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Alchemist
05-07-2011, 12:48 PM
After having "discovered" Meads last year, I tried my hand at making a batch. Brewed my first batch on 10/08/2010 and filtered it today into a carboy since the yeast bubbles have finally stopped. Original specific gravity was 1.102. Final specific gravity was 1.130. The results are drinkable, but not smooth. It leaves an aftertaste that my wife describes as astringent. What did I do wrong? AND, what can I do to improve the results? Thanks for the assistance!
John

Riverat
05-07-2011, 12:54 PM
Any chance those gravity readings are reversed?

TheAlchemist
05-07-2011, 01:27 PM
Any chance those gravity readings are reversed?

Even if they're reversed, they don't make sense after 6 months of percolating, unless the pitched yeast was nonvialbe and the fermentation was done by wild yeast (?)

TheAlchemist
05-07-2011, 01:29 PM
Oh, and Welcome to Got Mead!

Medsen Fey
05-07-2011, 02:32 PM
Welcome Alchemist!

If you will provide the details of your recipe - honey type, yeast, Correct gravity numbers, other additives, fermentation temp and so forth, folks will be able to better assess where that may be coming from.

AToE
05-07-2011, 06:37 PM
I'm guessing that final gravity is a typo 1.130 makes no sense, 1.030 makes more sense.

Alchemist
05-08-2011, 07:36 AM
My recipe was simple and, being new to the process I followed it to the letter (except that I used clover honey rather than orange blossom honey).
15 pounds of honey
4 gallons of water
2 teaspoons yeast nutrient
1 teaspoon yeast energizer
10 grams lalvin

I just pulled another sample to get a specific gravity reading and AToE is correct... the scale has 1.000 above the 1.100 and must be read down rather than up like a thermometer. An amateur mistake - sorry. So my final specific gravity reading should be 1.030.

Looking forward to your suggestions so that we can enjoy this first effort and only make perfect batches hereafter.

mmclean
05-08-2011, 08:07 AM
Hi John,

First of all, Welcome to GOMEAD?

What you made is refered to as a "traditional" mead. All the taste and smell comes from just the honey and yeast. So when you say you "only" changed the honey, you chaged the whole taste profile. This may not be a bad thing, but sure is a game changer.

Traditionals will take a longer time to smooth out and come together. Give it a year or so and it will show much improvment.

Some more info will be helpful:

What was your fermentation temperature?

Lalvin is a brand name with many types of yeast, which one did you use?

Loadnabox
05-08-2011, 08:59 AM
also remember to remove as much head space as possible. O2 in the bulk aging will turn your wine into vinegar which won't help much either.

I don't have much experience with this but I've heard of two methods, either putting sanitized marbles into the jar to displace the air or injecting CO2 into the head space (which is heavier and will rest on top of the wine in the jar)

Alchemist
05-08-2011, 09:57 AM
Wish I could tell you that it was fermented at a steady temperature. But being in an old house - over the winter - there was a temperature range between mid sixties and low seventies.
The Lalvin was purchased from a supplier called "Homebrew Heaven" and was labeled as #71B-1122 Narbonne Wine Yeast.
Air headspace... doesn't the fermenting process of giving off the gas replace the air in the fermenter? If not, then I guess that I'll have to deal with that on the next batch.
I'm hoping that the response, "Traditionals will take a longer time to smooth out and come together. Give it a year or so and it will show much improvment." will prove to be accurate. HOWEVER, if there is anything else that could/should be done to rescue this batch, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Thanks!

mmclean
05-08-2011, 11:25 AM
71B is a very fast starting strain that produces round, smooth, more aromatic wines that mature quickly. Great for blush and residual sugar white wines. Lots of aroma and an alcohol tolerance of 14%. 59 to 86 degree fermentation range.

Seems your fermenting temps are fine. Above 70 can be bad for the yeast, but should be fine. 6-7 months is way to early to judge this mead. Give it another 6 months or so and taste again. This being a sweet mead should help it to come together a little quicker.

Patience young Jedi, the Force will yet come to you.

TheAlchemist
05-08-2011, 01:40 PM
Patience young Jedi, the Force will yet come to you.

