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ender
12-03-2007, 10:23 AM
Hi all,
here is my recipe and process thus far. Please feel free to give me advice on the front end so I can avoid mistakes. I want to stay in front of this. this is my first batch....
12lbs Swarmbustin Honey "Golden Nectar"
3lbs Swarbustin Bluberry flavored (natural flavoring no chemicals)
http://www.swarmbustinhoney.com/purehoney.htm
5 galons natural spring water
6 tsp nutrient
ec-1118

I pasteurized 12lbs honey @ 170 for 5-10 minutes with spring water (totaled volume of mixture was about 2 gal)
added the nutrient
Added must to 2.5 gallons in the fermentor
I pastureized 3lbs blueberry flavored honey @180 for 5 mins
Added this must to the fermentor.
I added the remaining spring water to the fermentor
Added EC-1118
OG= approx 1.085
14 hours later the airlock has bubbling every second or so.

Was planning to add some blueberry and vanilla bean in secondary... Would assume that I would wind up with around 10% ABV when done.
Any thoughts?

Pewter_of_Deodar
12-03-2007, 12:39 PM
With the EC-1118, this batch will end up bone dry and will also ferment anything else you add after the primary fermentation unless you do something to kill or remove the yeast.

ucflumberjack
12-03-2007, 02:06 PM
you might consider replacing "nutrient" with the stuff made by lalvin for their yeast, fermaid-k, DAP, and fermaid-2133. and you might consider skipping the pasturizing.

wayneb
12-03-2007, 02:15 PM
Hi, ender! Welcome to "GotMead?"!!

I guess it is already too late to offer any "front-end" advice, if you've already mixed your must and pitched your yeast. From the quantities of honey that you indicate in your recipe and from your OG, it looks like you'll end up more like 11% ABV. Pewter is right -- you'll ferment to total dryness with EC-1118 as your yeast. It can tolerate alcohol levels up to 18% by volume, so anything you add in secondary, if it contains fermentable sugars, will re-start fermentation.

While you haven't done anything fundamentally wrong up to this point, there are some things that you could have done to make the fermentation go even more smoothly. The best advice that I can offer at this point is to read all the existing postings in the NewBees section here, since most of the advice we would have given you prior to pitching yeast (including tips on proper rehydration of the yeast, staggering the nutrient additions, etc.) are already documented elsewhere on the site. The tips you'll pick up there will make your next batch, and all subsequent batches, ferment far more quickly.

Since you're off and running, all you can do at this point is to regularly track SG (sample daily) and take periodic measurements of pH if you have the equipment to do that. When fermentation falls off (and/or you get at or below SG 1.000), then rack the must to a secondary carboy taking care to leave as much of the lees behind as possible, airlock it, and allow it to age gracefully! Dry meads benefit greatly from prolonged bulk aging -- your mead at 6 months will taste far better than 1 month after fermentation (generally speaking), and will taste even better after a year. BTW - the reason I recommend monitoring pH -- if the pH of the must falls below about 3.2, your yeast will become stressed and fermentation will slow radically. It's better to keep your yeast healthy and happy, by keeping the pH in the range of 3.4-4.0. You can adjust pH upward by adding some potassium carbonate or bicarbonate... how to do that is documented in other posts already on this site.

Enjoy the experience, but if you are used to brewing beers and are new to meads and/or wines, then expect to learn patience from this experience! ;)

Medsen Fey
12-03-2007, 02:25 PM
Hello Ender,

Pewter is right, the EC-1118 yeast has very high alcohol tolerance (and is often used in stuck fermentations) and will ferment very dry. If your Sp. Gr. is 1.085, you will probably get mead with about 11.5% ABV, and if you add more sugars in the secondary (without taking action to stop the EC-1118), it will like go up even further.

By the way, are you sure about the reading of 1.085? What is the total volume of your must? I'm not sure exactly how large the batch is, but if the total is 5 gallons, I would expect the 15 lbs of honey to have given you a starting gravity of around 1.120. If you used 5 gallons of water and this is a 6 gallon batch, I would still expect it to be around 1.100. If you are at 6.5 gallons, I would expect around 1.092. Even at 1.092, you would be looking at an expected ABV of around 12.5%. With EC-1118, you could easily wind up with much higher alcohol content than you were planning (which may still be just great)!

