View Full Version : Just a confidence check.

02-10-2009, 09:56 PM
This is my first post here but I've been lurking for a while.

I've been brewing beer for a couple years now. I brewed a hefeweisen on Saturday and while motivated to brew decided to branch out.

I just started my first mead yesterday. She's bubbling away nicely so all seems well. I just thought I'd run down what I've done to this point and see if I got it right. In researching, I found lots of conflicting advice so I just tired to sort the BS from the sound info and gave it a go.

Here it is, a simple cyser:

1 gallon plus 1 qt. Raw desert wildflower honey. (15 pounds or so)
4 Gallons Zieglerís apple cider (100% juice, No preservatives, ingredients: Apples, pasteurized for safety)

Stirred well and pulled 500 ml must for a starter.

18:00 hrs on Sunday: Crushed 5 Camden tablets and stirred it in to the remaining must. At this time it's in a clean sanitized 5-gallon bucket covered with plastic wrap and a rubber band holding it in place.

(Seems really strange to me not boiling)

I hydrated my yeast by dissolving 4 teaspoons of "GoFerm" into 4 oz of 110-degree spring water. Stirred with the thermometer until the temp was 104 degrees. Sprinkled 2 packs of K1-V1116 on top and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then I stirred the yeast in and gave it another 10 minutes. When the temp of the yeast reached 85 degrees. I added about 2 oz of the must I'd set aside and stirred for 5 minutes then added some more to bring the temp to 73 degrees. I poured the lot into my flask of reserved must that was 70 degrees.

I put an airlock on this and it was bubbling away instantly. Awesome!

Monday Morning 06:00 hrs, I stirred the must in the 5 gallon bucket and added pectic enzyme.

18:30 hrs on Monday evening, I racked the must from the bucket to a 6.5-gallon carboy. Pitched the yeast and oxygenated it with O2 and a ss diffusing stone. Also added 4.5g Fermaid-k and 4.5g DAP

Starting gravity is 1.145 (adjusted for temp)

After 2 hours I was a bit concerned about the lack of activity. Concerns were relieved this morning as a layer of krausen had formed and the airlock was bubbling though slower than a beer would have been.

I degassed by stirring and added more O2. 6:00 this morning.

This evening at 18:00 hrs, I've got good activity, 3" of krausen on top. I degassed by stirring, added more O2 and added 2.8g Fermaid K and 2.8g DAP.

Oh and gravity has dropped to 1.138

Right now 1.5 hours later, I've got 1" of bubbles on top and she's burping away at about 4 times per minute.

Now for the questions:

Can the Aeration be over done this early in the primary? Should I continue the twice a day degassing and aeration until 1/3 attenuation?

Also, the yeast nutrients, do I need more or less and if more, Do I add it at 1/3 attenuation or before? (lots of conflicting info out there)

I've ordered some Fermaid 2133 to add when it gets to 2/3 attenuation but how much of it do I add then?

02-10-2009, 10:19 PM
This is my first post here but I've been lurking for a while.
Can the Aeration be over done this early in the primary? Should I continue the twice a day degassing and aeration until 1/3 attenuation?

Also, the yeast nutrients, do I need more or less and if more, Do I add it at 1/3 attenuation or before? (lots of conflicting info out there)

I've ordered some Fermaid 2133 to add when it gets to 2/3 attenuation but how much of it do I add then?

Based upon what I've all read and experienced (if I'm incorrect hopefully an expert has better advice):

1) The aeration probably can't be overdone early in the primary. Aerating 2 or 3 times a day before the 1/3 sugar break seems to be the norm. If you were to aerate more often than that I don't see how it could be a problem as far as the aeration goes. Depending on your exact method of aerating, however, you would have a new opportunity to introduce nasties to the must each time you aerate. But your method, twice a day, should be just fine. If you notice the fermentation stalling before the 1/3 sugar break perhaps an addition aeration each day would help. But if it's good so far then stick with it.

2) As for the amounts of the nutrients you are adding, I can't offer any direct advice because I do not use those specific nutrients. As far as the additional nutrient additions, 1/3 seems to be about the earliest to add, and no sooner. Adding it at the 1/3 is a pretty popular technique, but I've seen some on the board (perhaps Wayne? Correct me if I'm wrong) mention that they add at the 1/2 sugar break. If you just want to play it safe, the 1/3 sugar break seems to be the popular convention.

02-10-2009, 10:57 PM
Hi stownson and Welcome to GotMead?

