Gruyere Cheese Mead
Gruyere Cheese Mead Recipe
150 grams Gruyere cheese, rind removed and grated
150 grams Comte cheese, rind removed and grated (or the same amount of more Gruyere)
1 gal water
1.5 lbs Orange blossom honey
5 grams EC-1118 yeast (or other wine yeast)
6.3 grams GoFerm Protect to rehydrate yeast
2.4 grams Fermaid-O
Make the Cheese Mead Base
Place water in large pot on stove and bring to a simmer. Add cheese slowly, whisking continually. Continue whisking until completely dissolved and liquid is smooth. You can also use an immersion blender to speed the process. Simmer for 15 minutes to kill off any bacteria or mold in the mixture.
Pour hot mixture into a tall container such as a pitcher, and cover with plastic wrap. Cool hot mixture in a water or ice bath, and place in refrigerator overnight.
The next day after mixture has separated into three layers, use soup spoon to carefully remove layer of milk fat at top of pitcher. Remove the fat as thoroughly as possible.
Carefully decant the mixture from the pitcher into a sanitized fermentation vessel being careful to leave behind the bottom layer of milk solids in the pitcher.
Rehydrate the Yeast
Rehydrate your yeast following the instructions on the package.
If available, use GoFerm as part of rehydration process.
Make the Must and Pitch Yeast
Add honey to the decanted cheese liquid in the primary fermenter. Stir with a sanitized spoon or whisk to dissolve honey completely.
Once honey and cheese liquid mixture are tempered within 10°F of the rehydrated yeast, pitch yeast into primary. Take a specific gravity reading and record original gravity.
At 24 hours after pitch, add Fermaid-O
As possible, whisk the mixture to aerate the must during the first few days of fermentation.
After 6-7 days of active fermentation, rack to a closed carboy at attach an airlock. Ferment until clear.
Nutrient amounts calculated with TOSNA, but whole nutrient dose added to must at 24 hours after pitching.
In practice, this batch was racked:
From open primary to 1 gal closed fermenter at 1 week.
1 gal to 1 gal after another 3 weeks, to try to rack underneath floating milk solids
1 gal to 3 liters after another 2 weeks, to reduce headspace, and sparkolloid was added.
Final bottled yield was about 2.75 liters. I did attempt a small-scale bench trial to test whether back-sweetening would help, but it was tough to tell whether adding additional honey would mute the cheese character. In the end, this was entered into the Valkyrie's horn competition as a dry, still hydromel.
How'd It Do
Fermentation was strong, albeit difficult to watch. Very few home brewers enjoy seeing while lumps floating at the top of their batch, as so often are the first signs of infection. The batch started to calm down around 5 days, and on day 6 was racked to a glass gallon jug with a small amount of head space remaining after lees were left out.
This batch was entered into the 2021 Valkyrie's Horn competition, and scored a 34 composite. Judges' comments were to the effect of, "I'm amazed this wasn't awful."