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dvd.trowbridge
10-12-2008, 08:29 PM
Currently making first mead and have several questions.

Recipe--15 lbs wildflower honey, approx 4/5 gallons water, dried champagne yeast (rehydrated for 10 minutes before pitching). Boiled for 15 minutes, skimmed, and fought off bees.

First: How often should I rack? Listening to interview with David Logsdon from Wyeast on Basic Brewing Radio he said that you can start getting autolysis off flavors in as little as two weeks. Should I rack the mead every two weeks or can I let it sit in the carboy longer than that? Part two, any racking suggestions? I'm apparently quite sloppy because I've already lost close to a gallon.

Second: Sampled the mead after taking gravity reading and it currently has an unpleasant mouthwashy aftertaste. Taking more advice from BBR, I have decided to turn it into a melomel, fruit yet to be determined. There is still quite a bit of fermentation activity (airlock bubbles about every 30 seconds) so the yeast appears to be healthy. I would like to use the following process to both get the fruit flavors in and replace some of the wort/must that I've lost: Boil approx 1 gallon water to sterilize, let cool to around 160. Add fruit to water and steep/pasteurize. Finally add the whole mess (water and fruit) to my fermenter. My hope is that by adding the water I'll get more fruit flavors as well as increase the batch size. Will this process work or will it do horrible unspeakable things to my mead?

Thanks for the help everyone!!
David Trowbridge

Oskaar
10-12-2008, 08:46 PM
Welcome to Got Mead?

OK, let's get the brewing approach to meadmaking off the table for now.

It would help to know the exact yeast you used, that will help explain the listerine mouthwash flavor you're getting.

A quick note on heating your honey must. It's unnecessary and cooks off the delicate flavors and aromas of your honey, as well as denaturing enzymes, protiens and other compounds that are beneficial to the fermentation. Just as you wouldn't heat your grapes to make wine, you don't need to heat your honey to make phenomenal mead. If you're following a period (historical recipe) to recreat something, that's a bit different.

OK, on to the meat of your questions. Once we know what your yeast was, we can comment more accurately on the timliness of racking. Suffice to say that you don't need to rack mead on a schedule. The mead can sit on the lees from the primary for a few weeks with no ill effects. There are of course exceptions, but those can be dealt with once we know which yeast you use if it happens to fall into the exception category. Generally, once primary fermentation has slowed to a crawl (when you see airlock activity slow to less than 1 beat per minute) you may rack. Once you're in secondary you can let the mead settle and clear completely then rack again. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year or longer depending on how you made your mead.

The taste at this point is largely a non-indicator of what your final product will be. You're way too early in the fermentation to make any long term decisions about turning this into a melomel. Again, you'll need to have a different perspective on meadmaking where patience and long term decisions tend to govern what you will produce and how you will proceed with managing your ferment and treating your mead as it ages. Don't heat your fruit either unless you're hell bent on doing so, there's no reason. Remember, mead isn't beer and you'll be fine. ABV in mead is higher than most beers and so the inhibitory factor of the EtOH produced during fermentation is going to be lethal to most spoilage organisms which will die at levels higher than 12% ABV.

My advice is to hold off on any additions of fruit to your mead until you have completed primary fermentation. Rack to another vessel after primary and then let the mead clear completely. Remember that in meadmaking what tastes like ass now can taste like ambrosia in a year.

Hope that helps,

Oskaar