Lord Rhys Chocolate Mead Recipe


I mentioned this one yesterday, when I was commenting on existing wine and mead recipes that used chocolate. Here it is in its entirety:

Chocolate Mead aka Liquid Sex Mead
Lord Rhys, Capten gen y Arian Lloer, Barony of Andelcrag, Midrealm

This recipe may be quoted, borrowed, copied, or stolen by anyone under three conditions.
1. As the originator of this recipe please offer me credit as such.
2. No money may change hands specifically for this recipe. Give it freely to any who ask in the spirit in which I give it to you.
3. It may be put into any SCA newsletter, SCA publication, or website, paid subscription or public domain only after due notification to the originator.

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

The originator of the recipe is not responsible for hordes of chocolate-crazed women attacking your encampment in search of chocolate mead, or Foreign Royalty sending knights to drag you into their court at Pennsic to demand bottles and recipes. All local women must now see my lady, Angelline la Petita, for a sample if you can talk her out of it. I am not allowed to carry around an open bottle anymore.

Basic Procedure

The basics of mead brewing should be mastered before performing any advanced projects. This recipe assumes a standard 5 gallon batch of mead using a 4 parts water to 1 part honey mixture (Must). - editor’s note: take a look at my Simple Mead Recipe for an introduction to mead making basics.

If you prefer your mead boiled, do so before adding any cocoa from this recipe as the foaming will remove the chocolate from the mix. Boiling is optional in mead and if you would like the pro’s and con’s, please ask. I personally boil nothing in mead making.

To your standard must, before adding the yeast, add 16 oz of Cocoa Powder (Nestles works great). Mix well before adding yeast. You will notice a lag in the start of the yeast; however this is common and due to the oils in cocoa. It will start bubbling madly in a few days, but never as much as normal mead.

Finishing and Aging

THIS STEP IS VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT!

Cocoa contains a number of different very bitter oils that must be given time to break down. After the bubbling slows down put your fermenter/carboy away for one full year. Keeping the airlock on and checking the water level in it on occasion. Any other method of removing the oils will result in the loss of that little enzyme that the ladies are so fond of.

At the end of that year, rack the mead once to remove sediment and sweeten to approx. 1.030 on a hydrometer (semi-sweet) or to taste. I use Camden to kill the yeast at this point. Put the mead away for a second year. After the second year bottle normally. It will be clear, but very dark.

Some production notes: This mead leaves a very light aftertaste of chocolate that many people will not be able to identify readily. However the other effects of chocolate, i.e. orgasmic like pleasure is there. In the original test one of the samplers didn’t care for it, only one identified the flavor and tried to steal the bottle, and the other 28 thought it good with comments ranging from “very good” to “OH MY GOD!”. I make five gallons each year to share with friends, and that is all due to space from brewing. I used an apple flower honey, but any light honey should work. Just avoid heavy flavored honeys that might overpower the chocolate. In addition brew down only once, a heroic (high alcohol) mead would likewise overpower the delicate flavor.

Additional Note: The current batch now aged over two years has increased in chocolate flavor and smoothed very very very well. I no longer serve chocolate mead at less then two years of age. The Ladies of the Barony deserve nothing less then the best.

Final Note: If you let the mead age a third year some lovely Lady will force you to marry her in order to hoard the supply. My Lady Angelline has even received copies of this recipe in email, telling her she just has to try this out.

This mead is best served to the one you love ice cold, in candlelight, with a bowl of fresh strawberries for dipping. And privacy would be recommended.

Comments back to me are most welcome and maybe sent to LordRhys@gmail.com



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32 thoughts on “Lord Rhys Chocolate Mead Recipe

  1. CuAllaidh

    Wonderful blog you have. I have just recently begun my journey in to the fun of mead making. My first Cyser is happily bubbling away in my storage closet even now, this recipe intrigues me, and I am thinking that I might just have to attempt it.

  2. Patrick

    Thank you for this recipe. This looks great. I do have a couple of questions, though.
    Question 1: It says “This recipe assumes a standard 5 gallon batch of mead using a 4 parts water to 1 part honey mixture” I might have missed that part when putting this together and used your “Simple Mead Recipe” as the base. I think that is a 5:1 ratio, right? If so, how badly did I bollix up this recipe? I added the starter (using mead yeast) and the thing took off like a rocket, bubbling within 2 hrs. or so.
    Question 2: What do you sweeten with? Honey, corn sugar, organic cane sugar, Agave Nectar? I would assume with the chocolate flavor, you may want a neutral sweetener. What do yo suggest? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  3. Erroll Post author

    Hi Patrick,

    You’re right, my Simple Mead Recipe is 5 parts water to 1 part honey. So if you made up your must that way and you’d rather have a 4:1 ratio, you can add honey to your fermenting must right now. How much? Multiply the quantity of honey you added by 0.25. So, if you added 1 gallon of honey (and 5 gallons of water), then add a quart of honey to your fermenting must right now.

