So yesterday I finally got around to bottling the mead that's been sitting in the fermenter since, well, forever. I originally started the honey fermenting Dec. 30, 2008, and racked the mead on Feb. 2, 2009, at which point I siphoned off a couple of gallons of which to make a muscadine-infused mead (didn't turn out so well). To the remainder, I added a gallon of organic apple cider, five chopped Granny Smith apples and 10 cinnamon sticks. It's been sitting there, unmolested ever since (with the exception of the removal of the chopped Granny Smiths about six months back), making this mead, essentially, one year old.
So I bottled it yesterday, filling 19 wine bottles with the four-plus gallons of mead from the fermenter. The first bottle was quite cloudy, as sediments had apparently filled the bung hole spout, but the remaining 18 bottles were among the clearest meads I've ever bottled. That's the good news. The bad news is that I siphoned off a glass of the apple mead/cyser and... well, it's bland. Crap, crap, crap. The year-long aging has been good for the mead, overall, in that almost all of the harsh, Listerine-style medicinal harshness has faded away. But still, it's bland. I'd added grape tannins, but I can't taste them. All that apple? A fain aftertaste. The cinnamon? Nary a hint. sigh.
After the success I had with the prickly pear mead and the holiday spice metheglin from a few years back, I really thought I had it down with this meadmaking stuff. Apparently not. Note to future self: If you think you have too much fruit/spice/flavoring agents already in the mead, you don't. Add more. Then double that. In an act borne out of frustration at this, I stuck a cinammon stick along with a couple of allspice berries in each of the final four bottles I corked. I have no idea if they'll impart any flavor, but I needed to try something. This is a good batch of dry mead, spoiled only by the fact that it's relative tasteless. I think that from now on, until I'm fully confident in my meadmaking skills, I'll restrict myself to making smaller batches of flavored meads. That way I won't have a whole lot of bland drink on my hands that nobody will want.
On the bright side, with the 6-gallon fermenter freshly vacated (and cleaned) there was nothing stopping me from starting an immediate batch of beer. Beer is so much less problematic than mead--one can of Coopers "Dark Ale" extract, plus two pounds of dark malt and hungry little yeasties and away we go. When I opened up my office this morning, the fresh, bubbly scent of fermenting yeast greeted me. I love that smell! And yes, I'm already giving consideration to what my next meadmaking efforts will consist of.
Now Playing: Blue Öyster Cult Workshop of the Telescopes