2014 has been a slower year for meadmaking for me. There are a variety of reasons for this, and it’s OK. One of the issues is storage space…. I have to have physical space to store all the bottled mead I am aging!
But, it’s harvest time. This means berries in my part of the world. I got 2 quarts of lovely raspberries from a friend who had them growing, and my wife and I (mostly my wife) spent all summer picking blackberries as they were ripe from our property in the woods. So this time, I did 2 batches: Raspberry Harvest and Blackberry Harvest.
I began with my normal chaga decoction, with a staghorn sumac infusion. As always, this tea has a very rich color that looks like coffee, although it will fade somewhat in the final mead:
I ran into a bit of difficulty, because my honey had solidified/crystalized! Believe it or not, as common as it is, this had never happened to me. I started by dunking my bucket of honey into a sink filled with hot water, to gently heat the honey and cause it to melt, to make it more usable:
Even still, tonight’s meadmaking was much more labor intensive to get the solid honey to melt and dissolve easily. Once the honey was softer, I was ready to go.
Raspberry Harvest Mead
I added about 1.5 gallons of my chaga/sumac tea into my mixing pot, along with a quart of the most vibrant raspberry juice ever:
I then mixed the raspberry juice, the tea, and enough honey and additional water to get me to 3 gallons, with a 17.5% initial alcohol potential:
I can’t wait to see how this one comes out! I haven’t made a raspberry mead since the Raspberry Damiana Mead from 2011! These raspberries had a wonderful tartness to them, that should translate well into a semisweet or a sweet mead.
Blackberry Harvest Mead
I made the Blackberry Harvest Mead the exact same way, just with the different berries. I started with a quart of fresh blackberry juice:
Then, I added the juice, the chaga tea, and enough honey and extra water to get to a 17.5% initial alcohol potential:
Similarly, I haven’t made a Blackberry Mead that wasn’t a cyser since 2010!
Harvest Berry Meads
These will be fun. I didn’t use any additional herbs in these meads (apart from my customary chaga and sumac), so the flavors should be crisp and pure as they go. They look gorgeous:
I can’t wait to see — and taste — how these come out!
UPDATE: Feb 21, 2015
I finally racked these meads tonight. They are both delicious, and sweet, coming in at about 14.5% ABV with 3% remaining alcohol potential. The Raspberry Harvest has more overt fruit flavor, probably because raspberries have a more intense flavor than blackberries. The Blackberry Harvest is smoother at the moment. The color of the Raspberry is more vibrant as well, which isn’t a huge surprise. I can’t wait to see how they age!