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Tiwas
02-16-2011, 02:36 AM
Ok, my first batch in about 15 years is coming up, and I've ordered the basics:
* Better bottle (for secondary fermentation)
* Fermentation bucket (sp?)
* Air lock
* That thingy to measure specific gravity
* Siphon

Still haven't decided on yeast yet, but going for something semi-dry. Honey just needs to be picked up.

The plan was to use the recipe for plain, semi-dry mead from The Compleat Meadmaker, but as I understand there has been development since the last print...

From what I understand:
* Boil water, cool to around 60C add honey and let simmer for a while at the degree (not above 66C)
* Cool to room temp, transfer to sanitized bucket, pitch yeast and nutrient (no need for a starter, right? Or do you recommend one?)
* Stir like crazy as often as possible until fermentation really goes bananas
* When there's more than 1 minute between air bubbles (2-3 weeks?), transfer to better bottle to get rid of the dead yeast and any other crap at the bottom. No need to be scared of airating (sp?) ?
* Add honey until alcohol content is right. Should I stir it in? What about air?
* Leave to clear
* Add some oak for a little while. What about air?
* After two to three months, transfer to bottles (is this too late to make part of the batch sparkling? I was thinking about bottling half, add sugar, bottle the other half)
* Store
* Drool, but still store
* Dream about it, but still store
* Taste :)

Does that sound good for a plain mead?

Also, how much concentrate or cider should I really add to make good melomel? The problem is with having to wait for at least a year before tasting to see how badly I failed :p I would like to try a batch with apple and one with wine grapes.

Cheers!

triarchy
02-16-2011, 08:38 AM
My advice would be:

Dont bother boiling water just mix the honey and go.

I use a starter with GoFerm

Aerate 3 times a day until the 1/3 sugar break. I would use the hydrometer to get a starting gravity (SG) and also use it periodically thru fermentation to tell you when you hit the 1/3 sugar break. I dont hard cover my fermenter up until 1/3 sugar break, I use a sanitized cloth to make taking readings easier, others hard cover. Your choice.

Not sure about "add honey until alcohol content is right". I think you are talking about step feeding, but I dont do that so have no input. I always just add all my honey up front for conversion to alcohol. Backsweetening later if needed, but that shouldnt change the alcohol level at that point.

Dont trust the bubbles, trust the hydrometer. But the basic idea is there, after the bulk of fermentation is over, transfer the mead off the lees.

Adding oak, sure. Always be careful about oxygen exposure after the 1/3 sugar break. For me (and others can feel free to correct this), I will carefully make additions or take measurements throughout the process. I just try to be quick and not splash around too much.

Transfer to bottles when fermentation is over, but be sure. Use the hydrometer to make sure the readings are not changing over a period of a few weeks at least. Some people like to let mead sit and age in the secondary fermenter, years maybe. Your call.

How much fruit to use? For fresh fruit, Id say at least 3 lbs per gallon, but I like more. I have no idea about concentrate. I think the norm for using cider (making cyser) is all cider and no water, the cider is the liquid for this style.

Note: If you post your recipe, some more stuff might get shaken loose in the way of advice.

Tiwas
02-16-2011, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the feedback. My first batch this round will be something like 10kg (22lbs) honey + whatever water is needed to fill the carboy. I need to check the amount of honey, but just honey+water.

I guess I'll take your tip regarding the simmering, but I'll give the water a quick boil just to sanitize it. Norwegian tap water is excellent quality (I like it better than bottled water, as it doesn't feel as "thin") so should be just fine.

Medsen Fey
02-16-2011, 12:00 PM
Welcome Tiwas!

If you want something semi-dry, you may want to scale back that honey amount. 22 pounds is probably not going to leave you semi-dry. It will likely be sweet or very sweet depending on your total volume.

This is where using the hydrometer comes in handy. You can mix up the honey in the water using an amount to get the level of alcohol and sugar you are aiming for depending on the yeast used. We can probably give you some suggestions if you can tell us what ABV you'd like to end up with, and what yeast you have available.

By the way, to get a specific level of sweetness, it is often easiest to start with a gravity to produce the amount of alcohol you want, then let it go dry. Then stabilize to prevent the yeast from fermenting any further and add more honey (backsweetening) to get the level of sweetness just right. This is approach many here use successfully.

This would also be a good time to check out the NewBee guide (see link in the column to the left).

Tiwas
02-17-2011, 11:00 AM
Ok, I just ordered what I needed, so now, at least, I know what kind of yeast I'm using: http://vinogbar.no/product_info.php?products_id=1715

Anyone know this?

When doing half the batch sparkling at the other half still, should I just use one of those small machines for carbonating soft drinks instead of adding sugar?

Cheers! :)

wayneb
02-17-2011, 11:17 AM
Hello, Tiwas. I am not able to successfully access the link that you provided. Can you just tell us the manufacturer name and the strain of the yeast?

You certainly can use a carbonation machine to make your mead sparkling. In fact, if you would want one to be finished sweet or semi-sweet some day, you could stabilize your sweet mead (using metabisulphite and sorbate), and then force carbonate it using the machine. That way you can have naturally sweet mead that is carbonated, too.

mmclean
02-17-2011, 11:18 AM
Wyeast xl 4632

wayneb
02-17-2011, 11:29 AM
OK - That's the Dry Mead strain, and it should be good to go up to around 18% ABV. That said, Medsen is correct - starting out at a lower initial gravity would more likely guarantee that the mead will finish completely dry. I don't know what size your carboy for the primary fermenation is, but if it is 5 US gallons (the most common size over here), then using 22 lbs of honey you'd start with an initial gravity of 1.156, which is very high for any yeast, including your dry mead strain.

Tiwas
02-17-2011, 11:56 AM
I want to make it semi-dry, so the solution might be to sweeten it after fermentation. The carboy is a 6gallon (23 liter) better bottle.

