PDA

View Full Version : Are we going the right way?



Thickasaplank
06-30-2010, 09:36 PM
G'day everybody... Newbie from Aus here, and I have a question...Let me start with the following:

After tasting mead some time ago at a meadery down on the south coast, I decided I would like to give it a go. My good friend is a brewer of fine ale, and we have sat back and enjoyed the fruits of his labour many times before, so I solicited his help in the project. The big day was on Saturday evening of last week, so that makes it five days now.

Our recipe comprised 7 Kg of pure honey straight out the hive.. just filtered, and nothing else. We used sterilised equipment and spring water bought from the local supermarket. We heated up 3 liters of water in a 10 liter pan, and added the honey. Instructions were to bring it to the boil, which we did, and then kept it above 80C for 15 mins, also as per instructions. We did not skim the scum off the top as it had a super caramel flavour.. Yummo!! We could not find any yeast energiser, or commercial yeast food here in Parth, but read up and found a site that suggested using 20 sultana's for one gallon of mead. Using our noggins, we added eighty sultana's to this mix in the hope that it would be okay. We added them just as the must started to boil, so hopefully they would have been sterilised.

We then poured 10 liters of water into the fermentation barrel, and added the hot mixture. Added more water until we reached 20 liters, and waited for it to cool to 26 C. The yeast I am using is called SN9, and is a called "Vitners harvest" We beat the must to a foam using a manual sterilised eggbeater so introduce as much oxygen as possible to the must. We then took a Hygrometer reading of 1.08, and added the yeast as per instructions on the yeast packet. We sprinkled the 8 gram packet over the top of the must, put on the lid, topped up the airlock with boiled water and put it under the sink to do its thing.

Now to the question.....

After five days in a fairly warm environment we only have about one bubble in 30 seconds through the airlock.... Is this normal?? Have we done anything wrong? and as we would like to make another batch in fairly short order (I would like to lay the mead down until next year to coincide with my house being built - I would like to offer it at my house warming), we would like to know when we can rack it off into a DJ to continue the fermentation process so we can reuse the equipment.

Any and all help would be gratefully recieved!!

Happy brewing, and thank you for this wonderful site.

Brad and Darrell:)

akueck
06-30-2010, 11:12 PM
Hello! And Welcome to GotMead?

From your description of a lid, I'll assume you're using a bucket. (barrel, it's Australian for bucket?) Buckets are notoriously leaky and you can't trust the bubbles coming out to tell you anything. [This is a good rule in general, but especially true for buckets.] Does it look like anything is happening? Bubbles on the surface, snap-crackle-popping noise? The definitive test is of course measuring the SG again and seeing if it has changed.

Thickasaplank
07-01-2010, 01:44 AM
Thanks for the reply, akuek... I must be honest and say the barrel is under the sink... at Darrells' house, so I have not witnessed the ferment with muy own eyes. The barrel we are using has a screw top lid with a great big neoprene "o" ring as a sealing surface, and looks a lot like the ones we used as waterproof barrels when I used to canoe (in days gone bye). I am pretty sure that there is no leakage on the lid, or the bung... I will check though. I will take another reading when I get over there on Sunday arvo, if for no other reason than to log it.

Any other thoughts and comments greatly appreciated..

Brad

Chevette Girl
07-01-2010, 02:04 AM
Some ferments just take their time, as long as it's doing SOMETHING, I wouldn't worry! :)

When you go to visit it, you might want to aerate it again, or at least swirl it around a bit to let off some of the carbon dioxide gas, then you should see more bubbles through the airlock. It should look and sound fizzy, as akueck indicated... But the definitive indication of whether anything's happening is by checking the specific gravity again, as he also suggested.

About the timing of racking, you'll probably get a whole lot of different theories on that as there are many ways to brew and all can make good wines/meads. Generally for my creations, a week or two in the bucket is often long enough. I usually leave my wines in the bucket until they're down at least 2/3 of the way to SG of 1.000 from the original SG and the fermentation isn't terribly fizzy. I find straight meads often take longer to ferment than fruited meads or wines made with sugar.