Love this...and agree.

Loadnabox
05-09-2011, 08:54 AM
...Air headspace... doesn't the fermenting process of giving off the gas replace the air in the fermenter? If not, then I guess that I'll have to deal with that on the next batch....




That is true while it's fermenting, but inevitably, fermentation will stop at some point, too high ABV, no more sugar left etc. It's at this point where it's considered to be "bulk aging" and aside from perhaps the last few remnants of CO2 releasing from the brew, it won't be outgassing at all. During the bulk aging you need to consider methods of removing head space.

Alchemist
05-09-2011, 10:32 AM
So, even with an airlock in place, when the fermentation stops the fermenter gets regulart air back into it.
Not meaning to sound dense. Just want to understand if/how the air that has been displaced gets back in.

Loadnabox
05-09-2011, 10:50 AM
So, even with an airlock in place, when the fermentation stops the fermenter gets regulart air back into it.
Not meaning to sound dense. Just want to understand if/how the air that has been displaced gets back in.

the airlock will prevent air from coming back in, however you will want to check on your mead once in a while, check the SG to make sure it hasn't resumed fermentation and of course give it a taste to see if it's coming to the point where you want to bottle it. Each time you do this you will have to remove the airlock and will introduce some air that could lead to oxidation.

This means for the most part you won't need to worry about it, but once every month to three months you will need to do something to make sure to leave as little head space as possible after you thief off a sample :)

Alchemist
05-09-2011, 11:41 AM
Thank you for explaining. Now it is logical to me.
I have joined a number of sites over the years for different topics. I must say that the people on this one are very supportive, knowledgable, and upbeat. What a great experience. Thanks to all!

Oskaar
05-11-2011, 02:50 AM
Hello Alchemist,

Welcome to Got Mead?

A couple of things:

You need to rack off the lees. The Narbonne yeast you used (71B-1122) is the culprit for your astringent flavor in the mead. This specific yeast strain with throw reductive flavors and aromas if your mead sits on it for extended periods.

Stop using teaspoons and pounds as your de facto measuring standards and start using grams and either brix (easier to do in your head calculations) or specific gravity. Honey varies in sugar content from type to type and year to year so 3 pounds of orange blossom honey will vary in sugar content from California to Florida. If you measure your must in brix or SG you will be better able to dial in your recipes for consistency and final gravity than if you try to estimate by using pounds. Aim for consistency and predictability.

Get a premium nutrient and find a nutrient dosing and aeration method that works for you. I vary both my nutrient dosing and aeration regimens from batch to batch depending on the style, ingredients and desired outcome. I'll say it again and to deaf ears most of the time. Choose 1 mead and make it over and over and over until you can make it without even thinking about it; and the quality of the end product is consistently good. Once you can do that you will be able to make stellar meads consistently once you branch out into other styles.

The more you hop around making wildly different meads, the less you dial-in your basic skills and the longer it will take you to get in touch with your inner meadmaker and get a sense of your own style.

As long as you have your airlock topped off correctly (to the fill line with liquid, I use Vodka) you will be fine as you go forward. Be sure to check your mead every couple of months for aging maturity and changes in the flavor. You should consider oaking this batch as the oak will pull out some of the astringency and temper it with tannin and wood sugars. Use cubes, dominoes, spirals or staves, not chips as they tend to leave a signature (and in my opinion, cheap woody flavor). Unless, that is you use the chips in the primary where they will give good characters and provide more fermentation surface area.

Once again, Welcome to Got Mead? and we wish you the very best in mead, meadmaking and mead drinking!

Cheers,

Oskaar

AToE
05-11-2011, 03:16 AM
While I'm pretty timid to dissagree with Oskaar (especially since I agree with 99% of his post entirely), I think pretty much every mead maker has to go through a period of being unfocussed. Most people's first year (for some people even longer) is spent making, this, that, anything they can.

Until you've been making mead for at least more than a year, the idea of making the same mead repeatedly is very tough. Both because you always have new ideas, and because it simply is impossible for it to have aged long enough for you to even know if it's worked out (any judgements made on a mead before it's had at least a year to age are essentially wild guesses, at least until you've been making it for years and have learned what to expect from aging).

