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SuperSquirrel
06-27-2011, 03:58 PM
Been lurking and reading for a few weeks. I got a wild hair to make some mead, so I did. Well at least I hope that is how it comes out. I made three 1gal batches, each different. Between mixing up the batch and yesterday I ordered and received a few supplies to help (carboys, hydrometer, autosiphon, tubing). I racked #1 yesterday. I'm hoping yall can have a look at what I've done, shed some light on things and let me know what you think I can expect as I go forward.

Batch #1 - 6/13/11
I used THIS (http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/fast-cheap-mead-making.htm) recipe in general.

My supplies:
http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u48/MMK13/th_IMG_20110613_140442.jpg (http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u48/MMK13/IMG_20110613_140442.jpg)

- 3lbs "Pure Honey"
- 25 raisins ~ 14g
- 1 orange, sliced up
- 1 packet (7g) Fleishmann's ActiveDry yeast
- filtered water from my fridge (ignore the distilled label, I did not used distilled water, just the jug)
- balloon

Procedure:
- Sanitized everything to be touched by the mead, orange or yeast
- Rehydrate yeast in 1/4c warm water
- Cut orange into eighths (to fit through hole)
- Pour 3lbs honey in jug, fill jug halfway with filtered water
- Shake and aerate for a couple minutes until honey was dissolved (it was not the full 5min)
- Put in sliced orange, put in 25 raisins, shook the jug some more
- Put in more water, shook jug again
- no OG, no hydrometer
- Pitched yeast
- Installed balloon with pinholes - 3pm start

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u48/MMK13/th_IMG_20110613_152159.jpg (http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u48/MMK13/IMG_20110613_152159.jpg)

- 330pm the balloon standing up, must fizzing away
- 930pm balloon got bigger, poked more holes, fizzing a lot
- 6/14 340am fizz coming out balloon holes, made puddle in cabinet
- fizzing well for a week or so before slowing
- 6/24 applied newly arrived & sanitized airlock

- 6/26 6pm - Airlock bubbling very very slow. Takes longer than one minute for a bubble. Pulled sample to test SG: 1.006 - Mead smells harsh. Poured small sip into shot glass from SG sample and tasted. Very "alcoholly" flavor and scent. Very OJish/acidic. Tasted like a bad Screw Driver. Decided to rack based on 1.006 being in the dry category and the airlock bubbling so slow. I'm sure fermentation is not done, just extremely slow but I wanted to get the must off the orange rinds. Racked must into sanitized 1gal glass carboy. Installed balloon (need more airlocks)
- 825pm I added 3/4c sugar and 4c water for two reasons, 1) fill head space in carboy, and 2) back sweeten a little bit (I was out of honey).
- 10pm Retest SG: 1.018
- 6/27 8am Balloon firm, stands up if I straighten it out. Light 1/4" foam bubble on top of must. More lees have settled out at the bottom (not very good at siphoning yet)

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u48/MMK13/th_IMG_20110627_082546.jpg (http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u48/MMK13/IMG_20110627_082546.jpg)


That pretty much brings me 'til now 6/27 254pm. I didn't follow that recipe word for word so I'm not going to scream for help. Warranties get void when recipes aren't followed. No worries there. What I would like is to solicit opinions from you guys how you think things will come out based on what I have done so far.

Will the harsh alcohol flavor mellow out with age?

I would like to shoot for a semisweet flavor I think. I've only drank mead (ok a bottle of mead) once in my life. I do not remember what brand it was but I was hooked. Probably something cheap and sweet - you know, the kind the gets girls hooked on alcohol :D

I'm a bit concerned with temperature. I live in Texas and we keep our thermostat at 76 day time/74 night time. I'm wondering what affect the temperature will have on the mead as it ages.

Since the must is still fermenting in the secondary, should I stabilize it or let it finish itself out? What will either option have on the mead?

I intend to rack once a month to help the must clarify. Is this helpful or hurtful for flavor and maturation?


I would appreciate any thoughts on how this might come out to give me some insight on the things I've done so far. I don't have any practical application experience and I don't know how the variables affect the mead as a whole. I have alot more reading to do to fill in gaps but I'm a terrible learn--by-reading. I'm hands on and with mead needing to take a bit of time before the result can be tasted, I'm itching for an idea.

