View Full Version : Greetings and a few questions

06-04-2011, 01:00 PM
Hi all!

After browsing through the newbee guide and forums yesterday I decided to make myself an account. You probably wont see much activity from me until the end of june, which is when my exams are done, followed very closely by me starting my first careful small batch of mead! (Probably a JAO, substituting the orange with a grapefruit.)
I've always been very fond of mead (well honey in general:) ) but unfortunately here in Belgium we can't get much commercial stuff and if we do it's mostly imported from Hungary or Poland or somewhere more in the eastern regions of Europe. So after browsing around for a bit I ended up here, truly surprised to find such a buzzing, active and friendly community!

I do however have a couple of questions/uncertainties.. First one being: Considering the fermenting itself, in how far will this be possible in an apartment? I wouldn't want to get complaints from the neighbours, both up, down and down the hall, about smells/anything other relating to my soon to be new hobby...
And then the second one, concerning nutrients/energizers: I know the NewBee guide says that these are not necessity, but in how far is this true? I ask this because I have no idea how I'm going to find these in Belgium because a first search gave me nothing, and I've noticed that most people here add them straight away to any recipe they start. This then lead me to think that, since most people use them anyway, it's probably a bad idea NOT to use them?:p Or are there more people who don't use them and have I just managed to overlook them?:)

On a last note, if there's anyone here from Belgium, I could use some tips on where to find equipment;D And if not, well then I'll be the first one I guess!

06-04-2011, 01:17 PM
Hello Ayinson and welcome to GotMead!

You'll find at least a few folks from Belgium here, and several more scattered across Europe. Don't forget to add yourself to the member map (link at the top bar). Check out Brouwland: http://www.brouwland.com/ for supplies.

Walls should be plenty to stop the smell of fermentation, unless you're talking hundreds of gallons. I don't think it smells all that much (usually), and it's a nice yeasty smell most of the time. If anyone notices, a glass of mead while you give them a tour is probably enough to ward off complaints. ;)

Nutrients aren't necessary in that fermentation is possible without them, however things go a lot more smoothly with them. Brouwland has yeast nutrients you can purchase. In a pinch, you can boil up some bread yeast and feed your yeast with their dead comrades (they won't mind). There are folks who choose not to add "artificial" nutrients, although there's some debate over what "artificial" means since most nutrients you buy are made of dead yeast and rocks. Dried fruit is a common addition to musts as a source of "natural" nutrients, though typically you'd need to add a ton of fruit to get the same impact as a little spoonful of the bagged stuff.

06-04-2011, 01:54 PM
Thank you for the quick reply and the info! Added myself to the map;) And oh my, that brouwland link will come in very handy... Prices are okay too, and I see they have a shop about 10km from my door.

Now it's just a matter of getting through these exams unharmed, and then the brewing can start!

06-04-2011, 02:37 PM
I wouldn't worry if the honey you end up with does originate in Eastern Europe, especially Poland.

I have a local honey wholesaler, but their range is rather limited and it's all too easy to go looking toward the direction of the US (places like Beefolks (http://www.beefolks.com/)) as you will see a marvellous array of wonderful sounding honies. The honey prices are good, but the killer is the shipping (even if you selected the cheapest shipping i.e. USPS). I've been looking at that and it would have to be a 5 gallon bucket to make it even vaguely viable (still expensive, though that depends on how much honey, well decent honey, not processed to hell and back, blended for eating honey, costs).

My best deal was with the help of a chap here at Gotmead, who helped me arrange the purchase and shipping to a colleagues family in Poland, who in turn, brought it back here to the UK with him after a visit home.

The Poles have a long history for making meads, though their mead types tend toward being sweet, but that also means that there's some good honey to be had.

Brouwland is the link I was going to post, until I noticed that akueck has got there first. Their range is like a dream. Of course, I have to be careful here and watch the / exchange rate, as I usually have to add shipping as well. But you should be well placed in that respect.

As a side idea, and to lighten the burden of exam studies, have a good read/look around the net and think about what it is that you like i.e. mead types etc, as that will influence the ingredients you're looking for later on. Myself, I don't enjoy overly sweet meads (such as those commercially available here in the UK). I like mine as strong (% ABV) as I can get, but also of a medium sweet type - a final gravity of about 1.010 or so it good. Perhaps you like lighter ones, or perhaps carbonated, or darker/sweeter/deeper flavoured ones etc etc.

