26 February 2014

Some Brix Curves

 Here. . . have some brix curves. The ones to the right show three different musts fermented with the same yeast. I can't draw very much from these because they are single data sets; I wish I had them in triplicate to see if there are any trends, but I don't. Also note that I don't have data for the final parts of fermentation (<6*Bx), but they all slow compared to the main part, without dragging on for ever.

Below we have 5 ferments, 2 palm, 2 orange blossom, and 1 brazilian pepper (AKA Christmasberry). The original plan was to have 2 of each kind of honey, one with a control yeast (D21 here), and the other a different yeast, but life gets in the way, and I needed some honey for a bochet in a pinch (the brazilian pepper worked nicely).

All 5 have the exact same recipe except for the honeys and yeasts: same additives, nutrient schedule, fermentation temps, pitching rates, gravity (original and final), etc.. They are all getting some sur lie treatment right now and should be coming into their own by next winter.

These aren't perfect data sets, and can't tell much, but they do show the general shape of a healthy ferment. Some have faster drops, others slower, some have longer lag phases, and some finish fast and others slow (though none were too prolonged).

The recipe can be found on this GotMead thread, but it does require Patron status on GotMead (which any serious meadmaker should have anyways!).

18 February 2014

Mead Recipes for NewBees

Hah, see what I did there? NewBee, because it's mead, . . . get it?
Ok, enough humor back to work.
Here are 3 recipes that can be made as your first mead. Hopefully you are aware of the cleaning and sanitizing involved, but here is a reminder:
Anything that touches the mead needs to be clean (no dirt, or anything else)
Anything that touches the mead needs to be sanitized
Anything that touches anything that will touch the mead needs to be sanitized
Once sanitized, don't put objects down, unless you want to resanitize them
Don't rinse after sanitizing (unless the water is sanitized, read boiled)
Dry things by hanging them upside down for a few minutes, but they really don't need to be too dry
Sanitize everything
Sanitize again
And sanitize again

Once you get that in your head, it's time to choose a recipe. There are many, but these present good starting points, each with a unique person in mind.

Joe's ancient orange mead/melomel/methaglyn
This has been around for a while, and is the recipe many meadmakers first use to get into the hobby. Developed by Joe Mattioli as a simple, tasty recipe that new meadmakers can make and enjoy without much effort or equipment.

3.5lbs honey (whatever you want, even store bought, ultra filtered junk)
1 orange (not navel)
1 stick of cinnamon
1-2 cloves
25 raisins (a handful, more or less)
1 tsp fleismanns bread yeast (not old, make sure their still alive: try baking some bread with it)
Put honey in glass 1gal jug and dissolve with some warm water
Cut orange into pieces (including rind, pith and everything else), and put in jug
Add spices and raisins
Fill with water leaving 3 inches for foam
Shake the heck out of it
When room temp, add yeast
Airlock and keep in dark, warmish (70-80F) place (cabinets work well)
Don't touch it at all! No feeding, racking, shaking, don't even look at it cross!
It's done when the fruit drops to the bottom and there is a clear layer of mead on top (9-12 weeks)

This recipe follows a sort of warranty: if you mess with it, change anything, give it too much attention, anything, and it didn't work . . . I'll quote joe "If it didn't work out then take up another hobby. Mead is not for you. It is too complicated."
With that being said, a few people (myself included) don't care for the flavor of this mead. It's sweet, phenolic, pithy, and just no my thing; however, it is a technically good mead, it has some balance, no off overt flavors, and complexity. It's similar to white Zinfandel: you may like it or not, but it is (usually) made OK, it's just not your thing.
Warranty aside, there are many variations of this mead that do work.
You can swap the fruit:
12oz frozen blackberries
2 tangelos
Lemon (zest and pulp only)
Dates instead of raisins
2lbs frozen blueberries

Or you could change the spices:
2-4 allspice berries
A pinch of nutmeg
A sliver of ginger
1 Vanilla bean
1 star anise

You could try different honeys as well, but their flavors tend to get covered.
This should give you some ideas for making JAO style meads. If JAOM is something you really like, you can spend years working out different variations of it and build quite a collection.