Good luck with your mead,

Medsen

ender
12-03-2007, 04:06 PM
Yes, I suppose I jumped right in relying mostly on the guy at the home-brew store. He was very helpful and suggested making the first one with this yeast and then adjust for my next. Seemed safe at the time. Anyway, at about 20 hours the SG reading is somewhere between 1.086 and 1.092. there was so much fermenting going on that it kept the hydrometer bouncing!! So I must have misread my must.
Anyway, if I put something in to stop the fermentation early and rack to a carboy with say lots of blueberries, will that help my process or am I better off just letting ferment out and then racking like I originally planned? Obviously, either way, this may be the batch that sits in that carboy for quite some time.
For the next time, am I correct in saying that I should choose a different yeast with a similar recipe? I just chose EC-1118 as the store recommended it. He said he would have to order the sweet mead yeast. Are there wine or champagne yeasts that people prefer that have a lower % tolerance??

ender
12-03-2007, 04:14 PM
Hello Ender,

Pewter is right, the EC-1118 yeast has very high alcohol tolerance (and is often used in stuck fermentations) and will ferment very dry. If your Sp. Gr. is 1.085, you will probably get mead with about 11.5% ABV, and if you add more sugars in the secondary (without taking action to stop the EC-1118), it will like go up even further.

By the way, are you sure about the reading of 1.085? I guess I was a bit off.

What is the total volume of your must? 6+ gals

I'm not sure exactly how large the batch is, but if the total is 5 gallons, I would expect the 15 lbs of honey to have given you a starting gravity of around 1.120. If you used 5 gallons of water and this is a 6 gallon batch, I would still expect it to be around 1.100. If you are at 6.5 gallons, I would expect around 1.092. Even at 1.092, you would be looking at an expected ABV of around 12.5%. With EC-1118, you could easily wind up with much higher alcohol content than you were planning (which may still be just great)! Right, no problem with high alcohol contents. ;)

Good luck with your mead,

Medsen

Medsen Fey
12-03-2007, 04:39 PM
There are many different yeasts that people here use. Lalvin ICV-D47 is quite popular and has ABV tolerance of about 14% (I like it). Lalvin 71B also has about 14% tolerance. You can review the Lalvin/Lallemand yeast chart HERE (http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_chart.php). For lower alcohol content, some people prefer some of the ale yeasts, and you can see wyeast strains HERE (http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_yeaststrain.cfm), and White Labs yeast THERE (http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/homebrew_strains.html).

For your current batch, letting it go to completion is probably the way to go. If you want it dry, you can rack into onto the fruit, and the EC-1118 may continue fermenting the sugars in the fruit until dry. If you want it sweeter, you may want to "stabilize" and "backsweeten" after that. If you do a search in the forums here, you will find several posts on these topics which can help to guide you.

Enjoy!
Medsen

wayneb
12-03-2007, 05:03 PM
Actually, ender, according to my calculations you are right on in your OG measurement -- provided you added a full 5 gallons of water to the honey, resulting in slightly over 6 gallons total must volume (which is what you did, based on your numbers). By my reckoning that would give you a starting gravity of 1.085 or thereabouts -- pretty close to your 1.082 measurement, and with the little difference possibly explainable by some extra water volume in that "blueberry" honey adjunct. Their fruit flavored honeys are all honey plus some kind of fruit syrup, which might have less fermentable sugars than the honey itself. So, us determining whether you got your OG right or wrong depends on how we read your recipe! :tard: :D

In order to get more sweetness in the final mead for this batch, since the 1118 will definitely take it dry, I would recommend letting it ferment totally dry, waiting for the bulk of the yeast to precipitate out. Then rack off lees, stabilize with some potassium metabisulfate and potassium sorbate, then backsweeten with honey added in small increments, so you can taste the results in-between each addition and stop exactly where you want the residual sweetness to end up.

ender
12-03-2007, 05:54 PM
Wow,
Thanks guys. Any recommendations on where to find posts on how to "backsweeten" best? I will do a search but thought you might have a known resource on this.
OK, as I am writing this, the dogs are freaking out. My german Shepherd and mix breed are barking incessantly, so I go in the other room to see what army is invading and they are teeth bared, hair up on the neck barking at the fermenter. Something evil must be brewing in there. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K......

