A couple of weeks ago, my buddy Chugs and I decided to make a bochet, or burnt-honey mead. We had been discussing it for some time and doing a bit of research in preparation for the process. I acquired 50 lbs. of honey and away we went. We decided on 12 lbs. of honey for a 5 gallon batch. It took a bit over two hours to get the honey to its pitch color and after a bunch of drinks, we got it done. I won’t inundate you with a bunch of photos and videos, of which I have, since this is about yesterday’s adventure with the Mrs. This is just here for some comparative notes.
Chugs noted to me that the fermentation process didn’t seem to be taking off like it should. He’s been babying it everyday, to try and coax those little yeasties to do their jobs! Notes from the Chuginator: “swirl vigorously twice a day to get the co2 out, initially used 6.25g wyeast mead nutrient in 125g water, 3 days later i was concerned about slowness and that’s when i added another 5.5g nutrient.”
He did not mention to near-volcano eruption he had when adding more nutrient. It nucleated and well, you’ve all seen the Mentos in diet soda videos. But, I digress. A couple of weeks later, sudden fermentation from Shoo Bee, and Chugs is still babying the process. All-in-all, the Shoo Bee creation day led me to the decision that I wanted to try to make gallon batches at the various stages we saw the honey go through during the carmelization stages. So, here we go.
Jules and I had a fantastic Sunday of brewing these batches. We got everything ready and just cranked through the various batches. The first batch was purely mead, as a “kind of” control. I say “kind of,” because we didn’t use as much honey as we did in the cooked batches. Boiled the water, added the honey, let it cool, re-hydrated the yeast and nutrient, pitched, and air-locked. Simple. But, why the heck is it so cloudy? Interesting. Hope that settles out over the next few years.
Then, it was on to cooking the honey!
Jules and I jumped back and forth between tasks, working our way through each different mead. We decided to start with a 10 minute honey boil on the #2 mead, and progressively get darker from there. We took careful notes and compared honey color along the way.
We didn’t anticipate how quickly our honey would burn, as it took over two hours on the Shoo Bee batch. We had decided to do 15 minutes on the #3 mead, but found out we were already in the beautifully crimson stage of the honey boil. So, for batch #4, we decided to split the difference and go with 12:30 on the time and 17:30 for batch #5. Each batch is progressively darker and each one tastes dramatically different from the others! You can read the notes to see what we ended up with. #1 mead does not have a taste or odor note, since it is just honey-water. It’s sweet and tastes like honey. It also smells like honey. Also, mallow = marshmallow and choc = chocolate in my specials shorthand used here.
It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the meads are all very different colors. I turned a flashlight on them, and the color differences are quite dramatic. Each hold their own beauty and flavor characteristics.
Time will tell what the results will be, but I can tell you from this morning, the slow fermentation findings are consistent with what Chugs is dealing with on the Shoo Bee. #1 mead is vigorously fermenting already. #2 mead is mildly fermenting. #3 – #5 are progressively flat. #5 mead, similar to Shoo Bee in design, looks like flat cola. I swirled each this morning and the airlock on #1 mead went batty! The rest, meh. Not so much activity. I will watch them over the next couple of days and if nothing occurs, I might need to pitch more yeast and/or nutrient. I will have a lengthy discussion with Chugs and come up with a plan. Until then, wish each of these wonderfully different meads, LUCK! I am anticipating racking to a secondary in a couple of weeks of #1 mead, but time will tell on the others.
If you have any thoughts about what processes happen to the honey as it is burnt, which would cause the ferment to retard, I’m all ears. I hope Chugs will pipe in here and make additional observations of the Shoo Bee, as it ages.