Is there some sort of calculator available to calculate gravity? If not, how much honey do you guys think I should start with?

gray
02-17-2011, 12:40 PM
I want to make it semi-dry, so the solution might be to sweeten it after fermentation. The carboy is a 6gallon (23 liter) better bottle.

Is there some sort of calculator available to calculate gravity? If not, how much honey do you guys think I should start with?

There sure is, the Mead Calculator (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16).

You can play around with it to find the amount of honey required to get your desired gravity for your volume. It wont be as accurate as the hydrometer, but will get you in the ballpark.

Medsen Fey
02-17-2011, 12:49 PM
Are you going to ferment in the Better Bottle, or are you going to ferment in another container and transfer it to the better bottle for aging/clearing?

Tiwas
02-17-2011, 03:51 PM
Thanks for the link to the calculator :)

I was planning on doing the primary fermentation in the bin, and then transfer to the bottle for clearing and stuff...and bottle in the fall. Sound like an ok idea?

Medsen Fey
02-17-2011, 04:09 PM
Well since you are going to do it that way, you could target your starting volume to be around 24.5 liters which will give you some room to leave some lees behind and have a bit left over for topping up. If you play with the mead calculator, you'll find that if you use 24.5 L total volume and 18 pounds of honey, you'll get a starting gravity of 1.100 which should be good for a mead of about 13.5% ABV.

They Wyeast strain you are using will take that dry if you aerate and use adequate nutrients. When the gravity gets down below 1.000, you can rack it to the better bottle and let it clear. Once it gets clear, you can stabilize and use some of the honey that's let to sweeten it to the level you like best.

There are many other ways to approach it, but using that yeast, you'll need to backsweeten, or you'll have to start at a gravity that will leave you sweet but will be really high ABV with rocket fuel character.

Tiwas
02-18-2011, 02:07 AM
Ok, so I tried the calculator, checking off the volume and "additional sugars #1". With volume set to 24.5l (that was a really good idea :) ) and 9.5kg of honey, the target gravity box changed to 1.116 with a potential alcohol content of 15%

Would it be correct to assume around SG110 to get to my target? 1/3 sugar break would then be SG75?

How do you usually measure SG? Extract some liquid with a pipette, measure it and transfer back? I reckon putting it back wouldn't be so bad until 1/3 sugar break, but discard it when measuring later on...?...

Also, the shop said I didn't have to use any more nutrient than was in the yeast pack. Do you guys agree? Is one pack enough?

kudapucat
02-18-2011, 02:44 AM
Ok, so I tried the calculator, checking off the volume and "additional sugars #1". With volume set to 24.5l (that was a really good idea :) ) and 9.5kg of honey, the target gravity box changed to 1.116 with a potential alcohol content of 15%

Would it be correct to assume around SG110 to get to my target? 1/3 sugar break would then be SG75?

How do you usually measure SG? Extract some liquid with a pipette, measure it and transfer back? I reckon putting it back wouldn't be so bad until 1/3 sugar break, but discard it when measuring later on...?...

Also, the shop said I didn't have to use any more nutrient than was in the yeast pack. Do you guys agree? Is one pack enough?
A lot of ppl (including myself), sanitise their hydrometers and replace mead no matter what point in the ferment it is.

As for your SG measurments. If you're not going to use a decimal point, use 4 digits, it reduces confusion. for example: I THINK you mean 1.100, which is sometime (often by me) written as 1100.
the 1/3 sugar break is equal to (OG - 1.0) * 2/3 + 1.0, or two thirds the stuff after the decimal. so that would be 1066 of you OG was 1100.
I hope this helps, as I'm confused by your numbers.

Tiwas
02-18-2011, 08:09 AM
Thanks for SG measurements, thanks for the clarification. I was told you'd only use the number after the dot and skip leading zeroes. Must've misunderstood. :)

kudapucat
02-18-2011, 10:09 AM
Thanks for SG measurements, thanks for the clarification. I was told you'd only use the number after the dot and skip leading zeroes. Must've misunderstood. :)

Perhaps, it may be, I'm no expert, but it's no notation I've ever seen, on gotmead or in chemistry...
especially as you can have an alcohol ferment out to < 1.000 anywhere (on an exponential scale) down to 0.790 <-- actually that's pure ethanol, so you'd need to distill to get that, as no yeast would stay alive long enough, and you can't convert water to ethanol, but you get what I mean.
the lowest is probably about 25% ethanol, so about 0.950.

so by 110 you meant 1110... that means the 1/3 break will be 1073 ish. so yeah, you're right. As I thought, I'd misunderstood.

I've had a few, so may be rambling. If so, sorry ;-) :occasion14:

Tiwas
02-18-2011, 10:45 AM
I'll go with the convention here, then. Really - this is the only forum I'm on and I don't really know any home brewers anyway, so even if your convention is incorrect it wouldn't matter as the people *here* will understand me :)

The reasoning for dropping "1." was that it was implied that a high value was actually less than a small value or something like that. Starting with an OG of 1.998 wouldn't be feasible. But again - I'll drop that advice and sticking to what's used here and in chemistry. Thanks! :)

YogiBearMead726
02-18-2011, 01:47 PM
I'll go with the convention here, then. Really - this is the only forum I'm on and I don't really know any home brewers anyway, so even if your convention is incorrect it wouldn't matter as the people *here* will understand me :)

The reasoning for dropping "1." was that it was implied that a high value was actually less than a small value or something like that. Starting with an OG of 1.998 wouldn't be feasible. But again - I'll drop that advice and sticking to what's used here and in chemistry. Thanks! :)

I don't want to add to the confusion, but it's perfectly acceptable to refer to gravity readings without the "1.". Just be sure to list the "reading" in gravity units. For example, a must with an OG of 1.075 has 75 GU's (gravity units). Make sense? The two numbers mean the same exact thing, but are expressed differently, depending on what's easiest to think about.

I will say as a caveat to this, that you typically only use GU's when doing calculations that are otherwise a bit more complicated when using the "1." measurement. For instance, when calculating how much grain to use to get a certain OG for brewing.

