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London Expat
08-25-2009, 04:27 PM
Hello hello!

Just about to embark on first batch of mead and would greatly appreciate any thoughts on my planned recipe please (a combo of Ken Schramm book, Pamela Spence book, this website and advice from my local brewing storekeeper i.e. I'm confused...).

My aim: make a medium sweet, 10%, medium raspberry-flavoured mead.

My proposed recipe for Raspberry Melomel (makes 5 gallons):

- 12 lbs clover honey
- 4.5 gallons spring water (not chlorinated)
- 2 tspn yeast energiser
- 5 lbs fresh raspberries (in with primary fermenter)
- 5 campden tablets (in with fruit & honey must)
- 2 packets yeast (approx 2L of starter)

Questions:
- Enough fruit?
- Enough honey? (I based the 12 lbs on the calculator page for NewBees)
- Enough campden tablets, given 5lb of fruit? Ken says you can boost up to 10 tablets. Maybe overkill?
- Do I need yeast nutrient (nitrogen) as well as energiser (vitamins)?
- I intend to fiddle with acid and tannins post-fermentation, pre bottling. Is this ok because I'd prefer to taste things then add later?

Sorry for bombardment of information - thought the more I share, the better the advice!

Thanks,
London Expat

Jagland
08-25-2009, 04:47 PM
Hi! glad to meet you. I'm a newbee myself, so I wont be offering much advice. I am curious as to what type of yeast you are going to use, I'm sure a mentor will require that info in order to help you. from what I can tell using the mead calculator your alchol potential is about 13.6% with the addition of the raspberries. Also you might want to look into using pectic enzymes.....oops...One of these great fellows in here will fill you in shortly.

Good-luck with your mead, and keep us updated with how its doing.

Regards,

Jagland

skunkboy
08-25-2009, 06:16 PM
You might want to consider kicking up the raspberries a couple of pounds.

Since you want a sweet 10% alcohol mead I take it that your are planning to sulfite and sorbate, before back sweetening? This should end up pretty darn dry by itself.

It would not hurt to use some DAP and fermaid K the first couple of days, would certainly speed things along, and make the yeast happier.

London Expat
08-25-2009, 08:44 PM
Hi all

Thanks for the responses!

Jagland: I have Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast. Also, I had no idea that the fruit changed the alcohol content of the finished product. Thanks for pointing this out! What should I do to amend this? I am also not sure what you mean when you refer to pectic enzymes. What do they achieve?

Skunkboy: not sure what you mean when you write about "sulfite and sorbate, before back sweetening". Do you mean that all the honey will get used up during fermentation so I'll have to add additional honey post-fermentation for sweetness (for which I will need to add sulphites to remove wild yeasts)? I wasn't planning on this - hoping to get it all done in one go really. Is this possible?

Thanks!
London Expat

buzzerj
08-25-2009, 09:17 PM
Hello London Expat from Kansas City! Welcome to Gotmead! The pectic enzymes will help to clarify the mead should your fruit set pectin. If you will heat your fruit at all the pectin in the fruit can begin to jell. That's how jelly is made. In the amounts you may be heating the jelling would most likely result in a haze in your mead. To make sure the mead clears well (so you don't have to rack many times) add some pectic enzyme as early as you can (even prior to fermentation) which prevents the haze from developing. When in doubt, when using fresh fruit, add some pectic enzyme like 1/2-1 teaspoon in 5 gallons should be enough.

Be sure to use some yeast nutrient early on also. Fermaid K is great after the lag phase and at the 1/3 sugar break. Read the Mead Newbie guide about feeding your yeast.

Also, consider using some fruit in the secondary fermenter for a short while. It draws out more flavor of the fruit in the final mead. The only thing I'd caution is the tiny seeds in raspberries may impart some bitterness if the mead is left on the fruit too long. So 1 to 2 weeks is all you need and then rack the mead off the fruit. It will have done it's job and you'll be pleased with the result.

Your honey may get all fermented out so your final mead may end up a bit dry to the taste. After the secondary fermentation, give it a taste and see what you think. If you like it, then bottle it. If you think it's got too much alcohol versus the sweetness then consider adding sulfite then sorbate to stop fermentation and prevent further fermentation respectively then add honey to taste. That way you dial in the sweetness you like. As Ken Schramm typically recommends, you can do things late in the process to fine tune your mead to suit your taste for sweetness and balance.

You've got a great start Expat! Welcome again to our little group. Hope to hear more about your future mead exploits! All the best!