There's at least one other person that I recall, making meads and posting here, from Belgium. Either way, it sounds that you will be Ok for brewing meads, especially from a country that is famed for it's beers (the ones I've tried have been brilliant).

So good luck with the eventual brewing efforts and good luck with the exams....



06-04-2011, 08:30 PM
Raisins are good for nutrients, which is why the JAO recipe calls up raisins, and no nutrient.
Oversimplifying: Honey is naturally self preserving. So it's a bit hard for yeast to get started without nutrients.
I'd make your first JAO by the book: ie using an orange.
I'm up to my 8th now, and I've tried it with lemon. It's VERY slow. I think the acid us holding it up. Grapefruit are pretty acid too as I recall.
In fact, if you'd do two batches side by side, I'd like to know how the grapefruit performs next to the orange...

06-05-2011, 11:52 AM
@Fatbloke: I know about the Polish and their mead!:D Me and some friends bought about 20 bottles of Bernardynski (Here! (http://www.polishmeads.com/Bernardynski.html)) last summer and had alot of fun emptying those:)
As for my personal taste in mead, I don't like dry too much, and too sweet isn't that good either, so I guess I'm more into the medium sweet types too. I also think it's important that I can still taste the honey, as it is a mead and not a fruitwine;) But over the course of the next few weeks I'll figure out what exactly might be needed for that, hopefully I'll get all my info straight before I start brewing.

@Kudapucat: The problem with using an orange is that I'm not too fond of oranges:D As in, it's my least favorite of the citrus-family. Blood oranges are okay though, but in my experience they tend to be more acidic too so yeah... I thought I read somewhere that it's possible to lower the acidity inside your must so that you create a more "friendly" environment for your yeasties to swim in, so that kinda came to mind...
Also, side by side batches will certainly be a thought for the future, if my first batch turns out alright and I feel a bit more confident in my brewing skills. I would, for example, also like to do a side by side batch, one with store-bought yeast, and one with wild yeast, since I've read that wild yeasts can give some troubles and I'm curious as to how it would turn out. But hey, plans for the future!

06-05-2011, 12:04 PM
As far as brewing in a small apartment, it surely can be done! My son lives in Oslo, and until recently lived in a very small 3rd floor flat--with no elevator. He brewed a lot of beer in that flat, but is very glad to have bought a slightly larger one with a much larger kitchen. :)

And a balcony for my old turkey fryer, which he borrowed from me once several years ago. Somehow it made its way to Norway, I have no idea how THAT happened. :)

Welcome to Gotmead. I'm pretty sure you'll like it here!

Chevette Girl
06-05-2011, 11:50 PM
@Kudapucat: The problem with using an orange is that I'm not too fond of oranges:D As in, it's my least favorite of the citrus-family. Blood oranges are okay though, but in my experience they tend to be more acidic too so yeah... I thought I read somewhere that it's possible to lower the acidity inside your must so that you create a more "friendly" environment for your yeasties to swim in, so that kinda came to mind...

I am also not overly fond of oranges, and have tried many substitutions in JAO, tangelos and blood oranges (which I've found to be less acidic than oranges but maybe I just get bland ones?) have worked fine for me and lemons too (but just use the juice and rind, don't include pith or it's too bitter), the grapefruit was a little odd, even though it's my favourite citrus, and it took a while to age out to something pleasant. Try at least one batch of JAO with an actual orange though, I still like it even though oranges are my least favourite citrus, the spices help a lot with that, I find.

And I don't find the smell of what's brewing makes it out of the room it's in very often, barring "incidents"...

06-06-2011, 03:00 PM
But the grapefruit one turned out as something drinkable and hopefully really yummy, yes? Also, in the oranges one, it's not that it overly tastes like orange then I recon... I probably will have to go with the original JAO for a first anyway since it looks like a really simple recipe and as it states, it's probably best for beginners to set their first careful steps:)
Because, why try to run before you can walk, right?

Chevette Girl
06-06-2011, 03:32 PM
I'll have to get back to you on the grapefruit, the bottle I sampled was only ever half-full and has been sitting on a shelf where it gets sun so I'll have to dig one out that's been properly stored. :)

But yeah, try it according to the recipe once... The old-timers around here suggest that amidst all your rampant experimentation that you repeat one recipe a bunch of times so you learn consistent technique...