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colbycurtis
03-16-2008, 12:25 PM
Hi Guys well heres what I did today. First I spent two hours cleaning all the stuff I bought recently with bleach and water my hands smell like bleach and are wrinkled. I spent two hours washing and rinsing (Carboys, Fermenter, Bowls, Pans, Hoses, Hydrometer, Brushes everything I bought).

After rinsing 3 times I started. I did not use any aluminum pans I did not boil or heat to pasteurize anything either. I added 3 gallons of Spring water from store to fermenter Warmed the glass jars of Tule Creek Apiary Honey and added it to water 15 pounds.

Got two bowls and in one added 2 tablespoons of yeast activator and yeast nutrient stirred gently. In the other bowl added 105 degree spring water to two packs of Lalvin D47 checked with thermometer. Stirred gently.

Stirred fermenter for at least 5 minutes. At this point I made my first ever hydrometer check here is what it said. Alcohol 16% Sugar Balling 29 and Gravity 1.120 What do these reading tell you? I think it means it will be sweet and need alot of aging am I correct?


Added activator and nutrient and stirred some more. After about 10 minutes pitched half the yeast and stirred gently some more. Added the rest in two parts 5 minutes apart while stirring.Topped off to 5 gallons.

Screwed on lid and added air lock.

Well what do you think? Does it sound good or is it gonna be pond scum?

skunkboy
03-16-2008, 12:46 PM
It won't necessarily need to be aged, but it rarely hurts to due so.

15 lbs oh honey in a five gallon batch? Probably won't be very sweet.

liff
03-16-2008, 12:49 PM
At this point I made my first ever hydrometer check here is what it said. Alcohol 16% Sugar Balling 29 and Gravity 1.120 What do these reading tell you?

And...



....while stirring.Topped off to 5 gallons.

This tells me you changed your total volume after the hydrometer reading. So, how much and of what did you top off with? [The 3 different scales are three different ways of measuring the sugar content. Just use the Gravity reading.]

Either way, I think this is a pretty standard and good recipe. Water, honey, and D-47 with nutrients is a good recipe.

Most of us here would use the GoFerm/Fermaid-K/DAP nutrient protocol, but everyone here makes mead a little different.

Make sure you aerate twice a day until the 1/3rd sugar break. This is important.

colbycurtis
03-16-2008, 12:54 PM
oops ok I'm learning. I only had to add about a half to an inch of water to top off it wasn't much also what is the 1/3 break point mean I don't understand that? So I remove the lid twice a day and stir to air it or just remove the lid and put it back on?

wayneb
03-16-2008, 05:13 PM
It still wouldn't hurt to draw off another sample (use a wine thief if you have one) and check the SG again. The 1/3 sugar break is jargon for the point in fermentation where 1/3 of the fermentable sugars have been consumed by the yeast. So if you started at 1.120 SG, your mead will be completely dry around 0.997. The amount of sugar in the mix is directly proportional to the SG, so 1/3 of 0.123 is 0.041. You'll be at the 1/3 sugar break for your batch when it is less 0.041 gravity points, or when it reaches 1.079.

Yup - to aerate pull the lid (are you using a bucket?) and stir the must vigorously with either a wire whisk or a lees stirrer, to whip as much air into the batch as possible. Do it slowly at first until you release the built-up CO2 from fermentation, or you're likely to start a mead geyser.

And no, you will not be making pond scum, as long as the bleach you used as a sanitizer was completely rinsed away before you put your ingredients into the fermenter. Chlorine bleach will leave a funky flavor in your mead if any was left behind, but otherwise you're probably on your way to a very good semi-dry mead. The D47 will likely take you pretty close to 16% ABV, even without staggering the addition of your nutrients, provided the pH of the batch doesn't drop too low.

colbycurtis
03-16-2008, 05:36 PM
OK I just made sure it was sterile and used the hydrometer right in the bucket. This is now about an hour later but no bubbles have started yet. I think it was 1.110 or just a hair past toward 1.120. Anyways thanks everyone for the help. Now I'm freaking paranoid about whether I rinsed everything well enough and didn't leave any bleach residue. I tell ya I can screw up a bowl of snot so if this works I'll be ecstatic.