Thanks yall

akueck
06-27-2011, 11:54 PM
Will the harsh alcohol flavor mellow out with age?

I'm a bit concerned with temperature. I live in Texas and we keep our thermostat at 76 day time/74 night time. I'm wondering what affect the temperature will have on the mead as it ages.

Since the must is still fermenting in the secondary, should I stabilize it or let it finish itself out? What will either option have on the mead?

I intend to rack once a month to help the must clarify. Is this helpful or hurtful for flavor and maturation?

Congrats on a successful first batch! You've got something similar to Joe's Ancient Orange (aka JAO) which is one of the more popular recipes floating around the interweb. There is lots of info here on JAO, so you can read through that to see other folks' impressions.

Your FG is pretty low, so this mead will be on the drier side for a JAO-type mead. That's fine, you can leave it like that or add more sugar later to sweeten it to taste.

The new alcohol flavor will age out. All meads will have a "new" flavor that is not terribly good and usually pretty harsh. This tends to fade considerably during the 3-12 months after you started the mead (timing depends on recipe); some very big, very dry meads might take a few years to mellow. I wouldn't judge this one until this winter.

76 F is a good spot for a JAO-type mead to ferment, the bread yeast likes it a little warmer. For aging/storage, you can treat mead like wine: 50-60 F is the best temperature. Most of us don't/can't hit that ideal range. You'll just notice your mead will age faster. Chances are good you won't have enough left to discover that it has gone over the hill a few years from now. I'd say for anything you plan on drinking within 3 years, your temperature is fine. Longer and I'd suggest finding someplace colder to stick it.

You'll want to stabilize your mead before backsweetening. You should probably stabilize it before bottling, even if you bottle it as-is. Until you get to one of those places, I would just let it be.

Racking based on a calendar is not all that useful. Mead doesn't know what day it is. ;) Rack when it needs it: lots of lees drop for example. What "lots" is is kind of up to you; the more lees contact you have the more yeasty your mead will taste. A fine dusting will have almost no impact, 1/4" of yeast will have quite a bit. Racking does typically help clearing and it does degas the mead; however the more you handle the mead the higher the chances for oxidation due to exposure to the air. Contamination is usually called out as well, but with good sanitation practices you can rack it all day and have very little chance of infection.

Fred Bee
06-28-2011, 09:24 AM
Hello SuperSquirrel,
The recipe you followed is a good standard one...however, what I do not know about is the effect you will have from adding sugar and more water. I have a few gallon jugs (carboys) going right now with some similar recipes and only time will tell how they come out. Just racked a Pear Melomel yesterday for my first time. It had a slight pear/honey aroma with lots of alcohol taste, but I have been told it will mellow out in a few months. I have also been told many times that mead-making takes patience. So...hurry up and wait! ;) I am a newbee myself to mead making and wish you the very best with your first mead.

SuperSquirrel
06-28-2011, 10:00 AM
Congrats on a successful first batch! You've got something similar to Joe's Ancient Orange (aka JAO) which is one of the more popular recipes floating around the interweb. There is lots of info here on JAO, so you can read through that to see other folks' impressions.

Your FG is pretty low, so this mead will be on the drier side for a JAO-type mead. That's fine, you can leave it like that or add more sugar later to sweeten it to taste.

The new alcohol flavor will age out. All meads will have a "new" flavor that is not terribly good and usually pretty harsh. This tends to fade considerably during the 3-12 months after you started the mead (timing depends on recipe); some very big, very dry meads might take a few years to mellow. I wouldn't judge this one until this winter.

76 F is a good spot for a JAO-type mead to ferment, the bread yeast likes it a little warmer. For aging/storage, you can treat mead like wine: 50-60 F is the best temperature. Most of us don't/can't hit that ideal range. You'll just notice your mead will age faster. Chances are good you won't have enough left to discover that it has gone over the hill a few years from now. I'd say for anything you plan on drinking within 3 years, your temperature is fine. Longer and I'd suggest finding someplace colder to stick it.

