View Full Version : NewBee shopping list, advice needed

08-12-2009, 09:44 AM
Hello fellow mazers,

I decided to order some stuff online for my mead-making, since there is no store in my home country of Serbia that sells this kind of stuff. I would probably be able to find syphons for less money here, but since I need to pay a large fixed customs tax, I might as well make a bigger order with less hassle.

My mead (please take a look in order to understand the situation):


As Medsen Fey pointed out an amazing home brew online store, I decided to order there, although there are some that are cheaper but they do not ship to my country...

Anyway, here is what I want to buy:

1. Airlock x 3 with rubber bungs (as I understood, those bungs are essential)
2. automatic syphon with syphon valve for filling bottles
3. hydrometer x 3 (seems to be good quality)
4. Ph strips x 2

My question is: did I forget anything important?

I can buy demijohns/carboys extremely cheaply here and I can not buy yeast since I would have to pay for phyto analysis and that costs a lot.

Eventually, I would like to buy a bottle corker and some good quality brushes.

Medsen Fey
08-12-2009, 10:13 AM
As far as equipment - I am a big believer in using a pH meter rather that strips in order to get accurate readings. You may be able to get one is Serbia rather than online, but it is a good investment if you plan to make mead. You also need the standardizing solutions to calibrate it.

Also a good scale that measures to 0.1 gram is very helpful.

For supplies -
Potassium Metabisulphite (powder or Campden tablets)
Potassium Sorbate (to stabilize sweet meads)
Pectic enzymes (Pectinase) if you plan to do fruit batches (the dry powder keeps longer than the liquid if stored in the fridge)
Yeast Nutrient (diammonium phosphate or its equivalent)
Yeast Energizer (Fermaid K if they have that brand)
GoFerm yeast rehydration nutrient (if available)
Sparkolloid (fining agent) you might not need it often, but someday you will have a batch that is tough to clear.
Potassium Bicarbonate or Calcium Carbonate to adjust pH when required.

These would be the things I would personally consider "essential" but you can actually function without a lot of them. The metabisulphite and sorbate are absolutely necessary if you plan to make sweet batches.

Of course there are lots of other great toys that can be used as well. The only limit is your budget and your imagination.


08-12-2009, 11:04 AM
Hey Medsen,

Thanks for a quick reply!

I am not sure if I can import any chemicals without paying for an analysis so I will have to check that one out. Some of those I can find in my country too, but not all. (it is interesting how many winemakers here use quite different chemicals)

I might have a pH meter lying around in my family company (we process forest mushrooms) so I might be able to "steal" it, as they are quite expensive.

08-12-2009, 11:07 AM
Personally I would really stock up on bungs of all sizes you never know what bottle your gonna need to use and to plug it up. And airlocks I go through these like nothin, Every new batch uses a few and sometimes when they get stained, stinky, and tainted they're not acceptable for use. You'll go threw quite a few of them so stock up! But also agree with medsen on all the enzymes, nutrients, chemicals, etc. they're essential. Get alot so you wont have to keep ordering over and over.

Medsen Fey
08-12-2009, 11:16 AM
I might have a pH meter lying around in my family company (we process forest mushrooms) so I might be able to "steal" it, as they are quite expensive.

Don't steal it - just "test and calibrate" it. ;D

08-12-2009, 12:20 PM
What about bottling, any suggestions? I wanted to use beer bottles and put beer caps on. Is it maybe better to use wine corks?

Medsen Fey
08-12-2009, 12:54 PM
I do both. For giving gifts and making an elegant presentation, I think wine bottles and corks are the way to go. You can generate some cool labels and really make things look nice.

Beer bottles work quite well and may keep the "fruitiness" better over time with aging (there is still debate over this). It certainly works fine for me. It just comes down to what you want.

If you do plan to use wine bottles and corks, spend the money for a floor corker - it will be worth every bit of the money you spend.

08-12-2009, 02:18 PM
I forgot to add, I will buy a thermometer that tolerates temperatures up to 110 degrees C.

08-12-2009, 02:19 PM
I agree with Sasper. You'll want many more airlocks, especially if it's easy to find carboys. Then, when you get the urge to start a new back you will not be stopped by want of a cheap part. I think I have 15-20. I prefer the three piece "top hat" style over the "S" style. You'll get some blowback and must in your airlock, and the three piece once are easier to keep clean. You'll want as many bungs as you have airlocks. They sell a "universal" size. I would recommend of those.

As Medson said, you'll want at least the basic nutrients, metabisulphite and sorbate. You might be able to work with other wine and meadmakers to bring some in. You don't need much. I believe you use as little as a 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of sorbate in a batch. (I have to look it up each time I use it.) But, these products really do help you make a better mead.

