I made a large batch of uber high gravity sack mead for Mead Day. I am basing the recipe off the extremely tasty "Bigboy Pants" mead I made years ago. Here, I try to improve an already impressive mead by blending the unique Acacia honey into the mix.
In addition, Mead Day is designed to bring awareness to mead and mead making techniques. I'm hoping this recipe serves as a guideline to folks who want to make an uber gravity mead. WARNING! THIS MEAD IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS! You need to get basic techniques down before you attempt a mead this big and expensive!
My rules for uber high gravity meads:
1. Extremely robust yeast.
2. Pitch a vicious amount of extremely robust rehydrated yeast (>4 grams per gallon).
3. Buffer pH upfront (K2CO3) and monitor if it needs more.
4. Degas multiple times per day. You have to be sure you are present to do this. The ferment will get very sluggish if you don't. More important than given credit for!
5. An extra addition of SNA. Usually I do 3 additions, but uber Gravity meads need more so I add 4. I find the DAP+Fermaid K additions are better than Fermaid O for these type meads in the beginning. The D+K combo is easer for the yeast to use, so less stress. I use Fermaid O for the last addition because of the uncertain FG and because yeast cannot utilize DAP past a certain point in fermentation. Excess DAP in mead tastes awful.
Basically, you have to stay on top of the ferment. If it doesn't drop at least 10 points a day in the beginning, Something is wrong! You have to fix it immediately before it stalls. Once it fully stalls, it is a much deeper pit to climb out of.
Viking's Fuzzy Navel Uber Sack Mead - 5 gallons
1. Add the following to a 7 gallon carboy:
-8.4 lbs Ames Farms Honey (Lemony Notes)
-6.3 lbs Orange Blossom Honey (Floral Citrus)
-5.8 lbs Acacia Honey (Complex, Body)
2. Add 4 cups of strongly brewed Assam tea. (I'm trying to extract tannins here. Added 4 bags of tea in 4 cups of off boil water; allowed tea to cool with bags still in liquid. Added liquid only to fermenter when cool to touch.)
3. Add 1/2 tsp of K2CO3.
4. Add 2 tsp DAP + 1 tsp of Fermaid K. I will add this again at 1.12 & 1.08. At 1.04, add 1 TBSP of Fermaid O. A big mead needs a bit more nutrition to push through.
5. Mix everything with a sanitized, drill powered stirrer.
6. Add Ozarka spring water to 5 gallons.
7. Pitch 30 g of GoFerm rehydrated DV10. (30 grams of GoFerm in 1 cup of water.)
SG = 1.16!? Big ol' damn sack mead (as they say in Texas)
Expected FG ~ 1.03 (17.6% ABV)
8. Once FG is reached, cold crash and bottle.
Degas with a drill powered stirrer (carefully) 2-3 times a day until 1/3 sugar break while adding nutrients at appropriate points. Also, look for any sulfur smells that indicate a need for extra DAP. A mead this big requires you to stay on top of it to baby it into existence. Unless you want rocket fuel or stalled ferments. Expect 10 point drops per day until it gets towards the end. If it takes longer than two days to drop 10 points, go into damage control. Check pH to determine if more K2CO3 buffering is needed and degas heavily to get things moving along.