hist-brewing: oak barrels for meadmaking

Chuck meadmakr at enteract.com
Sun Apr 29 17:34:18 PDT 2001

Dan McFeeley wrote:

> I'm curious, why would oak flavor be a problem with mead?  Oxidation
> shouldn't be a problem either with good barrel management.
> Some examples of the use of oak in meadmaking -- Brother Adam recommended
> used sherry casks and insisted that quality meads needed long term aging
> in wood.  He aged his heather honey metheglins for eight years, without
> the use of CO2.  Roger Morse, in "Wines from the Fermentation of Honey"
> (Edith Crane _Honey: A Comprehensive Survey_) aged clover honey mead in
> 55 gallon charred oak barrels for 6 months, commenting that it produced
> a very smooth mead showing greater stability than "freshly fermented mead."

> Obviously care should be taken, as with any project using oak barrels.
> A new and unused American oak barrel would overwhelm the mead, whereas
> Brother Adam and Morse both used barrels where the oakiness was tempered
> in some way, either a used barrel or a barrel that had been charred.

When Wout Klingens and I talked to French (brittany) commercial
meadmakers summer before last, each and every one used  (French) oak
wine barrelsthat they had purchased direct from the winerys. In most
cases it was obvious that these were very old barrels that they had been
using for some time, but Mssr. Gautier had an obviously almost brand-new
barrel that he pointed to with pride and said, "this one held a very
famous French wine." He didn't tell us what it was. BTW, these were all
(about) 500 liter wine barrels (hell, maybe more), all quite large.


Geneva, IL

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