Brew log: 2016 apricot melomel

I started this one a couple of weeks ago and probably let it sit longer in the fermenting bucket than I should have, but the airlock showed active fermentation longer than I expected it to go, and I forgot about it for a few days after that. I haven’t yet had any issues with leaving brews in the bucket a little too long before putting them into carboys, so let’s hope that this particular situation won’t be the first time.

Wine/mead recipes are a situation in which I don’t always try to convert all measurements into metric, simply because the vast majority of the brewers participating in the forums I frequent use U.S./Imperial measurements, and it’s difficult to mentally convert each time. I should, though, and you’ll see why later in this post.

Apricot mead recently transferred into a 3-gallon carboy.

Photo taken right after straining into carboy.

Ingredients (for a 3-gallon batch)

  • 13.5 pounds pitted apricots
  • 4.3 pounds apricot preserves
    • This is because I decided the apricot-lemon jam I made last year didn’t mature gracefully and needed to use it up, not for any particular flavour reasons
    • This would have added about 2 tbsp of lemon zest to the brew in total
  • 4.25 pounds clover honey from Honeybee Centre
  • 1.5 tsp yeast energizer
  • 3 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 3 tsp pectic enzyme/pectinase
  • Filtered tap water to top must up to 3 gallons
  • Lalvin D-47 yeast (tolerant of up to 14% ABV)

Procedure

I cooked the apricots a bit in an excess of filtered tap water, since I’ve noticed that apricots don’t have much of an aroma raw, then poured the entire thing into the fermentation bucket and mixed in everything but the yeast and honey. I then added honey in stages, taking hydrometer readings after every couple of pounds, until it reached 1.122 for a potential alcohol of 14.5% ABV. My intent was for a semi-sweet result. Once my readings were taken, I sprinkled the yeast on top and covered the bucket with its lid, which I’ve fitted with an airlock.

Notes

Today I strained it into a carboy (and put 0.5 L of and took another gravity reading (1.001, for a current alcohol content of 13.5% ABV). Taking the SG to Brix (% residual sugar) conversion formula from my earlier post on measured and perceived sweetness, I get 220 x (1.001 -1) +1.6 = 1.82 Brix, or 18.2 grams residual sugar per litre. This puts the current mead just on the edge of off-dryness according to the table in the linked post. A taste confirms that it’s tart and definitely on the dry side.

This isn’t quite as sweet as I’d intended or currently would like; I want something firmly medium-sweet to bring out the apricot character and make the honey notes obvious. This means I’ll need to add enough honey to get about 35 g/L residual sugar — and this is where it would be handy to get used to doing my recipes and procedures in metric, because this conversion’s a pain in Imperial! A 3-gallon carboy holds about 11.5 litres, so:

  • I want to raise my residual sugar content by 17 grams per litre
  • Honey is almost pure sugar
  • I need to add (17 x 11.5) = 195.5 grams of honey, or about 140 mL

The volume increase is negligible so I won’t bother calculating that. I’ll also not bother to add honey until I’ve racked off the sediment and taken another gravity reading. If I want to bring the taste firmly into a more nectar-like medium-sweet territory, an additional 400 grams honey on top of the 195 calculated above would bring it into the mid-70 grams per litre, but I want to taste the result of the first honey addition before I make any such decisions.

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