Some folks do their active fermentation right in a carboy (demijohn), I prefer for the active fermentation to be in a bucket, it's easier to aerate, easier to manage fruit, and there's usually more room in it in case it's a REALLY active fermentaion (meadsplosion!).

I've read on this forum that racking it off the lees too early can hamper the fermentation, but as long as your must is still cloudy, there should still be enough yeast suspended to get the job done.

For me, racking is more to get the wine off the fruit before it develops off flavours, and I want to wait until most of the fermentation is done because I don't want it to end up blowing through the airlock if it suddenly decides to step up the pace.

There are a lot of right answers and probably no completely wrong answers, just answers that could end up taking a longer time or getting messy.

Welcome to the gang!

Medsen Fey
07-01-2010, 09:33 AM
Even buckets (or barrels :) ) that have a screw-on lid with an O-ring tend to leak. I have one that does so to the point that the airlock never bubbles. I've reached a point with it that I don't even use an airlock on it; I just put a small stopper in the hole. So Akueck's advice is correct, and you need gravity readings to determine where things are and how they are going.

My preference is to let the fermentation finish before racking, but having provided relatively little nutrient, your fermentation may take a while. You can rack it to a demijohn now if you like, but be sure to stir it well before doing so to keep all the active yeast. Then it can finish at a leisurely pace if that's what it takes.

I hope it turns out well.

And Welcome to GotMead!

Medsen

fatbloke
07-03-2010, 04:36 AM
Well it sounds like a "brewing barrel" for beer, to me (oh and welcome by the way.....). Normally they seal quite well......

The others have hit the nail on the head i.e. use a hydrometer to check the ferment progress, rather than relying on the speed of bubbling.

From your description, it sounds like I'd have done pretty similar to what you're doing.

As you "speak Aus", in the same way most of "this lot" speak American, I dunno which'll be closer (sometimes things do get lost in the "translation" ;) ).

Where you read mention of Nutrient, what's actually meant is the nutrient that has various ingredients - FermaidK happens to be the one that is produced by Lallemand/Lalvin. Their products i.e. yeasts etc might not be the best, there might be better, but their stuff does seem very good and they produce a hell of a lot of info/data sheets etc on them.

I haven't tried any of the Vinters harvest range though I hear good things of them. It's always handy if you know the actual strain of yeast - as most of the producers supply the same but under different names (but I believe the Lalvin range is the most comprehensive). It's one of the reasons for using the same materials that get mentioned here, as there'll be lots of people with knowledge and experience of it (hence I also get most of my stuff mail order from the US - it's often a lot easier than trying the locally produced/packaged stuff - even here in the UK there's a distinct lack of detailed info about nutrients etc).

Then there's the phrase "Yeast Energiser". That's different in that it will be mainly, or completely DAP/Diammonium Phosphate.

I'd guess that it depends on whether the brewing stuff that you can get is produced in Aus, or imported.

A good yeast for general purpose mead making is the Lalvin K1V-1116 "Montpelier" yeast. It's got a medium to high tolerance for the alcohol (listed as 16% ABV if I remember correctly).

Oh yes, for nutrient, you can try a small amount (quarter to a half teaspoon) of Vegemite - that or you should be able to get Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) tablets from the local pharmacy.

You can also just get some bread making yeast from the local grocery store and then boil it with a little water - not sure if microwaving has the same effect - to make "yeast hulls". They also help with nutrient some.....

Oh, and before I forget, one of the things I've learned to be careful of is "Australian" honey. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but the stuff that's labelled as such, that can be bought here, often has Eucalyptus honey mixed/blended in. That might make it a nice "eating" honey, but it makes it a bloody awful mead making honey - so if you happen to have plenty of Eucalyptus growing round you, then you might find that the finished batch has a distinct flavour - either love it or hate it (like it in my cough/cold remedies, but not in my meads). I also believe that Leatherwood is related to eucalyptus, so I avoid leatherwood honey as well.

Dunno if that lot is of any help or not?

regards

fatbloke

Thickasaplank
07-05-2010, 01:54 AM
Cheers for all the useful info guys, I am indebted to you all.... I witnessed the mead on Sunday night, but thought better of opening it up and having a gander. It was bubbling away at about one every twenty secs or so.. so I think we will maybe just leave it. Darrel has a patient head, and is confident that "She'll be right".