Bray's one month mead
This was developed by GotMead member loveofrose (Bray) over several trials to attain a simple, traditional mead recipe that was easy, and reproducible. It uses some of the techniques that a regular traditional uses (SNA, multiple aerations, sample taking), but is a more forgiving mead than the average traditional; it also ages faster. This follows the same warranty idea as JAOM: if you deviate from the recipe, don't complain about bad results. The thing that sets this mead apart from the average traditional is the yeast; after several tests to find a suitable yeast, Bray settled on wyeast 1388, a belgian ale yeast. This may seem strange as most meads are made with wine yeast, except the few brewers who use beer yeast, but belgian strains are POF+ (meaning they produce phenolics) as are most wine yeast, and they produce more esters than most other beer yeast. In fact, belgian yeast strains seem to be closer to wine yeast than normal brewers yeast (except for their ability to ferment maltotriose and easily ferment maltose which is lost in the isolation process of wine yeast), but they don't require as much age as the average wine yeast will.
This is the recipe I suggest for most people starting out as it is easy, fast drinking (and quite tasty), but will teach you some techniques that will be used throughout the hobby.

Start with a gallon of spring water
Remove 1/2 cup (to compensate for the volume of the smack pack)
Draw a line on the jug at this water level
Remove 3.2 cups (757mL) of water
Add honey back to line (~2.4lbs)
Add 1/4 tsp (1.225g) DAP and 1/2 tsp (2.3g) Fermaid K
-Add these nutrients again when the gravity is at 1.064, and 1.032.
Add 1/4 tsp (0.825g) potassium bicarbonate
Shake mixture until homogenous
Add activated Wyeast 1388 smack pack (left for >2hr to swell)
Cover loosely
Shake daily until done (1 week)
Add airlock after fermentation is complete (1 week)
Allow to clear (3-4 weeks)
Rack, then decide: drink, age, backsweeten, what ever you wish to do.
Don't worry about the weight of the additives unless you are scaling up the recipe, volume measure work fine for small batches.
There are some variations that Bray and a few other mead makers have been working on, and I'll probably do a separate post for modified BOMMs.

Standard Traditional
This is not as easy as JAOM or BOMM, but if you have experience making wine or brewing it is not that difficult. The benefit with starting with a traditional like this is that it will teach you all the right things to do so you don't have to unlearn things (like with JAOM). It is designed to be a dry mead, but you can backsweeten if you'd like. You can also split it into separate containers after some aging and spice them differently, or add fruit, or oak or what ever.

3lbs honey per gallon of must (18lbs for 6gal batch)
Dissolve all honey in some water (stick blenders work miracles)
Then add water to make SG of ~1.108
Add 1g/gal potassium carbonate (6g for 6gal batch)
Add 0.2g/gal tannin FT blanc soft
Add rehydrated yeast at 1g/gal (6g for 6gal batch)
Keep temp below 74F
Seal with airlock, and wait for bubbles
When it bubbles, uncover and see what it looks like (this will get you familiar with the appearance so you don't have to look for bubbles in the future to see when the lag phase is over)
Add 2g/gal fermaid K and 1g/gal DAP
Do not seal the lid (or you can leave the airlock dry if using a carboy)
Stir as often as you can (every 12-24 hours is ok)
When the gravity drops to 1.090 add 1g/gal fermaid K and 1g/gal DAP
When the gravity drops to 1.072 add 1g/gal fermaid K
Seal lid and affix airlock
When bubbling slows, check gravity
When you have the same gravity reading for 3 consecutive days it's done (gravity should be 0.99X)
Rack, add sulfite (50ppm) and age for 3 months
Rack again (at this point you can split it for experimentation or just leave it) age for 6 months
If left alone add sulfites and bottle

As you can see, this recipe is a little more technical than the others and may scare some new meadmakers off. Not to mention the others are drinkable in 2-3 months and this one really shouldn't be touched before the 1 year mark (though it is "drinkable" before that).
I'd recommend a lighter honey unless you've had darker honey meads before, as they can be an acquired taste. As for yeast, D21 is my go to, it is temp tolerant, gives some acid which mead is lacking, and has a nice flavor; K1V would be my suggestion if you can't get D21, it's still temp tolerant so it's a good newbee yeast. You'll note that JAOM and BOMM can be made in the high 70s to low 80sF, where this one is better below 74 (below 72 if you can manage it), this is a property of the yeast and recipe (being dry and higher alcohol).
Acid may need to be added to this (or BOMM), just taste and start with 1g/gal tartaric (or your preferred acid) and let it sit for a month before deciding if more is needed. If using tartaric acid, cold stabilization is recommended as potassium bitartrate crystals may precipitate if there is potassium present. The reason I suggest tartaric acid is because it will add acidity, but when cold crashed the pH will lower (if it is below 3.6, which it should be) resulting in a more acid taste without additional acid.
Some prefer to add tannin to balance flavors instead of acid. This is a matter of preference, and small amounts should be used to slowly work up to the desired level of tannin.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. For the beer brewer, I highly recommend BOMM; for the completely new zymurgist, I'd say JAOM or BOMM; and for the wine maker, the traditional or BOMM.