wayneb
12-03-2007, 06:14 PM
I'll just tell you what I do to backsweeten... it's quicker that way, ;) and everyone who has done it has their preferred method. This is what works for me:

Make up a solution of one part by volume of honey and 3-1/2 parts by volume of water. So, that could be 1 cup of honey mixed into 3-1/2 cups water. This will yield a liquid that has roughly 1.092 SG. Adding exactly one cup of this solution to a 5 gallon batch of mead will raise it's specific gravity by approximately 0.001 (commonly called 1 gravity point). Thus a dry mead at 1.000 SG will be 1.001 SG after the addition of one cup of this solution. I just add this liquid, one cup at a time, to the bulk of my batch until I get to the sweetness that I desire. ;D

NOTE: you are slightly changing the overall volume of must with the addition of each cup, so the cups that you add after the first will each make progressively less than 0.001 change in net gravity, but that difference doesn't amount to much until you exceed, say, 8 cups or so. If you are after a sweet mead to begin with, I'd suggest changing the ratio of honey to water in your addition liquid to get to your final gravity quicker. For example, a ratio of 1 cup honey to 1.75 cups of water will yield a gravity change of 0.002 per cup when added to 5 gallons of bulk must.

ender
12-05-2007, 02:15 PM
For an update:
hour 66: Aerated with sanitized spoon and SG measured 1.070. Bubbles occur every other second.
Am I still on track?

wayneb
12-05-2007, 02:24 PM
Yup. Sounds like a good fermentation so far! I've found that with staggered additions of the nutrient you can get the fermentation to go even quicker (a 10 point drop in SG per day isn't unusual for a mead done with staggered nutrients), but for adding everything all at once, you're perfectly within the norms as of now.

ender
12-05-2007, 02:48 PM
Because of the dry yeast EC-1118 can I add more nutrient later? Or would more hurt even this yeast? Also, I had some concern that stirring would be bad at this point. The bubbles slowed a bit after I stirred, but I assumed that was because of the amount of action during the stir.
Thanks.

wayneb
12-05-2007, 05:10 PM
Well, ideally you want to give the yeast exactly what it needs, when it needs it. Too much nutrient up front will actually be somewhat toxic to the yeast. A large dose up front, even if it isn't to toxic levels, will encourage growth and reproduction at too fast a rate, and the cells ability to metabolize sugars into alcohol will be compromised. The answer to your question of whether more nutrient later will help or hurt your ongoing fermentation, is difficult since you pretty much dosed it with almost a full blast of nutrients up front. In your current situation I would not add any more nutrient unless you detect other signs of a stressed fermentation, such as the production of hydrogen sulfide gas. As long as you get no rotten egg smell from the must, I'd let it be.

You're right -- when you stir the must to re-suspend yeast or to aerate it, you will free a lot of trapped CO2 from solution and the rate of bubbles through your airlock will fall off for a while until the yeast make enough new CO2 to re-establish that equilibrium in solution again.

ender
12-10-2007, 10:46 PM
Guys what is the consequence of "restarting" fermentation during secondary? I was thinking of splitting my 6 gallons into two secondaries of 6.5 each and the filling the remaining with two different fruits (peaches and cherries). However given my yeast I am aware that this will restart the fermentation. Is this ok if I am going to bulk store them until spring or summer?

ucflumberjack
12-10-2007, 11:31 PM
alot of people do that, no biggie. Its possible that your yeast will be a little stressed out, but with fruit thats not usually the case as the sugars leech out slowly and dont change the gravity very quickly which is really what stresses out yeast on a "secondary" fermentation.

ender
12-11-2007, 09:54 PM
Hi all,
Day nine (216 hours) and it is still bubbling. The SG is at 1.020.
Can someone please point me to a chart that explains SG readings and how its changes affect the ABV of the mead? I would like to have a better understanding what starting at 1.085 and the SG dropping down to 1.00 does.

JamesP
12-11-2007, 10:05 PM
Check out the NewBee guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14)

and specifically at the bottom of

http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=424&Itemid=14


The Starting Gravity is the IMPORTANT figure. Without that you don't know the amount of honey (sugars) and hence the POTENTIAL amount of Alcohol that the yeast can produce.

