Blueberry Mead–Update 1

Blurberry Mead Calc[1]

The image to the left is my final calculations for this batch of mead.  The calculator is available at, a mead site that contains quite a bit of very good information. 

I have decided to change my Blueberry Mead just a bit.  I have a couple of large primary fermenters, so I am going with an 8 gallon batch.  Actually, the batch will be between 7.5 and 8 gallons.  I also am beeping this batch in the 16 – 17% ABV range, a bit low for mead, but a level that I think makes this mead just a bit more accessible.  22%+ ABV is fun, but I want something I may actually like.  Then again, everyone loved my 22%+ ABV blueberry mead last time, so maybe this summer I will do a 23% mead and a lower ABV wine.

I transferred the mead to a 3 gallon carboy so it can continue fermenting.  I transferred the remaining liquid to a 7 gallon secondary, and added 5 pounds of blueberries, which I let ferment for 4 days.  Today, I added an additional 9 pounds 3 ounces of wildflower honey to the blueberry secondary.  I will let this sit for about 2 weeks, and then rack again.  I will also rack the 3 gallon batch to secondary.  I imagine I will bulk age for at least a year, and then bottle age for another year or so.  In the end I plan to combine the two batches for bottling.  What I figure I need now is a few 10 gallon secondary/aging fermenters for these batches.  Strange how you can always think of things to buy for wine/mead/beer making.

Bearded Hen Oaked Tripel

Tripel_Feb_12_-0283I brewed a Oaked Belgian Tripel today. I have brewed a tripel before, and everyone really liked it, so I thought it was time for another. The main difference this time is that this tripel will be oaked for 30 days using 3 ounces of French medium toast cubes that have been soaked in Jim Beam for 37 days, as well as the use of two yeast varieties. I am planning on doing my usual 30-day primary, and then another 30 days (without racking) with the oak. I see no point in racking, as I have done 60-day primaries before and they always produce a very clean, clear beer.

I also used 1-pound of table sugar in place of 1-pound corn sugar. The sugar is only a bit over 6% of the grain bill, so there should be no issues with taste, and I added it during the last 15 minutes of the boil – the wort should invert the sugar anyway.

As previously mentioned, I am using two strains of yeast for this brew – A Wyeast Belgian Ardennes and a White Labs Belgian Ale yeast. I just made a 2L starter for each yeast. I was planning on no starter, one starter with the yeasts combined, or one starter on the stir plate and a regular 2L starter, but settled on simply making two 2L starters to keep everything even.

As with many of my recipes, this one comes from

Recipe: Bearded Hen Oaked Tripel

Boil Size: 7 gallons
Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons
Boil time: 90 Minutes


86.7% -13 lbs. Pilsner German 
6.7% – 1 lb. Carapils
6.7% – 1 lb. table sugar


0.5 oz. – Tettnang (pellet – 6.3 IBU’s) – 60 Minutes
1 oz. – Hersbrucker (pellet – 11.2 IBU’s) – 60 Minutes
.25 oz. – Tettnang (pellet – 2.4 IBU’s) – 30 Minutes
.5 oz. – Hersbrucker (pellet – 4.3 IBU’s) – 30 Minutes
.25 oz. – Tettnang (pellet – 1.1 IBU’s) – 10 Minutes
.5 oz. – Hersbrucker (pellet – 2.0 IBU’s) – 10 Minutes


1 pk – Wyeast #3522 – Belgian Ardennes – 2L starter
1 pk – White Labs WLP-550 – Belgian Ale Yeast – 2L starter


3 Oz. French Medium Oak cubes soaked in Jim Beam for 37 days.  After 30 days of primary fermentation (March 18th), place oak cubes in primary for additional 30 days.  No additional Jim Beam will be added.

The brew went well with the exception of my efficiency, which was only 70%, much lower than my 75% estimate. 

Next Brew: Caramel Amber Ale

Blueberry Mead II

First_BlueberrysI am starting another Blueberry Mead.  This time though, I am doing a very simple recipe.  My previous Blueberry Mead was a bit over 22 ABV, but people seemed to like it, and most of them asked for more.  I however, did not like it at all.  A bit to hot for me and, while I hate to say this, it tasted too much like – mead.

