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> how to make a Polish mead?
bales
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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brimminghorn
post Jul 22 2007, 09:03 PM
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Hi, I'm new to the list. I wanted to reply to the post about the Polish mead.

I made one that took a silver medal at Meadlennium Competition that was oak aged. I used 24lbs of wildflower honey, around 2oz. of french toasted oak chips in the secondary and Lalvin K1-V1116 (Montpellier) - my yeast of choice. I actually fed it more honey during fermentation. The ending gravity was around 1.050. The mead came out sweet but not overly sweet, it was well balanced and had an intense honey aroma with hints of caramel and vanilla from the oak aging. If you choose to use this yeast, make a starter, I used 2 packs of yeast (10grams) and staggered the yeast nutrient through fermentation. It aged on the oak for 6 months. The batch size was 5 1/2 gallons. If you want to know more, let me know.

This post has been edited by brimminghorn: Jul 22 2007, 09:05 PM
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bales
post Jul 23 2007, 09:06 AM
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Sounds just like what I think I want to make, tell me more!
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wayneb
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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MtnBrewer
post Jul 23 2007, 06:23 PM
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Wayne, great summary! Any idea about the Polish yeasts? Is there anything special or unique about the yeast they use?
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brimminghorn
post Jul 23 2007, 08:41 PM
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QUOTE(bales @ Jul 23 2007, 10:06 AM) *
Sounds just like what I think I want to make, tell me more!


Here's my recipe:

Total honey was 24lbs. 12lbs of it was boiled in about a gallon of water and I let it carmelize a bit. The other 12lbs was added after I turned the heat off. It was cooled down and topped off with water to 5 1/2 gallons. I added 2tsp of yeast nutrient. I pitched a quart yeast starter of the Lalvin K1-V1116. OG was 1.140. After 4 days I added 2 more tsps of yeast nutrient. It fermented down to 1.020, at this point I added 2 lbs of honey and 2tsp more of yeast nutrient. Fermentation took off again and I basically fed it until it choked and the gravity was 1.050. When I finished adding all the honey there was around 6 total gallons of mead. I racked it into the secondary and added 2oz of french toasted oak chips. I let it age for 6 months on the oak. I fined it with hot mix sparkolloid. I filtered it and bottled it. It aged another 6 months before I drank it.

As far as yeast for Polish Mead, traditionally they used Malaga yeast and Sherry strains were used also. I have used sherry yeast and have had real good results too. I also tried a batch with distillers yeast, it fermented to a very high alcohol level and I oak aged it too and it came out really good...very port like.

This post has been edited by brimminghorn: Jul 23 2007, 09:17 PM
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Hop Mania
post Jul 23 2007, 09:58 PM
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wow, so many jokes to be made....
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wayneb
post Jul 23 2007, 10:27 PM
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Brimminghorn, I commend you on intuitively figuring out the Polish process -- but since you know about the yeasts that are used (actually the modern meaderies all have their own proprietary strains according to the Polish meadery rep I talked with at the IMF this past Feb, but they are derived from strains capable of tolerating high initial gravities, like the Malaga Port or Sherry strains), you probably know more than you let on at first!
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brimminghorn
post Jul 24 2007, 04:41 PM
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QUOTE(wayneb @ Jul 23 2007, 11:27 PM) *
Brimminghorn, I commend you on intuitively figuring out the Polish process -- but since you know about the yeasts that are used (actually the modern meaderies all have their own proprietary strains according to the Polish meadery rep I talked with at the IMF this past Feb, but they are derived from strains capable of tolerating high initial gravities, like the Malaga Port or Sherry strains), you probably know more than you let on at first!



Thanks Wayne.
Also thanks for the info on what kinds of honey that are used in Polish meads. I knew about the acacia blossom, but didn't know about the buckwheat honey. I believe some of the Polish meads are made with cornflower honey, I seem to remember reading that some where.
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bales
post Jul 28 2007, 06:19 PM
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I really appreciate all of the info here. I am going to aim for one these next. Thanks!
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brimminghorn
post Jul 28 2007, 07:42 PM
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QUOTE(bales @ Jul 28 2007, 07:19 PM) *
I really appreciate all of the info here. I am going to aim for one these next. Thanks!


Good luck with the Polish mead, let us know how it turns out.
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bales
post Jul 28 2007, 10:05 PM
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I will. I got 10 carboys I am not using at the moment. I was going to do a 15#clover/5g traditional with D47, and then later a Polish mead. However if it really takes a few years, might as well stock up and do this right and make 10g of it now. Might as well do the Polish first and then do the traditional (already got 2 traditionals in bottles & keg from last year).

Already got applebuttercyser #2 going for the year downstairs. I just don't see how you can go wrong with that stuff. I like drinking it out of the carboy. And most meads I don't care for until into their second year. I did drank a lime mead tonight that was only a year, tad young but not bad. Chasing it with Skotrat's B52. Enough babbling.

I am figuring a 1g honey /2g water on 1116 yeast with Ken's nutrient schedule, then add 1g honey /1g water at the end of first wk with some more nutrients. I will do this for two batches. I think oak and aging is really the key with a mead that sweet in final. I have never used real oak, only oak essense. I suspect that doens't really count.

Looks like the sherry yeast is discontinued. Going to have to use 1116 and never have. I have used 1118, but really don't like it unless it is in a cyser or using some strong fruit. Even still, D47 is better unless you are going above 1.120.
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moonjava
post Aug 2 2007, 10:05 AM
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QUOTE(wayneb @ Jul 23 2007, 05:17 PM) *
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:

There is another type: "Piątniak", made of one part honey and four parts water, very rare.

QUOTE(wayneb @ Jul 23 2007, 05:17 PM) *
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.

Besides very often we use honey from linden (little-leaf type) and rapseed.

QUOTE(MtnBrewer @ Jul 23 2007, 06:23 PM) *
Any idea about the Polish yeasts? Is there anything special or unique about the yeast they use?

Mead making handbooks from nineteenth century sugest using brewing yeast. After Second World War there were only wine yeast wide-available in shops. Nowadays we use dry active yeast, mainly from Lallemand.

QUOTE(brimminghorn @ Jul 23 2007, 08:41 PM) *
As far as yeast for Polish Mead, traditionally they used Malaga yeast and Sherry strains were used also.

Sherry yeast strain available in Poland is not FLOR sherry strain (like yeast from Red Star).

Greetings
archie
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wayneb
post Aug 2 2007, 02:38 PM
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moonjava (archie), Welcome to this thread and thanks for the additional information! I'd forgotten about piątniak, since that isn't even available commercially here in the US. We'd classify that as more of a "small mead," or hydromel, with ABV more akin to beers and ales.

BTW, please look for a PM from me.
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bales
post Aug 4 2007, 06:54 PM
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Thanks guys!

I went and bought a vial of the WLP Liquid English Dry Yeast (20%?) culture and am going to try that one. I am figuring on 1g clover and 1g dark honey to get me in the ballpark and got the order in with the local bee dude. Use French oak later for a year(?).
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