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PainInUrHead
08-31-2010, 01:41 PM
Hello,
A friend of mine recently suggested making mead, so I bought the beginner wine making kit and Lalvin K1V-1116 Montpellier x 5 packs. I also went out and bought 19 lbs of honey for my 6 gallon primary and carboy. We had the equipment and supplies so we were ready to begin. We boiled the water and honey together for about an hour and a half. After it cooled we poured it into the primary fermenter and a small amount into a starter. And added my five packs of yeast to the starter. after 2 days I poured the starter/yeast mixture into the primary and let it sit for 10 days. At the 10 day mark we racked it into the glass carboy Now left to sit until Thanksgiving where my plan is to put into mason jars rather than bottles based solely on the season. I didn't use the hydrometer before adding the yeast but i did before racking into the carboy and it read out 7.5% abv. I am completely open to suggestions and advice seeing as how I am new and know hardly anything except Yeast + sugar = The almighty alcohol. Any help is appreciated.
Thank You,
Pain

P.S. Also props to Midwest brewing supply! Their beginner kit was fairly inexpensive and was extremely helpful.

crimsondrac
08-31-2010, 05:05 PM
I am a relative newbee to mead brewing, but I know many of the long timers do not recommend boiling your honey. While it is a good process to pasturize your honey, the boiling process kills much of the flavor and aroma, as well as it can destroy much of the pollen and other stuff in the honey that gives each type of honey it's uniqueness. Also, I think 5 packets of yeast is a little much for 6 gallons of must. I believe on packet of Lalvin says it is good for 1-5 gallons. 2 packets should be sufficient, especially if you rehydrate first.

I am also interested in how you got an ABV reading from your hydrometer? Like I said, I am a newbee and to the best of my knowledge, there is a formula you have to use to figure out ABV. You need an initial gravity reading from your hydrometer that you use with your final gravity, plug the numbers into the formula and it will give you a good estimation of what your ABV is. If I am wrong, please let me know. It would be great if there were an easier way to determine ABV.

PainInUrHead
08-31-2010, 09:49 PM
Sorry, Potential alcohol by volume using the AllA beer & wine hydrometer i didn't take and initial sp.gr.. Unfortunately prior to and during putting everything together there was no research just a recipe and a few steps given from a friend. Now that I have been researching on this site there is much I need to learn. I will continue reading up I am sure the next batch will be exponentially better. Also, thank you for the advice on the yeast I will use less next time.

Chevette Girl
08-31-2010, 09:59 PM
I am also interested in how you got an ABV reading from your hydrometer? Like I said, I am a newbee and to the best of my knowledge, there is a formula you have to use to figure out ABV.

More than likely, it was significantly sweeter when pitched and it's currently got 7% potential alcohol still to ferment based on Pain's SG reading... given that Pain didn't mention aerating or nutrients and that this was after only ten days, this is a reasonable assumption for what essentially amounts to a show mead, especially considering all that boiling would have driven any oxygen right out of the must.

Pain, welcome aboard to this wonderful addiction <ahem> I mean hobby!

I highly recommend you go check out[ the Newbee Guide, it's got a lot of great information about a lot of different things.

But you requested critique, so here's some.

Crimsondrac is right about the amount of yeast (one packet would have done the job, they're good for 5 GAL IMP which is about 6 GAL US although five packets won't have hurt anything) and also about boiling the honey, there's no good reason to boil it that long. It's got its own natural defenses against invading organisms and even if you're paranoid like me, one minute at a hard boil should do the trick (if it's good enough for preserving, it's good enough for winemaking in my humble opinion) wihtout driving off all the aromatics. Your mead will still taste fine even so, so don't go throwing it all out or anything. In fact it may be a really good comparison if you use the same kind of honey and the same yeast but alter your procedures a little bit for the next batch (you will have a next batch, right? 8) ).

Good move on using a starter but I'm curious how you did it, I hope you didn't just leave yeast in a jar of water for two days, I use that yeast myself and I think the directions on the back just say to rehydrate it for X number of minutes before pitching... the established reason for using a starter is so your yeast get a chance to get going before you shock them with this much sugar to eat, and the established protocol is to start with rehydrating them in a small amount of water then add must (your honey water) to double the volume once the yeast have rehydrated, then let it sit a while and keep doubling the volume with more must as the yeast breed to fill the volume and eat the sugar, then once you throw it into the must, your yeast already have a good headstart on breeding and won't die of shock from exposure to all that honey. That said, I almost never bother with a starter unless I'm using more than 3 lbs honey per gallon, doing a show mead with no additional nutrients, or am using something other than Lalvin 1116 or 1118, I generally just sprinkle the yeast right on top, and it does its thing.

The way you figure out how much alcohol your yeasties have made for you is you subtract the finished Potential Alcohol from the initial Potential Alcohol. This is why for your next batch you want to check your specific gravity before you pitch the yeast.

The first thing I would suggest you do now is aerating the heck out of this, a couple ways of doing this, you could rack it back and forth between the carboy and the fermenter a couple of times and make sure it splashes as much as possible, or rack it back into the fermenter bucket and take the long-handled spoon that should have been a part of your kit and splash the heck out of it till your arms get tired. Then do it again a few more times before racking it back into the carboy. Yeast that are deprived of oxygen sometimes get funny ideas: they make icky smells or flavours, or they go on strike and leave you with a very sweet and not terribly alcoholic mead. It's best to aerate thoroughly every day until the yeast has eaten 1/3 of the sugar you've given it, and you're probably still within the 1/3 to 1/2 range if it's still showing 7% (SG around 1.050, right?) I can't see aeration hurting it now.

