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Kun2112
12-25-2010, 11:52 PM
Greetings all.
I discovered my first bottle of mead about three weeks ago. The next day I did some poking around on YouTube and found a slight variation on JAO (though I didn't know it at the time) without the clove or cinnamon. I then discovered and have made two batches of JAO, and a third without the orange, but 1/3 cider and a little less honey.
I don't know how these variations will all turn out, but I was bored and found some very cheap clover honey.
This past Thursday I hopped in the car and drove the two hours to the LHBS for supplies. Well, being two days before Christmas, the trip that should have taken five hours turned into eight. Christmas-eve my buddy's furnace broke down, and I spent the day trying to help him. All said and done, I didn't have time to pickup any more Honey--and I forgot to get some Go-Ferm, DAP,and Fermaid K as I was too busy looking at all the shiny stuff.
I realize now that this was probably a good thing as it forced me to sit back and take a deep breath before my five gallon batch.

Here is a list of supplies I have on hand:

5 lbs. 4 oz. orange blossom honey
2 lbs. blackberry honey
2 lbs. wildflower honey
10g 71b-1122
20g D47
1 pouch fleischmann's :p
126g regular rasins
Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg
Spring water (sterile)

I cleaned out Kroger of their non-clover honeys in the health food section, and the only other honey I have readily available (in a two county area) is standard supermarket clover. Unless Kroger restocks 12/26 that is :D

I really would like to get this in primary over the next few days because of my schedule, and I wouldn't be able to go to my LHBS for another two weeks.

I am aiming for a semi-sweet traditional or semi-sweet melomel.

Here are my questions:

If I go with the traditional route, I figure about another six pounds of honey, and about eight-ten pounds of frozen berries for a melomel.
Does this seem right?

Also, what are your thoughts on using crushed white grapes as the nutrient in the traditional (I will probably look at adding some citrus zest too)? The turn around on mail order at this time of year/distance to the LHBS adds complications for me.

Finally, as far as aeration is concerned: My LHBS did not have a lees stirrer that attached to a drill. They did have a long-handled paddle with four large slots. How long should I aerate with this as compared to the power drill method, OR can i go to the hardware store, get a paint stirrer and clean/sanitize the heck out of it?

Thank you for taking the time to wade through this lengthy post. ;D

fatbloke
12-26-2010, 05:00 AM
Very easy to "get the bit between the teeth".

I'd suggest that you don't worry about the schedule right now. You're in the early stages, so do a bit more researching, note taking etc, to have a more considered idea of what you might like to look for.

Most of the currently used (and recommended) techniques, suggest the use of FermaidK, DAP and GoFerm, but they aren't essentials. Yes the Lalvin/Lallemand stuff is good, as they provide more detailed data than just about any other yeast/nutrient provider.

Plus, focus a bit on yeasts etc. For instance, if you dig around, you'll see that K1V-1116 is quite highly rated, as it seems to be quite flexible, as well as seemingly providing a decent alcohol tolerance, yet low nutrient requirement, etc etc etc. I've read of it being described as "the Swiss Army knife of yeasts" a number of times.

Also, look up about any reasonably local honey dealer to you. That way, you'll know what varieties are easily available (no shipping costs etc etc).

Well done on the early efforts.

regards

fatbloke

YogiBearMead726
12-26-2010, 02:03 PM
First off, Welcome to GotMead? Kun2112!! ;D

The first question I'd ask is what fermentation vessels you have available. I'm assuming you have a couple 1 gallon jugs, but the batch size will help determine what end result you will get. *Edit* I just re-read and saw you are planning on going 5 gallon, but I think my comments still work.

Now, if you were to make a 3 gallon batch, you'd end up with a starting gravity of around 1.108, putting you around 14% ABV if fermented to dry (remember, you can always backsweeten if you want it sweeter :)). I think this would be your best bet. You don't even need a 3 gallon carboy, just a food-safe plastic bucket for primary or a 5 gallon carboy, and you can rack into the 1 gallons from making JAO for secondary. Fermenting in a bucket also is much easier to handle in terms of melomels. The cap is a lot easier to manage, and there's less chance for a MEA (mead eruption accident) to occur. *Edit* I'd go this route if you're really dead-set on getting this batch going before picking up any more honey.

For a 5 gallon batch, your 15 lbs of honey sounds like a good amount. It's roughly the same (just bigger) as the 3 gallon batch I described above.

To your melomel comment...what fruit were you thinking of adding? Your suggested amount would more than likely result in a much "lighter" fruit character than you might expect. 3-4 lbs per gallon might be a better idea, especially if you're going for frozen fruit. Another idea would be to add some in primary and the rest into secondary, as primary fermentation can blow off a lot of fragile fruity esters. Dried fruit, however, you need less of per gallon, since a lot of fruit's weight is water, and that's gone with dried fruit. Just make sure the dried fruit isn't treated by SO2. Dried vs fresh/frozen fruit also plays into the decision of which yeast to use. I'd go with 71B if you use some fresh fruit, D-47 if you go with dried fruit.

For nutrients, crushed grapes will give you something, but no-where near enough YAN (yeast assimilable nitrogen) content for a healthy fermentation, especially with the yeast you have. I know it's a pain, but I'd wait and start the batch after you pick up some proper nutrients for the yeast. You could even start the batch, go pick up nutrients, and be done with the lag-phase by the time you're home. :)

Finally, the lees stirrer. Since you don't have easy access to one, you'll probably want to whip the must for a good 20+ minutes for proper aeration. I will say, it's much easier to just use a lees stirrer. That said, you could also use an oxygen stone if you have access to O2 to pump through for aeration.

My only other comment/advice would be to pick up a hydrometer when you go to your LHBS, if you don't already have one. They're cheap and pretty essential tools for managing your fermentation. Maybe also pick up some pH test strips (wine range), but these aren't necessary.

All in all, sounds like you're well on your way to a rewarding habit...er...hobby. :p Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing!

Kun2112
12-26-2010, 05:32 PM
Thanks for the input and the warm welcome!

@Yogi, I do have a hydrometer. I have a 6.5gal "Ale Pail" with lid (and sadly no airlock hole as they were out of those, but I have a drill) and a 5gal glass carboy as fermentation chambers. I was leaning towards blueberries, but I have had some more thoughts that I will explain later.

@Bloke, My LHBS does not carry Go-Ferm, DAP, or Fermaid K, so I will have to mail order. :( I think until I get the hang of this new obsession, I will stick with proven recipes.

I have decided that I really need to do some more research and pace myself better. I need to read through "The Compleat Meadmaker" a few more times, and read some of the old threads here before I jump off and "create a new recipe.

That said, I really want to start a batch, so I think I will do another variation on JAO in a five gallon batch. I was inspired by Allan Brown's post (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16427) and have decided to try something very similar with a different berry mix (about one pound each of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries), and using the honey I have on hand with another eight pounds of supermarket clover to bring my total up to 17.25 instead of 17.5 pounds. I think the extra sugar from increasing the amount of berries should offset the extra 4oz of honey. I will start a log and let everybody know my progress.

Again, thank you very much. :notworthy:

AToE
12-26-2010, 06:02 PM
One tip when thinking about sugar contribution from berries - they only raise your sugar content if you figure their juice into the total volume. If you add them on top of your total volume, they will in fact lower your SG because while they do contribute sugar, they also contribute water. The sugar content of almost all fruit other than grapes is signifcantly lower than the sugar content most mead musts start at (usually only 1/3 to 1/2 the SG of your must), so they actually dilute your must.

Kun2112
12-26-2010, 07:04 PM
Thank you!
I will add some more honey then.