View Full Version : Read to make my 1st mead (Lithuanian recipe) and have some questions on recipe etc.

10-31-2010, 11:14 PM
Being of Lithuanian heritage I just must make a Lithuanian mead (midus) as my 1st batch.
This is the recipe:
Link (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_rapidrecipe&page=viewrecipe&Itemid=459&recipe_id=152)

I have several questions:

I want to scale down the recipe from 10 liters down to 3 liter for my first attempt. I assume I just take the ingredient quantities and cut them by 1/3?

Recipe calls for hops. I am bit concerned it may be too strong of a flavor. Am I wrong assuming that?
Honey: I saw Costco had Dutch Gold honey for a decent price. Should this be OK? Recipe call for boiling, so I assume hops and juniper will overwhelm the honey?
Juniper: there is a great local spice shop that sells good quality dried juniper berries. I assume dried is OK?
Yeast: I was told Lalvin's EC-1118 should get me to 18%ABV (I want to make this as high in ABV as possible). For 3 liters of mead, how much of that yeast?

Is 3 gallon carboy too big to ferment 3 - 4 liters of mead? Should I just split that into two growlers with airlocks?

11-01-2010, 12:47 AM
20 lbs of honey and only 10 qts of water. Yikes! Mead calculator says that is roundabout OG 1.2. At that starting point, your yeast will have a hard time starting. You will definitely end up with a sweet final product and likely nowhere near 18% abv. At the same time, I'd still use the 1118 since most other strains would probably just die. As for amount, "as much as possible" sounds good. I'd say the whole packet, usually that means 5-8 grams.

For your first mead, I would suggest cutting that honey by at least half. If you want it to be sweeter at the end, you can always add more honey. The lower starting gravity will be a lot easier to manage (for example you should be able to do away with the "age 5 years" instruction).

As for the hops, well it depends on the variety of hops you choose. 1 cup is probably around 1/2 oz of whole hops. With the recipe as-written, even very strong hops would give you a mild bitterness to balance the sweetness. If you want to reduce the honey up front, you might want to choose a milder hop variety such as Saaz, Tettnang, Hallertau, Crystal, Willamette, Mt Hood, Ultra, etc. For some hop aromatics without bitterness, don't add the hops for the full boil time. 5 mins of boiling gives you very little bitterness, some flavor and aroma.

Juniper: it calls for dried so I assume that is fine. Honey: better honey generally leads to better mead. Dutch gold works fine. I'd taste it first to make sure you like it though. This mead is going to taste a lot like the honey that you use.

You can ferment 3 L in a large carboy without issue. After primary fermentation, headspace should be minimal.

Before you start I'd suggest reading through the NewBee guide if you haven't already (link at left or on main page). If you'd like to run the recipe as-is, I would suggest cutting your teeth on a simpler fool-proof recipe first such as one of the simple cysers or Joe's Ancient Orange. Sack mead is a challenge and it's nice to get the basics down before taking on such a project.

Welcome to GotMead? and good luck with your first batch!

Medsen Fey
11-01-2010, 11:19 AM
Welcome to GotMead agurkas!

That recipe is probably not going to get you 18% ABV regardless of the yeast you choose as there are no nutrients to support the growth of the yeast. This means that you will have an extremely long and slow fermentation that may take 6 months or a year, and may kick up again later if the temperature warms up. The extremely long aging here is probably wise if you take this approach so that fermentation won't restart after bottling.

If you do follow this recipe, EC-1118 is a reasonable choice for yeast. K1V may be even better as it really functions pretty well with low nutrients in meads. Since you are starting at a high gravity, one full 5-gram packet in a 3 or 4 liter batch will be helpful (in the full sized recipe, I'd pitch 2 packets as the higher amount of yeast does provide some benefit with high gravity starts).

Which brings me to the subject of the gravity here. If you use 10 Kg of honey and add 10 liters of water, you'll have a batch size of about 16.9 liters and a starting gravity of around 1.175. This is too high for maximal alcohol production as it will tend to choke the yeast at the beginning so they will come up short. Even EC-1118 can be hampered at this level. This recipe will work better if you cut the initial honey to about 6-7 Kg. When mixed with the 10 liters of water, that should give a starting gravity of around 1.130-1.140 which is still very high, but at least tolerable for the yeast so that you can get maximal alcohol. At the end of fermentation you can add the rest of the honey. If you scale the recipe down, and maintain the same starting gravity (1.130-1.140) you're probably going to have better success.