Looks like you are on the right track! You've added a few "confidence" steps in there but I totally understand. I brewed beers for years before I made a mead. It's hard to let loose the "in-grained" practices. ;D In fact, after making mead for a while, I've let loose of some of the more "anal" practices with my beers. They've only got better, especially on the big beers.

So, what do I mean by confidence steps?

Let's start with the campden addition at the beginning. Your juice is pasteurized and the honey is practically antiseptic. Your yeast, since it was properly hydrated, will no doubt overcome any nasties that might accidently get in there. The campden won't hurt anything but it was probably an unnecessary step.
The starter. You probably didn't need to do this. You used two packages of properly re-hydrated KV-1116. The cell count from those two packages is sufficient to get things going fast. The starter won't hurt anything and it did probably shorten your lag time by a small amount. Beer yeasts NEED a starter, especially for liquid yeast, due to low initial cell counts. Dry yeasts have a significantly higher cell count to begin with and when properly re-hydrated, are ready to go into action.
The carboy. I do all of my primary fermentations in a bucket any more, even beers. The buckets are just so much handier for getting in there to aerate, for cap management and for helping to prevent the dreaded MEA (Mead Eruption Accident © Medsen Fey) that are bound to happen when you aerate. It also makes it easier for your daily swirling after the 1/3 sugar break. I keep my bucket covered with foil during primary and have never had a problem.

Now for your questions:

It depends on your aeration method. Too much straight O2 can actually be toxic to your yeast if you get much above 30ppm. I prefer to use a lees stirrer on a drill or even a hand mixer twice a day for about 5 minutes. It's more gentle on the O2 addition and also keeps things stirred up so the yeast is in contact with the sugars instead of loafing on the bottom of your fermenter.
Nutrients: General consensus on this site is to add at the end of the lag phase and then again at the 1/3 sugar break. Additions at the 1/2 and 2/3 breaks are usually only necessary for really picky yeasts. Since you are using apple juice for your base, I wouldn't worry about the 1/2 or 2/3 breaks. Just swirl gently (without aeration) daily after the 1/3 break to keep your yeast in contact with the sugars.

Keep us posted on how this one turns out. I think you'll be impressed with how easy mead is to make compared to beer.


02-12-2009, 08:39 AM
Added 1.8 grams of Fermaid K and 1.8 grams of DAP yesterday. SG this morning is at 1.100. That's just about 1/3 sugar break in 60 hours.

No more O2 now, just stiring to keep the yeast suspended.

Now, if the fermentation slows before 2/3 sugar break, do I add more Fermaid K? I know that no more DAP is needed.

Medsen Fey
02-12-2009, 10:08 AM
I don't think you'll need more nutrients. You've added about 9 grams each of DAP and Fermaid K which will provide just shy of 150 ppm Nitrogen, and you get a few ppm from the Goferm. This is in addition to the amounts contained in the juice and honey. Since K1V has relatively low nitrogen needs, you should be fine.

If you see a slow down, consider checking the pH and possibly using some yeast hulls. From the sound of things, I expect you'll have a strong fermentation.

and also,

Welcome to GotMead!

02-24-2009, 07:04 PM
This mead is still fermenting nicely at approx 6 airlock burps a minute. Last SG reading was on Friday and it was at 1.039.

I know general wisdom is to wait till burbs slow to 1/min it seems that by the time that happens, I will have attained SG very close to 1.000 and will be in the primary for a full month. Is that too long in the primary?

02-24-2009, 07:42 PM
No problem at all. I've left some for longer.

Are you doing a daily gentle swirl (no aeration) to keep the yeast in suspension? They can work better if they are up in contact with the sugars instead of loafing on the bottom of your fermenter.

It's usually safe to rack when you are within 10% or so of your predicted FG.

02-24-2009, 08:31 PM
Yes, I'm still swirling the carboy morning and evening to keep the yeast active and suspended. After 12 hours of sitting idle, I'm still only getting 1/4" yeast layer in the bottom.

The mead is no where near clearing either. Still "milky" with lots of yeast suspended.

02-24-2009, 09:02 PM
Patience is the most important tool when making mead. You won't see any clearing in primary, especially if you are swirling like you should.

Let it sit still for 24-48 hours before racking it and the gross lees will drop out. Clearing will happen in secondary after you rack it. It will still be cloudy at first in secondary but the fine lees will eventually settle out and your mead will clear. But don't expect it to be overnight! It can take weeks or months.


