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View Full Version : Crabapple mead: Lavlin 71B or EC1118? (and other Q's



zxcvbob
08-28-2009, 11:41 PM
Howdy. I'm an experienced (but out-of-practice) beer brewer, and have just gotten a wild idea to make some mead. I made a batch of Papazian's ginger mead recipe about 15 years ago, but haven't tried any since (it turned out OK, by the way.)

I'm planning to use just clover honey from the gorcery store, water, yeast, and yeast nutrient in the primary fermenter. Then put a bunch of frozen/thawed crabapples in the secondary, along with some pectic enzyme, and rack over the top of 'em. (not sure how long to leave it on the fruit before I rack again, but that decision is a long ways away.)

I also have a steam juicer, and have juiced a bunch of crabapples for making jelly this weekend, but I'm not sure using cooked juice [for making wine or mead] would be a good idea because it might never clear.

Anyway, I was planning to use 71-B yeast because of all the malic acid in the crabapples. I went to the local homebrew shop to buy the yeast and nutrient, and the shopkeeper (who is very knowledgeable and won lots of awards at the state fair) said I *really* need to use EC-1118 yeast.

So I bought a package of each. Is he right, that EC-1118 is a better choice? Or will the end result be really harsh because of all the acid? I don't want this *too* dry, but I don't want it sweet either.

Will the yeast and the pectic enzymes be able to digest the apples and extract their color and flavor, or would I be better off juicing them in the steamer and adding the juice to the primary fermenter?

Thanks, Bob

akueck
08-29-2009, 12:18 PM
I've had cysers and ciders made with 71B, D47, K1V, and EC-1118 and the 71B ones are always the most mellow. The malic acid conversion with this yeast really makes a huge difference. If your crabapples have a lot of acid in them (and I'd guess they do), then I would say go with the 71B. The only reason I can think of using EC-1118 instead would be if you are planning on bottle priming for carbonation. 71B does not do well sitting on lees, whereas the EC is known for bottle conditioning/lees contact.

Apples have a lot of fiber, so using then in chunks can be kind of messy; they'll also take up a lot of room and will hold onto some mead when you rack off them. The yeast will be able to get at the sugars. For ease of cleaning and minimizing losses to fruit gunk, I'd say go with juice (pectic enzyme should clear the haze). The cooked/fresh flavor I'm not sure about. I know I have liked fresh pressed juice better than concentrate, so personally I would try and use fresh. Can you press the juice without heating (much)? How does the juice you get taste?

Sasper
08-29-2009, 01:07 PM
I'd also considering balancing the tart crab apples with a sweeter variety from the grocery store.

zxcvbob
08-29-2009, 02:16 PM
Apples have a lot of fiber, so using then in chunks can be kind of messy; they'll also take up a lot of room and will hold onto some mead when you rack off them. The yeast will be able to get at the sugars.Thanks for the reply.
So I start the mead going, then when most of the sugar is gone and fermentation subsides, I rack it into a larger carboy with mushy crabapple chunks. The sugar in the apples causes the fermentation to take off again. (could be messy if I'm not careful) Eventually the fermentation stops and the gunk settles -- but it's fluffy and absorbant and has lots of mead trapped in it.

If I collect the lees and apple gunk (technical term) and squeeze it out with a jelly bag, I can collect most of that mead but it will get oxygenated, and that's probably a bad thing. If I add it back to the main batch, do I need to add a little more honey or filtered apple juice so the remaining yeast will take off again and use up the oxygen?

I think I just thought of something :rolleyes: I can use the squeezings to innoculate a one-gallon batch of mead. It should have lots of yeast and dead yeast in it, so just have to add honey water to make 1 gallon.

akueck
08-29-2009, 04:16 PM
You can collect the gunk and squeeze out the liquid, but I would taste it first before deciding what to do with it. It might be good and you can add it back into the main batch. It might be terrible and you'll keep it separate for a few months to see if it gets any better, or maybe use it as a marinade.

zxcvbob
08-29-2009, 05:12 PM
You can collect the gunk and squeeze out the liquid, but I would taste it first before deciding what to do with it. It might be good and you can add it back into the main batch. It might be terrible and you'll keep it separate for a few months to see if it gets any better, or maybe use it as a marinade.