If you are familiar with white winemaking, then the traditional is pretty much a white wine recipe (similar in techniques and processes), and it will get you on the track to make very good traditional meads. There are a few things you have to leave in winemaking world (TA measuring and adjusting, and complete anaerobic fermentation), but it should be very close to your other winemaking experiences. You can also split it into several jugs if making a larger batch and spice them, add different fruits or backsweeten a portion leaving you several opportunities to make a few different meads from a single fermentation.
I cannot recommend BOMM enough, it is very easy, very fast, and very tasty. It will teach you a lot of the processes for making meads, but doesn't require as much patience. There are also many ways to treat it post ferment: spicing, sweetening, carbonating, adding fruit, etc.
JAOM is an old standby for many mead makers, and a very simple recipe for the newbee. It's charm is in it's simplicity: no samples needed, no temp issues, no messing with it; but, some people tend not to like it for its pithy, phenolic taste.

Beer Anyone?

No one will probably read this, it may have something to do with being a new blog, or the esoteric nature of this blog (please feel free to correct me in the comments section, anyone? Beuller?), but I felt it necessary to post about this. (and it's my damn blog, so I'll do as I please!)

If anyone here is a brewer, I highly recommend Ron Pattinson's newest book, The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer; actually, I recommend most of his books (especially Bitter!, Mild! Plus, Porter!, and Strong!), but this is a good place to start. If you ever thought you knew something about beer history, and wanted some actual recipes, this is what you want. It is impeccably well researched, informative, and concise.
He also maintains a blog, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, that shows his many hours in the catacombs of archives firmly places him at the pinnacle of historical beer research. Full of wit, facts, brewlogs, stats, more stats, techniques, even more stats, and anything else concerning the history and development of many English beers, and a few continental styles as well, his blog is a great place to check before you go bragging about your beer history knowledge.
So, if you think that IPA was high in alcohol to survive the journey, or that porter was smoky, or that grodziskie was sour, you may wish to pull your head out of your @$$ and buy some of his books and read his blog.

09 February 2014

Experiment: Boil v. No Boil (Part 1)

This is a question that tears at the meadmaking community, it separates, polarizes, indoctrinates, and just generally sparks a nice (or not) debate: do I boil my must? The general reason to boil would be sanitization, but the opponents will cite loss of aromatics as too high a price (especially when honey can be diluted and fermented without fear in most cases); but are there other benefits to be gathered from either method? We shall see.

Four different honeys where used to make a must considered to be average in flavor and aroma:
1. Winter wildflower from Miami (Lip Smakin' Good Honey): mostly avocado and lychee, maybe some citrus, but not much. 2012
2. Summer wildflower from broward and miami coast (Lip Smakin' Good Honey): late season black mangrove, seagrape, dogwood, and dune grasses. 2013
3. Wildflower blended from most of south florida (Bee Natural): citrus notes and general floral character, not too rich or thin. ????
4. Brazilian Pepper from broward and palm beach (Webb's Honey): brazilian pepper honey from 2013 and 2012.
These were mixed at about 4lbs No. 3, 2lbs No. 1, 2lbs No. 2, 1lb No. 4, to make a must of 1.1060 (volume was irrelevant as you will see).
Instruments used and their tolerances:
1. Hydrometer 1.1300-1.0600 ± 0.0005
2. Hydrometer 1.0700-1.0000 ± 0.0005
3. Hydrometer 1.020-0.980 ± 0.001
4. pH Meter MW102 14.00-1.00 ± 0.02
5. Thermometer 150C-0C ± 0.1C
6. Scale 500.00g-0.00g ± 0.02g
7. Scale 11.000kg-0.000kg ± 0.005kg

