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Boris
12-26-2009, 12:47 PM
Hello there,

I'm new to GotMead.com and also new to mead-brewing alltogether. I do have experience brewing wine and some other beverages as well. After reading through the newbee guide and a bunch of forum threads and other recipes, I still have some questions that I'd like answered before starting with my first batch, first I have a few general questions:

1) How can i measure the percentage of sugar in my honey, to determine how much I should use?

2) Can I use the same yeast for mead as I use for making wine?

3) Can I use the same hydrometer I use for checking wine for mead? or is there a difference?


Also, I was wondering what advice you could give me regarding the specific mead I'd like to make, and tell me if there are any difficulties I could encounter.

What I'm planning to make is a simple show mead, with wildlower honey from a local beekeeper. I'm planning to start of with a batch of one gallon, so I can see if it works before starting with a bigger one.

Is it advisable to start of with a show mead, or would it be easy for me to ruin it by making little mistakes?

Also I'd like to know if it's a problem to use wildflower honey of which I know absolutely nothing other than that bees made it...?

Well, that's about it for now:)

tatgeer
12-26-2009, 02:00 PM
2) Can I use the same yeast for mead as I use for making wine?

3) Can I use the same hydrometer I use for checking wine for mead? or is there a difference?


Is it advisable to start of with a show mead, or would it be easy for me to ruin it by making little mistakes?

Also I'd like to know if it's a problem to use wildflower honey of which I know absolutely nothing other than that bees made it...?

Well, that's about it for now:)

2. Yes; some recipes will specify the type of yeast. There are also mead yeasts available.
3. Yes

Wildflower honey means that the bees had access to many kinds of flowers. The flavors of it can vary based on season and region. For a show mead, I'd suggest using a specific varietal of honey, as these sometimes have more interesting flavors. I tend to use wildflower for melomels or other meads where the honey isn't the dominant flavor.

If you start with a show mead and it doesn't turn out quite like you'd hoped, you can always add some fruit extract or fruit juice to give it some more flavor (let it ferment a little longer if you're using juice, due to the added sugars). I've done this a couple of times. :)

akueck
12-26-2009, 05:03 PM
I wouldn't try to measure the sugar content in your honey. It is much easier to measure the SG of your must and make adjustments as necessary.

Most of us here use "wine" yeasts such as available from Lalvin/Lallemend and other companies. Liquid "mead yeasts" are available from Wyeast and Whitelabs, for example, but the general experience with these yeasts is that they can be hard to work with, probably because the viable cell count varies greatly with age, storage, etc. If you use liquid yeast, make sure to use a starter.

Hydrometers will work for anything, they just measure density. If you have a "vinometer", that will not work quite the same way unless you make very dry mead.

A show mead is the most difficult kind of mead to make. Show mead means honey, water, and yeast and nothing else. If you want to try a mead without non-honey flavor additions, look to "traditional" meads which use yeast nutrients, etc. These are still more difficult to nail down than meads with fruit, etc in them IMO. Starting out I would look to recipes like Joe's Ancient Orange (JAO) or some simple cysers (apple mead). The addition of fruit to the must helps add some nitrogen, turbidity, and acid buffering capacity. All these can be sticking points for traditional and show meads.

Kee
12-26-2009, 05:06 PM
1) How can i measure the percentage of sugar in my honey, to determine how much I should use?
2) Can I use the same yeast for http://www.gotmead.com/forum/images/misc/vbglossarlink.gif (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=mead) mead (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=mead) as I use for making wine?
3) Can I use the same http://www.gotmead.com/forum/images/misc/vbglossarlink.gif (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=hydrometer) hydrometer (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=hydrometer) I use for checking wine for http://www.gotmead.com/forum/images/misc/vbglossarlink.gif (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=mead) mead (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/vbglossar.php?do=showentry&item=mead)? or is there a difference?


Welcome to Gotmead?!

1) On the tool bar on the left, you'll find a Mead Calculator (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16) a few items down. It will calculate the sugars for you. It takes a little getting used to, but it's only because it can caluclate so much!
2) Yep. There's a lot of discussion on the different types of yeast here. There are a few experts here on the different types of yeast. If you want to know about a specific strain, just search for it. It's probably already been discussed.
3) That's the tool.

