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ruinarion
10-04-2010, 09:50 PM
Somebody recently allowed me to sample a few different meads and it seems to be something I quite like so I decided to try to make some on my own. I think it would be neat if I could have a bottle of mead that I made for new years. I did not like the spiced or fruit meads as much as I liked the traditional meads I tried.

All the short mead recipes I seem to find are mixed with fruit. Would it be possible to make a traditional mead that will have a decent taste in that time period?

mmclean
10-04-2010, 10:26 PM
Welcome to GotMead?

I think the thing with fruit and spices is they cover flaws in the meads so you can drink them sooner. Traditionals let every flaw show through. Most flaws will blend and mellow with time.

With only a few months you might be able to pull off a cyser. I have read of batches ready in 8 weeks. Otherwise one of Joe's Quick Meads might work.

For a really great mead, you are looking at a 12 to 18 month lag time. Just in time for new years 2012! :occasion16::occasion18:

Maybe someone will post who knows more than I.

YogiBearMead726
10-04-2010, 11:02 PM
I just finished racking a pure show mead using Red Star Cuvee yeast and very high quality honey. It's about 1 month old, and currently very drinkable. Granted, I started with an SG of 1.120 and is now sitting around 1.008, so it's very hot with alcohol in the back of the palate, but it still retains the sweet notes of good mead in the front, so that kick come out of nowhere.

Long story short, you should be able to make a tasty traditional before New Years provided you start with high quality ingredients.

Happy mazering!

ruinarion
10-04-2010, 11:35 PM
I just finished racking a pure show mead using Red Star Cuvee yeast and very high quality honey. It's about 1 month old, and currently very drinkable. Granted, I started with an SG of 1.120 and is now sitting around 1.008, so it's very hot with alcohol in the back of the palate, but it still retains the sweet notes of good mead in the front, so that kick come out of nowhere.

Long story short, you should be able to make a tasty traditional before New Years provided you start with high quality ingredients.

Happy mazering!


Did you just aim for a little more alcohol than the yeast could convert or did you stop the fermentation when it got to a certain level?

akueck
10-04-2010, 11:58 PM
You can make a traditional mead quickly. To ensure success (i.e. being able to drink it soon), follow the basic tenets of all the quick meads: low alcohol and sweet. I would suggest something along these lines:

Mostly mild, floral, sweet honey. Avoid using a lot of heavy stuff like buckwheat honey. Clover, orange blossom, thistle are good. Wildflower honey can be good, best to taste it first or ask what the major constituents are.

About 12% abv.

71B yeast, it's known for quick drinkability.

Ferment fully, crash cool and rack onto stabilizing chemicals. Backsweeten to taste, I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.010-1.015 would be sweet enough for most people without being cloying. Go by taste if you can, everyone is different.

You can probably have a mead like this done fermenting in 2 weeks or less, crash cooled and fairly clear in another week, and stabilized and sweetened in the next week. Let it hang out and finish clearing for another month and you should be able to bottle it early December, giving it some time to mellow out in the bottle before you drink it. Good luck!

ruinarion
10-05-2010, 12:12 AM
Would Lavlin EC-1118 work well for this? I would have to stop the fermentation at the right gravity obviously.

YogiBearMead726
10-05-2010, 12:15 AM
Honestly? This was my first time using Red Star Cuvee, and I forgot to check what it could handle beforehand. I just let it got until dry (also probably why it burns on the way down). It's also easier to stabilize and backsweeten to taste rather than aim for a desired finishing point. As long as there is sugar availible, assuming the yeast aren't at their alcohol tolerance, the yeast will try to keep fermenting. The one thing under our control is the starting gravity, which tells us how much potential ABV assuming it ferments to dry.

YogiBearMead726
10-05-2010, 12:18 AM
What akueck said. Haha

YogiBearMead726
10-05-2010, 01:46 AM
Would Lavlin EC-1118 work well for this? I would have to stop the fermentation at the right gravity obviously.

I don't have a bunch of experience with EC-1118, but the mead I have used it on has had fruit and has not been very drinkable quickly. Just my two cents on it.

AToE
10-05-2010, 02:06 AM
I would stay away from that yeast for this, it's a tank and I doubt you'd be able to stop it, and frankly it's just not that great unless you're wanting to make something sparkling.