The final gravity reading tells you what sugars are left in your mead (and it can go below 1.000 - down to say 0.992 sometimes)

The DIFFERENCE (original - final) tells you what alcohol is ACTUALLY in your mead (see the initial reading IS important - so don't forget to take a reading at the start).

ender
12-11-2007, 10:15 PM
I did find this:
(SG - FG) * 125 = % ABV
1.160 - 1.045 = 0.115 x 125 = 14.375% ABV.
I have also seen this:

(SG - FG)/0.00738 = % ABV
1.160 - 1.045 = 0.115 / 0.00738 = 15.582% ABV

This comes from Grungyape.com:
http://www.grungyape.com/mead/info.php

Medsen Fey
12-11-2007, 10:37 PM
Dan McFeely has previously posted a link that explain how the alcohol calculation is determined from the hydrometer readings here (http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/question532.htm). These formulas you listed are both variations from this same methodology. I found that this explanation finally helped me to understand the root of all these different formula shortcuts.

I hope this helps.

Medsen

ender
12-21-2007, 02:39 PM
Ok, lets talk.
The primary measured at 1.000 (possibly 1.010, I can't read the hydrometer very well.)
I racked the 6.5 gal of mead into 2 5 gal carboys with fruit. (one has 2 bags of oranges and 2 bags of tangerines frozen and mashed the other has five honeydew frozen and chopped). So each carboy has some empty space on top (about 1/4 or less each).
I tasted the mead before racking and it tasted very strong and, says my wife, like cough syrup.
I plan on bulk aging it in the secondary for maybe six months. I added no chemicals or anything else as the fermentation was dead when I racked...
Why is the mead so "strong" tasting and is there anything else you guys would like to add from here?

ucflumberjack
12-21-2007, 03:32 PM
Its strong becuase its dry and young. be careful with those citrus fruits, if the skins were tossed in as well as the rest of the fruits then you might pick up a pithy flavor, to me it tastes like a weird bananna, and i hate banannas, so keep tasting and rack off if things go in a bad direction. you will probably get a bit of a secondary ferment due to the extra sugars from the fruits but time will tell....

ender
12-21-2007, 04:06 PM
Thanks.
I peeled all the oranges and tangerines first. Then I pounded and chopped the orange...no peel went in. I assume peel=skin in this conversation? My cuticles are killing me! I figured that there would be signifigant secondary fermentation as I used the EC-1118 and my OC was 1.085 and the SG prior to racking was 1.010 on the conservative side. The yeast can withstand up to 18% so I figured it would start bubbling again pretty soon. How often should I taste the mead do you think?

Teufelhund
12-26-2007, 04:22 PM
Just like Mead Sweetening for Dummies! You gotta love it when they post it in such easy, simple terms! Thanks again!



I'll just tell you what I do to backsweeten... it's quicker that way, ;) and everyone who has done it has their preferred method. This is what works for me:

Make up a solution of one part by volume of honey and 3-1/2 parts by volume of water. So, that could be 1 cup of honey mixed into 3-1/2 cups water. This will yield a liquid that has roughly 1.092 SG. Adding exactly one cup of this solution to a 5 gallon batch of mead will raise it's specific gravity by approximately 0.001 (commonly called 1 gravity point). Thus a dry mead at 1.000 SG will be 1.001 SG after the addition of one cup of this solution. I just add this liquid, one cup at a time, to the bulk of my batch until I get to the sweetness that I desire. ;D

NOTE: you are slightly changing the overall volume of must with the addition of each cup, so the cups that you add after the first will each make progressively less than 0.001 change in net gravity, but that difference doesn't amount to much until you exceed, say, 8 cups or so. If you are after a sweet mead to begin with, I'd suggest changing the ratio of honey to water in your addition liquid to get to your final gravity quicker. For example, a ratio of 1 cup honey to 1.75 cups of water will yield a gravity change of 0.002 per cup when added to 5 gallons of bulk must.

ender
01-08-2008, 12:49 AM
Thanks.
I peeled all the oranges and tangerines first. Then I pounded and chopped the orange...no peel went in. I assume peel=skin in this conversation? My cuticles are killing me! I figured that there would be signifigant secondary fermentation as I used the EC-1118 and my OC was 1.085 and the SG prior to racking was 1.010 on the conservative side. The yeast can withstand up to 18% so I figured it would start bubbling again pretty soon. How often should I taste the mead do you think?