03-20-2009, 07:27 AM
I racked this mead to a secondary 3 weeks ago at 1.020 as airlock activity had slowed to less than 1 per minute. Airlock activity picked up a bit after racking and the mead has started to clear.

This morning, the sg is 1.018 and though still cloudy is tasting pretty darn good. Still a bit coarse but tasty none the less.

I've been judging at the Bluebonnet Brewoff this weekend and sat in with two experienced mead judges for a flight of traditional mead. I swear one of them had a dead cat in the fermenter. Still three really shined through so we pushed all three.

In comparison, I'm really pleased with the way this cyser is progressing.

So, now for the question, how important is it to sepperate the mead from the yeast at this stage. When I racked over this morning, I found out just how non foculating this K1V is. My siphon pulled a substantial amound of yeast over to the teterary and the mead is cloudy again. I know it'll clear soon enough, I just don't want the dormant yeast causing any off flavors.

Medsen Fey
03-20-2009, 02:11 PM
So, now for the question, how important is it to sepperate the mead from the yeast at this stage.

There is no urgency - it will not create off flavors at this point. It may take months for some meads to clear, and you may want to sit it aside for the next 2 or 3 months. One way to speed it along (sometimes) is to chill it down to 32F in a fridge. The cold will allow things to precipitate out faster.


06-15-2009, 10:41 AM
This cyser is still bulk aging in a tetarary glass carboy. It has cleared nicely and is just medium sweet with a great floral nose. There is however a flaw, it's somewhat salty. I can only suspect that letting it sit on the yeast in the secondary, allowed the yeast to release some of the nutrients I added back into solution as it didn't tase salty at all when I racked it to the secondary.

Is there any way to remove or cover up some of the saltyness?

06-15-2009, 10:57 AM
Odd, K1V doesn't usually throw "salty" off-flavors when it autolyses, and you haven't been on the lees long enough to get significant autolysis at this point, anyway. Likewise, your amounts of nutrient and the early Campden addition shouldn't be enough to cause a salty taste. Although if your Campden is sodium metabisulfite instead of potassium metabisulfite, that might contribute to a somewhat salty flavor. It might reveal itself now only because it is no longer being masked by the other yeast-based flavors that were in there earlier. Still, the source of your salty taste is something of a mystery to me.

One question - is it truly salty, or is it just "sharp?" The malic acid in apples really comes to the fore early in a cyser's life (and this still qualifies as early), so could it be that you're simply tasting the acidic bite and confusing that with saltiness?

Medsen Fey
06-15-2009, 01:09 PM
Usually you need to wait at least 8-10 weeks to see significant autolysis effects from lees aging, and typically K1V is a good yeast for it. It doesn't usually cause a salty flavor.

Was you mead in contact with any metal items along the way? At what temp has it been stored?

Aging this one further may cause the flavor profile to shift. There may still be some material to drop out of solution, and the character of the honey may become stronger with more of a perceived sweetness which may offset salty or bitter characteristics. I think I would put it away for the next 6 months or so and retaste.

Adding more sweetness and/or acidity may mask salty flavors, but I think I would age this a good bit before I started tweaking. You may find you won't need to. Remember-

Procrastinators make good mazers!


06-15-2009, 01:10 PM
I'll just have to keep tasting a little along the way to see if it fades. Should I expect a maltolactic fermentation to take place while bulk aging? If I understand that correctly it should soften any sharpness that the maltic acid provides, mellowing it quite a bit.

Other family members have tasted and recognized the light salt flavor but still liked it after a couple of sips. It's sitting at 17.8 abv and right now you can really tell it too.

I was wanting to compete with this mead. I'm hoping whatever it is that we're tasting fades with time. I consitered droping diced potatoes in there to absorb any salt but I wasn't sure what that would do to the mead. I don't want to screw it up as it drinkable right now.

06-15-2009, 01:14 PM
Was you mead in contact with any metal items along the way? At what temp has it been stored?


It's been in glass, no metal contact at all and sitting in a spare bedroom that stays between 68 and 72. Every time I take a look at the stick on temp strip on the carboy, it's reading 68 or 70 degrees.

Medsen Fey
06-15-2009, 01:18 PM
You won't get malolactic fermentation with an alcohol level of 17%.

I'm still not quite sure why you are getting the "salty" flavor. I would age it and would not put anything else in for now. Let it have some time to sort itself out.