elderberry melomel

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elderberry melomel

Postby aleguy » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:00 pm

I'm about to make my first mead. An Elderberry Melomel. Now that I have found a large field of Elderberries and secured permission to pick them, I need to know how to go about using them.
My first question is about the mead portion. Do I add one gallon of honey to five gallons of water or four?
Do I put the berries in right away or should I wait until the first stage of fermentation subsides?
How much fruit do I use? Should I divide the mead into two carboys and top it off with berries?
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Postby alms66 » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:08 am

Well, I just bottled my second mead recently using your bottles. I have the two recipes that I brewed, the first a dry traditional and the second a sweet traditional, but I can't really taste any difference - neither using fruit, and I can post them here if you like. They're from Austin Homebrew Supply which, in my experence, has very good recipe kits - you should try their Chocolate Raspberry Porter...
I also have some left over supplies that I'd be willing to give to you that go along with the recipe - wine tannin, yeast nutrient, stabilizers, etc., because it turns out, I'm not a big fan of mead.
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Postby aleguy » Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:04 pm

Thanks, but I already have the yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme and yeast. I just got done with a marathon berry picking trip, and it looks like I'll be processing elderberries all night. Anyone have any suggestions for getting the dark blue stains off my hands?
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Sat Aug 23, 2008 5:24 pm

Hey aleguy,

Just my $.02...
I'd add the elderberries after primary fermentation is finished. I find that the fruit imparts more flavor and aroma this way, though it is just my opinion.
I did a strawberry melomel a coupla years back, and if memory serves, I used about 4 of 5 lbs of fruit in a 5 gallon batch of mead, and the strawberry flavor was very nice, without being overwhelming. I've never used elderberries in anything, though. I'd be wary of using too much, as you might just end up with some rather expensive elderberry wine.

I'd mix your 1 gallon of honey in 4 gallons of water. That'll give you about 3 lbs of honey per gallon of water, which is about perfect for a sweet mead. Cut back the honey a bit if you want something a bit more dry.

Cheers, and Good Luck!
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Postby aleguy » Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:27 am

Okay, so I added about 3 1/2 lbs of crushed elderberries and I also made 6 gallons of elderberry wine (thereabouts). So my next question is how long Before I should rack the mead and wine off the fruit? (Skins, seeds yeast etc.) It's been about three weeks now.
Anyone? Yeastmeister, you're in the wine club. Any pointers here?
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Postby yeastmeister » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:43 am

Did fermentation start up again when you added the berries? If so, I'd wait at least 2 weeks after it stops again. 3 weeks sounds about right if I'm thinking right. It probably started up again, then stopped after about a week.

Don't rush either wine, or mead. As long as its not oxidizing (either you topped it off, or its topped with co2 either artificially or through fermentation), its good. Both mead, and elderberry wine need extensive aging. While they can be drunk young, they generally get much better after a year.
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Postby Mob_Barley » Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:52 pm

Let's see, for the wine, as long as you punched the cap twice to three times per day, I think you probably got all the extraction you'll likely get by the time the SG gets down to 1.010. At that time, you can rack to secondary, top it up, sulfite, and then let it clear. You can rack as many times as necessary to get it clear. Then, cold stabilize, rack, sulfite again and bottle. This whole process should take some time, otherwise you'll find a lot of sediment in the bottles a year down the line.

As for the mead, if you added the fruit in primary, and again punched down 2-3 times daily, and added nutrients and O2 at proper intervals, you could probably rack off fruit at 1.030. I'd probably add a little more elderberries in secondary to make up for the aromatics and volatiles lost to CO2 during primary. You'll have to do a taste test and make sure the elderberries aren't overpowering your honey. If you think it is, you might want to skip the extra fruit in secondary, ferment it to completition, then add back some more honey for flavor and/or aromatics (depending on alcohol levels, and yeast limits). I think it's usually best to ferment the honey first, then add fruit in secondary. You retain much more of the nose and flavors of the fruit. But, it's just my opinion. The good thing with meads, you can usually put them in a corner and forget them and when you come back to them, any faults have disappeared.

This is asuming you're making a dry wine and sweet mead. It all depends on a lot of different factors which you didn't include.
"Reality is an illusion caused by a lack of good beer."
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Postby aleguy » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:01 pm

Thanks for the advice. I did ferment the mead first then added the berries. I did not touch either since I added the berries/ made the wine and both are still fermenting, though the melomel is fermenting very slowly. Apparently I'm not ready to do anything yet, but I don't know about "punching down the cap." I don't really want to risk infection, but I don't want to get any off flavors from the seeds and whatnot either. I'd like to top them both off when I rack them to another carboy, but should I boil and cool the water to sanitize it? Or should I just pour some bottled water into the carboy directly?
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