View Full Version : Limited Equipment, gotta make 6 gallons!

12-02-2007, 08:20 PM
First post, great to be here! :toothy10:

I'm a bit limited on hardware, at the moment I only have a 6 gallon carboy to use. I currently have a Ancient Orange Mead going in a 3 gallon, but that was primative by putting it all in the carboy and pulling the ripcord.

I now want to make 6 gallons of a cranberry mead. Got tons of honey, 6 gallon carboy and not much else. I do have access to a 3 gallon SS stock pot to warm and blend the honey.

How should this be done best? Mixing the water/honey to fill the 6 gallon carboy then cool and pitch? Only thing I can think of is to do that, then try and find some kind of container that can handle the must with the 12lbs of crushed cranberries for a couple weeks, then pull the berries and pour back into carboys. Problem is, there's still a couple hard to get rid of fruit flys around the house from the merlot I did this year and I can't think of a good container to let the must/cranberries sit in for 2 weeks prior to putting it back in the carboy.

I still have a 41 gallon plastic brute from the wine but that seems a bit large. I have 71b yeast, and would like to ferment this up to 12.5%

Any help out there?


Yo momma
12-02-2007, 08:34 PM

Warming the honey, in my opinion, is a bad idea. You lose so much and gain nothing from this process. Is there a reason for the heating up of the honey? ??? Try to mix the honey in a room temp must. This lets you keep many of the flavors and aromas of the honey being used. When you start heating the honey you lose much of this. Plus by mixing it up cold you aerate the crap out of your initial must so the yeast has something to breath while working. Many of the old timers here ( :laughing7: ) have come over to the cold mixing way.

Not having a starter pail is a bummer. They really don't cost that much and are a must ,IMO. Go to your LHBS and see what I mean. $12.00 is all it takes to get one of these pails here. Then you could start your must in the pail and then transfer into the carboy after the primary fermentation is complete. Without a pail or any secondary vessel would be a difficult task indeed. :BangHead:

:sign13: You could use the carboy that you have to mix your initial must. Wait for the fermentation to complete and then trasfer into CLEAN and STERILE 2-liter bottles before transfering it back to the vessel. With what you lose from the racking, you could add some water or honey water or whatever is your liking to bring it back to a full batch.

12-02-2007, 08:45 PM
thanks Yo!

Well I was gonna go to the local LHBS this friday, prolly for some more yeast and I was gonna get a few more 1 gallon jugs too. What sort of container were you thinking of? I have many 5 gallon pails around from the wine, but that breaks up the gallon count into to pails rather than one. The recipe I was given was ferment the honey for 2 weeks then put on the cranberrys for two weeks then rack it off.

Wish I could find a 10 gallon plastic pail that I could get some kind of lid on that would keep the must clean.

There's a restaurant depot near my work I was thinking of seeing what they had to use, but anything larger prolly won't have a good lid to keep the fruit flys outta.

Yo momma
12-02-2007, 08:54 PM
An old way of doing primary fermentation is by putting a garbage bag over the top of the pail and rubber bandinit as not to slip off. Your fermentation would fill the bag with air and when it falls the primary fermentaion is complete. As far as controling your fruit flys. Try usinf 50-50 soap & vinagar in a bowl close to wher the flys are present. They will be drawn to the mixture and die when feeding on it. I use this to control the flies in my area as well. Hope that help you.

12-02-2007, 09:24 PM
Check at the brew shop and see if they have a 7.5 gallon bucket, like this one (http://morewinemaking.com/view_product/16591/). That's what we use for primary fermentation.

12-02-2007, 09:51 PM
Check at the brew shop and see if they have a 7.5 gallon bucket, like this one (http://morewinemaking.com/view_product/16591/). That's what we use for primary fermentation.

As many times as I've bought from them I never thought to see if they had something like that. 7.5 is perfect for a 6 gallon batch.

As I think tho, if I ferment first then add fruit, I could ferment in the carboy then find something to mix it with the fruit. That 7.5 looks like a nice idea, I'd think the spigot wouldn't be worth much for racking with all the fruit tho.

I think I'm on a quest now for a larger 7.5 gallon bucket ;) Maybe two so I can start the strawberry I was gonna do... still have 18lbs of frozen strawberrys from Costco in the freezer.