For young mead, and also for newbies I'd go for 71B. It requires little for nutrients, tastes good young. One of my favourite yeasts, just make sure not to let the mead sit on the sediment for too many weeks.

mmclean
10-05-2010, 05:15 AM
Ahhh...still so much to learn. :notworthy:

But isn't this place just great. :)

ruinarion
10-05-2010, 02:01 PM
I would stay away from that yeast for this, it's a tank and I doubt you'd be able to stop it, and frankly it's just not that great unless you're wanting to make something sparkling.

For young mead, and also for newbies I'd go for 71B. It requires little for nutrients, tastes good young. One of my favourite yeasts, just make sure not to let the mead sit on the sediment for too many weeks.

What makes a yeast great for making a sparkling mead/wine? Just curious because I usually brew beer and everything I brew gets carbonated.

If it requires little nutrients would it still be good to add nutrients?

Would 1 packet of 71B be good for a 2 gallon batch aiming for 12% abv? I am a little overwhelmed with all the mead info I have been looking at but I don't think I have found a pitching rate calculator for mead or wine.

AToE
10-05-2010, 02:08 PM
What makes a yeast great for making a sparkling mead/wine? Just curious because I usually brew beer and everything I brew gets carbonated.

EC1118 is good because of it's very high ABV tolerance and that it is fairly neutral, and also that it is one of the strains that is good to let the mead/wine sit on the lees for ages (considering there will be lees in the bottle this is obviously a must. 71B for example is no good for this). Beer is easier because the yeast is almost always much higher ABV tolerance than is necessary for the job, wheras wine/mead is much higher ABV.


If it requires little nutrients would it still be good to add nutrients?

Yes, the nice thing is you don't have to be too paranoid though, and it won't cause you greif if you accidentally use too little (some yeasts go nuts producing sulphur odours if you don't feed them enough nutrient, RC212 is an example).



Would 1 packet of 71B be good for a 2 gallon batch aiming for 12% abv? I am a little overwhelmed with all the mead info I have been looking at but I don't think I have found a pitching rate calculator for mead or wine.

I'm guessing that's a 5g packet (I often buy 8g packets as well) and yes that is perfectly fine for that amount. 5g is almost always a good amount, unless it's a 5/6 gallon batch with a very high SG, or a giant batch, then you'd want more. It's also not too much for even a 1 gal batch (apparently there is such a thing).

ruinarion
10-05-2010, 07:12 PM
EC1118 is good because of it's very high ABV tolerance and that it is fairly neutral, and also that it is one of the strains that is good to let the mead/wine sit on the lees for ages (considering there will be lees in the bottle this is obviously a must. 71B for example is no good for this). Beer is easier because the yeast is almost always much higher ABV tolerance than is necessary for the job, wheras wine/mead is much higher ABV.




You say that 71B isn't good for leaving on the lees. Does that mean I need to rack it off the lees early or does that refer to extended aging? Will there be problems if it is bottled too long and sediment forms?

AToE
10-05-2010, 08:21 PM
You say that 71B isn't good for leaving on the lees. Does that mean I need to rack it off the lees early or does that refer to extended aging? Will there be problems if it is bottled too long and sediment forms?

You won't have to rack out of primary fermentation early, but I would rack again within 1-1.5 months after that when the bulk of the lees have dropped.

As to the bottles... yes, I would imagine that if you bottled it really early you might get enough sediment to cause you problems. That said, you'll probably have drank it all long before this becomes an issue!

akueck
10-06-2010, 12:42 AM
Unless you bottle when it's cloudy, the amount of sediment you might drop in the bottle shouldn't do much harm. Fining agents are an option if things aren't clear after a few months and you want to move it along.

For a quick, easy-to-drink kind of mead, 71B is king. IIRC, this is the yeast used for Nouveau wines in France which are consumed only a few months after harvest.

5-8 g of yeast is fine for 2 gallons. You do want to add nutrients, but you should be able to do so without constant monitoring if you use 71B. Things to pick up include GoFerm, FermaidK, and DAP; these three will get you through most nutrients needs. Yeast hulls (aka ghosts) are nice to have around just in case. For 2 gallons, adding ~2-4 g of DAP and ~2-4 g of FermaidK at the first sign of activity plus another ~2-4 g of FermaidK a few days later should be enough (rehydrate with GoFerm too).

crimsondrac
10-06-2010, 03:43 PM
You could also always try a smoother. I have never used one and do not personally know anyone that has, but I have read posts from some people that say it is a quick fix to make a harsh wine more drinkable. I personally prefer to let time do the smoothing for me.

