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Iskander
07-02-2009, 02:16 AM
Hey there, I'm new to the forum and new to mead brewing too.
I've never tried mead before, as it's pretty impossible to find in my country, but my friend and I are sort of "medieval fans" and we always wanted to try the almighty mead mentioned in most of our favorite stories...

It's actually most because of him that I'm here; I wanted to make a bottle of mead as a gift for his birthday (there's still plenty of time, I know this things take time...) but I don't have the least idea of where to begin (and I did read the Newbee tutorial in the page... hehehe)

But, enough of this blabbering, my plan goes something like this:

First of all, the recipe, nothing special at all, I planed using the simple "Honey+Water+Yeast=Mead" (Hopefully...).
Now, I do know it's not the easiest recipe and that I should start with the foolproof one and all, but this is simply "the one I want to brew" hehe
Honey and water can be found easily, but the yeast, it is normal yeast, right? The one I can get in the supermarket? I can't seem to believe it for some reason...

On the other side are the materials, which I have none... Really...
A couple of simple glass bottles will do as fermenters?

Finally, the questions themselves:
My plan was to brew enough to make a bottle (say, around 2 litters).

The most important thing I'd like to ask is about the fermentation time: The time for a gallon is the same for a littler? I mean, does the less amount mean that it's going to take less time to ferment? How can I establish the amount of time it's going to take? (My plan was to simply watch and guess... Gut feeling...)

On the other hand, the equipment I have and, most likely, the ingredients I'm going to get are low quality (I don't have any equipment, I was planning to use "what I find to be useful" in my kitchen...), and I know that this will make a low quality mead too, but: Can I really do this with such resources? Or am I just gonna brew a sticky mess?

My step-by-step plan of action would go somethin like this:
Use the No Boil method with the water and honey in a glass bowl (http://www.le-tom.com/img/duralex-bowl-small.jpg), then, when it's fully mixed (no undissolved honey any where), pour it into the bottle which will work as fermenter with the help of a kitchen funnel (already prepared with 1/5th of the bottle filed with water), then shake like crazy (as stated in the guide...), add some extra water if necessary, and finally putting the yeast, sealing the bottle and the air lock (which is most likely to be homemade by the way...).
Then, after around a week or two, switch to the other bottle (Fermenter) and finally stare at it for another two weeks, maybe three.

Once this time had passed, should I put it in another bottle or is it ready as it is?
And most important, suppose I start brewing this tomorrow (Thursday 2 of July), when do you think this mead will be ready to enjoy?

And that's pretty much it, I am planning to try this either way, but I'd like consult with the specialists first, if you can warn me of any potential screw up factor in the formula, that would be pretty much enough for me (Particularly if you see an issue that could kill my fellow friend...).

Thanks in advance,
Cheers!

wildoates
07-02-2009, 10:20 AM
Well, since Sandman made some mead over in Iraq with little more than an emptied out vinegar bottle, bread yeast, and a condom for an airlock, I'm thinking you won't have any trouble making a drinkable mead!

You say you don't have any high-quality ingredients--what about honey? That's the most important ingredient, and most places have several varieties of that. If you have good honey and can get some bread yeast, you're in business.

I'm a relative noob at this, and the first thing I did was make a batch of Joe's Ancient Orange--and I highly recommend doing that too. If you think you're getting some cheesy not-really-mead drink, you don't. You get a mead that has a bit of an orange taste, and a bit of the spices. I don't taste the raisins at all. And best of all you don't need to buy any of the fancy smancy stuff that most of us have collected. You can use the plastic bottle the water came in and a rubber balloon as an airlock if you need to. It works.

And one more recommendation: don't make only one bottle. You'll be sorry if you do. As soon as you empty it you'll wish you had more, but will be a couple of months away from it.

I'm sure one or more of the oldtimers will do it properly, but welcome. This is a fun place and if you read around, you'll learn a lot.

Which in my case is a bad thing, as the more I learn the more I want to try. I've spent a very huge amount of money since March. Ow. But don't let that stop you!

Medsen Fey
07-02-2009, 10:31 AM
Welcome to GotMead? Iskander!!

I'm curious to know what country you are from, and I hope you'll put yourself on the member map (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbgooglemapme.php) (we need more international presence).

To start with, I would not try to make less than 1 gallon (4 liters). The amount of work and the fermentation time will be the same regardless of the size, so you might as well make enough to have 3 or 4 bottles.

Joe's ancient orange if probably the most fool-proof recipe for you to try, but if you've decided you want to try a traditional mead, you'll probably want to consider a few things.

1. The yeast - you can use bread yeast, but you may get better flavors if you use a wine yeast. Are you able to obtain them where you live?

2. The honey - what type are you planning to use? A good tasting light one may be your best bet.

3. Nutrients - the yeast will work better if they have some nutrients (honey doesn't have much). A handful of raisins chopped up may be enough, or you can take a couple of packets of dry yeast and boil them to kill them and create nutrients for the other yeast (they are cannibals).

4. Fermentation time - it varies from a few days to many weeks depending on the management of the process. When it stops making small bubbles it is either finished or stuck. We strongly encourage anyone making mead to use a hydrometer to measure and monitor fermentation.

5. Airlock - airlocks are simple, but they allow you to age the without getting air exposure after fermentation is complete. If you mead gets enough air exposure after it had finished fermentation, it will oxidize or it may be spoiled by bacteria. If you don't have an airlock, you can search some threads on using a balloon during fermentation. Once fermentation is over, you fill need to fill the container to the top to keep air out, and you'll need a cap or stopper.

