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So this is not precisely a comission batch.  A friend wanted me to experiment with Blackberries and gave me some money to experiment.  I decided that I never really worked with Tea so I decided to do a Black Tea and Blackberry mead.  The Black Tea that was chosen was a tea recomended by a friend as a really good black tea.  It is called Monks Blend.  I got 3 ounces of it and brewed up 2 gallons of tea, mixed in 1 galon of Alfalfa honey and then 2 galons of water, then tossed yeast and nutrients.

Well, the Black Tea made for a nice dark color and it smelled very nice.  The mead came together quickly thanks to my apprentice's help.  Once mixed up and yeast tossed, I got it into the carboy.  It was a very dark color and took about 4 hours to show activity.  It foamed up nicely and is remaining dark.  I think that the tannins have excited the yeast because the next day I found that the mead had foamed up and blew past the airlock.  I needed to clean my airlock out, rinse it off and wipe down the carboy.  Then reset it.  I believe that the beer term of the foam during fermentation is Krausen.  It had a lot of that.  It remains foaming up with about an inch of nice carmelly looking head and a dark color with the barest hintings of light color from the yeast.  At this point I usually expect a light carmel color but not with the Darkside Mead.  Because of the color and the anticipated yummyness I am going to call this Mead from the Darkside or Darkside Mead for short. 

I think that I will use medium toasted oak with this one but I am tempted to use Dark toasted oak to keep the theme but not sure I want to comprimise the flavor.  I antisipate that this one will be very dark in color.  I may put a touch of vanilla in it too.  Not sure.

Here's the recipie and process so far:

Mead From the Darkside (6 gal batch)

4 Galons of water
12 pounds of Alfalfa Honey
2 packets of Lavin D47 yeast
1 tablespoon of yeast nutrient
1 tablespoon of yeast Energizer (DAP)
3 oz of Monks Blend Black Tea.

Step 1: Make tea: I boiled 2 galons of water and took off the heat, then steaped the Tea Leaves in 2 galons of water for 3 minuts.  The steap time of the tea is recomended for 3 minutes.  I put the tea leaves in coffee filters and used some sanitized rubber bands to seal it shut.  Put the tea in losely and used about 6-7 filters total.

Step 2: Mix honey.  I headed up the honey in the sink filled with hot water,  Poured and mixed the honey in the tea, then mixed 2 gal on chilled water.

Step 3: Toss Yeast:  mixed in nutrients, hydrated the yeast, to a temp reaing

Then waited a bit for it to cool and put in the carboy with an air lock.

Steps from here:
 First Racking on to Blackberry Puree.
Take the blackberries and blenderize with pectic enzyme and run that through a screen to get just blackberry juice.  The seeds should be left in the screen too.  Then put the resulting pulp in a mesh bag in the brew bucket and rack on to it, mixing the mead into it.  Then give the flavors a few months to integrate, take out the mesh back and rack until clear or as clear as it in   The Oaking and Aging.


On a seperate note, My aprentice has her first mead going.  I asked her to make choices for yeast and honey and sweetness level desired.  She went with Wildflower honey 3.75 pounds, Lavin 71B yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of yeast energizer, 1/4 teaspoon of yeast nutrient and we watered it to 1 galon.  Then I asked her to take pictures of it daily at home, so she can see the color changes and the differences in it over time.  This is going to be a very sweet show mead.  While I am disapointed that she went with wildflower, I can't blame her for going a bit safe on her first batch.  We are going to check it in 2 weeks, possibly rack it.  She has yet to decide if she is oaking it or what else.  We shall see how it turns out.

That's all for now

Dave

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October 2012

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