Medsen Fey
02-18-2011, 01:52 PM
How do you usually measure SG? Extract some liquid with a pipette, measure it and transfer back? I reckon putting it back wouldn't be so bad until 1/3 sugar break, but discard it when measuring later on...?...

I take some out with a wine thief (or more commonly, a turkey baster) and put it in the measuring tube then take the measurement. Since I tend to make batches that are larger, I don't mind tasting the samples and then throwing away any that's left. If I test a small batch, I just sanitize well and pour it back into the batch when I'm done.


Also, the shop said I didn't have to use any more nutrient than was in the yeast pack. Do you guys agree? Is one pack enough?

They are incorrect. The Wyeast packet will not have enough nutrients to feed the yeast for a full size batch. Some would argue that one packet doesn't even have enough yeast, much less the nutrients. When dealing with a liquid yeast packet, and a 23+ liter batch, I'd suggest building up a nice little starter (about 1 liter size). This isn't absolutely essential if you aerate the must well, and feed it well, but using a starter will make sure the yeast get off to a faster start. You can use more than one packet, but that gets expensive.

Whether you use a starter or not, or even if you use multiple packets, you will still need to provide nutrients to allow the yeast to grow to maximum mass. So you'll be needing some DAP and Fermaid K (or other energizer).

Tiwas
02-18-2011, 02:02 PM
They are incorrect. The Wyeast packet will not have enough nutrients to feed the yeast for a full size batch. Some would argue that one packet doesn't even have enough yeast, much less the nutrients. When dealing with a liquid yeast packet, and a 23+ liter batch, I'd suggest building up a nice little starter (about 1 liter size). This isn't absolutely essential if you aerate the must well, and feed it well, but using a starter will make sure the yeast get off to a faster start. You can use more than one packet, but that gets expensive.

Whether you use a starter or not, or even if you use multiple packets, you will still need to provide nutrients to allow the yeast to grow to maximum mass. So you'll be needing some DAP and Fermaid K (or other energizer).

Thanks! I'll take your word over the wine/beer people any day of the week :)

As for one pack or more, it really doesn't matter. My first batch will set me back ~ $800 anyway, so an extra pack won't do much difference :p

YogiBearMead726
02-18-2011, 02:24 PM
My first batch will set me back ~ $800 anyway...

Holy smoke, Batman! :o How big is this batch? Or maybe you're using ancient, rare, mono-floral honey? $800 is quite a bit.

Tiwas
02-18-2011, 02:31 PM
Well, it's a bit more expensive here ;) the honey alone will cost me $20/kg + a 3 hour drive to the beekeeper. Then there's the carboy, the bucket, all other supplies, bottles, drying rack etc etc. The cost for any subsequent batches of the same size will "only" be ~$250-300, though.

To compare prices: a liter (2.2 pints) pf 40% quality vodka is around $50. You cannot expect to get even a decent wine for less than $20 etc etc. And a liter of diesel is $2.80 or so (gas is more expensive again). So...it's not *that* bad :p

Chevette Girl
02-19-2011, 02:25 AM
Wow, I won't complain about Canadian gas prices again! We're only paying $1.15/litre right now, I'm getting honey for $6/kilo and the cheapest litre of vodka I found last time I went looking was still around $35 but we can get decent wine as low as $12.

And I really, really try not to think about how much money I've spent on winemaking ewuipment or getting my basement set up to do winemaking (so far about a thousand in laundry tub, plumbing and new shelving, but I'm decidedly not thinking about how much I've sunk into wine kits, carboys, honey, sugar and fruit, I'm just thankful that I can get a lot of fruit (pears, crabapples, wild grapes, red and black currants and black raspberries) for free if I'm willing to pick it myself and designate a bottle or two of finished product to the property owner :) I also specifically don't think about how much money I spend on my horse or my car...

In any case, welcome back to the addiction and I hope you manage to make something worth what you've invested! This forum is great, because it's full of awesome people who know a lot about fermentation in general and meads in specific. :)

Tiwas
02-27-2011, 06:19 PM
Ok, so the plan is to start the batch tomorrow. Just got some fresh honey and really looking forward to it.

Some quick questions:
* The Wyeast packs said the break them and then leave them for at least three hours or pitch them right away. That's kind of like saying "do whatever you feel like" to me. Anyone got any experience?
* I bought some Weasy beer nutrient. Should I just add a teaspoon of this at once?
* I also bought some PH strips and precipated chalk. This is the right stuff to add if the PH is below 3, right? How high should I get it? Is 3,5 fine?

Cheers!

triarchy
02-27-2011, 07:02 PM
Ive had bad luck with the WYeast packets. But for beer, I always break them and let them sit until the bag is nice and expanded, so that would be my answer for your question. That said, one of the best pieces of advice Ive gotten here is to make a yeast starter using Go-Ferm (or equivalent). Once I started doing this, Ive not had any problems.

I add my nutrients only once the lag phase is over and you can see signs of fermentation, not right at the start when you first pitch the yeast.

Ive never had to adjust pH and I dont have the time right now to search, so Ill leave that alone. Id hate to take an educated guess and screw you up.

Good luck on the mead!

akueck
02-27-2011, 10:22 PM
Letting the bag swell is "proofing the yeast", i.e. making sure they're alive in there. If your pack is fresh you can probably skip that step and just dump them in, but if you want to be sure you've got live yeast go ahead and wait for the 3ish hours.

What is the dosage suggestion for the nutrient you bought? Whatever it is, you'll probably end up tripling it for mead. You can add it all at once, or stagger it over the course of several days. Search the forums for "staggered nutrient addition" or SNA for lots of talk about the merits of spreading the additions out.

