14 September 2008

Continuously fermenting mead.

I mentioned in my last post that I have a "continuously fermenting mead". I thought I'd explain since I had never mentioned it here before. It looks like any other mead, as you see here:

As I listened to an archived episode of Basic Brewing Network's podcast of an interview done with a South African meadmaker he mentioned his "continuously fermenting" system. I began to look into this idea, not really knowing what it was, and came across the sherry "solera" idea that I had read about long ago when I was learning about wine. What I decided was that it was all just terribly impractical and I was not going to try it.

What I did was start a batch of mead with a combination of a lot of samples of different fermentations, mostly citrus wines from the back yard, that I had going at the time as a starter since I had no yeast and could not afford any more ingredients (Misty came across the honey purchased a couple years before in the back of a closet, so the mead wasn't costing me any current money to produce). Money was a huge factor in deciding to try this, you see: I figured I could afford 3lbs. of honey at $6 (yes, grocery store honey) every month or two. What I did was siphon a gallon out and replace it with new honey and water. I applied this to a blueberry and to a pineapple mead (for the wedding in my earlier post). I put the fruit in the gallon jugs and racked some semi-sweet still fermenting mead on top of it to finish. These did not require a whole 2 gallons of mead because of the fruit's displacement, so I pulled out a few bottles worth and cold-crashed it in the fridge for drinking at a ripe young age. Not bad stuff.

It's been going since February, I think. I hope to keep it going for a nice long time. I like the solera philosophy that once you start tapping the last barrel, it is a nice blend of old and new and have figured out how I can use this to achieve a similar end. I do have to rack to a new carboy every couple of months to reduce the risk of autolosys (sic?), but do not have to worry about oxidation from the racking since it is perpetually fermenting and the added oxygen is actually beneficial to the yeast (I think). My hope is that after a couple years use, I will be able to pull a gallon and finish its fermentation and it will already taste fairly well-aged. It will never match the solera for aging because this is my fermentation method, not my aging method. Maybe I'll add something for that. Remind me and I'll let you know in a couple of years.

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