The blueberries are a mix of wild berries that we picked this past summer, and store bought berries.  We just did not go out and pick berries this year, except for one time.  That left us with only 7.5 pounds of berries.  A few years ago, we did two pickings and came home with over 50 pounds, 25.5 pounds of which I used for mead, and 24 pounds for wine.  This year, I am only using 24 pounds of berries in the mead, with 17 in the primary and 7 in the secondary.  I also put the berries through my Green Star Juicer and made a puree this time.  What I found with the last batch of mead is that even with freezing the berries, it was very difficult to crush all of the berries to extract all of the juice and flavor.  I also used a fruit bag to hopefully eliminate some of the seeds.  Last batch required over 7 racking’s to eliminate all (most) of the seeds – they are really, really small and difficult to filter.

Below is the recipe.  The SG is a guess as I do not have an idea of the sugar content of the berries.  I am assuming a sugar content of 9.8% for this recipe.  Also, I do not have an accurate way of determining the water content of the berries.  I started with 5 gallons of water, and will adjust the water when I get to the secondary.  It worked last time, so hopefully it will work again.

Recipe (Revised – 18 February 2012):

Volume: 7.5 Gallons
Calculated SG:  1.135
Measured SG: 1N/A
Expected ABV:  17.25%


11.5 lbs. – Arizona Wildflower Honey
6.0 lbs. – Clover Honey
9.0 lbs. – Clover Honey (In secondary with blueberries)
17 lbs. – Blueberries – Primary
7.0 lbs. – Blueberries – Secondary


White Labs WLP 720 – Sweet Mead Yeast – 1L Starter.


1/2 cup – Honey
1/2 cup – Table Sugar
1/2 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
3-1/2 cups water
Notes: Boiled for 10 minutes, cooled and pitched yeast, placed on stir plate for 24 hours.


6 ea. – Campden Tablets
2.5 tsp. peptic enzyme
1.5 to 3. tsp. – Fermaid-K – prior to pitching yeast and at 1/3 sugar break

I usually do not heat or boil my honey, but all of my honey was totally crystalized.  To prevent any infection, I heated all of the honey along with 2 gallons of water, to 169 degrees for a bit over 15 minutes.  As usual, I added one Campden tab per gallon of water.  I will let that sit for 24 hours, and then pitch yeast.  Hopefully, a berry scented aroma will fill the house not long after that.

What I did differently this time:  Last batch of blueberry mead and wine saw the addition of acid blend, and tannin, and there were problems with those additions even though they were one-half of the recommended dosages.  The resulting wine and mead was very acidic and had a bit too much tannin.  It a long time and a lot of experimentation to get the products drinkable – I suppose I succeeded, but only because I was lucky.

Other additions:  Yeast nutrient – will probably add 1.5 tsp. Fermaid-K at 1/3 sugar break but will add 1.5 tsp prior to pitching yeast.  I will see how things go.  I will add 2.5 tsp. peptic enzyme about an hour prior to pitching yeast – more than likely along with the Fermaid-K.

Starter:  I was not going to make a starter but I did after thinking about how difficult my past adventures with blueberries were to start.  Last time it took 5 days or so, and a lot of additions and re-pitching’s to get things moving, so a starter was made.

John McNaughton–Depiction of Truth


Waiting for this on a t-shirt.

Face Book Page at:  John McNaughton

Nice Day in Juneau

POTD_04Feb12_DSCF1088It was a nice day in Juneau, with temperatures somewhere in the upper 30’s to lower 40’s. The chickens were happy and perching in the sun drying off after a long wet winter.  Tired after getting up early to cycling class, I decided that it was a nice enough day to drive out the road, and Albert and Little Al hitched a ride even though I made them leave their assassinator weapons at home.  The picture on the left is of Albert and Little Al soaking up the sun at Sunshine Cove. 



While I was going back to the car to put my camera away, some strange woman walked by and tried to kidnap Albert and Little Al.  However, because I had a picture of her, she put them back and both were able to return home unharmed.  Oddly, the stranger woman got in the car and came home with us also. 




This is one of my favorite views in Juneau.   Almost at the end of the road, when you turn the corner that leads to this straight piece of road, this mountain is framed between the trees.  You really cannot see how high the mountain is in the picture, but I like the picture anyway, so here it is.



Just thought I would throw an image in of Kowee Creek.  I thought the sun shining at the end of the creek was interesting.  The road leading to the creek was slick with a very thick, smooth layer of ice.