Tiwas
02-28-2011, 12:10 AM
Thanks to both of you :)

The yeast is the only one I could get for mead, and the alternative would be champagne yeast, so I'll have to stick with it. Got two packets for my 6gallons, so hopefully it'll be enough :)

The dosing suggestion on the box says 1 teaspoon for 5 gallons, and to add it to boiling water. That will make it a little hard to add in more than one round. Does it leave taste? If not, just adding 3 or 3.5 teaspoon won't really matter anyway

akueck
02-28-2011, 12:57 AM
You don't have to boil the nutrient. Dissolving it first in a little water (a few tbsp is enough, you can boil first if you want) is a good idea though. If you dump nutrient into fermenting mead it will give off lots of CO2 and can lead to eruptions/overflow.

If you use a LOT of it, it will leave a flavor that is probably either salty or yeasty. A few tsp isn't nearly enough to get you there though.

Tiwas
02-28-2011, 01:40 AM
So to be sure, I might as well just add 7tsp to the must? I will do the primary fermentation in a 34l bin, so overflow really shouldn't be much of a problem, should it?

akueck
03-01-2011, 12:31 AM
7 tsp? What happened to 3? 3 feels ok to me, 7 seems like overkill.

Tiwas
03-01-2011, 01:36 AM
Well, usually my head thinks that if something's worth doing it's worth overdoing. Thanks for keeping me in line :D

I'll try 3 :)

Tiwas
03-01-2011, 09:16 AM
Ok, still more questions - I just hope you're not completely fed up with me yet. I'm just really excited! Going to start brewing today :D

I just did a new round of calculation and figured with 9kg honey with a total volume of 24.5l, should give me a OG of 1.108 and a potential alcohol content of 14.4% if I let it go dry (0.998 according to the calculator). I would like to make it semi-dry, which would be about 1.005 if I'm not completely mistaken. Please correct me if I am :)

Now, my two questions of the day:
* How do I sweeten it without adding air? Should I just add the honey without stirring? It's going to sit in the carboy for a few months anyway, so I guess it will dissolve? (I'm going to kill the yeast before sweetening it)
* When I know the SG, how do I use the calculator to find how much honey to add to get to my desired SG?

Thanks for all the help! Even *I* think I'm a major pain at the moment, so I feel for you. The sooner I get started properly, the sooner you'll have a few months of quiet :p

Chevette Girl
03-01-2011, 10:39 AM
I've found the best way to add honey is either take out some must and mix the honey with that before adding to the big batch, or mix the honey with a bit of warm water, then it won't take nearly as much mixing as if you just dump it in the carboy (from experience, holy crap can a small amount of honey ever take forever to mix in!!)

If you're talking about backsweetening to a particular SG after you've stablilzed your mead, I think it should work if you put in your actual final gravity, volume etc, and your intended SG as the initial and it should give you an idea, but do check for taste first (pour enough into a glass that you can check the SG and keep adding honey till it tastes right to make sure you know what SG to sweeten to) and do let your hydrometer have the last word.

Happy brewing!

AToE
03-01-2011, 12:51 PM
I would like to make it semi-dry, which would be about 1.005 if I'm not completely mistaken. Please correct me if I am :)

Don't try to hit a specific SG. A mild honey might taste semi-sweet at 1.005, but maybe a very pungent one might need to be 1.010 to taste the same. Also, "semi-sweet" is a term of personal opinion. I guarantee you that whatever you would call semi sweet I would call syrup, and what I would call semi-sweet you would call dry!

You're going to want to go by taste, not by SG. Wait until at least 5 months or so after fermentation to backsweeten so that you'll be tasting something closer to the final product and won't add too much honey to try and cover up all the terrible post-ferment flavours!


Now, my two questions of the day:
* How do I sweeten it without adding air? Should I just add the honey without stirring? It's going to sit in the carboy for a few months anyway, so I guess it will dissolve? (I'm going to kill the yeast before sweetening it)

Just stir it in, personally I would use a lees stirrer/degassing rod (same thing) on an electric drill at a lower speed, but to each their own.

I wouldn't worry too much about O2 damage. Traditional meads with no fruit are very very difficult to oxidize, I've left bottles open in my fridge for weeks at a time with no noticable damage - they're much tougher than wine. As long as you aren't splashing like crazy you should be totally safe.


When I know the SG, how do I use the calculator to find how much honey to add to get to my desired SG?

You could, yes, but as I mention above, I would highly recommend going by taste (and then only after some aging has taken place).

oldwhiskers
03-01-2011, 12:57 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about O2 damage. Traditional meads with no fruit are very very difficult to oxidize, I've left bottles open in my fridge for weeks at a time with no noticable damage - they're much tougher than wine. As long as you aren't splashing like crazy you should be totally safe.


Glad to hear that, since I have been mostly making traditional.

Tiwas
03-01-2011, 02:58 PM
Chevette: yes, my thought exactly. I dumped about half the jar into the bucket with some warm+ water. I then put some more warm+ water in the jars to loosen the rest. Mixed really well :)

Atoe: so...let it clear for ~5 months, then kill the yeast and backsweeten? I'm a little careful now, as I've actually managed to spoil plain mead before :o

AToE
03-01-2011, 03:39 PM
Yes, I would let it clear for as many months as possible before stabilizing and backsweetening for 2 reasons. 1 - the less yeast in suspension the better the stabilizing chemicals will work. 2 - the longer it ages, the less harsh it will taste, so you will end up adding less honey to make it taste the way you want it too than if you add it early. If you backsweeten after 1 month you might decide 1.015 is the right sweetness, but if you backsweeten after 5 months, a year, etc, then you might find you only want 1.005 (or even none at all, after extended aging a perception of sweetness returns to even a totally dry mead).

When did you "spoil" one before and what do you mean by "spoil"? (Was that you that had the really hot ferment? I can't remember). It is very very difficult to have oxidization ruin a traditional mead, so I wouldn't sweat it at all.

Tiwas
03-01-2011, 03:51 PM
How about the lees? Won't it be circulated when I sweeten it? Will I need to let it clear again?

I guess the batch I ruined got wild yeast or something. Never cleared up and tasted like a monkey peed in it....