I see an edited post there Yo... for the heating of the must, I was planning on just heating the water enough to ease the honey mix... the AOM I did was really just heating the water up enough to get the honey mixed well.. never saw bubbles on the bottom or really saw steam of any kind, just hot to the touch. I use SueB clover honey which is filtered prior to bottling so I really don't need to boil or pasteurize. I practice decent sanitation coming from the wine side. I clean with a mix of citric acid, sodium perc and a bit of kmeta. I usually make a gallon mix to sanitize everything that's gonna touch the wine so... I know I don't wish to use kmeta with the mead as I have to with wine. I'd prefer it to be as natural as I can get it. Partly because I wanna see if the hangover is any less without kmeta ;) Half a bottle of commercial cranberry mead was kicking the back of my head off within 4 hours.

Thanks guys... anything else you can think of would be helpfull in getting this "real" mead batch off to a good start.

One thing, what about yeast energizer or nutrient? Any personal thoughts? In grape winemaking, yeast energizer is kind of a last resort, nutrient generally required. Anyone have preferences on how much nutrient to start 71B on filtered clover honey for a 6 gallon batch, and whether multiple additions is preferred during primary ferment?

Thanks to all

12-03-2007, 12:50 AM
If you're going to ferment 6 gallons in a 6 gallon carboy, be sure to invest in a blowoff tube. I think the 1" size fits in the neck of the carboy (ask your LHBS guys). Put the free end in a bucket of clean water (or sanitizer/sulfite treated water is also good) so when stuff shoots out the top of the carboy it doesn't hit your walls. Personally I would do the initial ferment in a larger container to avoid the need for blowoff tubing and the associated risk of mead-splosion.

Nutrient is a must (haha) for meads, as honey has very little of its own (unlike fruits & grains). Rehydrating the yeast with GoFerm is the best way to add nutrients before things get going. If you have DAP, an initial guess is about 1g/gallon to start at the end of the lag phase. After that look for Fermaid K or 2133 (or some other number that starts with a 2) and check out Lallemand's website for details. I usually put about 1g/gallon in 1/3 of the way through, but each fermentation will have its own needs. Multiple additions is the way most people are going now, and some meads will need more after the halfway point. Also check out the many posts and the Newbee guide (main site) for info on nutrient additions.

12-03-2007, 05:43 AM
I personaly would save the money on the pale and buy more carboys and puree your fruit! Also im a fan of heating my self, its a nice security to me. Keep in mind I only pasturize I dont boile. Im also not a fan of campden tablets. Also You can use alternate sources for nutrient bee pollen is a big one that all natural crowd usues alot. The big thing to remeber is the most of the time going all natuaral can cost the same or less sometimes than the usual formula most peps in the foroum use.

12-03-2007, 11:47 AM
I am a fan of the bottling bucket for primary fermentation. Standard gasket lids fit on them very tightly, and I make a hole big enough for a #6 bung to fit. As for blow-off, I don't worry about it, because I don't use standard air locks. For my air locks, I simply put a sanitized 5/16 hose into the bung (very tight fit) and run it to a glass of water sitting inside a bowl right next to the bucket. I have seen old water get sucked back into a carboy by removing a standard airlock, and honestly, I have 5 of my locks running right now, and have a total of $2 invested in the tubing.

12-04-2007, 03:04 AM
I hear you Ive had the same experiance with plastice double bubble air locks. Thats why i know use singal bubble glass air locks! they cost more but ive never gotten suck back. The suck back that I saw though was during fermentation! I used to fermet in my living room so I actualy have seen this first hand!

I was like what the heck, truley I dont know why it happend.


12-08-2007, 10:38 AM
Ok if I intend to add the cranberries to the primary during frement it doesn't look lik everything will even fit in a 7.9 gallon bucket.

In order to get 6 gallons water in the bucket it needs to be filled to first rim. That's just for water, if I then add 15lb of honey now I'm more than 7 gallons not including the cranberries. I have 12lb of cranberries and even if there was enough room to add them aren't I going to get cap rise during fermentation?

Anyone have and ideas on how to get around this problem?

Am I going to have to do a 5 gallon batch then add more later to get around this?

12-08-2007, 01:20 PM
I have a 10 gallon fermenter for situations such as this! ;D

Seriously, you could split the cranberries, adding whatever you think you can get away with in the primary and reserving the rest for a secondary addition. You are correct; you will get cap rise during the fermentation, so allow a little room for that. But I think you can get at least some of the berries in primary -- which will give you added complexity in the melomel over a straight secondary addition. I do this a lot with other fruits, because I like some of the fermentation products from the fruits in my result. For most fruits I use 2/3 in primary and 1/3 in secondary to provide enough of that pure fruity character in teh result to make it immediately recognizable. There's nothing that says you can't reverse the ratios. But keep in mind, as acidic and tannic as cranberries are, a little will go a long way in secondary.

