So we mead again…

((no, I’m not sorry))

So, we didn’t make root beer when my Moma came.  And then life happened and we got sidetracked and now it’s July!  So what have we been doing?  Well, making mead, of course.  We made a floral mead last weekend and then finally made our new root beers this weekend!Last weekend we had actually planned to make all the mead.  Himself was off three days for the holiday weekend and we had all the ingredients for what we wanted to make.  But somehow we managed to get to Monday evening without putting the honey on to caramelize, so we stuck to the floral mead.  We made one gallon with 2 ½ pounds of honey (which is halfway between my usual 11% mead and his usual 14% mead) and a tea made of 1 part hibiscus, 2 parts heather, and one part lavender.  It’s a beautiful combination of a tea that kind of tastes like burying your nose in a bouquet of flowers and is a beautiful rich purple color.  I really wish I had a picture to post for y’all, but I didn’t take into account the fact that honey is golden brown, so when you add that much honey…..well, it turned brown.

Floral Mead
Hibiscus, heather, and lavender mead. Yes, that is bouchet in the background.

I was so sad to see how dark this had turned.  The original tea was such a brilliant, jewel toned shade of magenta that was just gorgeous.  But then I checked it the next day.

Floral Mead Day 2
Floral mead on day 2 sitting on our brew bucket where all brewing meads go.

It’s more red than before, but that lightening of color gives me high hopes of how it will look once it clears up!  It’s starting to slow down now, but it was a fast and vigorous start, so I think it’s going fine.  We’ll check it this weekend to see if it’s ready for the first rack.  It’ll be going into another carboy and I think, for this first batch, we’ll let it go without making any adjustments so we can see it start to finish before we think about making adjustments. 

This weekend, we were determined to make root beer.  We still nearly missed our window of time, but we got the honey cooking and, remembering how long it took last time, set it up in the crock pot, and then let it go.  We checked on it regularly and started prepping the rest of the process a little at a time.  And because of that…we actually got some process pictures!

Honey crockpot
3 pounds of honey in the crockpot to make caramel. Our honey is old and sits over an air vent, so it’s crystalized.

The first time we made 2 gallons of bouchet, we used 8 pounds of honey in the crockpot.  Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway.  This was much quicker.  It still took about 3 hours before we were happy with where it was.  Once it got there, I turned it off, but left the crock in the base and started the tea.  It wasn’t pretty, but we made a gallon of tea, starting with simmering 1 part each of burdock and sassafras, and then shutting the heat off and adding the sarsaparilla. 

Root Beer Tea
Burdock root, sassafras, and sarsaparilla tea.

Once that was done, it was time to weight it all out.  We’re running two batches to see which ratio we prefer for caramel to raw honey in the brew, but still aiming for a total of 4 pounds of honey.  So we have 2:2, and we have 3:1, raw to caramel.  We added the caramel first, then mixed the tea with the raw honey to help break it up and poured it on top.

Into the Carboys
Filling up the 2:2, 3:1 in the foreground, Lalvin V1116 is the yeast we used.

And then Himself shook them.  A lot.  This mixes everything together, finishes breaking up the honey, and helps bring it all down to a temp that won’t kill our yeast.  We did add some additional water to bring it up to the shoulders of the bottle.  And then we tucked them away.  We did check them yesterday and they are bubbling along nicely, though not as vigorously as the floral was.  The bouchets took longer last go ’round, so I imagine we’ll be racking the floral mead at least once before the root beers are ready to roll.  We will be oaking these, as that adds a nice vanilla note that we think will be lovely, since we don’t have any vanilla beans and adding vanilla extract quite literally left a bad taste in our mouths.

We’re really excited about these brews and are looking forward to sharing them with y’all!

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