If you have no way of getting an airlock, you can also use a PET Plastic jug with a lid. You'll just need to let the pressure out of the jug a couple of times a day. When fermentation is done, you can squeeze the jug to eliminate the air/headspace.

How long is it until your friend's birthday? It is likely that your mead won't taste very good until it has aged for several months (if not a year or two).

If you don't manage it properly, you may kill your mead, but you don't have to worry - your friend will be fine.

I hope that helps.

Medsen

Shanecb
07-02-2009, 10:33 AM
First of all, the recipe, nothing special at all, I planed using the simple "Honey+Water+Yeast=Mead" (Hopefully...).
Now, I do know it's not the easiest recipe and that I should start with the foolproof one and all, but this is simply "the one I want to brew" hehe
Honey and water can be found easily, but the yeast, it is normal yeast, right? The one I can get in the supermarket? I can't seem to believe it for some reason...
Actually honey + water + yeast = mead is about the easiest recipe there is! Not that there's anything wrong with that, as it's how a traditional mead is made. As far as yeast goes, the yeast used for brewing and the yeast used for baking are for all intensive purposes pretty much the same. The difference being that yeast used for brewing is specifically cultured to have qualities that are useful for brewing (maybe high gravity tolerance, imparting certain flavors, etc.). You can just as well use "normal" yeast to brew, as it will perform the exact same chemical reaction as brewing or winemaking yeast (sugar + yeast = CO2 + alcohol). A downside to this would be that since the specific yeast isn't cultivated to be used in brewing, you might not know its exact brewing qualities, such as alcohol tolerance. But if "normal" yeast is all you have access to, by all means use it. I have a couple of times and it worked just fine.



On the other side are the materials, which I have none... Really...
A couple of simple glass bottles will do as fermenters?

Finally, the questions themselves:
My plan was to brew enough to make a bottle (say, around 2 litters).

The most important thing I'd like to ask is about the fermentation time: The time for a gallon is the same for a littler? I mean, does the less amount mean that it's going to take less time to ferment? How can I establish the amount of time it's going to take? (My plan was to simply watch and guess... Gut feeling...)
Almost anything can be used as a fermenter as long as it satisfies a few things. It has to be food grade (which a glass bottle will be) and it needs to be able to be sealed, while being able to vent the CO2 but not let in O2. This is usually done with a bung and an airlock on carboys. The time it will take to ferment is dependent on a number of factors, one of them being the yeast. If you put the same amount of yeast in a three gallon batch as you did a gallon batch(assuming equal gravities) the gallon batch will likely go faster. But even that's not a set in stone rule. The best way to measure the rate of fermentation is to use a hydrometer, which measures the amount of sugar left in the must and shows how fast the sugar is being used. A must is typically done when it reaches a gravity of about 1.000, which is the gravity of water and indicates there is no sugar left to be used. But if you don't have a hydrometer, you're sort of just going to have to go on gut instinct. By the way, with the amount of mead that you're making, if everything goes okay it's not going to take very long at all to be completed. A more experienced mazer could probably give you a better idea.



On the other hand, the equipment I have and, most likely, the ingredients I'm going to get are low quality (I don't have any equipment, I was planning to use "what I find to be useful" in my kitchen...), and I know that this will make a low quality mead too, but: Can I really do this with such resources? Or am I just gonna brew a sticky mess?

Not necessarily going to be a sticky mess! It's not always necessary to purchase a ton of proper equipment to make mead. A good mead could be made from fermenting in a gallon milk jug with a balloon on top as an airlock. Good equipment certainly makes things easier, but you're not doomed to failure if you're just using what you can find useful. Just make sure everything is sanitized!



My step-by-step plan of action would go somethin like this:
Use the No Boil method with the water and honey in a glass bowl (http://www.le-tom.com/img/duralex-bowl-small.jpg), then, when it's fully mixed (no undissolved honey any where), pour it into the bottle which will work as fermenter with the help of a kitchen funnel (already prepared with 1/5th of the bottle filed with water), then shake like crazy (as stated in the guide...), add some extra water if necessary, and finally putting the yeast, sealing the bottle and the air lock (which is most likely to be homemade by the way...).
Then, after around a week or two, switch to the other bottle (Fermenter) and finally stare at it for another two weeks, maybe three.

In general you seem to have the basic process down. I'd recommend reading through the Newbee guide, though. It will have a lot of good information for you.

wildoates
07-02-2009, 10:38 AM
We all must have been typing at the same time and we all said basically the same thing.

Yeah.8)

Shanecb
07-02-2009, 11:25 AM
We all must have been typing at the same time and we all said basically the same thing.

Yeah.8)

Haha yep that seems to be about the case!

Iskander
07-02-2009, 12:29 PM
Hahaha, thanks a lot!

I'm from Argentina, and, judging by the map, I'd say I'm the first one from this far away...

My friends birthday is on February, wich means I have half an year to make it, I supose it's enough, right?

About the honey, I'll go to the market and see what I can get, I'm most likely going to buy the most expensive (Or the one that looks more "pro"), but it's still a supermarket, I don't think they'll have any high quality honey.
Come to think of it, I think I know some stores that might have good honey, I'll pay them a visit too....

Well, I guess I'm ready to go, I'll let you know if my kitchen explodes or something... hehe
Thanks for the help!
Good bye!

wildoates
07-02-2009, 12:34 PM
Not necessarily the most expensive honey...look for the words "unfiltered," and "raw" and "unprocessed." Sometimes that's the least expensive honey. If you can taste it first, all the better.

Good luck!