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> how to make a Polish mead?
post Jul 22 2007, 11:57 AM
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I have made a few meads [12], and I just finished teaching a mead class to get people interested in meads. We had a great turn out and got to try about 25 meads in the two classes. We got at least 6 meads made and 2 bottled. It was a real eye opener, as I can't really be called a teacher in meads but it sure was great to pool all of the money and get to order all of those meads. Still got another 5 bottles of meads left to try.

However a few cool guys brought in some meads named Viking's Blood and another with Caraway seeds. These were definitely of the Polish style yet tasted really good (compared to old and stale, soy souce meads we usually have from Poland). Compared to the other Polish meads I have had, these were really good and 21% strong. But I also had sampled 10 others before it that day. Tasted sweet, yet tawny, orange-brown and had some aging effects that weren't the usual "raisiny" [port] flavors from that extra year or two.

So what goes into a Polish style mead. I did a search and see nothing on this board. I am thinking a wild flower sack mead on oak - aged at least 2-3 years? Yeast? A clean champange style one like Avize? EC1118 [i hate it]? I don't think D47 or other sweet meads or white wine yeasts will work on this. Probably about 1.150, oak, champange + time? Got any ideas?
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post Jul 23 2007, 05:17 PM
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Polish meads are traditionally formulated by volume, not by weight or SG. In fact, the various "grades" of mead relate directly to the traditional ratios of honey to water used in each batch. For reference:

Czwórniak - one part honey, three parts water by volume (literally, made of four parts). This is the lowest initial SG mead made in Poland, and it ferments out semi-dry and finishes at about 11% ABV. Sometimes aged for a short while in oak, but often not. These aren't regarded very highly except by people who enjoy dry meads, even in Poland. IMHO, we do dry better here than they do there.

Trójniak - one part honey, two parts water (made of three parts). This is the "entry level" for quality meads in Poland. They finish out at about 13% ABV, and are semi-sweet. They often have fruit or herb essences added -- but are not quite a western idea of a melomel since the additions are after all fermentation is complete. These are the ones most often found where Polish meads are sold in the US, and are the most reasonably priced -- although not the best representative of the meadmaker's skill. Usually aged in oak for 6 mos. or less, sometimes as long as a year or two.

Dwójniak - one part honey, one part water (two parts). These high starting gravity meads are where the Polish product really starts to get interesting. They finish sweet, with ABV around 15-16%. These also can have fruit or herb extracts added, but the fruit juice does see more time in aging to meld with the other flavors. Oak aged for a couple of years. These are the ones that start to take on the "port" overtones most people associate with Polish meads.

Póltorak - one and a half parts honey, one part water. These Uber-gravity meads are typically difficult to ferment (there are some tricks - like "feeding" an established fermentation with additional honey during the process), and require LONG aging times (5-10 years in oak is the norm; the best ones - like Jadwiga - will sit in barrels for 25 years before bottling). ABV is in the neighborhood of 16-17%.

Just to bend your mind a bit, the equivalent starting SGs for these brews are, roughly,

Czwórniak - 1.100
Trójniak - 1.140
Dwójniak - 1.210
Póltorak - 1.250

So, brimminghorn, if your batch size was 5 gal after the must was completely mixed and fermented, then you were in between Dwojniak and Trojniak according to the traditional scale.

The honeys used are typically acacia (locust trees here in North America are acacias in Europe), with a little bit of buckwheat thrown in for complexity. European buckwheat is more like Western American wild buckwheat than our eastern cultivated variety, FWIW.

This post has been edited by wayneb: Jul 23 2007, 05:19 PM
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Posts in this topic
bales   how to make a Polish mead?   Jul 22 2007, 11:57 AM
wayneb   Polish meads are traditionally formulated by volum...   Jul 23 2007, 05:17 PM
moonjava   QUOTE(wayneb @ Jul 23 2007, 05:17 PM) Pol...   Aug 2 2007, 10:05 AM
MtnBrewer   Wayne, great summary! Any idea about the Polis...   Jul 23 2007, 06:23 PM
Hop Mania   wow, so many jokes to be made....   Jul 23 2007, 09:58 PM
wayneb   Brimminghorn, I commend you on intuitively figurin...   Jul 23 2007, 10:27 PM
brimminghorn   QUOTE(wayneb @ Jul 23 2007, 11:27 PM) Bri...   Jul 24 2007, 04:41 PM
bales   I really appreciate all of the info here. I am go...   Jul 28 2007, 06:19 PM
brimminghorn   QUOTE(bales @ Jul 28 2007, 07:19 PM) I re...   Jul 28 2007, 07:42 PM
bales   I will. I got 10 carboys I am not using at the mo...   Jul 28 2007, 10:05 PM
wayneb   moonjava (archie), Welcome to this thread and than...   Aug 2 2007, 02:38 PM
bales   Thanks guys! I went and bought a vial of the ...   Aug 4 2007, 06:54 PM
wayneb   Good luck with that yeast. I've never had suc...   Aug 4 2007, 09:24 PM
wayneb   Well, a meadmaking colleague has recently uncovere...   Sep 1 2007, 06:56 PM
ScubaStuff   QUOTE(wayneb @ Sep 1 2007, 04:56 PM) Well...   Feb 19 2008, 09:42 AM
male   QUOTE(wayneb @ Sep 1 2007, 06:56 PM) Well...   Dec 12 2008, 09:57 AM
male   QUOTE(male @ Dec 12 2008, 09:57 AM) Wayne...   Feb 11 2015, 03:16 AM
BeesNBrews   New reply on an old topic... Since I am bottling ...   Aug 18 2008, 09:43 PM
BeesNBrews   All this on Polish meads, has anybody got one goin...   Aug 29 2008, 11:21 PM
bales   I started one using dark (fall) local honey last y...   Sep 12 2008, 10:29 PM
stout_fan   Well, First off it helps to be Polish Just jokin...   Sep 23 2008, 12:45 PM
male   QUOTE(stout_fan @ Sep 23 2008, 12:45 PM) ...   Dec 12 2008, 09:44 AM

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