Sunday, August 24, 2014

What's Jayme drinking?

So today The Wife and drove over to Texas Mead Works in Seguin to drop off my entries for the Texas Mead Fest homebrew competition. I entered two meads--my plum melomel (which, as an aside, I have to say turned out better than my review indicated. The bottle I reviewed was not entirely full, being the last of the batch. I don't know if excess oxygen was the culprit behind the off-putting odor, but upon opening a new bottle, the bouquet was inoffensive. Yay!) and a vanilla ice wine metheglin.

Now I know what you're thinking--"Jayme, you fool! Ice wine is a specialty wine, made from frozen, late-season grapes! What you've got is a pyment, not a metheglin!" And normally, you'd be right. But I didn't use any grapes--frozen or otherwise. Follow: I started this particular mead by adding two split vanilla bean pods to the secondary fermentation. I was hoping for a mellow vanilla taste, but the mead was dry and vanilla by itself is awkward and uninspiring. Vanilla tends to enhance other flavors very well in mead, but doesn't fly solo well. I back-sweetened with additional honey, and while this improved it some, the drink as a whole was still lacking. So on a whim, I added a bag of Ice Wine Tea (black tea infused with ice wine for the curious) which we'd picked up on our vacation trip to Vancouver back in June. I steeped it in the vanilla mead for a month and hoped the flavors would play well together. They did. Ergo, this mead is a metheglin, as I added various "spices" as opposed to grapes.

How did it turn out? Fantastic! This is, without a doubt, my best mead ever. The Wife liked it, and she rarely likes my meads (with good reason--they're usually not very good!). It pours a pale, lemon-yellow. The aroma is a mix of honey and floral notes, with a slightly spicy undertone--I want to say rosemary, but that's not quite it. Mouthfeel is lightly viscous, a bit thicker than the color and scent would lead one to believe.

Taste is medium-sweet. We're not talking sack mead or port here, but more along the lines of a moscato. The tannins and acid blend I added during the fermentation process add just the right amount of counterbalance to the honey sweetness. And the honey flavor definitely comes through. Honey is the first taste that hits the tongue, followed by a tumbled rush of orange citrus, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, all held together within a floral riesling embrace. Then the honey reasserts itself, darker and more muscular than those initial honeyed flavors. This is when the alcohol makes itself known, with a distinct warming sensation in the back of the mouth and throat. I have to admit I overshot the mark on this one--I was aiming for around 11 percent alcohol, but didn't neutralized the yeast effectively when I back sweetened with more honey, and fermentation started again. I don't have an accurate measurement, but I'm guessing the final alcohol content is pretty close to 13 percent.

This is a deceptively light, easily drinkable mead that packs a stealthy punch. It is not syrupy, but definitely sweet. The spicy flavors are easy to pick out individually, but collectively they're disconcerting (in a good way). I really, really like this one, and need to work on standardizing the recipe so I can 1) replicate this beverage reliably and 2) make a larger batch next time.

Now Playing: Genesis Duke
Chicken Ranch Central

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