You'll want to stabilize your mead before backsweetening. You should probably stabilize it before bottling, even if you bottle it as-is. Until you get to one of those places, I would just let it be.

Racking based on a calendar is not all that useful. Mead doesn't know what day it is. ;) Rack when it needs it: lots of lees drop for example. What "lots" is is kind of up to you; the more lees contact you have the more yeasty your mead will taste. A fine dusting will have almost no impact, 1/4" of yeast will have quite a bit. Racking does typically help clearing and it does degas the mead; however the more you handle the mead the higher the chances for oxidation due to exposure to the air. Contamination is usually called out as well, but with good sanitation practices you can rack it all day and have very little chance of infection.



Thank you akueck. This makes me feel more confident that I'll have a beverage instead of paint remover :)

I like what you said about the mead not knowing what day it is. It is hard keeping my hands off trying to control it. I just need to let it do its thing. Am I understanding correctly that it will be the SG/FG that tells me when it is time for me to 'do things'?




Hello SuperSquirrel,
The recipe you followed is a good standard one...however, what I do not know about is the effect you will have from adding sugar and more water. I have a few gallon jugs (carboys) going right now with some similar recipes and only time will tell how they come out. Just racked a Pear Melomel yesterday for my first time. It had a slight pear/honey aroma with lots of alcohol taste, but I have been told it will mellow out in a few months. I have also been told many times that mead-making takes patience. So...hurry up and wait! ;) I am a newbee myself to mead making and wish you the very best with your first mead.

Thank you! And you too :)

haha yeah, hurry up and wait is one of those lessons that keeps coming up.

In my inexperienced mind I was thinking the sugar water would initially water down and sweeten the mead. But I wondered since it is still fermenting that it shouldn't lose much ABV%? Can someone set me straight on that?

A pear melomel sounds like a refreshing drink. I hope it comes out well!

My Batch #2 is a 1gal cherry melomel that I will be checking on soon. I used 3 lbs clover honey, 1lb cherries, 1c OJ, Fleishmann's yeast and filtered water. I'm looking forward to this one. It seems too simple. I hope I didn't forget something.

wayneb
06-28-2011, 10:53 AM
In my inexperienced mind I was thinking the sugar water would initially water down and sweeten the mead. But I wondered since it is still fermenting that it shouldn't lose much ABV%? Can someone set me straight on that?

Well it really depends on how much sugar, and how much additional water, you've added. Think about it this way. The honey and water will produce a certain amount of alcohol, depending on the ratio of honey to water that you start with. The common way of finding out how much dissolved sugar you have in your must is to measure the specific gravity of the mixture with a hydrometer. In general, the higher the concentration of fermentable sugars, the more alcohol you'll end up with in the finished mead - at least up until the point where the yeast can't take any more.

So, if you've added some sugar/water mix to your must, then if the concentration of sugar (i.e. the specific gravity) is higher in that mixture than in your original honey/water mixture, you'll end up with a higher percentage of alcohol in the final mead. If the concentration is lower, than you'll end up with less percentage alcohol in the final mead. This is for a sugar addition while you still have actively fermenting yeast. Backsweetening, which is the process of adding sugar for sweetness after you are sure that fermentation is stopped, is different. But unless you are certain that your mead is stable, backsweetening can often re-start fermentation. Be aware of "bottle bombs" if you backsweeten, and only backsweeten once you are sure the mead is stable.

But one thing I can tell you is almost universally true. Yeast fermenting table sugar, which is predominantly sucrose, will produce more phenolic byproducts and more higher-order alcohols (called fusels) than yeast fermenting the simpler glucose sugar found in honey. So it is very likely that a recipe containing significant amounts of table sugar will in general taste "hotter" and "harsher" than those made up of honey alone. Also, table sugar produces only ethanol - not any other aromatic or flavorful compunds, so ultimately a recipe with lots of table sugar in it will taste "thinner" than one made with only honey.

SuperSquirrel
06-28-2011, 02:12 PM
Well it really depends on how much sugar, and how much additional water, you've added. Think about it this way. The honey and water will produce a certain amount of alcohol, depending on the ratio of honey to water that you start with. The common way of finding out how much dissolved sugar you have in your must is to measure the specific gravity of the mixture with a hydrometer. In general, the higher the concentration of fermentable sugars, the more alcohol you'll end up with in the finished mead - at least up until the point where the yeast can't take any more.

