View Full Version : First... mead?

07-11-2010, 07:03 AM
Greetings from Mexico!

A few days ago racked my first try at mead making, here is the recipe:

1.5 Kilos of Honey
400 Grams of strawberries
1.5 lemons, sliced, complete with the zest
half a spoon of baking yeast
Water to fill a 4.5 liters recipient

Fermented it using a homemade airlock, shook it daily, at least once
It stopped generating CO2 in about the 18th day, left it another five days and racked it. on a hunch i didn't used an airlock this time and let it rest somewhere fresh and dark.
That was 4 days ago and there is no additional pressure in the bottle.

Of course, separated a bit of it for taste, it was stronger than i expected, just a tad below a weak white wine, and it goes straight to the head!
it was also dry and bitter, i assume the bitterness came from the lemon.
The liquid is opaque, and feels just a little, well, thick? sort of like grapefruit juice, now that i think about it, the flavor too but on the alcoholic side.

Now... It bugs me that i don't have any points of reference, so here are my doubts:
Should it have stopped fermenting this soon?
should it be opaque?
does that count as... mead at all?

07-11-2010, 08:07 AM
Hello, jtraveller! Welcome to "Gotmead?" !!

To answer your last question first, yes it counts as a mead. In fact the term for a honey-based fermented beverage with fruit added is "melomel." If you'd like to learn more about the various kinds of mead and how to make them, I encourage you to read the NewBee Guide, which you can find through a link on the left side of this page. There is far more useful information in the guide than what I can cover in a few paragraphs answering your questions here. Have a look at it!

As to whether or not the fermentation should have stopped, that is difficult to say without testing to see if there is any fermentable sugar left in the mix. One tool used to do that testing is called a hydrometer, and I recommend that you get one if you are going to continue to make batches of mead - they are nearly indispensable. By my calculations, the must (the liquid before fermentation) that you mixed up should have had a starting specific gravity of around 1.100. That is high enough to ferment out to 13% alcohol by volume if all the sugars have been consumed by the yeast. If the mead tastes completely dry (no sugar), then you are probably at 13% and that is near the limit of alcohol that your baking yeast can produce. You are also probably correct in your assumption that the bitterness is coming from the lemons - specifically from the pith.

Some of the cloudiness may be coming from pectins in the fruit, and without use of a pectic enzyme your mead may stay a little cloudy for a very long time. Nevertheless, it will taste smoother after some time aging in an airtight vessel. I would recommend racking it (syphoning off the liquid leaving behind all the settled out fruit bits and yeast residue) into one or more clean containers that you can fill leaving little to no headspace, and then just store it in a cool place for a few months. You will be amazed at the change in flavor that will occur in that time!

Good luck with this batch, and with any more meads that you choose to make in the future!

07-11-2010, 08:37 AM
Wow that was quick!

Tank you for the advice, you can trust im going to make more mead from now on, this one has been quite the experience for me and my wife.

now, im afraid i have just a couple more doubts
The hydrometer is the same hydrometer used on fish tanks or a different one?
also, is valid to stop the fermentation by refrigerating it? I did so for ginger ale, but don't know if it works for mead.

07-11-2010, 08:43 AM
You need a beermaking or winemaking hydrometer for the mead. They're sometimes called "triple scale" hydrometers, and they are usually scaled to measure specific gravity over a range from around 0.990 through 1.170.

The stopping of fermentation by refrigeration is a technique called "cold crashing," and it doesn't work reliably unless you also employ chemical stabilizers (potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulfite) in the mead that you're trying to stop. But beware - yeast are pretty hardy little organisms. Sometimes despite your best efforts, fermentation will continue until all the sugars in the mead have been consumed by the yeast. If you want your mead to finish slightly sweet, then your best bet is to ferment a batch to dryness, then stabilize it with sorbate and metabisulfite, and then "backsweeten" by adding a little more honey to the mix.

07-11-2010, 01:40 PM
I would like to post some encouragement about the cloudiness of your mead.

My most recent finished batch was a bloodred orange wine. Throughout the primary and secondary fermentation, it looked like a jug of orange juice, 100% opaque. After about six months, that carboy was clear enough to read a book through.
The recommendations regarding pectin and such may help you clear it out sooner, but if you cant get ahold of those things, it will clear itself beautifully in the carboy from my experiences.
Good luck and keep us posted!

PS- The bitterness may very well be from the lemons. If you sliced the lemon and put the slices in whole (peel and all) that is probably the reason. Next time, try scooping the juice and pulp out of the lemon, and then use a cheese grater to scrape the outer edge of the lemon peel off. You'll scrape until all of the yellow on the peel is gone. This yellow 'zest' is where the bite from the lemon comes from, and the leftover white 'skin' is what may give you a bitter flavor.

07-11-2010, 10:07 PM
Thanks for the support, and im already planning the next batch, but no lemon for now, it may be a cinnamon mead recipe just found somewhere in this site.

Medsen Fey
07-12-2010, 09:45 AM
It is true that citrus albedo (the white pithy stuff under the skin) can give bitterness, but a lot of the bitterness you taste is probably from the yeast. As the mead clears, much of the bitterness will probably fade. It is normal for a new mead to be cloudy and it can take months for clearing, but if you put it in a fridge, it may clear faster.

Welcome to GotMead!