AToE
03-01-2011, 04:22 PM
How about the lees? Won't it be circulated when I sweeten it? Will I need to let it clear again?

I guess the batch I ruined got wild yeast or something. Never cleared up and tasted like a monkey peed in it....

Weird, contamination is pretty rare with mead.

You'll want to rack off the lees before backsweetening. Generally I rack a mead between 2 and 4 times before bottling. I rack out of primary into secondary, then I find that usually after a month or two a lot of lees have dropped, so I rack again to get away from the lees. Then I'll usually rack again after 3 or 5 months, then that's usually it before bottling. Sometimes one less racking seems required, sometimes one more.

Racking helps speed clearing.

Tiwas
03-01-2011, 05:40 PM
Might have to buy an extra better bottle, then. I'm still a little worried about aerating it, but I guess racking it one more time won't matter that much anyway...Would something like racking after primary, and then again after 4-5 months sound good?

AToE
03-01-2011, 05:50 PM
Might have to buy an extra better bottle, then. I'm still a little worried about aerating it, but I guess racking it one more time won't matter that much anyway...Would something like racking after primary, and then again after 4-5 months sound good?

As long as the end of the tube is against the bottom of the carboy you're racking into, and then stays under the surface, the oxidizing that will occur is very very low. Even grape wines and melomels that are super sensitive to oxidization are racked like this and are fine, and traditional meads are seriously difficult to oxidize without try to do it on purpose!

I wouldn't go based on a timeframe. Rack after primary, then watch to see when a decent amount of lees have dropped. For me that's usually about a couple weeks to a month (if less than a month I just wait month anyways. Very little yeast character will be imparted if any in this kind of timeframe).

Unless you're specifically looking for a lees-aged character I wouldn't leave it on the probably fair amount of lees in secondary for longer than 2-3 months(if very little drops then sure, wait longer).

Tiwas
03-01-2011, 05:55 PM
Thanks!

I must admin that it sucks big time being from the mead capital of the world and not having any local information (there were a couple of hundred years where they tried to get rid of our past), but it's great to have such a knowledgeable community available :)

AToE
03-01-2011, 06:16 PM
;D Personally I'd consider Ethiopia more the mead capital of the world (it is the national drink, and one of the few places on Earth where mead is still super common that I know of), but of course your area is the one us westerners tend to connect with mead! ;)

wayneb
03-01-2011, 07:00 PM
;D Personally I'd consider Ethiopia more the mead capital of the world (it is the national drink, and one of the few places on Earth where mead is still super common that I know of), but of course your area is the one us westerners tend to connect with mead! ;)

Unless you happen to be Polish.... ;D

Medsen Fey
03-01-2011, 07:40 PM
Unless you happen to be Polish.... ;D

Or from Jiahu!
(after all, first is first)

Tiwas
03-02-2011, 01:44 AM
You know this is like telling a 6 year old boy not to climb trees, right? I don't care how much proof you can produce that Norway isn't the mead capital of the world :crybaby2:

Tiwas
03-06-2011, 05:55 PM
Did some reading, and the only advice I could see regarding when to first rack, was at 1/3 sugar break. So...when I hit 1/3, should I rack onto the better bottle, keeping some in a jar to add the last nutrient, and then pour into the rest of the must? What then? Just leave it airlocked for a month or so and then check the SG?

AToE
03-06-2011, 06:33 PM
Where did you read that? Generally we recommend first racking take place after you're pretty sure the ferment is done, not partway through it (the point of racking is mostly to get off the lees, but during an active ferment you want those lees, as they're largely alive and fermenting still).

Tiwas
03-06-2011, 06:39 PM
Don't remember the thread, but it rocked my beliefs. I was also under the i,pression that I should wait...But I'm young and plyable :p

AToE
03-06-2011, 06:44 PM
There are other reasons to wait too - if you rack too early you'll end up with a huge pile of lees in secondary right away and will have to rack again, and then you'll have lost more volume. Also, since fermentation will be continuing strongly you're pretty likely to have it periodically climb up through the airllock and make a mess/lose volume (if it doesn't shoot the airlock right off!).

akueck
03-06-2011, 07:36 PM
You can transfer the mead any time during primary fermentation, for a variety of reasons. I have done it to move the mead off some fruit. It's probably a good idea to stir up any lees that have dropped before you rack, to make sure you get all the yeast transferred along with the mead. Even if you don't, however, at the 1/3 point there should be plenty of yeast in suspension to keep you going if you do want to move it for whatever reason.

On the other hand, unless you have a compelling reason to move the mead, I'd really recommend leaving it in one container until the fermentation is done.

yuanyelss
03-07-2011, 05:47 AM
I think I ruined a batch of wild yeast or something. Never clean, like a monkey pissing in its taste .......

Tiwas
03-07-2011, 06:06 AM
AToE & akueck: Thanks. That was kind of my impression, so I'll go with that :)

Btw: what's the easiest way to mix in the yeast stop? I hope it hasn't been answered before...I was thinking about just drop it into the empty carboy, rack the mead and then, using some sort of long/thin rod mix it in. The reasoning being that the will be less air exposure through the neck of the carboy than in the bucket...

Tiwas
03-07-2011, 11:43 AM
That drill thingy is worth its weight in gold! Yesterday, the SG was 1.085 or so, and today it was less than 1.075 (1.072-1.074 somewhere) :D

So...now I just leave it? How often do you measure it? I guess it really doesn't matter as long as it's not sitting on its lees for too long? Is once a week often enough?

Cheers from a happy "father of a few million" :D

AToE
03-07-2011, 12:46 PM
If you're past the 1/3 mark then personally I stop measuring unless I'm watching for something specific (for challenging ferments I'll often add yeast hulls or boiled yeast even later int he ferment. You don't want to add anything containing DAP past the 1/2 mark, but some other things can help if the ferment is troubled) I just stop taking SG readings until I see the ferment actively calm down. Then I'll take readings to make sure it's about done fermenting.