Ok, I see. Since I did not have a hydrometer to take the OG of the must I suppose I need to plug in my ingredients to the calculator to find an estimation? For the sugar water mixture it was 3/4c granulated sugar & 4c filtered water.

I'll do the numbers on that for infos sake and myself really. It'll help me learn.





So, if you've added some sugar/water mix to your must, then if the concentration of sugar (i.e. the specific gravity) is higher in that mixture than in your original honey/water mixture, you'll end up with a higher percentage of alcohol in the final mead. If the concentration is lower, than you'll end up with less percentage alcohol in the final mead. This is for a sugar addition while you still have actively fermenting yeast. Backsweetening, which is the process of adding sugar for sweetness after you are sure that fermentation is stopped, is different. But unless you are certain that your mead is stable, backsweetening can often re-start fermentation. Be aware of "bottle bombs" if you backsweeten, and only backsweeten once you are sure the mead is stable.


Ok, I see, I'm understanding that.





But one thing I can tell you is almost universally true. Yeast fermenting table sugar, which is predominantly sucrose, will produce more phenolic byproducts and more higher-order alcohols (called fusels) than yeast fermenting the simpler glucose sugar found in honey. So it is very likely that a recipe containing significant amounts of table sugar will in general taste "hotter" and "harsher" than those made up of honey alone. Also, table sugar produces only ethanol - not any other aromatic or flavorful compunds, so ultimately a recipe with lots of table sugar in it will taste "thinner" than one made with only honey.

Hmm ok.

That brings up another idea - no not the "D" word. I'm not going there. I like amaretto. I have found several homemade recipes online that consist of adding vodka and brandy to the mix, like THIS (http://www.chow.com/recipes/29035-homemade-amaretto) or THIS (http://www.homebrewunderground.com/52/homemade-amaretto-liqueur-part-1/), NOT THIS (http://www.frugalupstate.com/recipes/recipe-homemade-amaretto/). I was wondering if it'd be possible, instead of using vodka, to use a sugar water fermentation. Since the alcohol will be 'hot' would it substitute for the lack of actual alcohol content that the vodka would provide? Or maybe a amaretto flavored honey mead would be better. Wonder if that's possible?

Well, I'm just dreaming up random concoctions. All in good time I guess.


Thanks yall!

SuperSquirrel
07-07-2011, 09:53 AM
Just an update, peeked at Batch #1 on July 5 the mead is noticeably clearer. Can't read typed print yet. It's a little blurry and I used the electric bill. Lots of stuff has settled out on the bottom. The color looks kinda pretty now. I do still have some real light fermentation. I do need to get some stabilizer so I can control my mead. This weekend I'll work on mead. I'll be checking and likely racking #2 and #3.

I feel better now that I see the next step in the process. Boy, this is a long DIY project!


Thank yall for the help.


Edit: Oh and I have discovered that the name of the game is not patience, rather out of sight-out of mind ;D

TheAlchemist
07-08-2011, 09:16 AM
...Oh and I have discovered that the name of the game is not patience, rather out of sight-out of mind ;D

Benign Neglect.

Fred Bee
07-08-2011, 11:02 AM
Benign Neglect.

Or you can say, "Good things come to those who wait!" ;)

kudapucat
07-08-2011, 12:22 PM
Edit: Oh and I have discovered that the name of the game is not patience, rather out of sight-out of mind ;D

This works tremendously for me too

SuperSquirrel
07-08-2011, 01:06 PM
Or you can say, "Good things come to those who wait!" ;)


Well see, waiting incorporates anticipation. And anticipation means thinking about it. The idea is to not think about it ;)





I said I needed a few supplies for the weekend so I ran down to Foreman's general store who had what I needed. So, anyone up DFW way Foreman's in Colleyville does have homebrew supplies if you aren't certain by looking at their website supplied on Google.

