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calicojack
10-29-2010, 05:11 PM
Hi guys. First post here. Saw the amon amarath video on youtube and now i'm wanting to make some real mead, not in a plastic jug.

So far I have:
(1) Glass gallon jug (originally had sangria in it from wally world)
(1) air lock
(1) stopper pre-drilled for the air lock
(1) packet levin d-47 yeast
(1) gallon of water
(3.5) lbs of honey (want to shoot for a 14%)
(1) hydrometer
(1) Large Orange
(1) box of raisins
(1) unscented bleach (for sterilization)

I know i have to get:
another jug
auto siphoner w/tubing

Soooo on to the questions about the steps cause i want to make sure i have it right.

So i sterilize everything that is going to come into contact with my mixture.

Then
- Add half gallon of water to a large stock pot
- Add All honey to the stock pot
- Heat to 140 degrees
- keep heated for 20 minutes
- cool (the video i watched the guy put the stock pot into a sink of water)
- activate yeast
- pour water/honey into jug
- pitch yeast
- add fruit
- top off with remaining water
- install airlock

at 30 days
-siphon off mead into second jug (avoiding the bottom inch or so due to sediment)
- add any additional ingredients (cinnimon or whatever)
- reinstall airlock

At 60 days
- check for activity in airlock
if no activity wait 10 days

at 70 days
- bottle and age

so do i have that correct? am i missing anything? am i waiting to long?

icedmetal
10-29-2010, 05:23 PM
You can skip heating the honey altogether if you like. There's been much debate about it on these boards, and either way will work. Heating supposedly causes the mead to clear faster. It also supposedly removes some of the more volatile stuff, a good portion of which makes up the final fragrance of your mead.

I would wait to bottle until it is clear. 70 days may or may not be long enough; just say no to bottling if it isn't crystal clear.

You may or may not wish to stabilize using potasium metabisulphite (campden tablets) and potassium sorbate, but this looks like it should go dry so your danger there is minimal. To be as safe as possible, invest in a hydrometer, and don't bottle unless its readings hold steady for 2 readings spread at least two weeks apart. If this were to come out sweet, then you'd need to stabilize for sure, or risk the dreaded bottle bomb.

edit: notice you mention reactivating the yeast. I assume you mean rehydrating in water. If that's not what you mean, please clarify :)

calicojack
10-29-2010, 05:32 PM
in the video i'm basing my stuff off of, the guy activated the yeast in room temperature water for 15 minutes before pitching it.

so at what time periods should i use the hydrometer? and is it a rushed thing? by rushed i mean, uncap it, take the reading, cap it as quickly as possible to avoid contamination?

AToE
10-29-2010, 05:38 PM
No crazy rush, contamination is pretty rare as long as you sanitize anything you stick into the mead.

I generally take the lid off, pour my sample into the test tub I use for my hydrometre measurements, take some time making sure I have the reading correctly (bubbles and fruit chunks etc can make it tricky) and then pour it all back in. Lots of people drink their sample, but with small batches that'll leave you with a whole lot less mead if you're taking samples every day or two. I've never had a problem with contamination, I just dunk everything (including my hands) into an iodophor solution, shake off some of the solution that clings to everything and go ahead with whatever I'm doing. That's what I love about iodophor for sanitation, it's a no rinse product so it's far far easier to work with.

EDIT: Also check out the newbee guide on the left side menu of this site. It's an amazing resource that will explain a lot.

calicojack
10-29-2010, 05:44 PM
EDIT: Also check out the newbee guide on the left side menu of this site. It's an amazing resource that will explain a lot.

i've found that it confuses me a good bit.

fatbloke
10-29-2010, 05:56 PM
in the video i'm basing my stuff off of, the guy activated the yeast in room temperature water for 15 minutes before pitching it.

so at what time periods should i use the hydrometer? and is it a rushed thing? by rushed i mean, uncap it, take the reading, cap it as quickly as possible to avoid contamination?
Welcome to the forums calicojack.......

Firstly, I'll point you towards the Gotmead Newbie Guide (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=108&Itemid=14). Yes, it's a bit of a mammoth read, but probably worth your while.