Midwest has this one:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/super-smoother.html

My personal recommendation, go ahead and buy bottled mead this year for your holidays, start your mead now and you will have your own for next year. Also, if you always want some mead around the house, you will always have to have a batch brewing.

PitBull
10-06-2010, 08:55 PM
You could also always try a smoother. I have never used one and do not personally know anyone that has, but I have read posts from some people that say it is a quick fix to make a harsh wine more drinkable. I personally prefer to let time do the smoothing for me.

Midwest has this one:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/super-smoother.html

My personal recommendation, go ahead and buy bottled mead this year for your holidays, start your mead now and you will have your own for next year. Also, if you always want some mead around the house, you will always have to have a batch brewing.

There's a brief discussion on super-smoother here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16505).

I'm in complete agreement that that "time" would be the better choice.

ruinarion
10-07-2010, 11:19 AM
Well my ingredients should be at my place today or tomorrow. So I plan on getting it started on Saturday afternoon or Sunday depending on how my schedule turns out.

I don't plan on using super smoother I would rather let it age naturally. I am thinking about making another batch and making it a higher gravity but use a yeast that will dry it out faster and let that condition until next year but it would still be nice to make something that will be ready by the holidays other than beer since quite a bit of my family doesn't drink beer.

ruinarion
10-07-2010, 12:52 PM
I've been reading the troubleshooting section and I see a lot of talk about stuck fermentation due to too low of a pH level. I am looking at just using yeast, honey, nutrient, Goferm, and water. Is it likely to have too low of a pH?

Medsen Fey
10-07-2010, 02:10 PM
Traditional meads often run into problems with low pH, but it does depend on the honey and the yeast. Some honey doesn't drop so much. Some yeast can tolerate low pH better. The Champagne yeast tend to be pretty tolerant of low pH (EC-1118, DV10, Premier Cuvee). Vintner's Harvest SN9 is reputed to be tolerant, K1V also does pretty well. D47 works well even with a pH of 3.0 in most cases, and 71B is usually able to get a mead done.

The Wyeast sweet mead yeast is very finicky and doesn't like low pH. Many other yeast get stressed and sometimes stinky when facing low pH.

I find it really helps to be able to monitor and adjust pH, and if you plan to make a lot of traditional meads, a pH meter is well worth the investment. Lacking a meter, one approach recommended by Roger Morse is to add cream of tartar (4 grams per gallon) which will help stabilize the pH (you can get it at the supermarket).

Medsen

ruinarion
10-07-2010, 04:07 PM
I have cream of tartar at home. Will it change the flavor if I add it?

Medsen Fey
10-07-2010, 10:44 PM
It will add some acidity. That may sound contradictory, but it tends to stabilize the pH around 3.6. That may, in fact, improve the flavor of many meads.

Generally I don't want to add anything unless I really need it, so I'd probably be inclined to go without adding cream of tartar. If it ferments successfully, you'll know you don't need it for that honey/yeast combination. If you run into fermentation problems, you'll probably want to try the cream of tartar with that honey/yeast combination in the future.

akueck
10-07-2010, 11:47 PM
After having some pH problems with some previous traditionals (fixed around SG 1.025), the last one I fermented I added 1/2 g/gal of potassium carbonate at the beginning. No problems with that one. Could have worked without it, but perhaps it helped.

ruinarion
10-08-2010, 11:51 AM
OK. I think this will be the last question before I actually begin. How do you determine what amount of honey to use? Using the calculator on this site 7 LBs would create a starting gravity around 1.126 which has a potential to ferment to ferment at about 16.23% abv. This should be a little bit higher than the 71B yeast I am going to use will handle so it should leave a little residual sweetness. Is there another way to better estimate the final gravity?

YogiBearMead726
10-08-2010, 03:34 PM
Even if you use more than the yeast alcohol tolerance, you should understand that a colony in one mead will be different than the same yeast in another batch. During the growth period, the yeast evolves itself through budding to best survive in their surroundings. So by the time you're approaching their tolerance level, while most of the colony will start to die, you can bet that there will be survivors who adapted to the high alcohol content. So you can't really know where they might stop. But if it's more than ~2% more than what the yeast can handle, you should end up with something higher than 1.000, but be prepared to backsweeten, just in case the fittest yeast do survive. Good luck!