Now, I read that advice about making the same thing over and over from Oskaar early in my mead making, both in other people's threads, and at least once in one of my own when I was going off the deep end trying to making something so different from my previous batches that I would essentially learn nothing from it.

So... not entirely sure what the whole point of this post is! Oskaar's advice to pick a style you think you'll like and start doing it over and over (also I'd recommend making multiple batches at once that are identical except for one variable, what yeast, temp, amount of fruit, etc - I think that can be invaluable) is some of the best advice you can get around here. Starting working on that as soon as possible into your mead making will serve you well.

I took that advice to heart very early and have focussed most of my efforts on just a few styles of mead, 2 in particular. But I guess the point of my post is, that if you're a newb, don't stress too too much about being scientific about it and thinking too far into the future.

Have fun, ferment this that, whatever, but the second you find one you think has potential, start making it over and over, making it in multiple comparison batches at once, etc. That's my version of Oskaar's advice anyways! :eek: (I guess I started this post thinking I was dissagreeing with him, turned out I was just adding my own spin on it based on the meadmaker's experience... )

EDIT: Right, think I realized what I'd meant to say originally - wanted to reassure Oskaar that that piece of advice doesn't fall of deaf ears necessarily, just that when he gives that advice to someone who hasn't been making mead for longer than a year at least it's pretty difficult for them to follow it right away, but later when they mellow out I'll bet the remember his advice and are glad they got it!

Alchemist
05-11-2011, 04:24 AM
All sounds like great advice. And, yes, it is my intent to stick with one mead until I feel really comfortable before branching out into other options. Based on my past experiences making dandelion wine, I find that to be sound advice.
Oak chips it is! Can it be over done in terms of quantity or length of time? I have racked the mead off into the second stage before bottling. I have a full 5 gallons plus.

mmclean
05-11-2011, 08:15 AM
While I am still in my first year as a meadcrafter, I will be so bold as to add my 2 cents into the pot.

I think it is a good idea to first try a few different proven recipes. Follow those recipes to the letter, ingredents and proccess. As your first years batches come to age, pick one that you like and hone your skill on this one recipe.

I seem to be a little slow with this myself. I still have a few proven recipes I must try before I settle down to making just one mead. However, when I do I know it will be a dark berry melomel. :)

Alchemist
05-11-2011, 11:05 AM
10 batches is 9 more than I've made. And I'm tempted to have more than one variety going at once - mostly because I'm old and running out of time to perfect my mead. But, as I've learned with this 1st batch, there are so many variables that I didn't learn through reading before trying, that I'd rather chance ruining 1 batch at a time rather than 5 or 6.

havoc64
05-11-2011, 12:03 PM
Yea as a Newb myself, I decided to follow Oskaar's advice and focus on a straight mead. I used to be in the SCA and there was a guy who made the mead for us. It was killer and that's what I am aiming for. I don't know what he used and no one that I can get in contact with remembers the guys name. :(

So what I decided to do was pick that memory from the cobwebs. Take the other memories of the mead that I have had since and didn't like and shoot for something that I enjoy.

I did make a melomel this past winter, but following a suggestion from Ken Shramm's book, I added the fruit into the secondary. This allowed me to make my straight mead using the same recipe as my first batch and then take 3 gallons off to make the mel.

This weekend I am making another 6 gallon batch and it's going to be the same, varietal honey, D47 yeast and Ozarka Spring Water..

I must say that the first batch, even though it had "Issues" has gotten better with every month.

And I agree, this Forum, and the people here are the best of the internet..:)

Happy Meading!

AToE
05-11-2011, 01:50 PM
All sounds like great advice. And, yes, it is my intent to stick with one mead until I feel really comfortable before branching out into other options. Based on my past experiences making dandelion wine, I find that to be sound advice.
Oak chips it is! Can it be over done in terms of quantity or length of time? I have racked the mead off into the second stage before bottling. I have a full 5 gallons plus.

Oh man can it ever be over-done! Go back and read Oskaar's post one more time, "chips" is what he recommends against using, cubes, spirals, beans, anything else is better really (except for powder and extract, those are worse).