I like to wait a day or two after fermentation is complete to rack sometimes so that it can drop as much lees as possible before racking. For fruit meands and such I don't do this as I'm a little bit more concerned about oxidization, but a traditional would be totally safe, especially with all the CO2 that will be coming out of solution for a long time after fermentation is complete.

Tiwas
03-07-2011, 02:25 PM
Cool! Let the waiting games begin :D

akueck
03-08-2011, 01:09 AM
Cheers from a happy "father of a few hundred billion" :D

Thought I would fix that for you. Start saving for college now!

wildoates
03-08-2011, 01:20 AM
Thanks!

I must admin that it sucks big time being from the mead capital of the world and not having any local information (there were a couple of hundred years where they tried to get rid of our past), but it's great to have such a knowledgeable community available :)

When I asked my lovely Norwegian daughter whether Norwegians drank mead she said no, very little, as it's extremely expensive--even more expensive than almost everything is there. It does seem a shame, but I do send it back with them whenever they visit. They'll be here in May, that's 8 bottles they can take from my "cellar" to theirs!

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 01:36 AM
Thought I would fix that for you. Start saving for college now!

hehe...I was trying to write million :) Anyway - I like being "that old guy with just a dog", so I'll just kill them off before they get to that age :p

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 01:41 AM
When I asked my lovely Norwegian daughter whether Norwegians drank mead she said no, very little, as it's extremely expensive--even more expensive than almost everything is there. It does seem a shame, but I do send it back with them whenever they visit. They'll be here in May, that's 8 bottles they can take from my "cellar" to theirs!

Well, my 24l batch set me back around $600-700, of which around $150+ was for just the honey. Any batch from now on will end up at ~$20/l, so it's not cheap. Add aging etc etc and it's more expensive than most wines. And I got my honey *cheap*. So...unfortunately, most Norwegians don't drink much mead. And the crap you can get, like an old friend of mine said when he heard I was making mead, tastes like "really bad, perfumed piss" ;)

Our gas just peaked at US$2.5 ;)

wildoates
03-08-2011, 01:46 AM
A liter? Ouch!

The kids just bought a flat. 54 square meters. $340k. That's worse than California. :)

At least you'll have a great Nordic beverage to serve your friends, something that isn't generally available in Oslo!

akueck
03-08-2011, 01:51 AM
The kids just bought a flat. 54 square meters. $340k. That's worse than California. :)

:eek: I hope that flat comes with solid gold couches!

wildoates
03-08-2011, 01:56 AM
You'd think! In my neighborhood I could get a 5 bedroom house with a pool for a hundred grand less than that!

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 01:57 AM
Actually, if that's in Oslo, my first thought was "that wasn't too bad". There's a critical shortage of housing in and around the capital, so my flat (15m by train outside Oslo) has gone up around $100k in two years. It's a pretty solid investment :)

But then again - we make more money than you do. But then again, again ( :p ) we pay more taxes ;)

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 02:02 AM
You'd think! In my neighborhood I could get a 5 bedroom house with a pool for a hundred grand less than that!

Note to self: Get a job in the USA for a Norwegian company paying Norwegian salaries :p

I remember when I lived down under...for less than what a student apt would cost me here, my girlfriend and I rented a penthouse apartment with a great view of the skyline (actually, there were no houses between us and the skyline) :eek:

wildoates
03-08-2011, 02:05 AM
Yep, Oslo. Not a city dweller, myself. But she likes it, so there you have it.

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 02:11 AM
Yep, Oslo. Not a city dweller, myself. But she likes it, so there you have it.

Famous last words: We did it because she wanted to (also known as "'we' really wanted to do it") :p

RightHookCook
03-08-2011, 05:20 AM
just a quick general question, i know mead should be stored in a cellar or some where similar, well im keeping mine in a little cubby hole in the bedroom, its warm ish but not sweating hot and its in the shade but its still sees some light. is this a problem or would you advise covering it up to keep it in the dark?

thanks alot

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 07:09 AM
Are you in the UK? I'm no pro, but mine's in the kitchen. Keeping the room at 18-19 degrees C, and don't see the problem with that. Besides, it'll keep it less dusty and easier to sanitize...I'm sure someone will offer better advice, but is it inside the temps stated on the yeast packets?

RightHookCook
03-08-2011, 07:50 AM
Are you in the UK? I'm no pro, but mine's in the kitchen. Keeping the room at 18-19 degrees C, and don't see the problem with that. Besides, it'll keep it less dusty and easier to sanitize...I'm sure someone will offer better advice, but is it inside the temps stated on the yeast packets?

yes mate in england, the yeast im using doesnt have a recommended aging temperature, but like i said the room isnt to hot , was just concerned about the light and if any one knew if id has to be stored in the dark?

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 08:07 AM
Well, I'm in Norway, and I don't worry. When I move it from the bucket to the carboy I'll try to shield it from light, but it's not like you have to keep it in a dark room. At least that's my impression, but as you can see from this thread I'm fairly new ;)

wayneb
03-08-2011, 12:36 PM
yes mate in england, the yeast im using doesnt have a recommended aging temperature, but like i said the room isnt to hot , was just concerned about the light and if any one knew if id has to be stored in the dark?

You don't need to keep it in pitch blackness, but in general you'll want to limit exposure from direct sources of light, especially UV light from sunlight and bright fluorescent lamps. You can shade it effectively with a piece of cloth, if all else fails.

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 01:33 PM
I was under the impression that was mostly an issue when it's been transferred to a clear carboy...?...

wayneb
03-08-2011, 01:55 PM
True, the issue is worse for more transparent storage containers. But even tinted bottles allow some light transmission, and for beers (where hops are particularly susceptible to "skunking" when exposed to any UV light), manufacturers now even package dark amber (aka brown) bottles in cardboard carriers that minimize exposure to direct light.