On the topic of nutrients, I have read on this site of people using yeast hulls, could I please have some advice for our next batch. I get the vegemite idea, but will that adversely flavour the mead? Is there anything else that we can use as yeast food that is natural, and easy to get hold of. I thank you for your suggestions, fatbloke, but how many grams of yeast should I use to make hulls for 20 odd liters of mead? I would like to make sure the yeast is well fed, and yet not alter the flavor of the mead significantly.

To be totally honest I could not tell you what flower the honey comes from...I would hazard a guess that it would be predominately eucalypt, just by the fact that it is harvested around the corner from my house, and there is a large eucalypt forest in the area.. We never noticed and odours, or flavors when we tasted the honey itself, so I will hope for the best..

I will let you all know if it tastes anything but superb!!;)

Thank you for the warm welcome, and I am obliged for your time.

Cheers,

Bradders

fatbloke
07-05-2010, 09:12 AM
Cheers for all the useful info guys, I am indebted to you all.... I witnessed the mead on Sunday night, but thought better of opening it up and having a gander. It was bubbling away at about one every twenty secs or so.. so I think we will maybe just leave it. Darrel has a patient head, and is confident that "She'll be right".

On the topic of nutrients, I have read on this site of people using yeast hulls, could I please have some advice for our next batch. I get the vegemite idea, but will that adversely flavour the mead? Is there anything else that we can use as yeast food that is natural, and easy to get hold of. I thank you for your suggestions, fatbloke, but how many grams of yeast should I use to make hulls for 20 odd liters of mead? I would like to make sure the yeast is well fed, and yet not alter the flavor of the mead significantly.

To be totally honest I could not tell you what flower the honey comes from...I would hazard a guess that it would be predominately eucalypt, just by the fact that it is harvested around the corner from my house, and there is a large eucalypt forest in the area.. We never noticed and odours, or flavors when we tasted the honey itself, so I will hope for the best..

I will let you all know if it tastes anything but superb!!;)

Thank you for the warm welcome, and I am obliged for your time.

Cheers,

Bradders
Well, as far as vegemite (for the vitamin B), if you wanted to use that then start small i.e. it's easy to add more, but a bugger to remove too much - start with 1/4 teaspoon and then see how it gets on - being cautious is fair comment, especially as both vegemite and marmite contain a lot of salt, though if you think about it, sodium metabisulphite also tastes salty if you use too much, so that's why there's the recommendation of using 1 campden tablet per gallon, so it gets about 50 ppm of sulphite, but you can't taste it can you.........

As for how much yeast would make enough hulls for 20 litres, well I can't answer that one, but one of the smaller packs for home baking isn't usually expensive so you could do the whole pack and then just keep what you don't need for later use

So it's probably easier to just go to the local pharmacy and get vitamin B1 tablets and crush a couple of those!

I understand that honey with eucalyptus in it doesn't usually taste of it, when eaten, but it can often be tasted when the honey is used to make meads (can't say for certain as I got that bit of advice early in my mead making efforts - so have avoided it). It might not be as bad we're thinking, but at least you'll have some idea of what the problem is, if it does come out that the batch has a eucalyptus twang to it......

regards

fatbloke

Medsen Fey
07-05-2010, 11:06 AM
Darrel has a patient head, and is confident that "She'll be right".

He's probably quite correct! Still, just keep in mind that bubble rates are virtually worthless for monitoring progress



On the topic of nutrients, I have read on this site of people using yeast hulls, could I please have some advice for our next batch... Is there anything else that we can use as yeast food that is natural, and easy to get hold of. ..., but how many grams of yeast should I use to make hulls for 20 odd liters of mead? I would like to make sure the yeast is well fed, and yet not alter the flavor of the mead significantly.