wayneb
03-16-2008, 06:42 PM
Take a moment to look at your hydrometer, to make sure you see how the scale on yours works. There is usually a pretty big space between 1.110 and 1.120, with gradations that aren't numbered, but are generally one tic for every 2 gravity points. The span between 1.110 and 1.120 is pretty large. You'll want to count the tics to determine the reading a little more closely. Anyway, as long as you are above 1.110 you easily have enough sugar in the mix to ensure that you will make a fairly potent mead, assuming that it ferments to dryness.

colbycurtis
03-16-2008, 06:59 PM
Just checked again and it is exactly 1.110 but this is now at least two hours after if not three so I guess I'm ok. Still no bubbles but Ive had the lid off three times now. Would it hurt to separate this 5 gallon into a bunch of 1 gallon carboys after one day of actual fermentation? I was thinking to let it start bubbling good then to air it just drop a gallon from the spicket at bottom of bucket to split it up so I can experiment with adding a few things to make a couple different flavors. If I only drop 2 gallons into 2 one gallon carboys Ill airlock them and leave the rest in the primary does this sound ok this will give me three gallons of the origanal and two gallons of two different experiments.

wayneb
03-16-2008, 10:28 PM
You certainly could split it up early like that if you want to, but I think that it is better to allow the batch to ferment through primary as one large one, then split it up and add whatever you'd like to the individual batches. That way the alcohol content can build up to the point where fewer spoilage organisms can take hold, and you'll have a better idea of what kind of base mead you have to work with. Additionally you won't have to worry about keeping 5 batches going in parallel -- primary fermentation will be pretty dynamic, and you'll need to watch carefully as things progress. That's easier done in one larger batch.

wildaho
03-17-2008, 06:23 AM
You know, as bad as Charlie Papazian's mead recipes are compared to today's knowledge, there is still that one little gem of a phrase that stays with me: "Relax! Don't Worry! Have A Homebrew!"

In other words, it's easy to get paranoid and over-think your mead. Take a deep breath, pour a glass of mead or beer or whatever is at hand, and read a little bit. Most of the the things that you think are problems now will be seem like pittances after your third batch or so. So. Relax!

(but then again "just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me!" ;) )

colbycurtis
03-17-2008, 11:06 AM
Thanks again guys for helping me (walking me) through my first 5 Gallon batch. It has been just about 24 hours there was about a bubble every 5 minutes so I opened it up and decided to stir it like suggested here in the thread. I made sure it was sterile and rinsed real well. I could only stir for about 45 seconds since starting slow and getting faster but it started foaming and the foam grew until it was at the top of the bucket so I had to quit. Is this normal??

Re-sealed and now I'm waiting for the bubbles. :cheers:

wayneb
03-17-2008, 12:35 PM
It's not only normal (all that foaming as you stir, that is) -- it is great! That's a sign that fermentation is up and running; you're liberating all the CO2 that has gone into solution as the yeast work on your must. A Very Good Sign!!

It has been mentioned before in previous threads, but it bears repeating here -- don't trust bubbles in the airlock as a reliable indication of fermentation. Especially in bucket fermentation, there may be lots of little air leaks around the edge of the bucket (those tops don't always make a good seal), so your airlock activity may be almost unnoticeable. The best way to check fermentation in primary is to monitor the change in SG as sugars get converted. Also, it is a good thing to give your must a healthy stir at least once daily (to aerate it) until you pass the 1/3 sugar break. Yeast need oxygen in order to fully develop and reproduce up to the point where you have a healthy colony working in your must. You only need to worry about introducing too much oxygen later on in fermentation, after the yeast no longer need it.

colbycurtis
03-17-2008, 01:24 PM
It's not only normal (all that foaming as you stir, that is) -- it is great! That's a sign that fermentation is up and running; you're liberating all the CO2 that has gone into solution as the yeast work on your must. A Very Good Sign!!

It has been mentioned before in previous threads, but it bears repeating here -- don't trust bubbles in the airlock as a reliable indication of fermentation. Especially in bucket fermentation, there may be lots of little air leaks around the edge of the bucket (those tops don't always make a good seal), so your airlock activity may be almost unnoticeable. The best way to check fermentation in primary is to monitor the change in SG as sugars get converted. Also, it is a good thing to give your must a healthy stir at least once daily (to aerate it) until you pass the 1/3 sugar break. Yeast need oxygen in order to fully develop and reproduce up to the point where you have a healthy colony working in your must. You only need to worry about introducing too much oxygen later on in fermentation, after the yeast no longer need it.