So there has been almost no fermentation in either carboy. It looks like it is clearing up, but want some input. Should I worry?

akueck
01-08-2008, 01:37 AM
Hmm. I'd worry if "all clear" is not what you were hoping for, but otherwise I think you're ok. Secondary fermentations are not necessarily as active as primary ones, so the extra sugar may have been chewed up without much fanfare. Alternately, the yeast could be out of its comfort zone and thus done fermenting.

What is the current SG? The other big variable to check at this point would be the pH; since you added citrus you may have dropped the pH enough to knock out the yeast.

How's the taste?

ender
01-08-2008, 12:39 PM
Hmm. I'd worry if "all clear" is not what you were hoping for, but otherwise I think you're ok. Secondary fermentations are not necessarily as active as primary ones, so the extra sugar may have been chewed up without much fanfare. Alternately, the yeast could be out of its comfort zone and thus done fermenting.

What is the current SG? The other big variable to check at this point would be the pH; since you added citrus you may have dropped the pH enough to knock out the yeast.

How's the taste?

1. Haven't tasted it.
2. Should the yeas be done given it was ec-1118
3. Should the ph be an issue in the melon carboy?
4. How do I take the sg in a carboy? Remember, the carboys are only 3/4 full each, so I wouldn't be able to get my hydrometer back.

vanoob
01-08-2008, 04:43 PM
4. How do I take the sg in a carboy? Remember, the carboys are only 3/4 full each, so I wouldn't be able to get my hydrometer back.


I sanitize a piece of sewing thread and tie to the top of the hydrometer. I could see heavy twine affecting the reading...

Yo momma
01-08-2008, 11:15 PM
Your yeast is a strong strain (18% tolerance I do believe) and probably should not be done, but if the PH level is not right it will make them less likley to repopulate. Does that make sense? Imagine trying to live in a highly acidic envirement. PH is an important level to check in a fruit mead because of the amount of acid they have.

I bought a turkey baster and theive samples out of my carboys with that. Make sure to sanitize them first of course.

akueck
01-08-2008, 11:27 PM
Yup, invest in a wine thief or turkey-baster equivalent. Invaluable for sampling your mead. You can also check the gravity, pH, etc of your samples before you drink them. :drunken_smilie:

Anybody know the pH of melons? I have no idea....

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-09-2008, 11:22 AM
4. How do I take the sg in a carboy? Remember, the carboys are only 3/4 full each, so I wouldn't be able to get my hydrometer back.


I sanitize a piece of sewing thread and tie to the top of the hydrometer. I could see heavy twine affecting the reading...


Or get a few little hydrometers and leave them in the batches... They cost a couple of dollars each and have been discussed in another thread in the forum...

Teufelhund
01-09-2008, 12:30 PM
Actually, you can use either a peeler or a zester on the fruits to get just the skin which has all the essential oils. The white stuff is the pith, which is bitter and needs to be peeled off. The sections of the fruit can be used for the flavoring fluids and such.
Hope this helps.

:cheers:

DD



Thanks.
I peeled all the oranges and tangerines first. Then I pounded and chopped the orange...no peel went in. I assume peel=skin in this conversation? My cuticles are killing me! I figured that there would be signifigant secondary fermentation as I used the EC-1118 and my OC was 1.085 and the SG prior to racking was 1.010 on the conservative side. The yeast can withstand up to 18% so I figured it would start bubbling again pretty soon. How often should I taste the mead do you think?

ender
01-09-2008, 01:16 PM
Ok, tasted the melon....absolute crap. i think "young" was the term used before. Pretty much the same as when it was without the fruit right out of the primary.
The orange is the same. It is clear there has been absolutely no chemical change since primary was finished. you can taste none of the fruit it is a dry wine/cough medicine taste.

ender
01-09-2008, 01:28 PM
the sg of the orange is 0.996
the sg of the melon is 0.993

Yo momma
01-09-2008, 05:42 PM
Before you decide that those batches are trash, backsweeten and let it sit for a month or so, then decide. Sweetening fruit batches make a world of difference. You can also put more fruit in them and let it sit for a while. The flavor will get stronger over time.