A thread on natural additives (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15515&highlight=natural+nutrient) (and some other threads linked to it) may give you some ideas on the nutrients. Yeast hulls themselves are not much of a nutrient as the nitrogen needed has been stripped from them (it is part of the yeast innards which are removed from the yeast hulls). Autolyzed yeast has the nitrogen along with the hulls and can be found in a variety of commercial products, some of which are organic (like Fermaid O or the E.C. Kraus brand). I'm not sure which products are available in your country, but there probably are some.

You can boil your own yeast to make a nutrient for the mead, using any kind of yeast you have. It takes a lot (around 12-15 grams per gallon) to provide the ideal amount for the yeast, and some strains of yeast need a lot more.

Good meading!

Medsen

wayneb
07-09-2010, 08:47 PM
One cautionary note about considering Vegemite as a yeast nutrient additive for your meads -- it is primarily made up of spent brewer's yeast, but it also contains a significant dose of salt (sodium chloride), which can make your meads taste salty if too much of it is added to the ferment.

fatbloke
07-11-2010, 05:49 AM
One cautionary note about considering Vegemite as a yeast nutrient additive for your meads -- it is primarily made up of spent brewer's yeast, but it also contains a significant dose of salt (sodium chloride), which can make your meads taste salty if too much of it is added to the ferment.
Of course, but hence my idea of using a small amount - starting with something like 1/4 tsp, or even 1/8th tsp......

There's a lot of recipes out there that suggest this kind of thing Wayne, though making yeast hulls (or whatever it might be called), with a can of bread yeast would be safer as it doesn't have the salt element does it......

I'd be more concerned with the possible presence of eucalyptus...... it taste hideous in meads......

regards

fatbloke

Thickasaplank
07-27-2010, 01:23 AM
Well, I went over to Darrells' house last nuight to rack off the mead into a bulk storage container... and found that we had made a few errors in the original recipe.... it seems that the fermentor we used held 27 liters instead of the 20 we thought...Also, after having a good look at the hydrometer, it seems we have read it wrong...

So we started on 1013.. and are now at 1006. It is still blurping every thirty seconds or so, and it can carry on doing that for the next eight months if it wants. We will bottle it around Christmas I think. I am ready to try something else now..!!:) We are laying this down for my housewarming party... My foundations are being laid tomorrow, so we think it will be mid summer (Feb - Mar) before it is complete. Are there any suggestions for a light, refreshing, quaffable honey based drink that will be beautiful when served icy cold. I am brewing some lager as well, but I am thinking something light and fruity and yum... Any ideas will be greatfully welcome!!

Cheers, and once again thank you for your help.

Bradders ;)

AToE
07-27-2010, 10:14 AM
I think those readings are wrong, are you sure the numbers shouldn't be shifted to the left, meaning a starting SG of 1.113 and a current of 1.060? A start of 1.013 would mean almost no honey. (Your second reading could still be right if it's near done though, so depending on that it is either only half done and going extremely slowly, or is near done).

Tygia
07-27-2010, 01:50 PM
On the topic of nutrients, I have read on this site of people using yeast hulls, could I please have some advice for our next batch. I get the vegemite idea, but will that adversely flavour the mead? Is there anything else that we can use as yeast food that is natural, and easy to get hold of. I thank you for your suggestions, fatbloke, but how many grams of yeast should I use to make hulls for 20 odd liters of mead? I would like to make sure the yeast is well fed, and yet not alter the flavor of the mead significantly.

I prefer to brew "all natural" So I have absolutely no experience with commercial nutrient. I use Bee Pollen and raisins (or dried currants) for nutrient. Most of the meads I brew are melomels/metheglins/capsicumels and strange hybrids of all the above, so I suspect that with the amount of fruits I use, nutrient is generally not too big of an issue in my brew, and I always do a yeast starter to make sure my little beasties are happy when I pitch 'em in...With that said-I always seem to have a nice active fermentation and I have never really noticed any "off" flavors that I can attribute to the pollen.
Any one else have any experience using pollen for nutrient?
Blessed be the Bees
Tygia

Medsen Fey
07-27-2010, 02:36 PM
This thread on Bee Pollen (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11007&highlight=pollen) may give you some useful info. If you do a search for "bee pollen" there are a number of other threads that may give you more.

Medsen