Thanks, that is so what I wanted to hear. "Love You guys Man!" ;D

colbycurtis
03-20-2008, 02:41 PM
Update:
OK so far so good I've been bubbling away for 3 or 4 days now. I have been stirring at least once a day sometimes two. Looks real good and smells fine. Now I have been taking hydrometer readings each day and I have moved from 1.110 to 1.090 so far. My question is if I want my mead to be semi to sweet but do not want it to be dry is it ok to stop a batch from fermenting when it gets to a certain level on the hydrometer or is it better to let it run it's course and then back sweeten?

My guess would be let it run it's course so the alcohol level is as high as you can get then back sweeten, Is this a good idea and correct thinking?

If I do back sweeten do you just add something (honey, sweetener etc..??) until the hydrometer reaches some good point? I'm guessing 1.000 to 1.010 is the magic number?

wayneb
03-20-2008, 02:55 PM
It all sounds good so far! Not bad for your first batch. :cheers:

Regarding backsweetening vs. stopping fermentation, I have found it easier and more consistent to let the fermentation run its course, then backsweeten if it has gone too dry for your taste. It is really difficult to stop a healthy ongoing fermentation without dumping lots of chemicals into your mead, and I personally don't like to do that.

I do recommend "stabilizing" a mead that is to be backsweetened -- a dose of potassium metabisulfite (as a source of sulfur dioxide) followed by a dose of potassium sorbate will generally remove any active yeast cells left over when fermentation has completed, or render them incapable of reproducing. If you don't want to use any chemicals and you want to end up with a stable result, you should plan on racking the mead several times before attempting to add any fermentable sweetener. This is a process that takes several months since you rack, wait for more yeast to settle, rack again, let settle again, etc. If any active cells are left in a mead that you backsweeten and if they haven't reached their ethanol tolerance yet, they can (and often do) start fermenting the additional sugars that you added. This can result in carbonating a mead you planned to keep still, or worse, can result in overpressurizing the bottles, resulting in "bottle bombs."

Oh, and backsweeten to taste, rather than by trying to achieve a specific final gravity. Add small amounts of honey (or other sugar), wait a day or so for the flavor to begin to meld, then taste. If you need more, add a little more, and repeat until you get it where you want it to be.

colbycurtis
03-20-2008, 03:08 PM
It all sounds good so far! Not bad for your first batch. :cheers:

Regarding backsweetening vs. stopping fermentation, I have found it easier and more consistent to let the fermentation run its course, then backsweeten if it has gone too dry for your taste. It is really difficult to stop a healthy ongoing fermentation without dumping lots of chemicals into your mead, and I personally don't like to do that.

I do recommend "stabilizing" a mead that is to be backsweetened -- a dose of potassium metabisulfite (as a source of sulfur dioxide) followed by a dose of potassium sorbate will generally remove any active yeast cells left over when fermentation has completed, or render them incapable of reproducing. If you don't want to use any chemicals and you want to end up with a stable result, you should plan on racking the mead several times before attempting to add any fermentable sweetener. This is a process that takes several months since you rack, wait for more yeast to settle, rack again, let settle again, etc. If any active cells are left in a mead that you backsweeten and if they haven't reached their ethanol tolerance yet, they can (and often do) start fermenting the additional sugars that you added. This can result in carbonating a mead you planned to keep still, or worse, can result in overpressurizing the bottles, resulting in "bottle bombs."

Oh, and backsweeten to taste, rather than by trying to achieve a specific final gravity. Add small amounts of honey (or other sugar), wait a day or so for the flavor to begin to meld, then taste. If you need more, add a little more, and repeat until you get it where you want it to be.



Great Info thanks.
So how much potassium metabisulfite (as a source of sulfur dioxide) followed by a dose of potassium sorbate do you use per gallon do you use? or is it on the directions? I haven't bought any yet. Someone also said you can refrigerate it for a week to achieve same results any comments on this?