Raison D’etre is a raisin based beer made by Dogfish Head. Later, they made a stronger version called Raison D’extra that clocks in at 16-18% ABV. It’s a hard to find beer that is quite unique and tasty. This recipe is my version of Raison D’extra improved and made as a mead hence Raison D’abeille (abeille is bee in French).
I like Raison D’extra, but feel it needs a bit of improvement. As a result, I’m changing a few things. First, it needs honey! Honey would help add character to this brew that it currently lacks. I’m using a dark Yaupon Holly honey that will give lots of character to this mead. Second, I find the original lacks body. I’ll use a combination of honey, carapils, and oak to improve the body. Lastly, nothing hides the ABV burn in Raison D’extra. Barrel aging will be used to help mellow the high ABV here.
The key to this brew is a very large, healthy starter and elevating fermentation temperatures at the end. I’ll also use SNAs to ensure a max ABV fermentation. Next, I will barrel age this for 2-4 months followed by kegging and cellaring.
This brew is designed to put away for a very long time. It is a massive undertaking and should only be attempted by well practiced hands. It requires a lot of equipment and time. Don’t make this your first brew!
Raison D’abeille - 6 gallons
1. Bring 2.5 gallons of water to 165 F and add the following to a BIAB:
-0.5 lb Carapils
-0.5 lb Crystal Malt 80L
-0.25 lb Chocolate Malt 350L
2. Mash for 15 minutes at 152 F.
3. During the mash, add enough boiling water to cover 5 lbs of golden raisins in a food processor. Pulse until bits. Takes a few rounds.
4. Remove grain bag and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.
5. Add another gallon of water to wort.
6. Add another BIAB or clean out the first and reuse.
7. Begin boil using the following hop schedule:
-2 oz Warrior for 60 minutes
-1 lb Dark Brown Sugar at 10 minutes
-5 lbs golden raisin purée at 10 minutes
-1 oz Vanguard at flameout
-11.5 g (2.4 tsp) Fermaid K at flameout
-3.5 g (4.8 tsp) Fermaid O at flameout
Note: I use a hop spider for hops only.
8. Allow to rest for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the hop spider.
9. Remove the BIAB with raisins. Squeeze.
10. Begin cooling. Once below 100 F, add 16 lbs of Yaupon Holly honey.
11. Once cool, transfer to carboy.
12. Add cold water to 5.5 gallons.
13. Place in a 75 F fermentation chamber. Raise temperature to 80 F on Day 4.
14. Add a 2 liter starter of Wyeast 1388 pre-equilibrated to 75 F and 12 drops Fermcap S (optional but encouraged. Prevents blowoff and improves head retention).
15. Add 3.5 g (4.8 tsp) Fermaid O at Day 2.
16. Ferment until stable gravity is reached (~1.025).
17. Transfer to 5.3 gallon barrel for 2-3 months. Keep additional for top off. Note: Alternatively to a barrel, add 24 Medium + American oak Xoakers and 22.2 ml of Vanilla Liquid Oak Tannin Extract.
18. Age 2-3 months to taste.
19. Keg and force carb at 2.5 ATMs.
20. Bottle in Champagne bottles for long term cellaring.