Dear Wine Wizard,
I made my first batch of mead, (actually a braggot) and upon first racking determined the alcohol level to be approximately 10.5% ABV - right where I wanted it. However, the braggot is only three weeks old and has a distinctly sour taste. Will this taste mature and mellow into a nice mead flavor over time? If so, how much time should I give it?
Wine Wizard replies: Congratulations for tackling one of the most interesting and esoteric of brews, the braggot (also spelled braggott or bragawd). A beverage that combines what some would say the best of what mead and ale have to offer, braggott is a traditional Welsh drink made from malt, hops, honey and spices like ginger and rosemary.
As I flip through my recipe books for reference, it seems like most recipes mention that it's best to bottle-age the honey-beer for at least a month or two before consuming. My experience with straight mead tells me that you might want to wait even longer, maybe three months at the very least. Some of my mead-brewing friends even wait a year.
The sour notes you're experiencing are familiar to many of your fellow brewers and winemakers, myself included. The fruity but slightly acidic taste and aromas are what I like to call the "fermentation bouquet" and are produced by the yeast during fermentation. To me, many commercial hefeweizens have this same sour, yeasty unfinished-fermentation smell. If your braggott is only three weeks old, then it needs some time to drop its sediment, lose the carbon dioxide (you can prime and bottle it later if you want) as well as lose the sometimes alarming fermentation bouquet.
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