Buzzer

meadmonkey
08-25-2009, 09:19 PM
yes your yeasties will burn through that amount of honey fairly quickly leaving you with a higher alcohol than 10%. Sulfites and sorbates will kill off the yeasties at the level alcohol you desire. or let the yeasties ferment the must out and then add honey to the sweetness you want. I have had good lucj on semi sweet meads at 3 1/2 lbs per gallon of must with D47 yeast at a constant temp of 72 degrees. Obviously I am new to mead making but I have had a great deal of luck with this ratio for this yeast, no need to backsweeten, though you can count on closer to 13-14% ABV, higher with happier yeast colonies.
Just where I have had luck,
Cheers and best wishes

Jagland
08-25-2009, 09:26 PM
From what I know, thats a great yeast for fruit, I'm sure it will work well in your brew. (though i suspect it will creat a dry mead)
as for the raspberries, were you able to imput the lbs. in the mead calc. and see what alc.% it gives you? And on the pectin issue, here's a piece of an article that I found:

"All fruits, including grapes, contain pectin. But strawberries have an abundance of it. In fact, the only fruit commonly used in winemaking that has more pectin is peaches. Plums come in at a tight third. Anyway, if it’s not broken down, your resulting wine will end up with a permament pectin haze. Pectic enzymes will help the yeast complete this process"

You can buy Pectic enzymes real cheap (couple bucks for a few ounces) on my bottle it says "Increases juice yields and prevents pectin haze (cloudy mead) for directions it says: add 1/2 tsp per gallon of juice one hour before start of fermentation. I hope this helps. I'm sure a mead mentor will respond to you soon and help you figure out how to get the desired sweetness and alcohol content you want.

Regards,

Jagland

wildoates
08-25-2009, 09:31 PM
I highly highly recommend you take the time to read through the newbie guide before you embark upon your first batch--it explains pectinase and sorbate and everything else that the first-time meadmaker really needs to know before s/he pitches that first yeast. If you don't know pectin and sorbate and sulfite, then there is probably a lot of other pearls of wisdom you don't know that you will wish you did once your batch gets going.

How dry your mead is depends on three things: the amount of fermentable sugars in your must (honey, raspberries), the alcohol tolerance of your yeast, and your care in nourishing said yeast. You can dial all that in very close with a little math, and some time figuring out the mead calculator.

I'm not even CLOSE to being a mead mentor, so all the advice I can give you is to read, read, READ. I promise that will answer a lot of your questions, those you have and those that will likely come up down the line.

And you're right--the more info the better the mentors can help you!

Welcome to Gotmead--I think you're going to be glad you dropped by!

London Expat
08-25-2009, 10:59 PM
Dear all

Ok, I've read the NewBee guide and now know about backsweetening and pectic enzymes. Thanks for all the explanations! However, I still need advice on the following points (sorry everyone...).

(1) ABV and sweetness of end-product: am I correct when I write that I have to either (a) put sufficient sugars into the must to achieve 10% alc then backsweeten OR (b) put in more honey and deal with the higher alcohol (Lalvin 71B tolerates up to 14% alc) e.g. meadmonkey suggests 3.5 lbs per gallon, 17 lbs total, thus getting a sweet 14% mead but avoiding backsweetening?

Also, using the GotMead calculator (5 gallon batch, 12 lbs honey, 5 lbs red raspberries), I come up with a potential ABV of 12.2%. This is in contrast to Jagland's earlier calculation of 13.6%. Jagland - how are we differing in calculation bases? How does this figure marry up with the alcohol suggested by my yeast type?

Is there a source that can help me calculate final gravity (I just see a box for SG, not FG, on the calculator)?

(2) Campden tablets: is 5 tablets enough / too much / little for this recipe?

(3) Do I need yeast nutrient (nitrogen) as well as energiser (vitamins)?

Thanks again for your amazing response! This is a brilliant forum.

L.E.

Jagland
08-26-2009, 09:22 AM
That was some good reading in the "Newbee guide" wasn't it? leave it to a teacher to point out the obvious - nice call there wildoates.

As for the difference in the calculator, you stated in your opening recipe your were using 4.5 gallons, which is what I put into the calculator. If you insert 5 gallons it give the percentage you came up with (now remember I'm a newbee myself, and when I use the calc. I put in the amounts I actually use-so I'm assuming I'm doing it right)

Also do you have a Hydrometer yet? if not, you may want to consider investing in one (which you should really do regardless) if you intend to try and stay around 10% alc.
that tool will help you know when to stop the fermentation process. I just purchased mine a few days ago at the wine store, cost $7.50 (triple scale hydrometer)

A lot of mead makers like to ferment there meads out completely (dry) then back sweeten to taste. or with the hydrometer calculate when your alcohol reaches 10% then add sorbit to stop the fermentation process and also do what they call "cold-crash" Medsen Fey could give you good advice in this area.

I hope this helps.

by the way. are you putting your raspberries in a straing bag, or directly in contact with your must? I just did a blackberry and put the pulp in the mixture (no bag)
The guy who won our state fair wine tasting contest said he dosnt use a straing bag because he gets more body from the fruit if its in direct contact with the must, although the straining afterwards can be a hassle. (just my 2cents worth)

Good-luck

Jagland

skunkboy
08-26-2009, 12:44 PM
Hi all

Skunkboy: not sure what you mean when you write about "sulfite and sorbate, before back sweetening". Do you mean that all the honey will get used up during fermentation so I'll have to add additional honey post-fermentation for sweetness (for which I will need to add sulphites to remove wild yeasts)? I wasn't planning on this - hoping to get it all done in one go really. Is this possible?

