View Full Version : First Mead - Over thinking things

09-07-2009, 08:48 PM
Hello all,

Iím about to embark on my first mead. What Iím looking for is a dry to medium dry orange blossom mead. Here is what Iíve come up with as a recipe:

10 pounds orange blossom honey
3 gallons spring water
Yeast starter made with Red Star Cote de Blanc yeast and DME.

The calculator says this should come out with a fairly high alcohol content ~14%; which I assume would make it fairly dry.

The question is would the end result be more drinkable with more water and lower alcohol content? (i.e. 5 gallon batch and a bit less than 10%ABV)

If I do a starter, do I need to add yeast nutrient (ammonium phosphate)?

I do know, given my beer brewing experience, Iím most likely over thinking the whole thingÖ

Thank you all in advance.

09-07-2009, 09:32 PM
Yes, nutrient would still be good to use, even with a starter.

The recipe is for a 4 or 5 gallon batch? Your only likely to still keep some sweetness if you do this as a 4 gallon batch.

09-08-2009, 12:29 AM
What are you looking for when you say "more drinkable"? Dry mead at 10% will be "more drinkable" than dry mead at 14% if you want to start drinking them at say 4-6 months after starting. The 14% mead would probably age better though, so if you're time horizon is a few years you might say that the higher alcohol mead would be "more drinkable".

About the starter & nutrients.... With dry yeast you can usually pitch the appropriate cell count without building a starter. Just use more yeast. If you like, you can start with a smaller number of cells and build a starter. Up to you. As for nutrients, unlike beer wort, honey musts are basically devoid of nutrients. Starter or no, you'll want to add nutrients to the must. Check out wine yeast nutrition recommendations here (http://www.vinquiry.com/pdf/LallemandNutrientAdditions.pdf), for example, and you can pretty safely assume your must will start at around 10-20 ppm YAN.

Medsen Fey
09-08-2009, 09:36 AM
Welcome to GotMead jthixson!

I do know, given my beer brewing experience, Iím most likely over thinking the whole thingÖ

You're not over-thinking. Putting a little thought in on the front end will help you to get what you are looking for with less chance for disappointment.

You may want to start with going back to the calculator and rechecking your numbers. If you use 10 pounds of honey (roughly 5/8 gallon) and 3 gallons of water you will have a batch size of approximately 3.875 gallons. Plugging that in for batch size you get an expected gravity of 1.095 (potential alcohol 12.76%). At that level, CŰte des Blancs will take it dry as it usually can go to 13-14% ABV.

If you want to leave it semi-dry, going up to 12 pounds of honey will give you a 4 gallon batch with a starting gravity of 1.110 which should leave you some residual sugar. Of course, the surest way to keep it semi-sweet is to make a batch that goes dry, then stabilize and backsweeten to get the exact level of sweetness you want. So I would probably go with the 10 pounds and let it go dry.

You don't really need to make starters with wines and meads because you actually aerate meads and wines to allow the yeast to grow rapidly. Yes, this is brewing heresy, but then, this isn't beer. Aerating during the first 1/3 of fermentation will not cause oxidized results, the oxygen will rapidly be taken up. Oxygen is an essential "nutrient" for yeast growth and getting maximal alcohol tolerance, maximal biomass, and maximal sugar consumption require aeration. That being the case, just proper rehydration of the yeast before pitching is enough - which saves a lot of time when you get ready to make a batch of mead because you don't have to do the prep work to make a starter.

You will want to use both yeast nutrient (DAP) and yeast energizer (Fermaid K is favored by most here) which contains B-vitamins, magnesium, and other trace mineral along with nitrogen in various forms. This makes sure the yeast get everything they need for a smooth quick fermentation.

I hope that helps.


09-08-2009, 11:30 AM
It is common practice to aerate beers at yeast pitching. The new line of thinking with barleywines and other big beers is to aerate till the 1/3 break.

09-08-2009, 03:25 PM
True, I hear people espousing early aeration in big beers more and more. The biggest difference is the native nutrient/mineral content of the wort/must. Even big beers don't need much in the way of nutrient additions if adequate aeration is provided.

09-08-2009, 03:46 PM
I just wish that folks would come to general agreement as to what exactly is a big beer. The classic definition of a high gravity wort that I always heard was anything over 1.070. However, these days it seems that a beer isn't "big" until it is "uber big," with gravities in the same place on the scale as many of our higher ABV meads. I saw one posting in another forum, recently, where a guy was bemoaning the fact that his brew stalled at 1.030 -- from a starting point of 1.135! :o

09-08-2009, 05:52 PM
I just wish that folks would come to general agreement as to what exactly is a big beer.

In Alabama the general consensus is anything over 16 ounces...that's why you can't buy them here. :rolleyes:

09-08-2009, 07:09 PM
I guess I'm on the right track. I'll let it go dry, stabilize and backsweet.

Thanks again.