12-08-2007, 02:46 PM
Well I just went out and got a 15 gallon barrel/lid to do this. The LBS guy though mentioned that he makes his the following way:

Initial gravity to 1.085-1.095 and ferment to dry

Add additional honey after dry to bring it up to 1.015-1.025 and then add crushed cranberries.

Let it sit on the skins for at least 2 weeks, up to 1 month, let ferment dry again.

Backsweeten to taste, and apparently cranberries take a lotta honey to backsweeten.

So I'm just gonna use the 15 to initial ferment, then add more honey later and cranberries, all in the same blue bin.

That way I can use the 7.9 for a 3 gallon batch of something else right away ::)

Thanks wayne.

12-08-2007, 03:19 PM
Good plan! Let us know how it goes.

12-08-2007, 04:50 PM
Well I ended up using 2 packets of Cotes de Blanc yeast. It's what the LBS guy uses for his cranberry mead. This is actually only the second ferment I've done, using Red Pasteur on my Merlot earlier this year.

I did notice upon rehydrating though that it didn't seem very active. I recall when adding a little must at a time to the rehydrate that I started to get some action within a few minutes and it was frothing pretty well by the time I added it to the must. I see that Cotes de Blanc is a slow fermentor and low foaming. Should I have seen something in the reydrate though?

If not, how soon should I see some bubbling from the barrel? I can't really read the expiration on the packet so I don't know how old it is and I don't wanna let it sit too long if it's not active so I can repitch with something else.

Also, anyone have experience with Cotes de Blanc with a starting grav of 1.085 and 70 F? Like about when I might expect 1/3 sugar so I can add more nutrient? Or any nutrient related help with this type of yeast?

Thanks once again folks.

12-09-2007, 10:15 AM
Also, anyone have experience with Cotes de Blanc with a starting grav of 1.085 and 70 F?

I am pretty new at this, but have done about 5 batches using CdB. I started 4 gallons of strawberry last night in primary, SG: 1083. For me, CdB seems to be pretty slow and steady. Lags for 12-24 hours and starts building up CO2 release steadily. I don't get hardly any foam. 12# of strawberry and there isn't much foam to speak of, just bubbling fruit (in sacks though).

12-09-2007, 04:01 PM
Yeah I'd agree this is pretty slow. I had even levels yesterday at 4pm and today at 2 pm it's showing pressure. I guess I should open up and give it some air and a stir.

12-09-2007, 04:42 PM
I am pretty new to this, but I just used 'Cotes Des Blancs' in a cyser I am making, (brewlong here (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=412&topic=6110.0)) and it is by far the slowest starting yeast that I have used. It was a good 12 hours before I seen any activity at all. Once it got going it went nice and steady however. It took my must with a starting S.G. of 1.130 down to 1.010 in 14 days. Thats over 16% ABV for a yeast thats only rated for 12-14%! But I doubt you will have to worry about this since you are not using apples as I am.

Good luck.

Yo momma
12-09-2007, 07:16 PM
Put one dose at the lag and put one in before 1.060, because nutrients dont get taken up by the yeast due to the skins on them get "thick" because of the alchohol build up in the must. Kinda like getting callous from working too hard. That's about your third sugar break anyway. Check your SG in about 3 days and aerate your must twice a day for the first 1/3 sugar break then stir it gently to keep the yeast in suspension. After that rack out at 1.040 and atch it clear. Hope this helps.

12-09-2007, 10:40 PM
I gave it a good spin today and got a good head built up several times. I gave it 3 or 4 hard stirs to get more O2 down into it and capped it up. I get positive pressure but nothing that pops a bubble yet after 24 hrs. It does seem that the foam is more like a CO2 like fizz with clear bubbles rather than the more "yeasty" looking foam from say red pasteur that has more soapy bubbles that stick around longer.

I would think though that in order to create the 14% it would have to give off a certain amount of CO2 to accomplish the goal. I guess over 2 weeks it may give off the same as a faster yeast that bubbles up faster. I also note I'm not getting the temp rise like that of a grape must. Actually the temp has stayed even at 75 or so.

I'll give it another good slosh tonite and cap it. About racking though, I was advised by my guy to let it go dry to about 10-11 or so then add the remaining honey and put in the crans and let the last slow ferment draw more outta the fruit for a shorter period of time. Finally coming to rest hopefully around 12 or so.

I bought another 6 g carboy, (2) 3 g and (4) 1 gallons. I'm thinking I wanna start that strawberry with D47 in the 7.9 gallon bucket and do it the same way. Let it start at about 1.085 and go dry then add the berries and more honey to finish it out. This time using a fine mesh bag for the berries to catch the seeds.