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Acerglyn 2.0

In October 2019, I made an Acerglyn that I was fairly happy with.  I decided to revisit that recipe, but to dial up the percentage of maple syrup in the must and increase the volume so that I could split off a gallon or two and add toasted oak to that.

Last time around, I used 7 ounces of syrup and 2 pounds of honey.  That's around 18% of the fermentables as maple syrup.  This time around, I'm aiming for a higher percentage of maple syrup.

Ingredients

5 pounds of Wildflower Honey
2 pounds Grade A Dark Maple Syrup (formerly Grade B)
1 tsp. Fermaid K
1 tsp. DAP
1 packet  Lalvin K1V 1116 yeast
Filtered tap water to the 3 gallon mark in the fermenter

Characteristics of the brew:
  • Batch Volume: 3.0 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.085 SG estimated, 1.095 SG actual
  • Final Gravity: 0.992 SG estimated (1.004 SG actual)
  • ABV: 11.4% estimated, 12.1% actual
  • Fermenter Used:  Lister
  • Bottling Wand Used:  n/a
  • Carbonation Method Used:  n/a
As with my previous meads, the brewing process is pretty straightforward and simple:
  • Sanitize the fermenter and other tools to be used
  • Soak the honey in hot tap water for a while to loosen it up
  • Filter the tap water through a Brita filter
  • Pour about a gallon of water into the fermenter
  • Add the honey, maple syrup, and yeast nutrients
  • Attach the sanitized degassing wand to a cordless drill.
  • Insert the wand into the fermenter and run it until the honey is mixed in well and the must is aerated, adding water as needed to get the honey dissolved and reach the planned 3 gallon volume
  • Pitch the dry yeast directly atop the must and seal the fermenter
Because this is a comparatively low-gravity mead (clocking in around 12%, compared to a few I've done in the past), the fermentation plan is equally simple:
  • Ferment the must until final gravity is reached, or nearly reached.  (I hit 0.994 SG the last time around but the mix of fermentables was different, so this batch may ferment lower.)
  • Pull 1 gallon of the mead off the yeast and into another sanitized fermenter.  Add a blend of medium toast oak chips to it, in a stainless steel container.  Allow this to sit until the desired oak character is present.
  • Bottle the rest of the mead, half with four carbonation tablets, half without.  Optionally add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of wine tannins.
  • When the oaked mead reaches the desired character, bottle it.  Do a few bottles with four carbonation tablets, the rest without.
My goal here is to end up with four variants of the recipe:
  • Non-oaked and still Acerglyn
  • Non-oaked and carbonated Acerglyn
  • Oaked and still Acerglyn
  • Oaked and carbonated Acerglyn
The reason I'm doing all these variants goes back to the original batch. I found it tasty and easy to drink as a still, non-oaked beverage, but also a tad boring.  I thought that oaking it might make it more interesting.  So might some carbonation.  This way I'll be able to try all four variants and decide what I like best for a future, larger batch.

Update 04/10/2020:  I bottled about a third of the batch with carbonation drops.  I placed a quart in with medium toast French oak chips, a quart with cognac barrel chips, a quart with medium toast American oak soaked in wheated Bourbon, and a small amount with a piece of Palo Santo wood.  One gallon was held in reserve.  I plan to add to that gallon whichever wood seemed to provide the most agreeable flavor in the smaller jars.

Notes and Observations

02/23/2020:  I had originally planned to use less maple syrup in this batch, but got distracted while pouring it and ended up adding 2 pounds (32 ounces) instead of the 25 ounces I'd intended to use.  This bumped the OG up a little, but within a few points of what I wanted from the batch so I decided not to dilute it further.  Tap water this time of year in Ohio is pretty cold (57F), so I am a little concerned that it may not be warm enough for the yeast to get started for a while.

02/25/2020:  Gravity registered as low as 1.092 SG before bounding back up.  It is currently reading 1.095.

02/26/2020:  Gravity 1.081 SG, 64F.

02/28/2020:  Gravity 1.049 SG, 64F, and 6.8% ABV.

03/07/2020:  Yesterday I degassed the mead and added some nutrient to help it finish out.  Today the gravity has dropped to 1.006 SG and seems to be continuing to drop.

04/10/2020:  Final Gravity was 1.004 SG.  Bottled about a third of the batch, split off about a third to age with various woods (see above), and held a third to age with whichever wood seems to provide the best flavor.

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