    It’s probably not that big a deal, but it’s easy to do so why not do it?

    The sweetener isn’t specified in the recipe, but I would probably use honey. You can make a good case for a neutral sweetener, like table sugar or corn sugar, and I think either way would be fine.

    Hope this helps,

    Erroll

  4. Erroll Post author

    Is there a way to halt fermentation without using Camden tablets? The sulfite thing makes my lady a bit twitchy.

    Hi Patrick,

    This is really a two-part question. The first part is about halting fermentation, and sulfite really isn’t good for that – sulfite and sorbate together are excellent for stabilizing a wine once fermentation has stopped. If you really want to stop fermentation at a particular point, I think cooling is your best bet. Chill the wine well below the yeast’s tolerance – into the low 30′s if you can. Once you’re sure fermentation has stopped, rack into a new container with sulfite and sorbate. That said, I think it’s easier and more reliable to ferment dry and then stabilize and sweeten.

    The second part of your question is about doing without sulfite. I get asked about this from time to time and there isn’t a good answer. Some people do it, so it can be done, but sulfite is a great way to reduce the risk of problems like infection and oxidation. So to me, not using sulfite is a mistake.

    If you must do without sulfite, then cleanliness and sanitation must be top notch. Make a vigorous starter. You racking technique must be perfect – no splashing – and you must top up religiously. Sweetening will be difficult, maybe even dangerous because fermentation might resume in the bottle, so bottle dry.

    Good luck (you’ll need it!),
    Erroll

  5. CuAllaidh

    Attempting my own variation of this as we speak, I caution anyone that makes this, apparently cocoa is a VERY effective yeast nutrient, do not knock the carboy once it is fermenting. Twice yesterday my mead blew the airlock right off, and when a clean up was attempted a chocolate geyser erupted. The smell of it fermenting is beyond wonderful though, I tasted it and it is good, but there is still alot of cocoa floating about so once that clarifies I am sure the flavour will really change. I would love to question Lord Rhys as to why he believes the must never bubbles as actively as other meads, my SG dropped from 1.055 to 0.998 in five days, I’d say that’s pretty active.

  6. Erroll Post author

    He’s pretty particular about how to make this recipe. One reason I haven’t yet is that you’re supposed to bulk age on the lees for a year. I’ve recently moved, and plan to move again. I’ve moved full carboys before, but I’d rather be settled somewhere so I can let this one sit undisturbed.

    Erroll

  7. CuAllaidh

    The aging seems to be mainly for clarification purposes. Its been done fermenting for about a month now and still not even close to clarifying. I am leaving it be so I’ll let you know how mine turns out. I changed a lot in the recipe so it is completely different from his, but Lord Rhys’ recipe was the base.

    Oh and I started a collection of mead recipes and articles about mead at http://mead.lilleypress.com if you are interested. And any recipes you wouldn’t mind sharing with the site I’d be glad to put link backs to this blog too :D

  8. Patrick

    Greetings again,
    So this batch has fermented down to .990′ish. I started it on 10/28 and have no idea when it hit that number. I followed your advice and haven’t looked at it until today. The container is airtight so evaporation loss is about 1 quart or so. I guess the questions are:
    A) Should I clarify with bentonite now, leave it for 2 more months on the lees before racking to another carboy;
    B) Did I miss a window period for fining(?) and now have to leave it longer in the primary fermenter to clear before racking;
    C) When you sweeten do you dissolve the honey in water to make it easier to mix and is there an proportion of how much honey will raise the spec. gravity how many points (just as a guess)?
    Sorry to sound like a noob but, well, I am a noob. Thanks for your help and patience

  9. CuAllaidh

    Patrick, I know you are asking Erroll, but here’s my two cents:

    a) Do not clarify it with bentonite, you want the cocoa to fall on its own in order for the mead to pull as many of the cocoa oils out as possible leaving the chocolate flavour.
    B) The longer it stays on the cocoa powder the more chocolate flavour gets imparted, I wouldn’t fine it yet, while the lees will lend an off flavour to the mead the cocoa should overpower that and it can be aged further after clarification to remove that off flavour. Lord Rhys suggests aging on the lees for a very good reason.
    C) You can dissolve the honey in water, but you don’t need to. No there isn’t a proportion of how much honey will raise the SG how much, just guess, start small and slowly add more. Mead is not as finicky as wine is about oxygen so don’t worry about taking the airlock off once a day testing the SG reading and putting a little bit more honey in it until you reach the level you want.

