Making a mead has been in my brewing pipeline for quite some time. Last fall I took a swing at a cyser, but it was really more of a honey fortified cider, than a real cyser. Having tried a really good example at one of the BFD club meetings, I knew I wanted to make a better example. After listening to Michael Fairbrother (member of, and former President of BFD) of Moonlight Meadery on BeerSmith’s podcast talking about meads, and specifically Kurts Apple Pie (Cyser) I had a fairly good idea how to make a cyser I was hoping for.
Unfortunately I didn’t have everything on hand to follow Michael’s instructions to the T, but I took as many pointers as I could incorporate into the batch. I didn’t have the recommended yeast, and I don’t own go ferm or fermaid-k, but I do have yeast energizer, which is similar to Fermaid K, they both contain DAP. With that in mind, I altered the staggered nutrient additions to 1 day, 2 day, and 1 week, since DAP should be avoided during yeast hydration.
My plan ‘brew plan’ was to hydrate 5g of us05 using warm water. Then warm and mix 3 lbs of local honey with 1 gallon of local cider. Aerate the must, then add the hydrated yeast. At 24 hrs agitate the must to get rid of the CO2, then add 1/4 teaspoon of yeast energizer, repeat at 48hrs, and followed by a final agitation and energizer at 1 week. This isn’t the exact regimen dictated by Michael, and I’ll follow it next time, but it is what I can do now, and will likely be an improvement over non staggered nutrition additions. As of 24hrs in, there was minimal activity, so I added the remaining packet of us05 unhydrated. Hopefully the yeast will be able to deal with the high gravity thrown at it, and won’t die too early, but, to be frank, if I end up with a sweet mead, so be it. Once it’s fermented out, I planning on racking to secondary, and at that time I’ll add 1/2 a vanilla bean, and a very small chunk of cinnamon for aging. Leveraging staggered nutrient additions, the turn around time of this mead should be less than 6 months, maybe even as soon as 3-4 months. While there is no rush, I’m eager know how this turns out. Since making something like this is really simple.
One thing distinction about this batch is it’s my smallest batch by far, coming in just over 1 gallon. I’ve been working on right sizing my beer, cider, and mead production. There are a few principals at play, first and foremost I want to consume my beer before it’s best by date, I want to enjoy it at it’s peak, rather than when it’s old and stale. I can always make more, or a bigger batch next time. Secondly, I want to brew less bad beer, as I’m continuing to learn and experiment with styles, methods, and ingredients, making smaller batches, and smaller mistakes feels like a good idea. So following in Chris’s foot prints, I purchases some small fermenters from walmart, and will be using them for these new smaller batches.
Beersmith podcast – http://beersmith.com/blog/2013/09/15/making-mead-with-michael-fairbrother-beersmith-podcast-65/
Mead recipe and staggered nutrient regimin – http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/community/news/show?title=romance-by-the-glass
The few meads and cysers I’ve made have been remarkably better after at least 2 years. YMMV.
One of the benefits of the staggered nutrient addition method is that supposedly you can turn around meads and cysers in 3 months, instead of years. This is at about 2 months now. I moved it to secondary, I’ll let it mature another month, and then give it a taste to see where it is.
Aaron- I’d love to hear your update on this batch. How did it turn out? Anything that you would do differently next time? Thanks!
Well, after having a few bottles early on, late winter, I have not had one since. When I brought it to my club meeting at the time, the feedback I got was that I had added too much cinamon, and there was a little bit of a higher alcohol flavor. Overall, I was fairly happy with it. I’ll have to sample again soon to see how it’s aging. I would like to revisit this recipe come fall, since I love local apples.