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Armyeric
05-04-2008, 10:23 AM
Hello,

I applogize that my first post on this forum is asking for help, but if it any concellation, I do intend of being here a long long time.

I used the recipe from "The Complete Meadmaker" on p.30...I believe it is the basic show mead.
15lbs Orange Blossom Honey
4 gal water (I use distilled since my tap water is not tastey)
2 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 tsp. yeast energizer
2 packets of Lalvin 71b-1122

Temp throughout this process has been between 70 and 66 degrees F

8ARP08
- Sanitized everyting with Metabisulphate and Rinse Free
- Followed the directions in the book as well as the yeast package instructions
- I stired with my electric drill and stiring rod for about 5 mintues
- Am using a plastic fermenting bucket
- SG: 1.110
- pH: I don't have anything to measure it with...yet

10APR08
Noticed vigorous burping in my airlock, but by the following day there was no indication of activity

17APR08
I pulled the cover off and immediately noticed that there was visible fermentation (bubbles) occuring.
SG: 1.082

18APR08
Here is where I think I made my big mistake. Being paranoid that I was not seeing any indication of fermentation (lots of burping at the airlock) I decided that my fermentation must be stuck.
I added 1 packet of EC-1118, 1Tsp Energizer, 1TSP Nutrients
I also added another gal of distilled water...a recomendation from someone on a totally differnt forum.

20APR08
Paranoid about airleaks in my primary fermenter, I decided to rack my must over to my cardboy. SG: 1.062. In under a day, I saw spactacular fermentation...it was displacing the must in the neck of the cardboy by about 2 inches. When I racked the must over, I decided to take a taste. I was GOOOOOOOD. Actually, the taste was stuck on my mind and tastebuds for a few days afterwards and kept thinking to myself that I must take another sampling.

02MAY08
- Still signs of fermenation, but they are slowing down
- SG: 1.02
- Smells good, but did not taste good...Dry? Not sure of the taste...did not taste vinigery, or infected...maybe it was the nutrients...but I didn't really add that much

04MAY08
- Fermentation is slowing down
- Don't have an SG reading since I am at work and will be for the next 12 hours.

At this point I have a few questions:
- Is my must still good? Should I just let it mature in the cardboy for serveral months before bottling?
- What is the target pH is should go for? Should I use tartaric acid?
- I want it to be clear, should I add the benonite and metabisulphate once I get a stable SG reading or do I do that after it has matured for several months?
- Should I rack it over to another cardboy to off-gas it and to all of the above mentioned questions?
- What should my finial SG be? I am questioning my last reading.

...and finially, it is my full intention of purchasing the membership...just as soon as I can figure out why my Paypal account double billed my checking account for an unrelated purchase.

Many thanks for the advice...

Eric

GrantLee63
05-04-2008, 10:51 AM
Welcome Eric! No need to apologize for asking questions with your first post as 99.9% of us on this site have done the exact same thing you're doing !

Personally, I don't think anything you've done with this batch is necessarily bad and there is no reason to think that it will not turn out good - *provided* you give it the single most important thing that it needs - PATIENCE ! With that being said, I will comment on your additional yeast and additional water additions:

EC-1118 + 1 add'l gallon of H2O will equal a very, very dry finished product - not necessarily bad mind you, but not what you would have ended up with had you stuck to the 71b only and not added any additional water. Your FG will probably be about .995-.990. Also, I would not rack again - at least certainly not now.

Before offering up any additional comments, let us know your tastes, or at least where you thought this batch was going to turn out like. Regardless, you need a lot of PATIENCE with this craft - all of my traditional recipes get bulk-aged a minimum of 2 years these days, so keep that in mind.

Again, WELCOME!

- GL63

Medsen Fey
05-04-2008, 11:21 AM
Welcome to the forums Eric!

Posting up with a concern or question (or several) for which you need help is certainly okay, and you have no need to apologize. GrantLee63 has given you some good advice, but since I have typed this, I'll post it.

Watching bubbling in a fermenting bucket is not a good way to follow fermentation activity. Following with the hydrometer will give you much better information about how fermentation is progressing. I suspect your fermentation would have gone okay just leaving the 71B to do its thing.

Still, it sounds like nothing is wrong with your mead. When meads are first fermented, many times they taste awful, very "hot" with alcohol, and harsh. After they have aged for several months, the taste changes dramatically with everything smoothing out quite a bit. It sounds like you will just need to give this one some time to develop. It may also be that as it becomes dry, you may discover that you like meads that are sweeter, and that is strictly a matter of personal preference. I don't think the amount of nutrients will cause you a problem here.

Your mead may not be finished fermenting. EC-1118 is a strong yeast that may continue to chug away slowly until your specific gravity drops down near 1.000. The alcohol tolerance is around 18% ABV which is more than your starting gravity would produce, so it may go very dry. I would let it sit, and continue to follow the gravity every week or two for the next month and see where it goes.