A must of 1.1060 was created as noted above, 5L was separated and left in a sanitized fermentation bucket. The remaining must (>5L) was placed into a kettle and brought to boil, then held at a boil for exactly 15min, with skimming at boil, 10min and 5min, and stirring at boil, 12min, 9min, 6min and 3min. The ramp time to boil was 15min, SG after boil was 1.1225 (showing that the boil was quite vigorous), and the must was cooled from boil (101C) to 44C in 1.25hrs (using passive cooling means). Once the boiled must reached 20C, it was adjusted with distilled water to SG 1.1060.
Booster blanc at a rate of 0.25g/L, tannin FT blanc soft at a rate of 0.05g/L and potassium carbonate at 0.25g/L were added to both fermenters. Yeast (D21) was rehydrated with go-ferm protect for 15min, then 34.1g of this solution were added to each fermenter, resulting in a pitching rate near 5*10CFU/mL. These processes ensure that the only difference between the two musts is the reactions of boiling, and skimming, on the one.
Both will be given 1g/L fermaid K at the end of lag (SG ~1.106) and another 1g/L at the 1/3 sugar break (SG 1.072) resulting in a YAN level of 200ppm. Both will be kept in a fermentation chamber with ambient set to 20C ± 1C.

Five minutes after pitching, SG, pH and temp were observed:
Pitched 8 February, 2014 at 20:00
Boil: SG 1.1080 ± 0.0005, pH 5.33 ± 0.02, 22C ± 0.1C
No Boil: SG 1.1080 ± 0.0005, pH 5.60 ± 0.02, 22C ± 0.1C

The increase in gravity is due to additives and the yeast themselves. Note the lower pH of the boiled must, skimming most likely removes some of the ash that is in the honey resulting in less buffering and less alkali material in the must. Another note was that the boiled must was far clearer than the obviously  opaque no boil must.

05 February 2014

Honey Composition: Acids

An acid can be described as any chemical that donates a proton (note this post will use the Brønsted-Lowry definition). They can be simple ionic compounds like HCl (hydrochloric acid), or complex molecules like CH3COOH (acetic acid). They can be strong or weak (relative terms to describe how easily they disassociate, measured via pK), organic or inorganic (containing carbon, or not), but all have an important role in mead making (and winemaking, even brewing).
Why are they important? Take a glass of cheap pinot gris and add lye (NaOH) to pH 7, taste it. It's terrible; lacking body, aroma, flavor, depth, everything. Acids are flavor enhancers, and they all have aroma or flavor contributions. They can also combine with other chemical to make new aromas and flavors (via esterification, acting as catalysts in reactions, or any other number of changes they themselves can undergo).

TA vs pH
TA stands for Titratable Acidity (not total acidity), and is a measure of how many free Hydrogen ions (H+) are available to react with a strong base (usually Lye (NaOH)) in and acid-base titration. Compare this to Total Acidity which is a measure of all H available in a solution from acids (even if they are not disassociated) using spectrometry or chromatography. Total acidity will always be greater than titratable acidity, but I don't have a gas chromatograph to take advantage of (and I doubt many home wine/mead makers do), so titratable acidity is the common language.
pH is a measure of the concentration of active H+, and it can only give you an estimate of the amount of acid in a solution. Because H+ can react with a number of compounds and get bound up, pH can not accurately account for the true amount of H+ ions.

So how do we quantize this data? How can we put it into scale? Because we are looking to count the number of H+ ions in solution we can use a fancy trick: there are 6.02214129×1023 things per mole. Atoms, molecules, muons, whatever. There are that many per mole. What's a mole? It's6.02214129×1023 things! It's really just a useful conversion tool that allows us to convert from tiny masses, to numbers of things in a larger mass, and some other useful conversions. The atomic weight of H is 1.008, and 6.02214129×1023  H atoms weigh 1.008 grams. See, useful conversions.
Now for something interesting. Tartaric acid has 2 H+ ions it can loose (making it diprotic), so a mole of tartaric acid should contain 2 moles of  H+. Citric acid is triprotic (3  H+), so a mole of citric acid contains 3 moles of  H+ (for those playing along thats 1.80664239 x 1024 H+ ions). One mole of Lye (NaOH) has 1 mole of OH-, and can react with 1 mole of H+ to make water (H+ OH= H2O). So 2 moles of NaOH can neutralize 1 mole of tartaric acid (because it's diprotic), and similar for other acids. So we can just count how many moles of  H+ it takes to get to a certain pH and get a measure of the amount of  H+ there is; this is titratable acidity.
The amount of  H+ in solution can be measure in equivalents, with 1 mole of H+ equaling 1 Eq of H (with the amounts we'll be using, the miliequivalent (mEq) is more practical, being 1/1000th of an equivalent). Once in this measurement it is easy to convert to other acids (saying the amount of H+ in solution is the same as X amount of some acid in solution).
1 mEq/L H = 0.0750435 g/L as Tartaric Acid
1 mEq/L H = 0.0490395 g/L as Sulfuric Acid
1 mEq/L H = 0.06005 g/L as Acetic Acid

1 g/L = 0.1 g/100mL = 0.1 %

In the US it is common to write the acidity as a percent, but it is easily converted to g/L. The US, and most of northern Europe report acid as equivalent to tartaric, while Latin countries, and southern Europe report as sulfuric acid. Volatile acidity (a fault in wines and meads) is reported as acetic acid.