And even with cubes, yes it can be over done. For 5 gallons I personally would add between 1/2oz and 1oz and start taking small taste tests every week after about 2 or 3 weeks. You can always add more oak, can't really take it out once it's in there though!

Alchemist
05-11-2011, 02:51 PM
Oak "chips" was my mind not communicating with my fingers. I remember seeing the spirals when I first ordered my equipment and ingredients wondering if I would want/need them. It's the spirals I will order - not chips. I promise!

Alchemist
05-11-2011, 03:50 PM
havoc64... "I used to be in the SCA and there was a guy who made the mead for us."
Not knowing what SCA was, I looked it up on the internet. But then I had to decide from many organizations. Student Conservation Society... Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists... Society of Creative Anachronism... or Sexual Compulsives Anonymous... among others.
Too many choices - too much fun.

Loadnabox
05-11-2011, 04:24 PM
havoc64... "I used to be in the SCA and there was a guy who made the mead for us."
Not knowing what SCA was, I looked it up on the internet. But then I had to decide from many organizations. Student Conservation Society... Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists... Society of Creative Anachronism... or Sexual Compulsives Anonymous... among others.
Too many choices - too much fun.

Society for Creative Anachronism is generally accepted as the most common/standard. On this board the level of geek is high enough that it becomes a pretty sure thing.

TheAlchemist
05-11-2011, 07:55 PM
There's a whole forum for the SCA here:
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=152

Oskaar
05-12-2011, 01:23 PM
While I'm pretty timid to dissagree with Oskaar (especially since I agree with 99% of his post entirely), I think pretty much every mead maker has to go through a period of being unfocussed. Most people's first year (for some people even longer) is spent making, this, that, anything they can...snip...

I don't disagree here. Newbees will naturally want to make all kinds of weird-o-mels once they dive in. My advice is still to make one kind of mead many times and practice your basic meadmaking skills. That doesn't preclude making other stuff in the meantime. I generally don't mention it because its kind of a given in my mind and I tend to gloss over the stuff I consider obvious, probably a bad habit! :cool:

So learning by rote is necessary, but so is learning by experimentation. My advice is to note and store the "aha" moments from the experimentation, but be sure to use the basic meadmaking skills you are learning to turn them into a part of your craft.

AToE
05-12-2011, 01:55 PM
I don't disagree here. Newbees will naturally want to make all kinds of weird-o-mels once they dive in. My advice is still to make one kind of mead many times and practice your basic meadmaking skills. That doesn't preclude making other stuff in the meantime. I generally don't mention it because its kind of a given in my mind and I tend to gloss over the stuff I consider obvious, probably a bad habit! :cool:

So learning by rote is necessary, but so is learning by experimentation. My advice is to note and store the "aha" moments from the experimentation, but be sure to use the basic meadmaking skills you are learning to turn them into a part of your craft.

I think the combination of your suggestion of repeating recipes over and over, with the idea of side by side test batchs, is the best way to accelerate learning, otherwise it'll take decades.

I'm personally so glad I started doing side by side tests very early on. Some of the experiments I did after I'd been making mead for only a half a year are just now in the next year or so going to start providing me with data. So my advice to everyone, is start the comparision batches as early as possible!

THawk
05-16-2011, 01:52 AM
I don't disagree here. Newbees will naturally want to make all kinds of weird-o-mels once they dive in. My advice is still to make one kind of mead many times and practice your basic meadmaking skills. That doesn't preclude making other stuff in the meantime. I generally don't mention it because its kind of a given in my mind and I tend to gloss over the stuff I consider obvious, probably a bad habit! :cool:

So learning by rote is necessary, but so is learning by experimentation. My advice is to note and store the "aha" moments from the experimentation, but be sure to use the basic meadmaking skills you are learning to turn them into a part of your craft.

Personally, I think I'll take this advice... My creativity is starting to run wild and I think I better rein it in a bit... :)

Loadnabox
05-16-2011, 09:40 AM
Personally, I think I'll take this advice... My creativity is starting to run wild and I think I better rein it in a bit... :)


I know the feeling...

