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Rex
11-12-2010, 10:57 PM
So, I'll open up my first attempts at this most interesting of traditions for advice, critique and whatever else. I mostly want to document what I've done here in the beginning of a potential hobby.

One gallon batches, glass cider bottles
Batch one Sunday 11/7/2010:
1800g(approx 4lbs) Mel-O honey on sale at Walgreens-$8.00

Pasteur Champagne Yeast (1/4 packet) $0.50

Carlson yeast energizer (1/2 teaspoon added today 11/12/2010) $0.35

quantum sufficiat to one gallon tap water (our home supply is from a natural spring 800 feet away)-$0.00

planned addition of sassafras root (west slope of the Sauratown mountatin is my backyard) once fermentation near completion $0.00

Batch 2 Friday 11/12/2010:
1600g (approx 3.5 pounds) Mel-O honey, still on sale at Walgreens-$8.00

60ml fresh squeezed raw pomegranate juice - $0.75

10g mashed raisins -$0.05

Pasteur Champagne Yeast (1/4 packet) $0.50

Carlson yeast energizer (1/2 teaspoon added today 11/12/2010) $0.35


quantum sufficiat to one gallon tap water (our home supply is from a natural spring 800 feet away)-$0.00


Notes:
1)no boiling our sterilization of equipment or ingredients attempted, thorough washing only
2)Batch one generating foam the day after yeast pitch
3)Room temps ranging from 65-75, heated with wood stove
4)used a loose fitting lid till airlock installed today on Batch one
5)installed airlock from beginning on Batch 2
6) noticeable undissolved honey in Batch 1 today, shook the mixture, still undissolved
7) raisin mass floating 5 hours after pitch in Batch 2

fatbloke
11-13-2010, 02:30 AM
Firstly, welcome to Gotmead......



So, I'd be getting some yeast nutrient as well, because if the "carlson energizer" is the one I'm thinking of, it's either pure, or almost pure Di-ammonium phosphate.

You'd be needing some of the other "required" nutrients as well - don't forget, honey is almost completely devoid of those (unlike fruits, etc).

Also, I wouldn't bother splitting the packs of yeast down, a normal sized home brew pack (about 5 grammes or so), is Ok for batches up to about 5 gallons (and it can be a PITA to try and keep opened packs in good condition long enough, for when you want to make the next batch - which is why most will just rehydrate a whole pack per batch - Oh and look up GoFerm, it's a nutrient specifically for rehydrating yeasts).

Additionally, as you've used champagne yeast, it's very likely that it will ferment dry, which might be the aim, but depending on the honey, maybe not - I don't use champagne yeasts unless absolutely necessary as I find a lot of the finer, more subtle flavour and aroma is just blown straight out the airlock...... (I like to keep some K1V-1116 Lalvin yeast in stock as it's been described as "the Swiss Army Knife" of yeasts, and does a pretty good job on meads).

As for the honey ? don't know the US brands but if it's been "produced" (by that, I'm alluding to processed by pasteurisation, filtration and blending - specifically for eating or cooking), it's likely that it won't make a brilliant mead. The adage of "better quality honey, better quality mead" is pretty much correct.

Don't be disheartened by that last comment, my first mead was made in a similar way, and while it came out pretty horrible to start with (as per much of the info that you might find around the web and in books), after it was aged for about 9 months, I was "pleased as punch" with it. Sure experts might have "shot it full of holes" but it was drinkable and IMO, pretty bloody good........

As you say it's your first mead, think about how you might improve on ingredients, technique, etc etc.

The current batches will probably be better if you find some FermaidK, or Fermax or similar nutrient.

Oh and I'm thinking that you might want to consider the possible addition of sassafras root to the first one, and let it be until it's finished, cleared and aged a bit.

If I recall correctly, it imparts a sort of "root beer" or "medicinal" sort of taste - which you can get from higher levels of alcohol, especially when they're freshly finished (though this is a different sort of "medicinal" taste, and it might help your learning with mead to know the difference).

