This week I tasted three brews I bottled up this year.
The first was a bochet, made using the specific proportions in the 1393 recipe. With a starting gravity of 1.053, that’s a bit under 1.5 pounds per gallon honey. My notes say it went to 1.016 final gravity with 5% ABV. The color is wonderful, the nose contains some complexity from the carmelized honey and very little honey or alcohol. I’m not picking up any technical errors in the taste, but I’m not loving it. The mouth feel is a bit thin, and despite the FG, for my palate there is not enough residual sugar to balance the carmelization. I count this a success, because I think my not particularly liking it is a combination of my palate and expected results from the recipe as written. Here’s the color on the Bochet.
The second was a combined bottle of the last bits from three related batches. All use the same German base recipe of honey, rose petals, and bay leaf. There were 3 versions, one plain, one with hops added, and one with spices added. This carries a very interesting set of flavors, with the rose and bay quite present. It has a bitter/tannic undertone from the rose petals, but that is partially balanced by the residual sugar (about 1.017 FG). At 8% ABV, it is moderate strength. Neither the hops nor the spice come through strongly, an artifact I think of combining the batches. I view this recipe as a success, the flavors are good, the color from the roses is very nice. The bitter/tannin is not a flavor I am accustomed to in mead, so it comes as a bit of an initial surprise, but it adds a wine-like aspect. I need to find a source for fresh, culinary grade rose petals (that don’t cost an arm and a leg) to establish how much of the bitterness (if any) is from drying the petals.
Finally, I opened a bottle of a 1616 Danish recipe. This recipe has 2 versions, more and less spice. This more spice version contains pepper, ginger, cloves, grains of paradise, galangale, and cinnamon. Phew. It has about 10% ABV and is quite sweet at 1.036 FG. For my palate, we have a winner (of these three). The spice flavors are strong, and elements of most of the spices can be pulled out (the ginger and cinnamon hide a bit, but the more unusual spices shine). It is definitely sweet, but not overly so. The grains, pepper and galangale are all less common spices to the modern palate, and play wonderfully together here. The picture below shows the spice load into the gallon test batch.