Chaga Spruce Mead

I have done several batches in the past with spruce (and other evergreen trees). I maintain that they aren’t necessarily my favorite, but many people have loved them. I wanted to do another batch of spruce mead this year, with a few variations on the theme as I “dial in” a precise recipe.

This year, for the first time, I used chaga with my spruce. Some of the spruce meads haven’t cleared very quickly, so hopefully the chaga will assist with that. Also, I gathered the spruce tips a few weeks later than last time. Rather than beautiful tips, these are fully formed needle branches, though they are still a noticeably vibrant green compared to the old growth:

about a half gallon of fresh spruce tips, gathered a bit later in the year than the previous batch
about a half gallon of fresh spruce tips, gathered a bit later in the year than the previous batch

 

I began with a good chaga decoction, and then added the spruce needles at the end, letting them simmer for about a half hour:

spruce needles in with the chaga decoction
spruce needles in with the chaga decoction

 

When I got this far, I realized I had far more tea than I needed. Rather than discard any, I strained out the spruce needles, and then turned up the heat to reduce it to more manageable levels. When this was done, I cooled the tea in the sink, strained everything out of it, dissolved enough honey to get to a 17.5% initial alcohol potential, and pitched the yeast into the carboy:

 

Chaga Spruce Mead
Chaga Spruce Mead

 

Note that for this batch, I did NOT add any orange juice, black tea, sumac, or anything else to adjust the pH. I wanted to see what a good strong chaga decoction and the spruce tips would do.

UPDATE: 17 October

After 4 months of primary fermentation, this batch has already cleared beautifully, unlike the previous spruce meads. I could have racked it weeks ago, but for a variety of reasons I let it sit until tonight. It’s racked, and it is now 4.5% alcohol potential, therefore it is 13% ABV. It’s quite sweet, which suits the spruce flavor just fine. This one came out great, and should only improve with age!

UPDATE: 22 March 2014

Here’s the label:

Chaga Spruce Mead label
Chaga Spruce Mead label

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