The last time I brewed a non-sour mead was August of 2016, a Strawberry Cherry Melomel, which did turn out excellent. So I figured 18-ish months was long enough. This was more of a spur of the moment recipe. I was grocery shopping and Langer’s Cranberry Blood Orange Juice caught my eye. I love blood oranges so brewing some mead with this juice just seemed like a good idea.
Blood Orange Cranberry Melomel
Ingredients for 1 gallon:
Brew Date: February 17th 2018
*Starred numbers are estimates at this moment.
The recipe above lists a blend of wildflower and clover honeys, but for all intents and purposes, 2.5 pounds of wildflower honey would work just fine. Brewing a melomel with juice is extremely easy. The only thing you need to do is make sure there are no sulfites or preservatives in the juice. On a secondary concern, you want to brew with something that actually contains a significant amount of juice, or is 100% juice, making sure that there is no corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup that will provide empty alcohol with no flavor.
Mix your honey and half a gallon of juice together, then top up the carboy with the remaining juice. Measure your gravity, add 1/3 of your nutrients, aerate, and pitch your yeast. You can be done in under an hour.
The yeast took off overnight and erupted out of the airlock. Not bad for some yeast that was one year past its best-by date. I cleaned the airlock, degassed, and added the 2nd third of yeast nutrient.
After two full days of fermentation, it reached the 1/3 sugar break of 1.084, so I added the final third of my yeast nutrient. My plan currently is to finish the fermentation, stabilize and add juice from a couple pounds of blood oranges, as they are in season.
Now we’re at the 1.5 week point and gravity is creeping down to 1.038. The bitterness from the orange in the juice is becoming more apparent as the sugars are depleted. Where this mead ends up, I’ll probably backsweeten it up to 1.025 for balance. I’m estimating the yeast will tire out between 1.020 and 1.010 (14-15.5% ABV).
The gravity is stable at around 1.028. At this stage, before any extended aging, the flavor is very akin to cough medicine with the bitterness provided by the orange and lower sugar content. I think this batch will blend well with 1/4 to 1/3 of the current bochet solera project batch which has been soured with second generation ECY20. The bochet in question is rather unremarkable and the roasted honey notes don’t pair well with the tartness. However, I think this melomel needs a bit more complexity and acidity to make it shine.
The medicinal character is finally starting to fade quite a bit. Hopefully, with more time and aging, it will dissipate completely. Instead of blending this with the previously noted bochet, I’m adding 16oz of peach juice after racking. The other 16ox of peach juice I have will be going into my roeselare sour mead.
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