It looks, very much like, the video that you're alluding to, is based upon the recipe for "Joe's Ancient Orange Spiced Mead", which is referenced in the Newbie Guide.

For your first attempt, I urge you to try that version of the recipe - and as Joe says, stick to the recipe and don't deviate. Why? because any changes to it will give you a result different from the one intended.

For instance, you mention that you've got yourself some Lalvin D47 yeast, well that's a wine yeast, which will result in the batch being fermented dry. I can assure you that it's not that good dry. It's intended to finish sweet which is why bread yeast is what's correct.

It's aimed at getting consistent results, yet it's made up from ingredients that you can obtain, pretty much, from your nearest grocery store.

You don't need a hydrometer at this stage, and the yeast you've got, well you can use that later on. If you find that you like the idea of mead (and the mead itself.....) then you'll use it up quickly enough.

If you read through the thread that is entirely about making the Joe's Ancient Orange (a.k.a. JAO), you might read where people suggest making other slight modifications, again, if you want to try it, just stick with the recipe "as is", because while there's a couple of bits in there, that might seem a little strange/unusual or unorthodox, there's nothing in it that should be cause for concern as it's a tried and tested method/recipe/technique.

Beware of Joe's warnings as well i.e. his comment about the over use of cloves, he's spot on with that. I've made one that's "too clovey" and yes, it's not nice. With the spices, "less is more".

It's probably too late to start one now and have it ready for christmas, and while some people are happy with it when it's finished i.e. fermented, settled and clear, with the fruit all dropped to the bottom of the fermenter, if you age it for 6 months or so afterward, it really does mellow nicely.

regards

fatbloke

calicojack
10-29-2010, 06:06 PM
so i should just go get some regular old bread yeast from wally world?

eta question:
reading through some of the logs. when they mention "stirring" the batch, they are really just shaking the bottle right?

wayneb
10-29-2010, 06:53 PM
Sometimes they mean shaking (usually with the JAO gallon-sized batches a good shake is all that is required) and sometimes they mean stirring (as in with some of the higher starting gravity recipes, and especially if you go big - try shaking a full 5 gallon carboy sometime - it isn't fun!!). Occasionally you'll see a reference to W.T.C. (which means whipping the cr@p) out of your must. That is actually a good idea with some recipes that require oxygen additions early on in the fermentation.

Welcome to the "Gotmead" community, BTW! If this information deluge still has you a bit confused, don't hesitate to ask more questions. We're hear to help! ;D

Chevette Girl
10-29-2010, 07:19 PM
In response to your hydrometer question about time periods, you want to get your specific gravity (SG) before you add the yeast - it will tell you how much yeast food (sugar) you've started with... When you're doing a traditional mead (not JAO), you'll want to check it at least once after a week to see how far it's gone, you want it to be approaching 1.000 before you rack it into secondary fermentation. You'll want a reading when it's done because by knowing how much yeast food is left, you will know how much they ate, and this will tell you how much alcohol is in your wine/mead. You'll also want to hold off on bottling until you've gotten a bunch of consecutive SG readings the same, because if you arbitrarily decide on a date to bottle, the fermentation might not be finished, and if you're lucky, it'll pop corks out and make a mess befor a bottle builds up to much pressure and explodes (bottle bomb, dangerous).

Is there anything else that specifically confuses you in the newbie guide or elsewhere? this is the right place to ask, and there are nice people here who will help you.

fatbloke
10-30-2010, 02:45 AM
so i should just go get some regular old bread yeast from wally world?

eta question:
reading through some of the logs. when they mention "stirring" the batch, they are really just shaking the bottle right?
1. the yeast? well Joe quotes using Fleischmans (not sure of the spelling), which isn't available here, so I just use Allinsons yeast which is a local brand of bread yeast so the stuff from wally world should be fine.

2. as others have pointed out, stirring is just that. a lot will have a long handled plastic spoon or a "must stirrer" (which is just like a small frying slice but with a long handle - all moulded plastic).

My stirrer is too large to get into a carboy, so I just wash and sanitise the handle and stir with that.

The shaking of the carboy? well, that's also sometimes the suggested method - and feasible if the carboy is a 1 gallon one, but if it's a 5 gallon one that's nearly full, then it's not really possible........

