Bochet
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 50,474
    Bochet

    Bochet is a mead made from caramelized honey. Mead is one of, if not the oldest, alcoholic beverages known to man, dating back at least six thousand years. Bochet is kind of a strange variant that goes back at least to medieval times. Typically, when making mead, the honey should never be heated, since this drives off all the delightful aromas, and subtle flavors of good varietal honey. With Bochet, however, the honey is actually boiled, creating an entirely different flavor profile.
    Bochet is very easy to make, and takes little specialized equipment. I’ll walk you through my Saint Padraig’s day brew as an example.
    Ingredients:
    10.5 pounds honey.
    3 gallons water.
    2-packs of K-1V yeast.

    Process:
    8.5 pounds of the honey were poured into my ten-gallon kettle. Yes, the pot size was probably overkill, but since the honey expands four to five times, I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any boil-over issues. I used my propane burner, and did all this outside, but it could just as easily be done inside on the stove, provided you don’t mind the house smelling like caramelized honey for days, if not weeks. The burner was cranked up until the honey just began to boil, then the heat was turned way down to avoid thermal loading, and potential scorching.
    Just a note, if you do this outside, it is highly recommended that you do this during the winter... I have heard horror stories about vast hordes of very angry bees showing up to violently protest.
    The honey is stirred almost constantly, to keep from scorching, and boiled until the desired color is achieved, such that the liquid under all that foam is near black. Turn the heat off the moment a “burnt” smell is evidenced.
    Now for the tricky part. The water must be added. The key is to allow the honey to cool some; if water is poured in immediately, it will practically explode, erupting extraordinarily hot “honey lava” in your face. Let it cool too much, and it will turn into a sticky tar, and will resist any attempt to dissolve it. The secret is to add the water slowly, keeping all body parts away from the top of the pot. When it appears “safe,” the remainder can just be poured in, and stirred well to dissolve all the honey. I used three gallon jugs of “Spring water,” since my tap water has a very high concentration of carbonates, and the Ph is way too high for mead. Just to add some tannins and some extra nutrients for the yeast, I dropped two green tea bags into one of the jugs the night before. If I had thought about it, I would have made some “oak tea” out of dried oak leaves off my Red Oak tree the week before, but the green tea will work just as well.
    As soon as the water is added, two more pounds of honey were dissolved into the wort. Yes, I know I should refer to it as “must,” but I’m a brewer, not a vintner, and the term “must” makes me want to stick my pinky finger out when I say it. The un-boiled honey was added for two reasons; to give the finished product some complexity buy adding those delightful honey aromas, and because some of the caramelized sugars will not be fermentable, and I didn’t want it to be too sweet; that straight honey should “dry it out” some.
    While the wort was cooling, I sanitized my fermenter, air lock, and siphon hose. I use about an ounce of iodine per gallon of cool water for this.
    Once the wort has cooled to around 70 degrees, I siphoned it into the fermenter. I used the siphon since I’m using a carboy type fermenter, and pouring into that little hole from a ten gallon pot is kind of problematic, even with a funnel.
    I re-hydrated two packs of K-1V yeast, and pitched it. I also dissolved a teaspoon of DAP and 3/4 of a teaspoon of Fermaid K yeast nutrients, in a little warm water, and added that as well. I then agitated the fermenter well, and installed the airlock.
    Six hours later, I again agitated the fermenter, and also at twelve hours.
    At around twelve hours, I added 1/4 teaspoon of Dap, and half that of Fermaid-K. I will add this same quantity at twenty four hours, and then once a day for three days.
    I expect this to remain in the fermenter for three to six months. I will probably rack it off the dead yeast at three months if it looks like it needs to go longer than that. When I’m sure it is done, based on hydrometer readings, I’ll bottle it, and let it age for up to a year.
    I can’t wait to sample it.

    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 50,474
    Update:

    I took a gravity sample. I know it's a bit early, but I really wanted to see how it was doing.
    The color has lightened up a bit, it's now a deep amber, kinda pretty actually. It's still a bit sweet, but has a ways to go to fully ferment out. Potent, but no harsh alcohol taste at all. For a mead so young, it's smooth. I don't think this is going to take a lot of age to be very drinkable. So far, I'm really happy with it.
    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.