  10. Erroll Post author

    Hello CuAllaidh and Patrick,

    I try to get to all the comments, but some slip past me. I agree with CuAllaidh: the Lord Rhys Chocolate Mead recipe is deliberately made w/out bentonite. I works great in conventional meads, like my Simple Mead Recipe, so that’s where I use it.

    Erroll

  11. Tom

    I just made 30 gallons was wondering if you occasionally stirred
    seiment of your mead the first year?

  12. Erroll Post author

    Hi Tom,

    Giving the carboy a twist every now and a again (once a month, maybe) is probably a good idea.

    Let me know how yours turns out!

    Erroll

  13. John Freels

    If I may suggest a very important point on sweeting your product ( Mead or Wine) I strongly advise waiting 24 hrs after adding the sweethner of choice to TASTE it. It will prevent an over sweetened product and increase the quality of your product. This is what the pros do in the Wineries, they dont tell everything they do…..
    Oh yes, you can Google me, just add wine to the search to review my “qualifications” LOL
    Cheers
    John

  14. Biar

    I’m just curious, in the original wording I’ve seen for this recipe (http://www.ladybridget.com/m/chocmead.html) it says to strain the must once after the bubbling has started to slow down in order to remove the bitter oils from the cocoa. Is this a typo? Would it be better to just let it sit in the carboy and the oils will break down on their own?

  15. Erroll Post author

    Hi Biar,

    You’ve got an eye for detail! I was aware of Lady Bridget’s copy of the recipe, and I’ve even corresponded with her, but I didn’t know our copies were different until you mentioned it. This recipe is all over the web and is many years old, but they all originated from a single source – Dan (aka Lord Rhys). Errors can pop up when you make many copies of something, so maybe that happened here. Or maybe Dan made a small change to his recipe. Newer copies would have the change, but older copies might not be updated.

    My understanding is that letting the mead age on the sediment is an important part of the recipe. Dan uses cocoa powder, instead of chocolate extract, to get everything that’s in the chocolate into his mead. So I would say not to strain. But I’ll see if I can get to the bottom of this.

    Erroll

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  20. Rifter

    So, I have tried a quick, 2 gallon mead start, but this recipe has my interest piqued. I think I will try it in the relatively near future. Thanks to Erroll for answering all the questions, and Patrick for asking all the “noob” questions that I am trying to understand. :-)

  21. Jeremiah

    I didn’t pay attention to the part where you are supposed to leave it in the carboy for a full year. I have appx 16 liters in 4ea 4 liter wine jugs. Did I just ruin it and do I have to start over now?

  22. Erroll Post author

    Hi Jeremiah,

    It will be different, but I don’t think you ruined it. Let it clear and age, then bottle it and see how it is.

    Erroll

  23. Jeremiah

    Actually something funny (well its funny now anyway) happened. I have a porch area where I was storing them. Been so cold lately that I didn’t think twice about when it started warming up. Well, the yeast reactivated and caused one of the 4 liter jugs to explode.

    We had quite a mess on our hands. So, I rescued it, let it ferment some more. Racked it and now it is in a refrigerator at 35 degrees stabalizing. Yes, I added more camden. So, we’ll see how it turns out!

    Have you ever thought of doing a mead, letting it finish; then prior to bottling backsweeten the batch with a chocolate syrup? I know it has preservatives in it; but wouldn’t that help to keep the yeast from re-activiating?

  24. Jeremiah

    “My understanding is that letting the mead age on the sediment is an important part of the recipe. Dan uses cocoa powder, instead of chocolate extract, to get everything that’s in the chocolate into his mead. So I would say not to strain.”

    If there isn’t any yeast activity, wouldn’t it not be doing anything? I guess I don’t understand the logic. Wouldn’t it be just the same to bulk age it with the sediment for a year after the yeast has done its thing?

    By bulk aging, I mean puting it in 55 degree temp vs leaving it out at room temp 72 degrees. Unless that hampers the process of breaking down the protiens; which based on my research it shouldn’t.

    Then once you are done with that you can rack it and stabalize it, yes? Which should also clarify it as well. Then you can bottle it and let it age for an additional 1 to 2 years.

  25. Erroll Post author

    > Have you ever thought of doing a mead, letting it finish; then prior to bottling backsweeten the batch with a chocolate syrup?

