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Principal Mazer
03-10-2010, 09:26 PM
Greetings again, one and all!

My first mead in a loooong time is happily going through secondary fermentation/aging. 3 weeks, 5 days and counting! The wife and I cracked open the Grolsch bottle for sampling purposes, and are happy with the results so far!
I'm already looking forward to my next batch; and what I'd like to do is throw out some ideas about what I'd like to end up with, and let the group guide me toward a recipe. This may or may not a be a new approach; I don't know...
It's going to be a 5 gallon batch. I'd like for the end result to be fairly sweet, as my wife prefers mead on the sweet side. I have on hand 10 pounds of just-your-basic clover honey. I expect I'll use either Lavlin D-47 or EC-1118 yeast for the fermentation, as those are readily available; and both are very alcohol-tolerant. (If i remember what I read correctly, D-47 attenuates around 16%, EC-1118 around 19%) High alcohol content is fairly important to me, as I want the most high-test mead I can make!
So, given that I want a sweet, POTENT mead as my end result, do I need more than 10 lbs of honey? If I need more, how high do you think I can go? (I found the above-mentioned honey at a reeeeaaaally low price locally, so it wouldn't kill me to buy 5 or 10 more pounds)
I've also thought about adding some plums to the primary, because I saw some purple plums down at the co-op the other day for a jaw-droppingly low price. I think I can find my old 6.5 gallon 'bucket' fermenter if I'm feeling adventurous, so I add some if I get the itch. If I choose to put some in the primary, (say 5 pounds or so) how do you all think it would affect the overall sweetness of the end product?
I know I've thrown a lot of questions into the three of four paragraphs I've written here, but I'm really looking forward to the answers; whenever they may come. You folks are such a knowledgeable bunch, that I can't help but think there's going to be quite a bit of diversity in the answers. (At least I hope so!)
Thanks in advance for any and all help and guidance!

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wayneb
03-10-2010, 09:38 PM
Let me recommend that you play around a bit with the Mead Calculator (link is over on the left of this page), and you can figure out exactly how much honey you'll need for a high-proof semi-sweet to sweet batch.

But just as a rule of thumb, 10 lbs in 5 gallons will ferment dry with just about any yeast out there. Think more along the lines of 18 lbs or so....

Principal Mazer
03-10-2010, 09:44 PM
Oh, wow! I never saw the Mead Calculator.

Thanks for the heads up, Wayne! I'll definitely give it a go!

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Medsen Fey
03-10-2010, 10:15 PM
As a general rule, D47 has an alcohol tolerance of about 14% in a traditional mead. If well nourished and step fed, it can sometime go a bit farther, and if used in a cyser, it can easily make 16% (yeast love apples). If you want high octane mead, the EC-1118 will be a better choice.

And you'll need lots more honey.

Principal Mazer
03-16-2010, 03:21 PM
Okay, I think I've a got a firmer idea of my next recipe; even though I've dragged my feet for a week or so... I played around with the Mead Calculator a bit; and even though I'm not sure I'm using it correctly, here is what I'm leaning towards:

My five gallon batch is going to contain 15 lbs of clover honey, which I'm going to augment with ~5 lbs of those lovely plums from the co-op. I think I'm going to opt for the D-47 yeast, as it will attenuate around 14% ABV, and should leave me with the sweetness that I'm hoping for. Fermentation temperature will be around 70 degrees or so. I'm going to pit and slice the plums for maximum fermentable 'surface area' before I put them into the primary fermenter, but I'm wondering: Should I chill the must before I put it in the fermenter, or would it be better to chill after everything is in the primary?

Also, for those of you with experience with D-47 yeast, given all the above, how long can I expect to leave everything in the primary before racking? Does D-47 tend to ferment quickly, or more slowly? I realize that fermentation in the secondary will only be done when it's done, but I'm wondering how long I should let it go in primary...

Anyway - looking forward to your answers!

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TheRabidKumquat
03-17-2010, 01:52 AM
With only 5 pounds of plum, you might not get too much of their flavor. Maybe you would be better to save those until after you rack into secondary? You could freeze them in the meantime.

I don't understand your question about chilling the must. Are you heating it? Or are you going to keep this at a controlled temperature, such as in a fridge or a converted freezer?

Principal Mazer
03-17-2010, 01:30 PM
RabidKumquat - I left out part of my process, oops!

In my previous batches, I have mixed the honey with part of the water (about 1 to 1 1/2 gallons) and heated it to 160 degrees F, holding it there for for 20 - 30 minutes to pastuerize the must. Then I have chilled it down to fermentation temperature, transferred it to my fermenter and then pitched my yeast. That's why I'm asking about chilling before or after adding it to the plums.

I guess I'll head back down to the co-op and get some more plums, as I'd definitely like my finished product to have a nice plummy (?) flavor and color. (Why add them at all otherwise, right?) I've already got 5 lbs, do you think another 5 would do the trick?

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Medsen Fey
03-17-2010, 02:00 PM
You can skip the heating of the must and save a lot of time and effort while preserving more of the honey's volatile aromatic components.

10 pounds of plums will be better but will still be on the lighter end of the "plummy" scale. :)