Practically speaking, is a little light a bad thing when you are fermenting in a translucent plastic bucket? Probably not, although I still wouldn't place my bucket directly in the path of a beam of sunlight. When the mead is transferred to an aging vessel (such as a glass carboy), I'd recommend ensuring that it be kept as dark as can practically be done. If you don't have a fully darkened room, then cover your carboy with something that will minimize light transfer into the mead. I also recommend bottling in dark tinted bottles, unless you have a fully darkened place to store them for long term aging.

Tiwas
03-08-2011, 02:39 PM
My bucket's now covered like a grandma on the beach! :p Probably hasn't taken any damage - there's not really that much sunlight this time of year ;)

wildoates
03-08-2011, 07:26 PM
My bucket's now covered like a grandma on the beach!

Bwahahahahahaahah!

And no, not a lot of light in your neck of the woods at this time of year. Sunny and warm here today.

Chevette Girl
03-08-2011, 11:57 PM
Actually, if that's in Oslo, my first thought was "that wasn't too bad". There's a critical shortage of housing in and around the capital, so my flat (15m by train outside Oslo) has gone up around $100k in two years. It's a pretty solid investment :)

But then again - we make more money than you do. But then again, again ( :p ) we pay more taxes ;)

... and in Canada, we pay more taxes and make less money. Wait, how does that work again?!?

Chevette Girl
03-08-2011, 11:59 PM
My bucket's now covered like a grandma on the beach! :p Probably hasn't taken any damage - there's not really that much sunlight this time of year ;)

For what it's worth, I've got one batch that's started to go brownish (it was a very clear white previously) after sitting for (literally) years on a shelf in front of a window where the light's only partially blocked... so far I think that's the only one where there's been a noticeable change that can be attributed to light exposure...

wildoates
03-09-2011, 12:20 AM
... and in Canada, we pay more taxes and make less money. Wait, how does that work again?!?
California has traditionally been one of the most expensive places to live in the US, but the last couple of years have seen housing prices drop by almost half--good for buyers, sucks for people who bought at the peak.


Famous last words: We did it because she wanted to (also known as "'we' really wanted to do it")

Both my son's old and new flats are in Sagene (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagene) (their old flat was right across the street from the kirke), which can't be that far from downtown Oslo, as he made me walk it several times whilst I was there last summer. I'm sure it will be a good investment for them, I only wish it was here instead of there!

But he says there's a brewshop not too far away, and of course, it's much easier to lager beer there than here. :)

Tiwas
03-12-2011, 09:57 PM
I've set up my office right next to my mead, and it seems it will give up three to four burps in a second to second and a half, then wait for three to five seconds before burping again. The things is...I'm really excited and would like to see how far the fermentation's gone. So...are there any good reasons NOT to test it tomorrow? It's been 5 or 6 days (feels like 5 or 6 months) since it passed 1/3 sugar break and I haven't opened the container since. It's my understanding the fermentation can be pretty good right up until it stops...so it would be hard to know how far it's come just by counting bubbles.

Cheers :)

Tiwas
03-12-2011, 09:58 PM
oh...forgot to mention that the burps don't smell like honey any more. Not like yeast either, so I'm assuming most of the sugar has been used and that's what's keeping the burps from smelling...?...

AToE
03-12-2011, 10:45 PM
You can go ahead and check the SG for sure, no worries.

Tiwas
03-12-2011, 11:01 PM
~1.045, so it's gone down 20 points in just a few days. Should be done in a little more than a week, then :D

AToE
03-13-2011, 02:43 AM
Are you making sure to spin it once in a while (couple times a day is best if you can) to get some of the sediment back up into suspension? "Average" speed would be 10 points a day at this point in the ferment, but I wouldn't at all be concerned about it moving a little slower, that's still a respectable pace.

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 04:31 AM
Never even heard about the practice. How do you do that? Just rotate the container slowly by hand?

triarchy
03-13-2011, 10:19 AM
Think along the lines of swirling a wine glass. You want to do it gently, but enough to make sure the liquid is moving around in a circular fashion. You want to do it long enough to make sure the mead is moving all the way from the top to the bottom in the fermenter, to re-suspend the yeast. Just dont do it too violently because at this point you dont want to splash it around.

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 11:46 AM
Cool - thanks! :) How often should I do it? Is once a day enough?

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 11:52 AM
Is it supposed to give off a lot of co2 when doing that? The air lock activity really went up for a little while after I put it back down...

Chevette Girl
03-13-2011, 12:21 PM
Absolutely normal, swirling it releases some of the suspended CO2 :)

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 12:40 PM
That's what I thought :) How about how often to do it?

mmclean
03-13-2011, 01:23 PM
Once or twice a day is good. Some people stir three times. I would think more than that is not needed.

For lees aging, you stir like once a month until bottled.

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 02:32 PM
Won't that get in the way or clearing? When I stabilize my brew, I would have hoped it would clear as soon as possible...?...

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 02:36 PM
One more thing I don't think I got answered, which I (hopefully) will need soon. How do I add the yeast stop thingy? I was told to wait three or so days after the fermentation has stopped before racking, but should I add the yeast stop at the same time as racking, or just wait?

AToE
03-13-2011, 04:07 PM
It will actually speed up clearing - as you swirl the sediment back into suspension some of it is live yeast who can now go back to work, but some of it is dead yeast, those can bind onto other dead yeast (as I understand it) and actually act as a simple fining agent.

I generally swirl at least once per day (sometimes as many as 5 or 6 though, I work from home) during primary fermentation, and then about once per day (or every couple days, whatever) for 1-3 weeks in secondary, then I let it settle out.

I swirl pretty agressively, because I do it in secondary where it is topped up a gentle swirl won't get it moving. I put it on the floor (carpet) and just agressively rotate it 5-10 times, then put it away. What I really want to get is a lazy susan (weird name for a rotating circle that goes in the middle of a dining table to rotate food and condiments around for everyone) for this task though, then I can really spin it (being careful not to topple of course!).