That's a good idea. I'm pretty sure it will taste like yeast+alcohol at that point -- not good. I'll find some way to use it; I'm not one to waste alcohol :) (Will probably use it to prime the next batch.)

zxcvbob
09-01-2009, 08:12 PM
I have a hydrometer somewhere from my brewing days, but I can't find it. So I'm gonna wing it, using the mead calculator.

I bought four 24 ounce jars of honey. Am planning to use two 1 gallon glass cider jugs for my primary, with some air space left at the top. So, about 3.5 quarts in each one. Pitch with D71B and yeast nutrient, and when the fermentation subsides I'll rack it into a 3 gallon carboy with the 6 pounds of thawed crabapples and pectin enzymes, and water to make 3 gallons. Leave it on the fruit a good long time so it picks up the color and the tannin from the peels. Then rack it one last time into another 3-gallon carboy and top up with water (or cheap bottled apple juice) and let it go to completion.

Here's what I'm concerned about: My initial must is gonna be too sweet for the yeast to take all the way out. Is this a problem? Or should I hold back one of the jars of honey until I add the fruit?

BTW, I'm not going to suphite anything, but I will boil and skim the first addition of honey. I have to be very careful about oxygen once I add the fruit because it is probably contaminated with acetobacter (Some of the apples had brown rot. I picked all those out, but...) I don't want to make vinegar. :crybaby2:

akueck
09-01-2009, 11:48 PM
Why start it in two small containers and then move it to one large one? Do you have a spare container you could store the mead in temporarily? When short of containers, I have racked into a bucket, cleaned out the fermenter & resanitized, then racked back into the original fermenter. Sounds like a lot of work, but it's not bad. If you could have all the water you're going to add in there at the start, I would think that would be best. Yeast don't like to start in very concentrated musts.

zxcvbob
09-02-2009, 12:03 AM
Why start it in two small containers and then move it to one large one? I don't know how much water I'll need because I don't know how much space the crabapples will take up in the fermenter. I don't want to add them until there's a nice amount of alcohol and lots of active yeast because I know they have bugs in them (not a lot of bugs) and there's no way I can properly sanitize them.

Do you have a spare container you could store the mead in temporarily? When short of containers, I have racked into a bucket, cleaned out the fermenter & resanitized, then racked back into the original fermenter. Sounds like a lot of work, but it's not bad. If you could have all the water you're going to add in there at the start, I would think that would be best.I might could start 2 gallons of must in the 3 gallon fermenter and let it go for a week, then add the apples (and more honey) to it while it's still active. All the extra headspace in the 3 gallon jug is not problem because it will fill up with CO2 Actually, the oxygen would be a good thing at first.
Yeast don't like to start in very concentrated musts.Yeah, that's what I'm worried about.

akueck
09-02-2009, 12:40 AM
I might could start 2 gallons of must in the 3 gallon fermenter and let it go for a week, then add the apples (and more honey) to it while it's still active. All the extra headspace in the 3 gallon jug is not problem because it will fill up with CO2 Actually, the oxygen would be a good thing at first.

Sounds like an easier way to do it. :icon_thumleft:

zxcvbob
11-18-2009, 01:56 PM
It took me a couple of weeks longer than I expected to get this started, but I finally got a round tuit in mid-September. 3 lb of clover honey, 2 gallons of water, 1 tsp yeast nutrient, a pkt of 71-B yeast, and a quart of cooked crabapple juice I had leftover from making jelly. It's been bubbling gently for a couple of months. Last night I added about 2 gallons of crabapple pulp (frozen/thawed/mashed with a tsp of pectic enzyme and a quart of water) and another 1.5 lb of honey.

The yeast went crazy. This morning there's a nice cap of foamy apple pulp on top, and the pulp already looks kind of washed-out and is breaking down. Do I need to stir this down every couple of days? Will it eventually sink, or do I siphon the must out from under the cap when I rack it?

AToE
11-18-2009, 03:32 PM
I'd stir it down at least once a day, you really don't want it drying out and growing mold etc.

zxcvbob
11-18-2009, 04:55 PM
I'd stir it down at least once a day, you really don't want it drying out and growing mold etc.I was afraid of that. I'll be out of town all next week. (wasn't going to add the apple pulp until we got back, but Wife needed room in the freezer) Hopefully the alcohol and lack of oxygen will help keep it from spoiling -- I can stir it down from now until Saturday evening at least.

Gotta find my looooong skinny plastic spoon so I can reach thru the neck of the carboy...