What do you plan to do for yeast? Are you going to use bread yeast? Is there some produced in Serbia? Or will you attempt to capture wild yeast?

I don't know anything about Serbia, and I'm curious. What are the attitudes about mead/wine/beer and homebrewing? Is it unheard of or a growing trend?

08-12-2009, 03:20 PM
Hi Kee, thanks for input!

I will certainly get many more airlocks now. I will have to measure the diameter of my demijohn to see what fits, since the store that has everything else I need does not sell universal size bungs.

I will have to check up on nutrients in local stores, there are some chemicals that can be bought but I did not see nutrients/energizers. Maybe I will have to look further.

Regarding yeast - I bought a multi-purpose wine yeast, produced by Danstar and repacked in my country. Most of the shop keepers wanted to give me a wine clarifying chemical instead of yeast when I asked for yeast! So, I plan to order another batch but I might have to pay expensive analysis which would be pointless, so I will get a friend to mail me some stuff that can be put in an envelope, such as yeast bags. That way, I will avoid most of the problems I might have with import duties. Since there is only one type of yeast, I really need to import more different types. I even toyed with the idea of making my own from crushed grapes but I am still insecure about that. Bread yeast is an option, I will make a batch of JAO and use bread yeast just to see what happens.

Regarding my country - it's a small, relatively poor country. We got a strong tradition of making wine, but our wine doesn't come close to what France has to offer. There is very little homebrewing as far as mead and beer go, but many rural households make their own wine if they own a vineyard. Practices vary from rather old methods to very modern ones, but the scale is much larger than what an average homebrewer produces. In addition, many households distill their own fruit brandies (grapes/apricot/pear/plum/quince) and, unlike wine, there are some producers that are world-class. However, procedures for making these are different, and it is mostly done in rural areas so I do not have access to equipment these guys use.

Mead is a mythical drink in Serbia - it is mentioned only in poetry from a millenium ago, and there are no producers, nor can it be found in stores. When I asked some of my friends what mead is, most of them thought that it was a honey distillate and some thought it is wine sweetened with honey. I had to explain several times what it actually is! So far, the only person that I know of that makes mead is a friend who made my first batch with me.

So, for me, the root of the problem is the difficulty in finding supplies. Serbia has nice honey (not much variety, though - wildflower and acacia). For everything else, I have to either improvise or go out of my way to find the stuff I need here.

08-12-2009, 07:53 PM
Here is what I just ordered:

Product Code # Price VAT excl. Total VAT excl.
rubber bung grey D 9/5 without hole
011.061.9 1 0,10
rubber bung grey D12/8 without hole
011.070.0 1 0,15
rubber bung grey D14,5/10,5 without hole
011.062.7 1 0,15
rubber bung grey D18/14 + 9 mm hole
011.038.7 1 0,65
rubber bung grey D18/14 without hole
011.063.5 1 0,20
rubber bung grey D22/17 + 9 mm hole
011.039.5 2 0,83
rubber bung grey D22/17 without hole
011.024.7 1 0,33
rubber bung grey D24/18 + 9 mm hole
011.071.8 2 0,88
rubber bung grey D24/18 without hole
011.064.3 1 0,35
rubber bung grey D27/21 + 9 mm hole
011.072.6 2 1,05
rubber bung grey D27/21 without hole
011.065.0 2 0,50
hydrometer VINOFERM with 3 scales
013.007.0 3 5,37
ph test strip 3,8-5,5 (wine/beer) 20 pc
013.074.0 1 2,77
thermometer red alcohol -10 to 100C
013.150.8 1 4,08
airlock bubbler model with red cap
010.001.6 5 0,80
airlock Duplex 0, for ferm.bin till 60l
010.009.9 3 2,39
WINE THIEF sampler + jar in 1
018.151.1 1 6,44
siphon valve "WINE FILLER" clear/black FT
018.023.2 1 3,80
automatic syphon JUMBO +2m tubing 12/16mm
018.021.6 1 16,49
bottle brush 30cm for beer bottles
021.001.3 1 1,57
brush for demijohns 10-34 l curved
021.009.6 1 9,28

Total VAT excl.: 80,16
VAT: 16,83

I will order the rest I need - chemicals and bottling stuff - next month. Can't wait for those hydrometers, my mead stopped bubbling so I have no idea what is going on.

08-12-2009, 09:24 PM
Sounds like Christmas to me!

Although I've never used a thermometer. If the yeast water feels warm but not hot, it's okay. :)

08-12-2009, 09:26 PM
Sounds like Christmas to me!