Pewter_of_Deodar
01-09-2008, 06:17 PM
the sg of the orange is 0.996
the sg of the melon is 0.993


Both batches are incredibly "dry" according to the SG measurements. Lack of sweetness tends to result in lack of fruitiness as well.

The batches are awfully young but should give you an opportunity to do an experiment.... Take a small glass of one of the batches. Taste and note the level of fruitiness. Add a teaspoon of sugar, stir, and taste. More fruitiness? Continue to add sugar, a teaspoon at a time, stirring and tasting until the sweetness is pretty strong. In general, the additional sweetness is likely to bring out the flavor of the fruit. If you try it, please post your results/thoughts...

Yo momma
01-09-2008, 06:18 PM
Very nice Pewter. I have done this before and did not think of it until you posted. Refreshed and old mind! :laughing7:

ender
02-04-2008, 12:45 PM
Ok, Finally have the results to the experiment..muahh muahhhh muahhhhhh (see: evil scientist)

The melon batch: 1 cup of batch required 3-4 tbsp of sugar to be improved
The orange batch: 1 cup of batch required 4-5 tbsp of sugar to be improved

Since this is new to me I am pretty sure that the negative taste that my wife describes as robotussin (even after sugar) is from the newness (youngness) of the batch. I can taste a "mellowing" of the mead since last tasting. Yes, both were fruitier and "better" with the sugar.
Any thoughts? How much would I add to back-sweeten to this level? My thought was I could put 1 gallon of water/honey mixture in each vessel (using 6lbs. honey in each batch) and let sit in carboys until june before next tasting....

Medsen Fey
02-04-2008, 02:14 PM
Hello Ender,

Because you were using EC-1118, there is a pretty good chance that if you add more sugar in, the yeast may once again become active and chew it up, raising the alcohol level and making the "Robitussin" character worse. You probably want to stabilize the mead before adding sugar if you want to backsweeten, especially with this yeast. You can read a good post on stabilizing mead (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=412&topic=5748.0) or find others using the search tool.

As for the sweetening, I like the approach Wayneb describes above. Also, you can take the cup that you sweetened to taste, and measure the Sp Gr, then you can add the honey in larger amounts to get you close to that level, then slowly add more. It is good to remember that if you undershoot, you can always add more honey in, but it you overshoot, then you can't take it back out will have overly-sweet mead.

By the way, at what temperature did you run the fermentation? I ask because that can be a big factor in producing "Robitussin" qualities.

Medsen

Pewter_of_Deodar
02-05-2008, 10:37 AM
Since this is new to me I am pretty sure that the negative taste that my wife describes as robotussin (even after sugar) is from the newness (youngness) of the batch. I can taste a "mellowing" of the mead since last tasting. Yes, both were fruitier and "better" with the sugar.


I can't say for certain but my cordials ended up tasting like cough syrup when they were exposed to air too long. Maybe oxidation?

ender
02-06-2008, 01:31 AM
Since this is new to me I am pretty sure that the negative taste that my wife describes as robotussin (even after sugar) is from the newness (youngness) of the batch. I can taste a "mellowing" of the mead since last tasting. Yes, both were fruitier and "better" with the sugar.


I can't say for certain but my cordials ended up tasting like cough syrup when they were exposed to air too long. Maybe oxidation?

could be as I have 1 gal of air at least in each carboy. though the stopper with airlock has ALWAYS been in....

Pewter_of_Deodar
02-06-2008, 02:19 PM
Fermentation will leave a pretty good layer of CO2 on top of a batch that will protect it as long as the layer is not disturbed. Did you have fermentation while in the smaller batches in order to produce the CO2? Have you opened them a lot since fermentation stopped?

Medsen Fey
02-06-2008, 03:34 PM
Usually oxidation of a mead will produce a distinctive flavor, like that found in Madeira wines, but this is not a "medicinal" aroma or flavor. Medicinal flavors (and other off flavors) can be a feature with young meads and may age out with a bit of time, but they may be more prominent with yeast that have been under stress (temperature, nutrition, pH, etc.).

Medsen