Also, bottling it in mason jars isn't an unacceptable idea BUT you definitely want to use your hydrometer before then to make sure it's done fermenting or else you could have a very dangerous mess of bottle bombs on your hands as the yeast continue to chew away at the sugar and creates carbon dioxide (and therefore pressure). You do not want bottle bombs. If your fermentation isn't finished, you want to leave it in the carboy under airlock until it is. That means a couple months where you're taking hydrometer readings and nothing changes even a little bit. I would suggest using cleaned and sanitized plastic pop bottles if you're not going to use bottles with caps or corks... they'll hold up to a bit more pressure than a mason jar and you can tell by squeezing if they're still fermenting, they'll get very hard (like when they're full of carbonated beverage and haven't yet been opened) and you can just pop the lid to let off any escaping gas.

Also, scheduling racking for Thanksgiving might be a little premature, you want to wait until it's cleared up too otherwise it's cloudy, leaves sediment in the bottles and can sometimes taste yeasty, not to mention that leaving a lot of sediment in your bottles is not only unsightly but can lead to off tastes as any yeasts who are still alive start cannibalizing their dead friends.

Good luck and keep us posted how it tastes!

crimsondrac
09-01-2010, 11:01 AM
That is one other thing I wanted to metion about the mason jars. It is a great idea for a theme, but remember to store them in a place that will remain mostly dark all the time. Light hurts mead. It can cause off flavors as well as some unwanted gases to form. Most bottlers would recommend using a dark amber, green or blue glass. Clear glass can be used, but always store it in a dark place.

wayneb
09-01-2010, 11:13 AM
WELCOME to "Gotmead," PainInUrHead!! Love the name, BTW!

You have already gotten some excellent advice from the other posters, but let me specifically recommend that you read the NewBee Guide to Meadmaking, which you can find from the link over on the left side of this page. It will give you a great comprehensive overview to the whole meadmaking process, and from that you'll start your next batch with lots more up front knowledge. Some of the things you'll learn there are even applicable to the batch that you have going now. And of course, don't hesitate to ask additional questions here as things come to mind. Finally, if you post a Brewlog with your next batch, we can follow your progress as you go.

PainInUrHead
09-01-2010, 06:24 PM
Thank you all for your advice!!! You all are extremely helpful and you have my gratitude. I have been reading the NewBee Guide and now I understand it quite a bit more and realize a few of my mistakes and the reasons behind them. I will get to aerating and will start to use the hydrometer a little later closer to bottling. Thanks for the advice on bottling as well because I know I will be sending quite a few of the samples through the mail and would hate to cause an accident. Like i said You all were very helpful and glad to be here you will be hearing from me again soon to bottling so i can let you all know how it goes over.
Thanks again

P.S. As I was transferring it from fermenter to carboy I tasted a little bit of it. it wasn't horrible, it was extremely sweet which is fine with me. I hope I can keep the same deep honey flavor; we will see how it turns out with everyone's advice.

PainInUrHead
09-03-2010, 05:16 PM
Wow after doing a ton of research, I realized I was extremely uneducated on the whole subject due to this on a whim experiment. But reading the newbee guide and almost every other post on here I feel Like i am a bit more educated and way more knowledgeable. I appreciate your help with everything and as soon as I can get the crappy batch out of the way I feel way more competent for next time and again I appreciate the help from everyone.

Chevette Girl
09-03-2010, 06:31 PM
:) If it makes you feel any better, my first experiment was with wild grape juice which has very little sugar in it, and i'd added enough to get it to maybe 3% if I was really lucky... fortunately I got my first book on winemaking shortly thereafter and I discovered that it needed more sugar and I did get something drinkable out of it at the end.

It's not about the finish line, it's about the journey...

PainInUrHead
09-16-2010, 10:42 PM
Today, I tried my mead it has been a month since i started it and I saw that it was had the nice amber clear color. So I decided to grab a small amount to taste. I know it is insanely early for a sample but, I noticed it was kinda sour. is this normal? Maybe it will get better with age. Thank you all for your help.

akueck
09-16-2010, 11:32 PM
What kind of sour is it? New mead always tastes a little rough, and some folks describe it as sour. If it is vinegar sour (acetic), that is usually a bad sign as it might point to acetobacter infection. I'm guessing you've just got the young mead taste and it will mellow out with time.

PainInUrHead
09-16-2010, 11:38 PM
No its not a vinegar taste its just super dry and really strong alcohol flavor i mean its not like a hard liqueur its just a little tart i guess maybe i was just worrying for nothing we will see how it tastes in a couple months.

PainInUrHead
11-29-2010, 05:33 PM
Alright its been the 90 days and the mead has been racked off into gallon jugs. It tastes great(a little strong but over ice its wonderful). Thank you all for the help looking into a cyser now just need to find a recipe for 6 gallons. Does anyone have some advice for a cheap aerator i have a drill so whatever would be easiest?