it.