Organic Acids in Honey
Organic acids are those acids that are organic compounds (containing carbon). Honey contains, on average, 0.57% organic acids by weight. They can be categorized as aromatic (containing an aromatic ring like benzene) or aliphatic (non-aromatic). Many of the acids in this group are carboxylic acids (containing a carboxyl -COOH group).

Gluconic Acid HOCH2(CHOH)4COOH - The predominant acid in honey, responsible for much of it's unique flavor. Gluconic acid, and it's related salts, are added as a flavor enhancer in many foods. It is a product of the enzyme glucose oxidase reacting with glucose to produce gluconolactone, which in turn forms an equilibrium with gluconic acid (as a byproduct of this equilibrium reaction, hydrogen peroxide is formed, a powerful antibacterial). This reaction is pH dependent and any change in pH (via titration, or dilution) will shift the balance of the gluconolactone/gluconic acid equilibrium. 

Acetic Acid CH3COOH - The acid responsible for vinegar, it's flavor and aroma are very distinct and detectable at a low threshold. It is generally considered a fault in wine (volatile acidity), but trace amounts will always be present as a metabolic byproduct of yeast.

Succinic Acid HOOC-(CH2)2-COOH - A non aromatic acid that is added as a flavor enhancer to many foods. Commonly found in all fermented products, it is a byproduct of yeast metabolizing nitrogenous compounds. It is very rare in unfermented grape musts; as such mead will have a comparatively higher level than many other fermented beverages. It also produces several esters responsible for general "fruity" aromas in wines.

Mailc Acid HO2CCH2CHOHCO2H - Green apple. That's the flavor, and where it was first isolated from. It's what gives Riesling it's gripping acidity, and what Chardonnay fans want completely gone (via malolactic fermentation). There are trace amounts in honey that add to it's depth of flavor.

Lactic Acid CH3CH(OH)COOH - This is what gives yogurt and sauerkraut their zing. Also responsible for the gripping acidity of a great lambic beer, or the gentle fullness of many red wines. 

Citric Acid  C6H8O7 - The acid responsible for citrus fruits' sour notes. 

Butyric Acid CH3CH2CH2-COOH - An aliphatic acid that has a slight rancid aroma, and is common in milk products (more in goat than cow).

Formic Acid HCOOH - This is what gives ant bites and bee stings their punch. It has a very unique flavor, slightly acetic, chemical, and spicy (?) note.

Amino Acids
An amino acid is simply an organic compound that has a carboxylic acid, and an amine group with a unique side-chain that determines the specific characteristics of the compound compared to others. Honey contains very small amounts of amino acids (0.05-0.1% by weight), with proline being the most commonly abundant (though some varietals have higher levels of glutamic acid or tyrosine).
Amino acids act as a source of assimilable nitrogen for yeast, and can be used in several steps of glycolysis, though the low levels in honey show that mead musts are a nutrient poor environment.
Argine, asparagine, glutamine, serine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, threonine, glycine, alamine, proline, gamma-Aminobutyric acid, valine, phenylthalanine, isoleucine, leucine, ornithine, lysine,  tyrosine, methiomine,  tryptophan and histidine have all been found in honey, though methiomine, tryptophan, and histidine are very rare.
It has been shown that amino acid profiles are unique to individual monofloral honeys, and determination of the ratios between them can positively identify the primary nectar source of many monofloral honeys.

