Saturday, September 1, 2012

Salmonberry Mead Brewday

I scored the salmonberries in June when I was out visiting my father in Seattle; he has a bunch of them growing on his property, but no one ever does anything with them—well, except the birds. Since they were just coming ripe when I showed up, I picked all I could and froze them so I could take them back to Dayton on the plane. And a humorous anecdote from my childhood: when we were kids, my father told me that salmonberries were poisonous, most likely to keep us from fucking around with them. Since I was a naïve child, I believed him. Fast forward to last summer when Elli and I were out in Seattle; we saw some salmonberries, and she asked about them, and I said they were poisonous. She was pretty sure they weren’t, so we asked my brother Jason, who proceeded to laugh at me for believing our father. When I asked my dad why he told us they were poisonous, his response was classic father-caught-years-later-for-telling-lies-to-his-kids: “Did I say that? Huh. I don’t remember telling you that, but maybe I did. It sounds about right. You little bastards were always eating weird shit, and we got tired of calling Poison Control to make sure you weren’t going to die. So we told you it would kill you. Probably serves you right.” That’s straight-up parenting 101 right there, folks.

B. Salmonberry Mead
44 oz. Robert Irvin raw honey
1 ¾ lbs. salmonberries
¾ gallon RO water

Combined and heated to 140° F; removed from heat and chilled overnight. Racked into 3 gallon carboy & pitched Lalvin 71B-1122 Narbonne yeast.

Brewed: 9/1/2012
Secondary: 10/13/2012

Tasting Notes (12/9/2012): When I racked this mead into the one gallon secondary, there was enough left over to fill one 8 oz. bottle, which I dutifully bottled and put to the side; my friend Tim came over this evening, so I decided to sample it, since he is, well, pretty much a mead guru: for my wedding, I got 6 bottles of 6-8 year old mead. Since it was chilled, it took a bit for it to warm up—I kept it in the fridge in case there was anything for the yeast to keep working on: bottle-bombs are no one’s friend. The mead was a lovely off-orange salmon berry color, and the nose was honey with a touch of fruit tartness and tannic skin character. Flavors followed the nose, with a touch of tart fruitiness—I can say it tasted like salmonberry, but it was more a generic light berry flavor that almost verged into huckleberry for tartness—and there was certainly a tannic skin bite. Once it warmed, there was some alcohol warmth that will need to age out—although already less than two months ago when it went into the bottle—but still, it was surprisingly pleasant. As well, it is probably on the drier side, but not much to do about that now. I look forward to trying more of this in about a year or so once the rest gets into bottles.

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