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Mead is a wine but not your ordinary wine. And when you are making mead you have a wide variety of options available to you depending on your tastes, wants and level of comfort with experimentation.
This picture shows the meadery with a lot of different meads fermenting. The four bottles in the front are an exploration into flavored meads. From left to right these four bottles are Sweet Raspberry Mead, Vanilla Metheglyn Mead, Pumpkin Mead, and Ancient Orange. They all have a nice autumn
look and feel to them and this picture is less than 24 hours after the batches were created. Interesting ton note that the Ancient Orange Mead used Fleishcmann's Yeast which can be purchased in any grocery store. It is already bubbling away. So this yeast is quite hardy and quick to activity. Nice to know that as a home brewer you can just run down to the grocery store for your yeast instead of ordering it online. It might also be very quick to maturity so I will keep you posted on how long it takes to mature.
One of the most important things you should know about making flavored meads is that it takes time to make them! Once you know what you are doing you can brew up a batch of regular mead in less than an hour but with flavored meads it probably will take longer because you have to potentially cut fruits, add spices, wash your materials, strain them, measure them and what not. So flavored mead is definitely more labor intensive.
About the flavors
Of course flavored mead will cost more than regular mead because you are adding more materials. For example, the raspberry mead shown in the picture above uses one and a half pounds of fresh raspberries. That's a lot of raspberries and it changes the cost of one gallon of mead significantly. But it is going to create quite a phenomenal tasting product!
More about the Materials used
You are making a food product when you make flavored mead so everything should be carefully shopped for to get the highest quality possible. And these recipes use quite a few different spices which can affect the cost significantly if you don't have the spices on hand. But if you have the spices you will be good. Remember though that spices have a shelf-life so if you are in doubt buy some new spices even though you are only going to use quantities of a pinch of a teaspoon.
Some feedback on these flavored Meads:
It has been a few months since I first made up these batches of flavored Mead and I have some interesting results. While none of them are really ready to drink - they need at least a couple more months to age. I have tasted them all and was surprised by a few things.
The Raspberry Mead: While I love raspberry this mead is way too raspberry! And it is very thick -almost like a syrup. It's delicious and some of my friends really like it. I am going to tone the raspberry down a bit and make a batch that is lighter. I have created this second batch using less raspberries and I only let them ferment for two weeks then I removed them. Going to be even better I think!
The Vanilla Metheglyn: I had high hopes for this mead and I was stunningly disappointed - it tasted terrible! It was so terrible that I ended up just dumping the batch. I am not sure if it was the extract I used, or if I used too much extract. Either way I got rid of it and will at some point see about trying to do it differently.
Update on this Vanilla Recipe: I have received some great advice from web visitors on how I can make a good batch of vanilla mead. You can read about it here Vanilla Mead improvements
The Pumpkin Mead: This mead is coming along great. And the odd thing about it is while it is very tasty and pleasant it doesn't really have a strong pumpkin flavor to it. Quite delicious though!
The Orange Cinnamon: This mead came out terrific and while it has a nice citrus smell it doesn't have a strong citrus taste which is great. The nutmeg and the cinnamon have a stronger influence on the taste. I liked this so much that I have made a 5 gallon batch with the exact same recipe.
Make a peach or pineapple fruit mead
If you have always wanted to make a fruit mead (melomel) you might want to check this tutorial out. I take you through the whole process from start to finish including bottling. Make a Peach or Pineapple Melomel
Bottling Mead: I answer some of the most common questions including "When do you know it's time to bottle your mead"?