I would advice you to read the Newbee guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14). The link is also on the left. It covers just about everything. Since you want to make a show/traditional, you'll need to pay attention to the nutrients.

Boris
12-29-2009, 04:28 AM
Ok,

You got me a little bit scared, I'm thinking about starting out with a bsmall batch of JAO as my first mead, just to be safe...

I do have a few questions about the recipe. As I live in Belgium, I'm not able to obtain Fleischmanns bread yeast, will any bread yeast do, or is there anything I should look out for?

Will the orange taste be strong or just a mild flavor in the background? And if the answer is strong, what can I do to reduce it a little, without screwing with the recipe too much?

Will a one gallon batch in a 5 litres carboy be any trouble, or should I just scale the recipe up a little bit?

And one more question to end with: Is it fine to use the wildflower honey in this recipe?

Thanks for all the answers so far:)

Boris

saur0n
12-29-2009, 06:25 AM
Hey Boris,

I live in Belgium too and I used fresh breadyeast for my first mead (Koningsgist, 42 gram bij Colruyt). I chucked the whole cube in (after making a water/sugar starter) and it fermented just fine. The result (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15411) is a crystal clear metheglin that is now aging in my cellar but was drinkable right out of the secondary.

I am stuck with wildflowerhoney as well since apiaries over here don't seem to believe in advertising. So far I haven't been succesfull in locating one nearby. Wildflower seems to be more than OK for a melomel or a metheglin where as traditional and show meads are better with a varietal honey because of the specific character of the stuff. (at least, that's what I understand while burrowing trough the forums 8))

fatbloke
12-29-2009, 06:45 AM
Ok,

You got me a little bit scared, I'm thinking about starting out with a small batch of JAO as my first mead, just to be safe...

I do have a few questions about the recipe. As I live in Belgium, I'm not able to obtain Fleischmanns bread yeast, will any bread yeast do, or is there anything I should look out for?

Will the orange taste be strong or just a mild flavor in the background? And if the answer is strong, what can I do to reduce it a little, without screwing with the recipe too much?

Will a one gallon batch in a 5 litres carboy be any trouble, or should I just scale the recipe up a little bit?

And one more question to end with: Is it fine to use the wildflower honey in this recipe?

Thanks for all the answers so far:)

Boris
Boris, it might be better if you add a location to your profile, maybe just the national location (or region and national....) as some of the advice will need to be tailored slightly to fit......

Like a US gallon being slightly under 4 litres, and an Imperial/UK gallon being 4.55 litres (the differences will be historical ones - probably).

so, what I'd suggest for you, is that you can work out the exact ratio of honey to water, then modify it slightly so it relates to the 5litre carboy you refer to, but then stick to the same amounts for the fruit - yes the result would be closer to the original intended flavour if you could get a 4litre carboy or a UK 1 gallon "demi-john" jar. Or you can modify the amount of honey (easy to weigh out) but you'd have to round up the fruit a bit (not that easy to work out 1.3 oranges or 1.6 cloves..... I'm sure you can see what I'm driving at.....).

As for the yeast, I too, can't get fleischmanns yeast, though it would appear to be "just" a bread yeast, so you should be fine just using whatever dry bread yeast you can get locally (I'd suggest that you don't use a wine yeast for your first batch - it's probably better to get a "benchmark" for JAO first, before you attempt modifications that will significantly alter the resulting flavour).

Honey? I'd say just use the cheapest blended honey. There's little point in using "good" honey if the resulting flavour is going to be altered by the other ingredients. The orange flavour doesn't usually come out too strong, but you can identify it. Some people will peel the orange and cut the segments, but also add only the zest, after it's been scratched off the bitter white pith part of the skin.

I would suggest that you pay particular attention to the original comments about adding the spices, specifically the cloves. They are very powerful and the alcohol in the ferment will extract all of the flavour from them giving a quite unpleasant, strong medicinal taste if you used too many. So stick to just the 1 (or 2 at most).