If you want to get this recipe done more quickly, adding nutrient will make a HUGE difference. Using 0.5 gram per liter of DAP, and 2 grams Fermaid K per liter in divided doses, will get the initial fermentation done is a 2-3 weeks with an ABV that should be near the tolerance level of the yeast.

I realize I am throwing a lot of concepts at you for someone who has not made a mead before. One of the key things is the gravity readings. If you don't measure them, you may impair the yeast, and you may not be able to tell when this mead is finished. You need a hydrometer - it is the most important tool a mead maker can own, and you need to get comfortable with it. I would strongly encourage you to read the NewBee Guide (see the link in the column to the left of this thread).

I apologize for making things complicated, but if you want to get a high ABV mead, there are some things you have to take into account.

I hope you get a great result.


Dan McFeeley
11-01-2010, 11:51 AM
Hello Agurkas and welcome to the forums!

This is an old mead recipe, so by today's standards there can be some difficulties with the fermentation and finishing out of the mead. Some time ago, long and prolonged fermentations were expected in meadmaking, good meads were a product of the skill of the meadmaker, much of which may have been contributed by the local micro-ambience, containers and various tools that would carry yeast spores that had become particularly suited to the mead.

Also note that according to this recipe, aging in an oak barrel for up to five years in order to obtain a strong mead is required. I would guess that the mead at first would be a sweet product with low alcohol, as has been pointed out already. A long aging period may include occasional secondary fermentations that would gradually reduce the residual sugars remaining in the mead and raise the alcohol content.

Give it a go, but you might want to try a few other recipes while you're waiting for this one. It looks like you won't get a true Lithuanian mead until it's fully aged out.


11-01-2010, 12:03 PM
Agurkas, let me also welcome you to the "Gotmead" community!

Reading your recipe, it occurs to me that Lithuanian meads probably share a common history with Polish meads, since for a long period in late medieval/early renaissance history the two countries were part of a common confederation, and that is likely the time that meadmaking processes would have been shared. The trick in the recipe for Polish Poltoraks is to add the honey in stages (a technique called step feeding), which allows a more complete fermentation to occur. That, coupled with extended oak barrel aging (which provides both oak tannins and as well allows for a bit of micro-oxidation) should give you the high ABV, sweet but complex taste profile that you are after.

If you search on the term "step feeding" using the search tool, you will find lots of useful information (both for and against the process) on the subject.

Dan McFeeley
11-01-2010, 01:11 PM
That's another characteristic of these old recipes -- a lot of the steps were left out or glossed over -- it was probably assumed that the reader was already familiar with the process. ;D


11-02-2010, 06:32 PM

Being of Lithuanian descent myself, I fully appreciate your desire for a Lithuanian Midus.

In fact, I have a Lithuanian cookbook copyright 1955 (Chicago, IL), that was compiled by Josephine J. Dauzvardis, who was the wife of the Consul of Lithuania at Chicago. In any case, collecting up these recipes was quite an undertaking, and some of the ancient recipes she states "...were translated literally...".

In the book there are two mead recipes, one labeled ancient. Your recipe is quite similar to the non-ancient one:

1 handful juniper berries
2 nutmegs
1 handful hops
7 quarts honey
14 quarts water
1 oz yeast
1tsp sugar

The ancient recipe is:
2 quarts honey
5 gallons water
1/2 lb. hops
1 slice bread (presumably the dark lithuanian rye that would have been a staple back then).

Both of these recipes, like nearly all old-time recipes, involve boiling the honey/water mixture. As stated here already, yours and the first recipe have quite a high concentration of honey-to-water, leading to the "Allow to ferment at temperature of 60 degrees no less than 6 months."

The ancient recipe, has an unbelievably low amount of honey to water, until you read that the boiling process continued until you reached half the starting volume. (That's a lot of boiling!). It also had you spread the yeast (paste form) on the bread, which was then tossed into the must.

In any case, as already stated by others, adapting your recipe to newer processes will significantly reduce both the fermentation and aging times, and spending time reading the NewBee Guide will dramatically help your efforts.

Oh, and welcome to GotMead!!