AToE
10-08-2010, 03:43 PM
What I would recommend is planning some temperature control, even something as simple as putting the jug/whatever into a pool of water at putting a t-shirt or something over it to wick up the water and cool it through evaporation. A water bath with a frozen water bottle thrown in a couple times a day might also help.

The reason for this is twofold. One, cool fermentations will produce a mead that is smoother sooner. Secondly, 71B is a bit of an odd yeast in my experience, if you leave it at room temperature it can chew through right past 16%, even to 17%, but keep it in the low 60s fahrenheit and it just might stop sweet.

Also, you could consider only putting in enough honey to get to about 1.090 (12% ABV). This will go dry, but I think you might find that you like that, and you can always stabilize and backsweeten later if you want. Just another option to throw at you!

Medsen Fey
10-08-2010, 04:26 PM
I wouldn't suggest starting with such a high gravity. If it sticks, it will be far too sweet. Starting at a more modest level and you should still be able to finish with some residual sugar, but if it does stick you'll have a gravity that will be much more drinkable (at least for my tastes - YMMV). 71B is normally pretty good about stopping at 14% ABV in traditional meads, which means it will typically chew up about 105 gravity points. If you start with a gravity of 1.110, you'll have a good chance at ending around 1.005. If it needs more sweetening at that point, you can add more honey.

AToE's suggestion to start a lower gravity and ferment it dry, then backsweeten to taste is also a great approach.

ruinarion
10-08-2010, 06:46 PM
I was trying to leave it a little sweeter because of the comments about sweet meads taste cleaner sooner but starting drier and then back sweetening sounds like an even better idea.

ruinarion
10-10-2010, 02:17 AM
Started a brewlog for the first batch here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?p=150199#post150199).

ruinarion
10-24-2010, 11:16 PM
OK so the fermentation has been going along slowly. I noticed that there is a buildup of lees on the bottom of the fermenter. It's about a half inch thick but if I put a flashlight up to the side of the container you can see some of the yeast coming back up with the bubbles. This brings up 2 questions.

When is it time to rack off the lees? And would stirring the lees back in to solution help the fermentation progress faster?

Chevette Girl
10-25-2010, 05:20 AM
If you're still in primary fermentation, even if stirring up the lees doesn't help, it sure won't hurt.

ruinarion
10-25-2010, 01:00 PM
OK. If it starts lagging in activity again stirring will definitely be an option.

AToE
10-25-2010, 01:31 PM
I would swirl or gently stir it regardless of whether you run into a snag. Stirring helps release CO2, which is good for the yeast, puts yeast back up into suspension to ferment more easily, breaks up any possible pockets of spoilage organisms (lessening their likelihood of survival) and even when primary finishes, the yeast you swirl up into suspension will act as a rudimentary fining agent, helping your mead clear faster.

ruinarion
10-26-2010, 10:51 AM
How would stirring the must and bringing the yeast back into suspension work as a fining agent? Would it require time for the yeast to settle out again?

It seems that if I stir the must the fermentation looks more active later on. Or at least there is more CO2 coming out of suspension but it makes me feel better to think the fermentation is more active..

Medsen Fey
10-26-2010, 11:05 AM
How would stirring the must and bringing the yeast back into suspension work as a fining agent? Would it require time for the yeast to settle out again?


It actually can work to speed clearing. As the yeast/lees are resuspended, they can bind with more particles becoming even larger. They'll usually settle out faster in any case.

Chevette Girl
10-26-2010, 01:22 PM
It does sound counter-intuitive, I know, but the way it works is that there's some attraction between the particles and larger particles settle out faster, so if you mix it all up, the little stuff sticks to the big stuff and gets dragged down when the big stuff settles out. It's one of the things they do in water treatment facilities to get the water to clear more, you'd think that adding more crap to the water wouldn't help but it does :)

Oskaar
11-04-2010, 01:39 AM
I saw a question earlier in the thread about pH.

DV10, K1V-1116 and EC-1118 are all tolerant of lower pH in mead and wine. My choice is DV10, cleaner and more neutral than the other two.

Cheers,

Oskaar