Yes this will release CO2. This is good in primary, because it will lower the CO2 in solution (which at too high of levels can becoming toxic to the yeast) and it's good in secondary because it helps degass the mead, which further speeds clearing (without CO2 in solution other junk drops out much more quickly).

TheAlchemist
03-13-2011, 04:12 PM
That's very helpful. Thanks, Alan.

AToE
03-13-2011, 04:14 PM
It's something I picked up from Oskaar mainly, though lots of other people recommend swirling through primary and partway into aging (not just for a sur lees effect either).

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 04:43 PM
Thanks! You guys rock :D

How about the yeast stop thing?

AToE
03-13-2011, 05:00 PM
You're talking about the stabilizing chemicals? They won't usually work to actually stop yeast (once yeast get going they're really tough buggers), generally you wait until fermentation has finished (or seems to be finished), then let it clear a bit (to get rid of as many yeast as possible) then add the chemicals and either backsweeten or don't (if there's enough residual sugar for you) and then watch it for a while to make sure it doesn't start up again (and unless you're adding fining agents it'll probably need a lot more time clearing).

I generally recommend against backsweetening until the mead is totally clear and has aged at least a few months, otherwise it will be tasting less than optimal and you're likely to add too much honey to cover up the harshness, and will end up with something too sweet.

If you do want to attempt to actually stop the yeast there has been some discussions on that around here, most people try to stick it in the fridge as cold as possible without freezing (called cold crashing, aids clearing and can put the yeast to sleep) then racking off the sediment and stabilizing, but even this doesn't always work. Bets to just let it finish really.

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 05:05 PM
Thanks :) I won't stop the yeast, but rather just backsweeten it. I won't even bother to get it sparkling, and if I do, I'd rather use co2 than have it ferment in the bottle.

Cheers! :)

AToE
03-13-2011, 05:10 PM
Thanks :) I won't stop the yeast, but rather just backsweeten it. I won't even bother to get it sparkling, and if I do, I'd rather use co2 than have it ferment in the bottle.

Cheers! :)

The other good thing about force carbonation (as opposed to boottle ferment carb) is that you can have it both sweet and sparkling. If you do it the ferment in the bottle method, it has to be dry (otherwise it will either not carbonate because the yeast have maxed out, or it could blow up and kill you because they'll eat too much sugar). ;D

Tiwas
03-13-2011, 05:18 PM
The other good thing about force carbonation (as opposed to boottle ferment carb) is that you can have it both sweet and sparkling. If you do it the ferment in the bottle method, it has to be dry (otherwise it will either not carbonate because the yeast have maxed out, or it could blow up and kill you because they'll eat too much sugar). ;D

My thought exactly :) It's a bit more expensive, though, but they sell used cornelius barrels :)

wildoates
03-13-2011, 06:57 PM
It's on my list to go that direction, but it'll have to wait for now. In the meantime I'll have to go the old-fashioned way and bottle condition.

My list is distressingly long, by the way. :o

Tiwas
03-17-2011, 01:05 PM
I'm flirting with some beer people, and hopefully I can bring my cornie to them for some co2 :D

wildoates
03-17-2011, 11:10 PM
My son and his Oslo brew buddies are thinking about heading in that direction too, although now that his Master's is done he needs to get a job, so he can afford more toys. :)

THawk
03-24-2011, 11:37 PM
a. What happens if I add too much yeast to a must? Say, 10g (2 packs) to a 1-gallon batch... not that I'm planning to but I'm wondering what would happen?

b. What happens when oxygen is added during racking? I've read that it's a bad thing, but never really WHY it's a bad thing...

akueck
03-25-2011, 12:53 AM
Hi THawk and welcome to GotMead!

Yeast pitch rates and oxygenation/oxidation are fairly common topics, so you should be able to find some good info with a quick search of the forum.

In short, adding a lot of yeast means that the weaker yeast will give up early in the fermentation, spill their guts, and the other yeast will gobble (parts of) them up. Exploding yeast is autolysis, and it can lend a yeasty flavor to your mead that might not be what you're going for. Usually you need to pitch quite a lot of yeast to risk this particular flaw, but 10g/gallon is probably getting close to that level.

Oxygen is a pretty good oxidizer, you can probably tell that from the name. Early in fermentation the yeast will take up dissolved oxygen and use it for their metabolism. Once the mead is done and the yeast aren't doing anything, oxygen in the mead can cause chemical reactions, changing the color, flavor, and aroma of your mead. These changes can lead to something like sherry or Madeira, or on the other end of the spectrum wet cardboard or dank must. Usually neither of those possibilities is what you're going for, and controlling things to get one rather than the other takes some work. To see oxidation first-hand, pour a glass and leave it on your table overnight. It will not taste the same in the morning.

THawk
03-25-2011, 02:06 AM
Thanks! Getting ready to rack my first batch... can't wait!


Hi THawk and welcome to GotMead!

Yeast pitch rates and oxygenation/oxidation are fairly common topics, so you should be able to find some good info with a quick search of the forum.

In short, adding a lot of yeast means that the weaker yeast will give up early in the fermentation, spill their guts, and the other yeast will gobble (parts of) them up. Exploding yeast is autolysis, and it can lend a yeasty flavor to your mead that might not be what you're going for. Usually you need to pitch quite a lot of yeast to risk this particular flaw, but 10g/gallon is probably getting close to that level.

Oxygen is a pretty good oxidizer, you can probably tell that from the name. Early in fermentation the yeast will take up dissolved oxygen and use it for their metabolism. Once the mead is done and the yeast aren't doing anything, oxygen in the mead can cause chemical reactions, changing the color, flavor, and aroma of your mead. These changes can lead to something like sherry or Madeira, or on the other end of the spectrum wet cardboard or dank must. Usually neither of those possibilities is what you're going for, and controlling things to get one rather than the other takes some work. To see oxidation first-hand, pour a glass and leave it on your table overnight. It will not taste the same in the morning.