I bought 3 1gal carboys ($4.99ea), 3 S-airlocks, 4 #6 drilled stoppers, 1.5oz bottle K sorbate and 2oz bottle Campden tablets for $29 out the door. If I recall my last check of online sources, I think that's on par for cost.

Chevette Girl
07-08-2011, 07:24 PM
Well, your haul at $30 sounds reasonable for where I get my stuff.

Fred Bee
07-08-2011, 09:00 PM
Well see, waiting incorporates anticipation. And anticipation means thinking about it. The idea is to not think about it ;)

In practice, actually, I follow just what you suggest. I keep my mead in a dark closet, so yes it is out of sight - out of mind. Glad you got some supplies and what you paid for the one gallon jugs (carboys) is about what I pay so, congrats on your purchase and good luck!

SuperSquirrel
07-09-2011, 08:31 AM
In practice, actually, I follow just what you suggest. I keep my mead in a dark closet, so yes it is out of sight - out of mind. Glad you got some supplies and what you paid for the one gallon jugs (carboys) is about what I pay so, congrats on your purchase and good luck!

:) Thanks Fred!

SuperSquirrel
07-09-2011, 05:37 PM
Update Batch #1

Checked SG 1.012 @ 85* which corrects to 1.015, is that right?

I am surprised the temp is that warm there underneath the kitchen cabinet. Should I consider moving the carboys?


I also racked #2 and #3.

#2 is a cherry melomel

- 3lbs clover honey
- 1lb cherries
- 1c OJ
- 1pkt Flieshmann's yeast

- Rehydrate yeast
- Shook up honey & water, added OJ and cherries and reshook
- Added water to fill up and pitched yeast, placed airlock
- Did not measure SG (didn't have hydrometer then).

Fermentation went strong then tapered off. On 7/7 I got 1 bubble in over 4 minutes. Cold crashed in the cooler with ice.

SG 1.004 @ 50* (lowest my thermometer goes) which corrects to 1.0035 (?) Didn't really understand "subtract 1/2" from the hydrometer paper instructions. (There is such a thing as using decimals!). The taste was dry, a little rough. It also had a very faint of overripe flavor in it at the end. Like if you eat an over ripe grape, you can just tell.

Racked and stabilized with 1 campden tablet & 1/4tsp K sorbate. I planned to backsweeten in a few days but since I had some headspace I went ahead and added the 1lb frozen cherries/sugar water I had thawed and ready. Took SG 1.010 @ 75* --> 1.011 I believe (someone please correct my corrections if I'm off). I also think I rushed things a little bit in this stabilization stage so please let me know.



Batch #3 is...uhh, a hodgepodge and that one is more or less the do everything wrong, don't have enough honey, add a little of this, a little of that and see what happens. Ingredients included chopped dates, apricots, honey, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, orange and Flieshmann's (can you tell I bought the three pack?).

Cold crashed this one in the cooler with #2.

SG 1.002 @ 50* --> 1.001 I believe. I racked onto 1 campden tablet & K sorbate. I do plan to backsweeten this a little bit and/or add a little fruit (apricot).

The smell and taste of this one seems lighter than the others. Maybe because of the amount of honey is small. I can taste and smell the hint of cinnamon. And that darn OJ overtone is present (kinda getting tired of that one).


The thing that did pop up in my mind was how do people really get "it tastes great!" in the first few weeks when they rack off fermentation? Are they lying through their teeth imagining what it will taste like? Or does it really "taste great!". Cause mine don't taste great. And I'm more than likely doing something wrong. So, how do I do it right to get "tastes great!" so early in the process?

Loadnabox
07-11-2011, 12:50 PM
Update Batch #1

Checked SG 1.012 @ 85* which corrects to 1.015, is that right?



Depends on the hydrometer. My first one (Which I miss sorely now *sniff*) adjusted .004 at 94Fi My current one adjusts .004 at 74.6Fi

Check the user manual.. YMMV as another user here would say :)

SuperSquirrel
07-12-2011, 09:04 AM
Depends on the hydrometer. My first one (Which I miss sorely now *sniff*) adjusted .004 at 94Fi My current one adjusts .004 at 74.6Fi

Check the user manual.. YMMV as another user here would say :)


Ah that's right. I was just referring to the temp when I asked for corrections but you rightly reminded me about how the water, rather, the individual hydrometer marks - thanks!