Hope that helps some...

regards

fatbloke

Medsen Fey
12-29-2009, 10:40 AM
Whatever bread yeast you have will probably work fine. If you get a yeast that takes it too dry, you can always add a bit more honey later to suit your taste.

You can make the 1 gallon batch in a 5 liter container with no problem - as long as you follow the directions and aren't opening the container there will be no oxidation issue. If you want to scale up the recipe you certainly can and it will still turn out right.

And let me take a moment to share my thoughts on honey. If you want the best possible mead, use the freshest, best tasting honey you can get. Even in melomels and recipes with fruits and spices, better honey makes better mead. You can make a good JAO with typical, grocery-store, heated and filtered, blended honey. You can make even better JAO with fresh honey - the honey character comes through.

Wildflower honey is variable from place to place and season to season - some is light some is dark and the flavor can really be different. With that said, you can make an excellent traditional or show mead from wildflower honey if the wildflower honey is good. Your best bet is to make a small batch of traditional mead from the local wildflower and see what it tastes like - it might be delicious.

Medsen

Boris
12-29-2009, 01:07 PM
Hey Boris,

I live in Belgium too and I used fresh breadyeast for my first mead (Koningsgist, 42 gram bij Colruyt). I chucked the whole cube in (after making a water/sugar starter) and it fermented just fine.

Could you tell me how high of a %ABV you got after fermentation ceased?:)



Boris, it might be better if you add a location to your profile, maybe just the national location (or region and national....) as some of the advice will need to be tailored slightly to fit......

I indeed should, hadn't thought about editing my profile yet, will do so straight away. And by the way, I'm from belgium, from Limburg to be more specific, a region with many fruit trees, I think it shouldn't be too hard to find an apple blossom honey somewhere around here, maybe some others as well. But I did notice that many bee keepers around here only have wildflower honey, but I'll do fine with that for now^^

I think I will just be making the 1 gallon batch in the 5 litres carboy, just so I don't have to mess with the quantities. Hopefully I can get all the ingredients and equipment by tomorrow so I can start out.

Many thanks,

Boris

*EDIT:

One more question: Sorry for the silly question, it's pretty basic, but what water should I use? After reading the NewBee guide I thought not to use tap water, but on the forums I read some posts saying the minerals in tap water can be positive as well.

And another one: when talking about bread yeast, is that dry yeast or is that fresh yeast?

akueck
12-29-2009, 02:14 PM
If your tap water is good to drink, and has no off-flavors, I see no reason to not use it.

Dry yeast or fresh yeast (I assume you mean a slurry) should both work equally well, as long as your fresh yeast is healthy. By weight, you need more slurry than dry yeast for obvious reasons.

saur0n
12-29-2009, 06:58 PM
Hey Boris,

My first mead has about (didn't bother too much with SG readings for that one) 13/14 %abv. The S.G. (extrapolated from one of my current batches with the same ingredients) must have been 1.120-ish while the F.G. reads 1.018. The yeast had still some life in it, but I stabilized since I was shooting for a spiced desert mead.

Gert

PS: I use tap water without any problems. The water here in Antwerp is rather hard so I tend to run a portion of it trough my Brita filter.

Kee
12-30-2009, 01:14 AM
I know you're now thinking about a JAO over a traditional. Don't be nervous about brewing a traditional. You just need to watch a traditional where you forget about a JAO. Both are actually pretty easy. I read everything I could for several weeks before I finally worked up the nerve to try meadmaking and was shocked at how easy it was. This is one of those feet first moments! :)

Boris
12-30-2009, 03:55 AM
I know I first wanted to make a traditional or show mead, but after having the idea of a JAO in my head for a while I think I'll still start out with that one, I've really gotten curious, really want to taste it sometime soon:) And the traditional mead will be my second one probably:)

I also know I'm pretty impulsive in this, but I think that if I don't just start, I will keep on delaying it.. So it's about time to start learning from trial and error:)

Boris

wayneb
12-31-2009, 01:11 AM
That's absolutely the right attitude, Boris. Go for it!!