    What I liked about Lord Rhys’ recipe is that the chocolate went in right away and the rich flavor compounds aged with the mead. I think this would add a good complex flavor to the mead. If you would rather have an unchanged chocolate flavor, then adding syrup at the end would be a good way to do that. And I agree with you that any preservatives in the syrup would help stabilize the mead, but I wouldn’t count on them alone – make sure to stabilize properly.

    Erroll

  26. Erroll Post author

    >> … I would say not to strain

    > If there isn’t any yeast activity, wouldn’t it not be doing anything?

    This recipe depends on the substances in the cocoa aging and changing over time. So when I was asked about straining the must to remove the bitter oils in the cocoa, I recommended against it. This is the part of the recipe I was thinking about:

    Cocoa contains a number of different very bitter oils that must be given time to break down. After the bubbling slows down put your fermenter/carboy away for one full year. Keeping the airlock on and checking the water level in it on occasion. Any other method of removing the oils will result in the loss of that little enzyme that the ladies are so fond of.

    I think it should be aged, under an airlock, for a year.

    > Wouldn’t it be just the same to bulk age it with the sediment …

    Yes, I think it would. Maybe I’m not getting my point across as well as I’d hoped. In most wines or meads, you would separate the lees from the fermenting/finished wine by racking. Sometimes you run it through a strainer the first time. In this recipe, you do not want to do that because the slow break down of the cocoa is an important part of the recipe. It should bulk age under an airlock on the sediment for a year.

    Is that a better explanation?

    Erroll

  27. Jeremiah

    “And I agree with you that any preservatives in the syrup would help stabilize the mead, but I wouldn’t count on them alone – make sure to stabilize properly.”

    Oh yes, I totally agree!

    “Yes, I think it would. Maybe I’m not getting my point across as well as I’d hoped. In most wines or meads, you would separate the lees from the fermenting/finished wine by racking. Sometimes you run it through a strainer the first time. In this recipe, you do not want to do that because the slow break down of the cocoa is an important part of the recipe. It should bulk age under an airlock on the sediment for a year.”

    Maybe that’s where I’m not understanding. I don’t run thru a strainer, to me it can cheat some of the flavor from possibly complexing under the aging process. I siphon (rack) and count on the technique to eliminate the lees/sediment from transferring over. Now with this chocolate recipe; I understand the importance of leaving the sediment with the lees to allow the proteins to break down. I guess my confusion lies in the “requirement” to have it done with an airlock. If the yeast isn’t processing the sugar anymore and creating the CO2 byproduct, then would you really need it to be with an airlock? I guess that is what I’m trying to understand here.

    Is there the possibility of gasses building up via the protien/oil breakdown in the chocolate?

    Otherwise, couldn’t you just go ahead and plug/cap it with the sediment and let it bulk age?

  28. Erroll Post author

    > my confusion lies in the “requirement” to have it done with an airlock

    Oh I just want to make sure to keep your mead safe from exposure to air. So if you can use a bung instead that would be ok too – it might even be better at keeping air out. I personally use airlocks for bulk aging because I’m afraid that the liquid inside a carboy might expand and contract a little with changing temperature. It wouldn’t have to be by much to affect the small volume of air and push out the bung.

    I don’t know enough to say that this will happen, but the thought that it might has been enough to keep me doing it.

    Erroll

  29. Jeremiah

    Ah, gotcha. Generally I stabalize the wine in a glass carboy in the refrigerator for a month with the temperature set between 34 and 38 degrees (F). Works amazingly without any chemicals. Plus, I haven’t had any issues with it hazing later. After it’s stabalized for a month, I’ll bottle it and then store it in an area maintained at 55 degrees (F).

    “I don’t know enough to say that this will happen, but the thought that it might has been enough to keep me doing it.”

    I understand that. Well, I will try it the other way to see what happens! I’ll keep ya updated.

  30. Lord Rhys

    Greetings one and all, I hope you enjoyed the recipe, I do not strain/rack in the first year. I did with the first batch, but I get better flavor this way.

    As to altering things, making changes, and adding your own ideas, like the chocolate syrup.. GO FOR IT! Have Fun Make Stuff! I absolutely love to see someone take something I did and run with it. Feel free to send me notes on how it worked out. I have had many variations sent to me over the years. I tried a few, enjoyed reading every one.

    -Rhys

  31. Erroll Post author

    > Greetings one and all, I hope you enjoyed the recipe,

    Welcome Lord Rhys, and thank you for stopping by!

    Erroll

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