pH is vital for yeast, as many reaction are catalyzed at low pH, and yeast use this to their advantage metabolically. It is also important to how we perceive the flavors of foods and drinks (we generally prefer acid tastes (low pH)).
pH = - Log [H+]
The above equation shows that pH is a logarithmic function of the concentration of active H+ ions, meaning that there are 10 times more H+ ions (that are not bound, and able to react) at pH 3 than at pH 4. Most people are familiar with the 0-14 scale with 7 being the theoretical pH of distilled water. Common wine musts ranges are 2.8-4.2, with finished wines ranging from 2.8-3.6 (whites lower (3.0-3.3 common), and reds higher (3.3-3.5)). WInes below 3.0 are rare (santorini can have as low as 2.8) because the yeast will struggle as the pH drops below 3.0; whereas above 3.6 oxidation reactions happen very fast, contributing to premature oxidation, and at 4.5-5.0 bacteria rapidly reproduce.
These values are useful only for an estimate. Mead does not act the same as wine. Why? Buffering. Buffering is a substance's ability to resist a change in pH. Wines have good buffering capability due to the high mineral composition (relative to honey) and their large amounts of weak organic acids (such as tartaric acid). Honey does not have high mineral content, or acid levels comparable to grape musts. As such, it is quite common for an all honey must to drop radically during fermentation (yeast will actually lower the pH of the substrate, and due to a lack of buffering it can fall too quick) , to such a point that the yeast struggle and can produce off flavors or not finish a fermentation. This is a big problem, but an easily fixed one: add buffering capacity! It is common to add carbonates for this purpose, and of all carbonates, potassium carbonate is preferable, not only because it is more soluble than calcium carbonate, but it also provides potassium which is a required yeast nutrient. The other additive that serves the buffering purpose is cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate). This is one of the natural buffering substances in wine, and it has been used for mead for some time (Morse recommends it, and latter in his life, Brother Adam also condoned it's use). I will note, that when using these additives your must may actually rise to pH>4 (which wine makers will advise against), but most of the time (almost all the time) it will drop to normal levels during fermentation.

Winemakers will often adjust pH and TA pre fermentation. This is a bad idea for mead as an acid added before fermentation will make the pH drop faster than normal, which is already a problem in mead. For this reason it is recommended to add acid only after fermentation. There are 3 main types of acid that can be added:

Tartaric - the main acid in grapes, it has a general smooth, acid flavor; it adds a generic fruit-like flavor to wines and meads

Malic - the main acid in apples, it is very sharp and angular; responsible for rieslings crisp nature, and adds a fruitiness to the flavor of a wine/mead often reminiscent of green apples

Citric - yep, it's what gives citrus fruits their zing, less sharp than malic, but more than tartaric; it can give a citrus-like impression to wines and meads and can be inappropriate for some styles

Additionally, there are many formulations of blends, some including all 3, other only two. The acid you choose depends on taste preference, style, and end goals. For example, if I made a light 10%abv mead with orange blossom honey, and was inspired by german riesling, I would probably add citric acid to highlight the citrus notes of the honey, and malic acid to give it the crispness of a good riesling. Generally, I prefer tartaric. The main reason is that it's the least obtrusive of the bunch, only adding a slight fruity flavor and not giving the impression of other, more specific fruits. It is also the fastest way to lower the pH, which can add an impression of acid. If tartaric is used, you should cold stabilize the mead to precipitate potassium bitartrate, that way the crystals do not appear when the mead is chilled in the future. This procedure has an added benefit: if the pH is below 3.6(5), then it will drop as the potassium bitartrate precipitates. This means that some of the acid flavor will be lost, but the pH will be lowered giving the impression of acid, making an acid addition even less obvious.

The real problem with TA
Simply put, TA cannot be measured accurately in mead. At least not by using the simple titration that many winemakers take for granted. In a normal titration the pH is adjusted to 8.2 with NaOH, but in homey this will not work like we want. Recall that the predominate acid in honey (and therefore mead) is gluconic acid, which exists in equilibrium with its lactone form gluconolactone. As the pH increases (via NaOH addition for titration) the actual amount of acid changes and the pH is lowered by this continuos equilibrium reaction. This characteristic of honey requires us to measure the free and lactone acidity separately, and add them together to get the TA.
I will be posting the exact procedure for this in the future, but it can be found in USDA Technical bulletin 1261 on p55.

Numbers vs Taste
So, we can't easily measure TA, but we can measure pH. OK, what number should my mead be? That would be too easy, and no fun. The best number to use is the one that works. You can pull some samples of the aging mead and start adding acid to them. Stop when you get to one that tastes great. Figure out how many g/L that is and add 10% less to the batch. Age and taste in a month. As for pH, as long as it's below 4.0 it's fine (though the lower, the slower it ages).

White, J.W., 1962, Composition of American Honeys, USDA Technical Bulletin 1261

Carratu, B., 2011, Journal of ApiProduct and ApiMedical Science, Vol. 3 No. 2, p81-88