You can always steep some of the root later on, to add the flavour (actually doing it that way, gives you more control on how strong the flavour is, as you can put some in, leave it for a couple of weeks, take a taste and either leave it longer or add a little more, etc etc).

Dunno if any of that might help at all......

regards

fatbloke

mmclean
11-13-2010, 02:57 AM
Probably the most important aspect of home brewing is sanitation. If you are not starting with a clean environment, you may find yourself brewing some fairly nasty concoctions. One of the worst things a home brewer has to face is the prospect of pouring 5 gallons of undrinkable liquid down the drain. So, as you prepare to mix your first batch, repeat these words over and over before ever even touching your ingredients: Sanitize Everything!



Taken from The NewBee Guide to Making Mead found through the link to the left of the page. A lot of good information in there.

Rex
11-13-2010, 11:28 PM
Thanks for the replies. I enjoyed a trip to Blacksnake Meadery in southern Virginia today and Steve the mead maker served up some very nice selections I hope to detail in the near future.
I plan on putting my meads up after the very active phase slows and basically try to forget about them till next fall. Figure I'll bottle them if their drinkable and celebrate the holidays with these inaugural bottles.
I'm already itching to start larger batches using more interesting honey and yeasts.
My future batches will likely be timed to utilize local honey, blackberries, muscadines and perhaps aging in something other than glass and stainless steel.

mmclean
11-14-2010, 07:45 AM
Oh, and I so forgot...

Welcome to Gotmead?

:occasion14:

Cheers

fatbloke
11-14-2010, 10:32 AM
Thanks for the replies. I enjoyed a trip to Blacksnake Meadery in southern Virginia today and Steve the mead maker served up some very nice selections I hope to detail in the near future.
I plan on putting my meads up after the very active phase slows and basically try to forget about them till next fall. Figure I'll bottle them if their drinkable and celebrate the holidays with these inaugural bottles.
I'm already itching to start larger batches using more interesting honey and yeasts.
My future batches will likely be timed to utilize local honey, blackberries, muscadines and perhaps aging in something other than glass and stainless steel.
Don't forget about them.......

See if you can find any info about the yeasts, to see whether they are of a type that is ok for ageing the mead on the lees/sediment. Some are completely unsuitable and it's best to get the meads racked off the sediment, whereas some of them are fine and you could indeed just put them away and forget about them (except looking once every couple of weeks to make sure that the airlocks haven't dried out).

As for ageing in glass or stainless steel, well that'd be because they're cheap, available and reasonably maintenance free.

Some people will locate cooperage, but barrels are often too large for practical use - smaller barrels might be available but as they tend to increase the liquid to wood area/ratio, you have to be careful and watch/test the mead to make sure it doesn't become "over oaked".

The chap who runs another forum I post at, makes enough grape wines to be able to use barrels, but he does say that you don't really want to use oak barrels much below the 100 litres in size because of the effect of over oaking.

Besides, I'd guess that if you can get your inaugural batches to a stage where they've fermented, and you stabilise/sulphite them, and get them to a stage where you can back sweeten them to a "medium" level, then leave them to do their thing. I fully expect you to be very pleased with them...... and be able to enjoy them....

regards

fatbloke

Rex
12-23-2010, 07:32 PM
One December 10th I racked both gallons. I had added the sassafras root in gallon#1 and upon sampling a bit during the siphon process detected little flavor. I removed the root, boiled it with a small amount (3 ounces) of water and added this "tea" to the racked gallon. This batch was noted to be sweeter than the pomegranate batch started a week later. It had a bit more honey but had fermented longer, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The pomegranate batch suited my taste better at this 1 month racking stage.
I topped off with a bit of water. It is doing its thing in a closet in my bedroom that ranges from 55-65 degrees.
Unless someone has some well reasoned advice, I don't think I'll do much else till spring.
Thanks for all the info here.