Making Cherry Melomel

Last summer I started a few batches of mead. I started some traditional mead, blackberry mead and fall harvest cyser. All of those have been bottled and are still aging.

It's been a while since I've put my mead making supplies to work, so this weekend I started a Cherry Melomel. I'm a big fan of cherries and I've been wanting to make this for a while.

I mostly followed a recipe from The Compleat Meadmaker with just a few modifications.

I didn't want to make a full 5 gallon batch, so I cut the recipe down to make two gallons:

6.8 lbs honey (9 cups)
1.4 tsp yeast nutrient
51 oz water
5 quarts pasteurized tart cherry juice
0.8 lb un-pitted tart cherries
1 packet Lalvin D47 yeast
OG: 1.141

I was hesitant to use the Wyeast pack that the recipe calls for because of the prep work to get the yeast ready, so in talking to the guy at the home brew shop  we decided that Lalvin D47 was pretty close and would produce very similar results.

I gathered up my tools and sanitized them all and let them dry.

I opened a few jars of honey from The Great Honey Robbery of Spring 2013 and poured them into a big bowl to measure 9 cups.

I found it difficult to find 100% cherry juice that wasn't a blend of other juices, and it was even more difficult to find juice that was free of preservatives. If the juice had preservatives, it would never ferment and thus the mead wouldn't work.

After looking through 4 different (major) chain stores, I finally found the juice at a local Trader Joe's store.

After combining all the ingredients (except the fresh cherries), I stirred up the must using a whisk to incorporate as much oxygen as possible to give the yeast an extra boost.

You may recognize these buckets as my honey extracting buckets, because they are. I'm using one of the buckets I use for uncapping that doesn't have a plastic honey gate on them.

The final volume of the must was 2.5 gallons exactly. This will work out great because each racking of the mead into new  fermenters will cause the volume to drop as I leave the dropped yeast behind.

The starting gravity of the mead is 1.141.

Here's where the mead will live and ferment down in the  workshop where the air is cool.

I'll come back in a few weeks and rack it to a secondary fermenter and add the fresh cherries.

[Update: 8/25/2013] First Racking
Update: 12/29/2013 Bottling!

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