When it is finished I would rack it. Neither of these yeasts is considered good for allowing the mead to age on the lees. Then I would let it become very clear before attempting to bottle, and this might take a few months.

Unless you want to add oak to it, I would not add anything else until it has had time to develop. During fermentation, yeast like to have the pH between 3.6 and 4.0 as an optimum, but after fermentation is complete, I don't use the pH to determine my acid additions - I go strictly by taste, adding a little at a time. Whatever the pH is when it tastes good to me is where it stays. You can use tartaric acid which gives a more "wine like" flavor or acid blends. You can try adding tiny amount to a small glass of the mead to see what you like best, and get an idea of how much you need for the whole batch.

I would not use any bentonite until you see if it clears on its own. If it doesn't clear in 8-12 months, then I would use fining agents such as bentonite. Again, for the sulphites, I would wait - you may not need any.

pH meters are handy tools, but be careful that it doesn't push you to fiddle with it too much. The single most important ingredient in mead making (and the hardest to find) is patience!

If you have not reviewed the Mead NewBee Guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14), it is well worth reading; tons of good info.

I hope that helps. Good Meading!

If you are currently serving (or have served) in the armed forces, let me please just say - Thank you!

Medsen

Armyeric
05-04-2008, 11:25 AM
I was hoping for something semi-sweet. My wife bought me a wine making kit for this past Christmas (it is something I have wanted to do for a long time). This mead batch is my second attempt. All I can say is that I have this increadible bug to brew more and more, but time and money are preventing me. I am going to take my bonus from Uncle Sam (once it shows up) and purchase 3 6gal cardboys, another primary fermenter, and a few smaller cardboys. My wife wants to brew too.

I am in the SCA so I was hoping to present some of my mead to various folks as well as use it for local events. I fear my first batch will be too dry for most.

Thank you both for the information. It is a relief to find I haven't ruined my mead.

Thank you. I was in the Army for 9 years and got out to start a family...I miss it almost everyday. I have Celiac's Disease (so no chance to ever get back in...even if I was young enough) so wine/mead making fits the bill nicely.

Armyeric

fatbloke
05-04-2008, 11:54 AM
Firstly, welcome (though I haven't been posting here very long myself so......).

Medsen and GL63 have suggested pretty much what I'd think is a good way to go, but (yes there's always on of those :D).....

If it does actually ferment very dry, not too worry. Once it's cleared/finished (except bottling of course), you can always "sorbate" it - that prevents any remaining yeast cells from multiplying. Then you can back sweeten with honey/honey and water mix.

That way, you'll end up with a much sweeter product - which you can give away to friends/family and feel rightly proud of your efforts.

As Medsen pointed out, when a mead is first "off the lees", it can taste bloody awful - Ken Schramm describes it in his book as tasting like "Listerine" - I just liken it to mouth wash or describe it as "medicinal" tasting.

You'll be amazed at the changes in it after it's aged for a period (I like 6 months before giving it an initial try - it may need longer).

Otherwise it sounds like it's going well.

regards

fatbloke

p.s. Oh and I'm also ex-service. I did just under 10 years with the Royal Navy.

crowquill
05-05-2008, 07:44 AM
I have a 5 gallon batch that I made using that same recipe (except I used local wildflower honey). Mine has been fermenting very slowly for months and my worry is that it will end up too sweet rather than too dry. But I'm just letting it sit and I've started a couple of other recipes since then -- maybe that'll work for you, too!

fatbloke
05-05-2008, 05:43 PM
I have a 5 gallon batch that I made using that same recipe (except I used local wildflower honey). Mine has been fermenting very slowly for months and my worry is that it will end up too sweet rather than too dry. But I'm just letting it sit and I've started a couple of other recipes since then -- maybe that'll work for you, too!
Well, not to contradict anything of Kens', but the only thing I'd have thought about would be a little more nutrient/energiser. 3lb of honey to the gallon will produce a pleasant (IMO) tasting mead.

Have you checked the gravity recently ? Cos it's fair to point out, that it could be considered finished if you got the same reading 3 for days. The occasional bubble might be that it's venting a little of the CO2 that will dissolved in the mead. Plus I'm not sure, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that 71B is one of the yeasts that it's good get off the lees when the ferments finished.

Or if you're still worried you can always restart the ferment with some EC-1118 and nutrient. Then it will ferment out dry - but can be back sweetened later if required.

regards

fatbloke

crowquill
05-06-2008, 06:47 AM
Have you checked the gravity recently ? Cos it's fair to point out, that it could be considered finished if you got the same reading 3 for days. The occasional bubble might be that it's venting a little of the CO2 that will dissolved in the mead. Plus I'm not sure, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that 71B is one of the yeasts that it's good get off the lees when the ferments finished.

Just to clarify, my batch made with this recipe is in the secondary. I haven't checked the gravity in awhile but it's bubbling slowly (maybe CO2 as you suggest) and it's nowhere near clear. So I'm letting it sit while I try other recipes. That's the only suggestion I can offer to the original poster.