View Full Version : New and have about 200 bucks to spend

07-04-2009, 01:26 PM
Hey all. Been lurking for a little while and decided to join up so I could take more advantage of some of the great resources here at GotMead!. I'm looking forward to this.

I've been toying with the idea of home brewing for a couple years now, but have not been able to decide whether I wanted to do beer or wine. Well a couple weeks ago, my 6 year old wanted me to make a Medieval nights helmet for him. I was thrilled as I love that kind of stuff. Anyway, as I was looking around on the net for pictures to reference I came across a link on one page talking about brewing mead. The page it led me to talked about how to make your own mead and included directions for JAO. I had never even thought about making mead, and it fits right in with my favorite movies and what not so that made my decision.

So, next week I will have about $200 US to spend and my wife is going to let me try this. I have read through the newbie guide here a couple times, as well as reading a lot of the other sites about mead making, plus been lurking here for a little while so I think the list I have should be complete for JAO, I just wanted to check with those here to make sure there's nothing else I should need. Space is limited so I am going to have to stick to 1 gallon batches for now. My list is:

2 (maybe 4) 1 gallon glass carboys
2-4 stoppers drilled for airlock
2-4 airlocks (S or 3 peice, which is better?)
2-4 stoppers not drilled
2 hydrometers (1 extra in case of an accident)
Racking cane
Note pad for brew log
2 4 packs of Grolsch beer (Hey, recycling is good right? Hmm, maybe
I should get more than 2....)
1 carboy brush
Bottle brush for cleaning the beer bottles
Ingredients for JAO

As a sanitizer I was planning on just using bleach. Is there something else I should consider or will that serve the purpose?

I've read that JAO doesn't need any clarifying agents and what not so I will not worry about those for now.

I was debating on making a DIY CO2 reactor (plenty of guides for use in planted fish tanks) for when it comes time to bottle it so I can flood the head space, but I think it will probably be drank to fast to really worry about that. Any thoughts on that?

Anyway, sorry so long. I will stop now. Nice to meet everyone, and thanks in advance.

07-04-2009, 01:44 PM
Your going to love your new hobby. I made a few 5gal pyments before I made my first JOA. I made a 1 gal batch right by the #'s in the recipe. As soon as it was finished I realized my mistake! I ONLY MADE 1 GAL!!! I immediatly made a 3 gal batch and now a 5 gal of Joes grape. They are great quick meads to enjoy while you are waiting the year or so on your other meads. So I would add one or two 5 or 6 gal fermenters to your list. I use Star San to sanitize. no rinsing, which you will have to do with bleach.

Again welcome and have fun.


Medsen Fey
07-04-2009, 03:08 PM
Welcome to GotMead? Workin'Man!!!

It sounds like you have a good list there. If you don't always want to use grolsch style bottles you can use regular ones, but you'll need to get a capper (or corker if you want wine bottles). They aren't too expensive.

I don't think you need to worry about generating CO2. It really isn't required. I would spring for an auto-siphon (they make one that fits gallon jugs) as that will making racking so much easier.

I like no-rinse sanitizers myself - and I'm partial to iodophor because it doesn't foam, but bleach is certainly effective.

As Gardenfish mentions, getting a 5-7 gallon bucket and a 5 gallon carboy may be "next on your list" things. If you plan to do other recipes, you'll need some yeast nutrient (DAP) and yeast energizer (Fermaid K) and I'm a big believer in GoFerm (for rehydration) all of which are available in small amounts for Homeys. And of course, outside of JAO, you'll need some wine yeast.

After that, the best way to spend good money is on good honey! :)

Good Mazing!

P.S. Do take time to check out the NewBee guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14) if you haven't read it already - it has tons of good info.

07-04-2009, 05:21 PM
Welcome to GotMead.

If you haven't tried mead, spend some of that $200 on commercial mead. Buy a dry mead, sweet mead, and maybe something in the middle. It's the best way to find out if you like mead/what you like. It's a shame to get into mead, wait and work for a few years only to find you don't like what you've created.

Since you have a child, you might want to start picking up juice in the 1 gallon glass bottles. It's a cheap way of getting a bunch of 1 gallon containers. Trader Joes and the like carry juice in glass.

Also, keep an eye out for real pipe cleaners or similar. Gunk will get blown into the air locks. Many baby bottle cleaners are too wide to clean the 3-piece airlocks. The brew store may have a brush, but they seem to be expensive.

You'll also want CHEAP vodka for the air locks. Sometimes pressure changes will blow the contents of the airlock back into the must/mead. It's better to put vodka in the air locks to kill any bacteria that might find it's way there. It's not necessary to do this, though.

Good luck!!

07-04-2009, 06:35 PM
Well, I am new to this as well. I started with a recipie that was basicly "How to start making mead by going to the grocery store" The results were good, but I have taken some ideas and gone with them. The best was when I got 1 gallon carboys I still used the idea of ballons with pin holes to cap the carboys. I know when the ballon goes limp it is ready for the first racking. Since January I have made and have help in consuming roughly 12 1 gallon batches. The best thing I can say about my experience so far is the "Just Do It" attitude that got me off my rump so to speak, and well just jumping in and making batches and experimenting.

07-04-2009, 07:08 PM
Thanks for the replys. You know Kee, it never even occured to me to try some mead before I just jumped right into the hobby. Is there any that you would recommend?

Gardenfish, I was thinking about getting a fermenting bucket and 5 gal carboy, but need to rearrage and find some room somewhere in this cluttered house. That might take a while. They're on my to get in the future list.

Medsen, I imagine once I really get into this hobby and start making meads that need some ageing, I'll go to wine bottles and corker. For now though I'll only be brewing small amounts, and I don't think it'll last long enough to age. I've read through the newbie guide once and am halfway through it again. Good stuff. I'm glad I found this place.