Thanks!
London Expat

As this recipe currently is this is probably going to end up dry; no sweetness left. If you kick up the honey to maybe 3.5 pounds per gallon it will probably have semresidual sweetness left, but you will also end up going over 10% alcohol.

Using potassium sorbate would allow you to better control the alcohol level. Depends on which is more important to you ...

http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14728&highlight=campden+sorbate

Medsen Fey
08-26-2009, 01:54 PM
However, I still need advice on the following points (sorry everyone...).

(1) ABV and sweetness of end-product: am I correct when I write that I have to either (a) put sufficient sugars into the must to achieve 10% alc then backsweeten OR (b) put in more honey and deal with the higher alcohol (Lalvin 71B tolerates up to 14% alc) e.g. meadmonkey suggests 3.5 lbs per gallon, 17 lbs total, thus getting a sweet 14% mead but avoiding backsweetening?

Also, using the GotMead calculator (5 gallon batch, 12 lbs honey, 5 lbs red raspberries), I come up with a potential ABV of 12.2%. This is in contrast to Jagland's earlier calculation of 13.6%. Jagland - how are we differing in calculation bases? How does this figure marry up with the alcohol suggested by my yeast type?

Is there a source that can help me calculate final gravity (I just see a box for SG, not FG, on the calculator)?

(2) Campden tablets: is 5 tablets enough / too much / little for this recipe?

(3) Do I need yeast nutrient (nitrogen) as well as energiser (vitamins)?


Welcome to GotMead London Expat!

There's no need for apology! Your questions are all quite reasonable.

If you want to end with a medium sweet mead with 10% ABV, you have 3 practical choices.

First is to let it go dry and backsweeten. This is quite easy to do, and gives you the ability both to control the alcohol level and to end up a the exact level of sweetness you prefer. This is very commonly done.

Your second choice is to try to halt the fermentation at the level of sweetness you want. This can be done by placing the fermenter in a refrigerator in the low 30s F. At this temperature the yeast go into hibernation and after you treat with sorbate and sulfite, they won't start fermenting again when the temperature warms up. The problem here is that you may not know at what gravity you will like it best, so you may have trouble landing exactly where you want. As you gain experience with a recipe and can determine what gravity you want it, this works well.

Your third option is to use a yeast with lower ABV tolerance such as an ale yeast. Wyeast 1056 can be a nice choice, but there are many others.

You can use a wine yeast with a tolerance of 14% ABV and start with a gravity that has a potential alcohol level above 14%, however you will wind up with 14% ABV or more and this can often be "hot." You can even wind up with higher levels of alcohol as the fruit tends to rev the yeast up. You may wind up sweeter or drier depending on temperature, yeast, nutrients, fruit, and so forth. With a few batches you can zero in on the right amount to get you where you want to be in terms of sweetness, but there will always be some unpredictability.

From my standpoint, it is easier to use the 71B and backsweeten to get it just right.

Your numbers with the mead calculator match with mine. However, with your batch using 12 pounds of honey and 4.5 gallons of water you'll end up with a batch size of 5.5 gallons (plus a little from the fruit). 12 pounds of honey in 5.5 gallons gives and estimated starting gravity of 1.080 and a potential alcohol of 10.6%. The additional juice from the raspberries is probably not going to raise this as it will likely have a gravity less than 1.080, and in any case 5 pounds in 5 gallons will have a negligible effect so you can essentially disregard it for these calculations.

I would probably bump up the honey to 12.5 pounds. This will give and estimated starting gravity of 1.084, with a potential alcohol of about 11%. Then when you dilute it some with backsweetening, and add a little volume from the the fruit, the final ABV should be somewhere between 10-11%. Now keep in mind these are just estimates as each honey can vary in moisture content and you will need to use your hydrometer to get the gravity to 1.084 and it could take a little more or less than 12.5 pounds.

5 Campden tablets is plenty. Many times, if the fruit looks clean and healthy I won't even use the Campden tablets.

I think it is a good idea to use a little yeast nutrient along with the energizer. I would use about 2 grams per gallon personally.

Your 5 pounds of fruit in the primary is a good place to start. If you find that you need more raspberry flavor, you can add more later.

I hope that helps and best of luck with your batch.

Medsen

London Expat
08-27-2009, 11:59 AM
I think I am all set! What a fantastic forum. You guys and gals have been really kind. I appreciate all the help, thank you. Now I'm off to do it!

wayneb
08-27-2009, 12:42 PM
Please keep us updated with your experiences along the way. And as always, if you run into some issue that you don't understand or aren't sure how to address, we're here to help!

buzzerj
08-27-2009, 09:15 PM
Glad we could be of some assistance London Expat. Don't be a stranger. WayneB and Medsen as mentors have 10 times more mead knowledge than the rest of us. Be sure to listen to their wise counsel. They've helped us all. Be sure to read more of the past threads and you can learn a lot more information. It's really a lot of fun. Great recipe ideas are shared. Welcome to our humble group. It's always fun to make new friends from the Mother Country. You could probably help me with some of your London ale knowledge too.

Buzzer