Although I've never used a thermometer. If the yeast water feels warm but not hot, it's okay. :)

I used my finger too until I killed a packet of yeast off, not sure if it was the rehydration water or the must. I discovered that well outside the yeast's comfort zone still felt like luke warm to me.

You may have much more sensitive fingers/brain than I do though!

08-13-2009, 12:06 AM
Thermometers are your friend. They double as stir sticks too, which is great.

08-13-2009, 01:16 AM
Wow! Thank you for the info on Serbia. That was eye opening!

08-13-2009, 07:08 AM
Yeah, it's a cool little country, and we love alcohol over here, so I think mead might be interesting. We were a wine and brandy country for decades until big companies started buying out breweries, now beer is drink #1, and the good thing is that micro breweries are starting to appear and there is a wider selection of beers in supermarkets every day. For people from western countries this might be surprising, but I literally jumped in the air when I notices that my local supermarket started selling Belgian Leffe biere d'abbay :)

We had bad media rep for years, but now it is changing and Belgrade is becoming a hot spot for clubbing and music festivals, so I can suggest anyone who has a chance to visit us should do so.

As a matter of fact, I am leaving for Belgrade in 2 hours, I am going to visit Beer Fest, great beer, great music for a couple of days, really worth visiting!

08-13-2009, 11:27 AM
Oh, I don't know... although there is now a thriving microbrewery industry here in the US, I can remember back to a time when I considered myself fortunate to find the odd bottle of Becks or Heineken on a restaurant menu. There was absolutely no chance of finding them, or any other imports, let alone "craft beers" in stores -- the American swill producers had the distribution chain under complete control back then (pre-1980) and it was rare to see anything other than Bud, Miller or the larger regional pilsners (at least they were called pilsners, but that was a disservice to Plzeň, IMHO) anywhere in this country.

08-13-2009, 11:31 PM
Thermometers are your friend. They double as stir sticks too, which is great.

If one of my students used a thermometer as a stir rod, I'd smack'im. :)

I've got one, I just never have used it for mead. If I make that braggot for my son I expect I'll use it.

If I can find it.

Something I've found helpful and doesn't cost anything a'tall is Wrathwilde's brewlog. I've got it on my desktop and print one up whenever I do a batch. I don't remember where I got it on this huge site, and I'd attach it but attachments don't seem to be working.

It's probably me. :)

08-13-2009, 11:38 PM
Something I've found helpful and doesn't cost anything a'tall is Wrathwilde's brewlog.

Word! I made like 100 copies and put em in a huge 3 ring binder. Now if I could just get in the habit of writing EVERYTHING down.

08-13-2009, 11:45 PM

08-18-2009, 10:17 PM
Welcome to the Gotmead community marniko82! If you're in Serbia you probably have access to Oblachinska sour cherries. They are some really excellent cherries to make mead with. Ken Schamm, the author of The Compleat Meadmaker, is very enamored with that variety of cherry which is only available in Eastern Europe. Be sure to make a cherry melomel using those cherries and report back how if comes out. Welcome again and I hope your mead making adventures start soon. I know you will be successful if you follow the recommendations of this knowledgeable group.


08-25-2009, 08:20 AM
Hey Buzzer!

Thanks for the idea, I know about this particular type of cherry, it is readily available in my country and I will certainly put it on my list, batch #2 will be JAO and #3 a cherry mead.

By the way, my parcel is still in Belgium, it will take some time for it to arrive, I am very impatient!

08-27-2009, 11:56 PM

You have reminded me of Slivovitz, a very nice Serbian plum brandy that I have had in the past. It disappeared during the war- I should look and see if it is available anywhere now. Mmm- nice memories!

08-28-2009, 05:58 AM
Hi BikeNBrew!

Yes, slivovitz is a very nice drink, it can be said that it is Serbian national drink and it is exported now in great quantities to EU and USA. Many households make their own and there are several companies that produce really good stuff. Home distilling, unlike brewing, is a very popular pastime in the countryside. Brandies used to be a drink viewed by many as a low quality "rotgut", but in the last decade, many producers refined their products so much that it is now common to order a fruit brandy (plum, apricot, pear, quince) in a trendy bar.

I see you are from Michigan, so your best bet of finding a good Serbian brandy is to go to Chicago, as there are many Serbs living there, and there are many shops specialized in Serbian food/drink. Look for "Zuta Osa" (Yellow Wasp) plum brandy, which comes in white or yellow varieties. It is probably the best plum brandy that money can buy that was not aged for more than 5 years.

01-19-2010, 07:17 AM
My husband owns a restaurant and has been saving all of his corks from the past nine years. We are going to plant a garden in the back of the restaurant next year, so we'll be using the corks as a mulch. So if this idea appeals to you, start drinking way more wine. lol