07-04-2009, 08:09 PM
Workin' Man, since you're interested in wine and beer, I'm pretty you'll like mead. It is unique, but you can also make it taste similar to either wine or beer. You're also not talking about jumping in with a 6 gallon carboy and a few hundred in ingredients.

You can try to find mead in liquor stores. They'll carry a few, but they may not have stored the bottles well. In AZ, you can buy alcohol in grocery stores. We have a gourmet store in AZ, AJs, carries four or five brands. I was able to get some in a variety of price range and sweetnesses. If you have a place like that, you might try there. If you are not in a hurry, you can order online. There are several commercial meadmakers on here that ship to many states. They're more than helpful in recommending a product for first-time drinkers that will represent mead well.

My one recommendation is to avoid Chaucer's. IMO, it isn't the good example of mead. It's a dessert mead and too sweet to even pretend to drink.

07-04-2009, 08:12 PM
BTW, you'll be amazed at how resourceful you'll become at finding storage areas for your aging carboys!

07-04-2009, 09:39 PM
BTW, you'll be amazed at how resourceful you'll become at finding storage areas for your aging carboys!

Funny, about 10 minutes ago I was just thinking of some empty shelf space in our bedroom closet. I can say that I'm pretty resourceful. I'm currently working on making a laptop cooler for my wife out of cardboard and a couple fans scrounged out of an old PC we had laying around. I wonder how much weight those metal grid cube shelves can hold...

07-05-2009, 11:06 AM
Bedroom closet!!!!!!! :eek: You might start thinking BEDROOOOOOOOM!!!!!:icon_biggrin:


07-05-2009, 04:35 PM
I'd also suggest that you get a copy of Ken Schramm's book "The Compleat Mead Maker".

It's quite up to date, and as it's mainly aimed at the US market, you're onsite to be able to obtain most of the stuff necessary.

He also explains one or two of the possible pitfalls that might confuse the new mead maker - for instance, freshly made meads can taste really foul - "Listerine" is the analogy he uses, I prefer to just say "medicinal" (being in the UK and all that.....).

It's only by having a good read (here and any books you can get - don't be afraid of looking at the amazon marketplace stuff - a lot of them are actually out of print and that's one of the few places you can find good, printed guidance).

Oh and the medicinal thing isn't bad, you just need to age "it" as it's probably just "alcohol hot" in taste. A year in bulk storage (hell or bottles for that matter) will work absolute wonders with it!



07-05-2009, 07:12 PM
Bedroom closet!!!!!!! :eek: You might start thinking BEDROOOOOOOOM!!!!!:icon_biggrin:


I'm always thinking bedroom! >:D

By fatbloke:
I'd also suggest that you get a copy of Ken Schramm's book "The Compleat Mead Maker".

I've seen that one recommended a few times on here. I guess I'll have to get a copy and :icon_study:.

07-06-2009, 03:44 AM
I'd also suggest that you get a copy of Ken Schramm's book "The Compleat Mead Maker".

Damn!! I can't believe we all forgot to recommend that book. I know I didn't put it down for the first three weeks. It's been well over a year now, and I still look at it fairly regularly.

07-06-2009, 09:44 AM
Things on my to do list today:

- go to bank
- go to tobacco store
- go to home brew store
- go to book store
- go to grocery store
- go home make JAO
- read book as many times as I can while I try to patiently wait for mead to finish.

Maybe I should throw get my wife a b day present on the list too... Might be important.

07-06-2009, 08:24 PM
Well, I didn't go to the home brew store today. I decided to take Kee's suggestion and get some commercial mead to try. Now it's gonna be a long hard wait while I'm waiting for that JAO cause this is some good stuff. I've never really been a wine guy, but this is good. The kind we tried is Honey Run. I picked up a dry show mead, and a sweeter one, Elderberry mead. Will be heading to the LHBS sometime this week to get started on my list. Finally a hobby for me that both my wife AND I can enjoy!!

07-07-2009, 08:34 PM
Hi Workin'Man!
So as you can tell I'm fairly new to the site, I have watched it for a while, but never registered or posted. I just wanted to add my two cents to help you out. I'm a long time homebrewer of ales and in the last year have dabbled in meads...well..because they're freak'n tasty. Your list looks great and for $200 you could get an AMAZING brewing setup for mead. Luckily enough because you'll be starting out small you won't get close to that limit. My recommendations are:

- yes i have a lot of 5 and 7 gal carboys, but I LOVE my little 1 gals for mead. I can make one bigger batch of mead and then seperate out into small 1 gallon batches to spice/fruit/flavor individually. This really help make sure that if I didn't like my ancho chile mead, I'd waste 1 gal, not 5.
-Star san is the best thing that I have found this year as a homebrewer. You can mix it up, it only needs contact for 1 min, and is reusable. I used to use iodophor..but this stuff is amazing!
-I have both S type and 3 piece airlocks. I have found spots of mold in my S type and just threw them away, but the 3 piece ones are easier to clean out.
-Experiment like CRAZY....and enjoy.

My next project is a Braggot and hopefully in the future I can talk you into brewing ales using Braggot as a gateway drink ;D

07-10-2009, 10:30 PM
Yea, I only wound up spending about 60 bucks at the LHBS. I think I'll put a 5 gallon carboy on my christmas list for this year, and just stick with one gal batches for a while till I get the hang of mead making. Thanks for the tip on the s type air lock. I went with the 3 piece instead for ease of cleaning. Got my first batch brewing a couple days ago. Starting with some JAO. Hope it turns out good. It's gonna be a long hard wait.