Another method for making sure that there's enough aeration that I use, is to remove a pint or so of liquid, then wash and sanitise our liquidiser, the pint of liquid then receives a good blitz in that, then the liquid is added back into the main must. One downfall of that, is that if the must is already fermenting, when you pour the liquid back into the must, it can cause a fast release of CO2 in the fermenting must and you end up with a mead fountain/geyser - which is why you might fill the carboy, say 3/4's full and get the ferment going, leaving it going until it's settled down and then topping up with whatever's being used (with JAO that'd be water).

It's less of an issue if you're using a bucket for the ferment as you can use a bucket larger than actually required for the ferment so there's space for any foaming activity - which is one of the reasons you'll have probably read comment of primary fermenter and then when the ferment is racked over into a carboy/demi-john/gallon jug etc, they will refer to it as the secondary fermenter.

JAO is basically designed to be started and finished in the same jug/DJ, so you'd fill it 3/4's and once the ferment has settled down, it's topped up..... Plus, given your other questions, yes JAO has a straight forward method of just shaking the must (with a stopper/bung in the jug) as that's enough for it.

When you read further, you'll see that some here like to take things further - and you might see reference to people bubbling pure O2 through a must, or maybe using a fish tank airstone and pump to bubble air through it, etc etc. It's what the forums are all about. A search would probably throw up a link to the paper that someone has produced that explains about methods for the maximum introduction of air/O2 etc etc. It can all be as complicated as you want it to be.....

Which is why I said earlier about just using the JAO recipe/method as it's easy to follow, straight forward and will reward you with consistent results and an enjoyable end product.....

regards

fatbloke

calicojack
10-30-2010, 03:51 PM
how much water should i dissolve the honey in?

fatbloke
10-30-2010, 07:48 PM
how much water should i dissolve the honey in?
From memory, my first JAO, I just put the honey in the jar first, then topped it off with warm water to between 1/2 and 2/3 full, then put a solid rubber bung in the top and shook the hell out of it.

Then I knew how much room I had to put the orange and other ingredients into - ending up with it about 3/4's full to pitch the yeast into.

Once I was happy that it was settled enough (after about a week) I gently topped it up with water to just below the neck of the 1 gallon jar - gently because putting the water in too quickly can cause the CO2 to be released from the must quickly giving a "mead fountain" or coke bottle effect.......

regards

fatbloke

Chevette Girl
10-31-2010, 01:53 AM
That's about what I do, I use large glass jars for JAO, pour the honey in with an equal amount of hot water from the tap and swirl it till it's dissolved, add the fruits etc, then top it up to 2" from the top with cold water, put the lid on and shake the ever-livin' heck out of it, add yeast, then I don't top it off till it's starting to clear...

AToE
10-31-2010, 02:44 AM
Seriously too, don't hesitate to ask any questions. This is the most snob-free newb-friendly site I've ever found. The people here are so patient, they've been asked the same questions a million times and the worst response they ever give is to refer someone to the newbee guide or the search function.

The main thing to grasp in the beginning is how SG readings relate to alcohol % and sweetness, when combined with the expected alcohol tolerance of the yeast being used. JAO is nice for beginners because it skips this whole bit completely, but SG is still something that will eventually have to be understood.

crimsondrac
11-01-2010, 04:07 PM
If you use Bread yeast, keep in mind that it foams a lot more then most wine/mead yeasts. So, make sure to leave some extra head space in your fermenter otherwise you could experience your first Blow off. Some are relatively small, but every now and then you hear of a real nasty ceiling gusher.

My experience with JAOs is: It will tend to ferment and clear real fast. Mine did in about 2 or 3 weeks. Mine tasted very harsh for a while after it cleared. Took about 4 months to start smoothing out. Still have about 2 liters left I am going to let age for a while longer before I crack it open. Finally, if you are making mead, make at least a 5 gallon batch. You do about the same about of work as you would if you made a 1 gallon batch, but you get 5 times more yield. You will find after making a 1 gallon batch and having to wait for it to ferment and age, you will not have very much to get you to that next batch. I only make 1 gallon batches now if I am experimenting. Otherwise, it is all 5+ gallons.