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M3b – Semi-Sweet Chocolate and Carmelized Honey Mead


2022 Gold: Mazer Cup
2022 Silver: Michigan Mead Cup
2022 Bronze: Valhalla

Ingredients for 5 gallons of must (at 1.126 Original Gravity, target 1.050 Finishing Gravity):

8 lbs Sweet Clover honey (uncooked)
3 lbs Buckeye honey (uncooked)
4 lbs Saw Palmetto honey (or dark wildflower) lightly stovetop caramelized
3 lbs Black Mangrove honey (lightly stovetop caramelized)
3.5 gals Spring water
10 grams OptiWhite (SIY)
5 grams Booster Blanc (SIY)
2.7 grams FT Blanc Soft (Tannin)
16 grams D21 Yeast (medium YAN needs, temp range: 61-82F) FERMENT at 63-64F
20 grams GoFermProtect in 400 ml water
10 grams FermaidO at yeast pitch, 6 grams at 24 hours, 6 grams at 48 hours (22 gr total) with each addition in water at 20x the addition weight (200ml, 120ml, 120ml)
35 grams Medium+ American White Oak cubes in primary

Post Fermentation:

1 spiral Medium+ or Heavy toast American White Oak in secondary
1 to 1.5 lbs Lightly toasted Cacao Nibs (avoid nibs that smell sharp or fruity – they should smell like fudge or nougat
2 Vanilla beans – sliced lengthwise and then cut into 1 inch lengths


Incorporate the water and honey and ensure it’s fully dissolved. Add OptiWhite, Booster Blanc, FT Blanc Soft and Oak cubes.

Prepare GoFermProtect by heating water to 160F. Mix thoroughly. When the mixture reaches 95F, add the yeast and mix well. Every 10 minutes add 20 ml of the must to the yeast mixture until the mixture is within 10F of the must temperature (this is called atemperating the yeast). Oxygenate with pure O2 and a sintered stone for 90 seconds at 1 liter per minute. Pitch yeast into the must, and mix well.

This recipe is designed for arresting fermentation at 1.040-1.050, depending on your sweetness preference. If you want to ferment dry and backsweeten instead, you would want to reduce the initial honey amounts by approximately 7lb total, and add that similar amount later when backsweetening.

Cover the must, use an airlock or blowoff tube depending on your headspace and customary process.

Day 0: Add first infusion of Fermaid O when pitching yeast. Mix it in the water as prescribed.
Day 2: Add second infusion of Fermaid O.
Day 3: Add third infusion of Fermaid O.

Arresting fermentation process: ferment at 65F, begin monitoring fermentation closely when gravity is in the 1.060 range. When gravity has dropped to 1.040-1.050 (depending on your target preference), place fermenter in fridge or chest freezer with temp controller set at 32-35F. Let it remain at this temp for 5-7 days then rack into secondary bucket or carboy, avoiding any lees while racking. Add sulfite and sorbate to stabilize. I usually wait another 3-7 days before moving the fermenter to room temp for secondary additions, aging, and clarifying.

Post Fermentation additions: Add oak spiral, cacao nibs and vanilla beans (as above). Rack off of secondary additions after 4-6 weeks. Clarify, age to your preference, and enjoy.

This mead very sweet but is balanced when paired with the tannins from the oak and the earthy and rich cacao. A rounded chocolate flavor cannot be achieved by nibs alone, so it is important to have the oak and vanilla additions to soften and add complexity to the overall flavor experience.