I'll be taking some readings for the general items around here to help me get more fluent from memory.

SuperSquirrel
01-14-2012, 08:17 PM
Today I bottled these three batches of mead. I collected a few bottles and also bought a 12pk of bordeaux clear bottles and some #9 corks. Even grabbed a small floor corker (I can't use the hand corkers, only one hand).

The meads tasted ok. Nothing spectacular as far as flavors go, though they'll get you smashed if you don't watch out. I had to drink the last bits that just wouldn't fit in the bottles. Got a little buzz :evil6: I can taste the difference from when I first tasted them after fermentation and now after these months of aging. Definitely mellows the alcohol taste. I did buy several types of new yeast for new batches. I want an apple cider and do another basic honey mead, but looking for a stronger honey flavor.

By far the easiest and funnest part of bottling was actually the corking. The corker made it a real breeze. I wanna cork more stuff but no stuff to cork just yet :D I'll be looking for more sources of free bottles just to keep costs down if I can.

Thanks for the help getting started. Now I know what to expect throughout the process and I can work on bettering my flavors.

The mead in the Disaronno bottle is getting used right away, that's why it went in a screw top.
http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/6640/bottledmead.jpg

http://img808.imageshack.us/img808/1332/corker.jpg

JohnS
01-14-2012, 09:00 PM
NICE!!! I got to have one of these. Can I ask if you had to soak the corks or just insert and press? I have never corked any wine before, but I think I will do so next month.

SuperSquirrel
01-14-2012, 09:17 PM
NICE!!! I got to have one of these. Can I ask if you had to soak the corks or just insert and press? I have never corked any wine before, but I think I will do so next month.


I put the corks straight from the bag to the corker.


I did read about the subject before getting started. Some said soak. Some said dry. Some said water only. Some said water with campden tablet. After all that I read one where a guy said using soaked corks in a floor corker would corrode the mechanism. He said him and his buddy use them dry without issues. It seemed logical so I did that. I figured if I messed up the cork or couldn't get it dry then I'd soak them. Turned out to be a non issue as dry worked just fine. I guess I'll see what happens long term. Well as long as the bottles last ;D

Guinlilly
01-15-2012, 01:02 AM
I put the corks straight from the bag to the corker.


I did read about the subject before getting started. Some said soak. Some said dry. Some said water only. Some said water with campden tablet. After all that I read one where a guy said using soaked corks in a floor corker would corrode the mechanism. He said him and his buddy use them dry without issues. It seemed logical so I did that. I figured if I messed up the cork or couldn't get it dry then I'd soak them. Turned out to be a non issue as dry worked just fine. I guess I'll see what happens long term. Well as long as the bottles last ;D

We have 10-12 year old bottles of mead done with dry corks - stored on their sides of course. Have had no problems and the meads themselves are AWESOME.

SuperSquirrel
01-15-2012, 02:03 AM
We have 10-12 year old bottles of mead done with dry corks - stored on their sides of course. Have had no problems and the meads themselves are AWESOME.

That is good to hear.

I put the bottles back under the cabinet where it's dark and cool but I'm like to build a wine rack. And I wanted them to be laying on their side.

And how'd the bottles last so long? That is discipline! :)

Chevette Girl
01-15-2012, 06:56 PM
I agree about corking being the fun part :)

I'm too neurotic to let something unsanitized touch my finished wines so I dip my corks in sanitizing solution and I spray the surfaces of the corker that will touch the corks with sanitizer too (I have the double lever arm one), all the surfaces that I hit with the spray are either painted/enamelled or made of plastic, or else I'd rinse it with water and dry it because I've seen what this stuff does to metal :p

I used to boil them but talked to the manufacturers and the three different brands of corks I get have all been treated with something and boiling them can cause the coating to break down.

I have some corks that are a pain in the arse to get in (I pretty much need to drop my whole weight on the corker) so I use those ones where I want a long storage time, I have some that slide in really easily but I think they also allow a bit of oxidation, although most of the times it's happened, I've liked the results (I like sherry, what can I say).