I kinda figure I'm going to concentrate on making JAO's perfectly every time. Already my wife and I are beginning to learn how we like our mead. My next big 5 gallon batch I think I'll be removing more of the orange pith since we don't like how much harshness it contributes.

AToE
05-16-2011, 12:30 PM
It's a really good thing to do, I'm always shocked by how much I haven't yet learned that can improve a specific mead, every time I think I've done the ultimate version and taken perfect care of it I find out I've still got a long ways to go!

THawk
05-17-2011, 03:40 AM
I kinda figure I'm going to concentrate on making JAO's perfectly every time. Already my wife and I are beginning to learn how we like our mead. My next big 5 gallon batch I think I'll be removing more of the orange pith since we don't like how much harshness it contributes.

That's what I'm gonna do -- make JAO's until I can make it in my sleep... It's the one mead I can probably make here with this kind of weather (at least maybe until December)...

Alchemist
05-17-2011, 06:05 AM
I give up... someone please explain JAO.

THawk
05-17-2011, 08:34 AM
I give up... someone please explain JAO.

JAO (actually JAOM) - Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

It's a foolproof sweet mead recipe that usually guarantees success if followed to the letter (deviate and you 'void the warranty'). Drinkable in about 2 months (per the recipe) but usually better if aged. The recipe is the first thread in the "General Recipe Discussion" area (the recipe itself is in the last or second last page).

It's quite delicious...

Loadnabox
05-17-2011, 09:22 AM
I give up... someone please explain JAO.

The link in case you need it Joe Mattioli's Foolproof Ancient Orange, Clove, and Cinnamon Mead (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6885)

Chevette Girl
05-17-2011, 01:04 PM
AToE's suggestion of running a lot of side-by-side test batches is something I wish I'd started doing more of years ago. Then I'd have more useful results now instead of still needing another year or two! :p

Oskaar's suggestion of getting really good at one thing before you branch out?

I've been thinking about that one suggestion from such an esteemed Gotmead community leader a lot since I first read it and looking back over my brewing history I think that is probably great advice for a meadmaker. But I don't think it could have worked as well for me because I started with winemaking, not meadmaking, using what was locally and seasonally available, so even year to year there were variations in the quantity and quality of what was available, and it took a long time to figure out what was drinkable and what was GOOD and what's been consistent. So even though I know my redcurrant wine kicks ass fairly consistently, I can't just go out and buy redcurrants and make it for practice... it has to be a good season for them, I have to find time to pick and prepare the fruits before they spoil on the bush, and I've never seen them commercially available, so it's not as easy as "go make this recipe a lot of times and get it perfect before you do anything else." And I'm totally guilty of trying to ferment anything I could get my hands on, from frozen concentrates to jalapeno peppers, but I think I learned a lot about consistent results despite using different ingredients. The reason I get inconsistent results is because sometimes my methods are inconsistent or even sometimes sloppy (don't cut corners on aeration, quality ingredients, sanitation or nutrients and check your airlock water levels more often than you think you need to!). I guess the short version of what I'm trying to say is that you can follow Oskaar's advice a lot faster with traditional meads or mels that can be made with easily-obtained fruits than you can if your ingredients are more restricted. So stick with something simpla and tasty with easy-to-get ingredients of consistent quality. Which was probably also implicit in Oskaar's suggestion, I just like to spell it out cause I have a bad habit of expecting everyone else to think the way I do and what's obvious to me often isn't to anyone else.

I have a consistent (for me) recipe for maple mead (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16000)that gives me great results. Any time my brew log says, "DO THIS AGAIN!!!", it's usually a sure bet that it'll be something I want to drink a lot of :)

Once I discovered the Joe's Ancient Orange recipe (somewhere around my third year of winemaking) and started messing with it and found my favourite variation (blackberry (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16620)), there are definite merits to just tossing everything together the way you always do (because you've percected your good technique with practice) and knowing it'll all turn out great.

Alchemist
05-17-2011, 01:27 PM
Thank you.
I love simple answers and I knew this had to be one.
The ironic thing is that I copied that samr recipe to my desktop and didn't put 2 and 2 together to see that Joe"s Ancient Orange was the answer.