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View Full Version : Joe's Ancient Orange Mead - A Few Questions (sorry, long post!)



Ladin
07-19-2011, 07:33 PM
Hello! Ladin here…

I started my first ever attempt at making ANY fermented product: Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead. I started with a 5 gallon batch (because I don’t believe in doing ANYTHING small I suppose). The quickly scoured the various message boards I could find regarding this recipe BEFORE I actually made it just-in-case! So, having said that, I DID cut back on the spices; I used 4 cinnamon sticks, 4 cloves, and probably LESS allspice and nutmeg than called-for just to be sure to NOT over-do it. That being said, I otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. I even counted out all of the raisons. I used a 6 ½ gallon carboy (because it’s what I had), and I feel that it left more than enough room for bubbling and frothing from the initial yeast activity.

Since I followed the recipe, I did basically multiply everything (aside from the aforementioned) by 5 – including the yeast. I have since read that you do NOT need to use that much yeast. I seem to keep coming across that information over and over, but not mention of: “What happens if I DO use that much yeast?” Did I screw it up royally? Do I just need to let it sit longer? Should I just bottle it and let the yeast taste mellow out? Should I put it someplace cooler for a few days to let the yeast “drop out”? Will it be nothing more than a waste of yeast and come out fine? This is obviously a major concern of mine and I would appreciate any advice!!

I started this batch on 4 June 2011. At the time of this writing, it is 19 July 2011. I suppose by optimistic standards, I am a couple weeks away from it being ready to bottle. I’m in no rush. (That IS a lie, I’m dying to taste it!) I am willing to wait ‘till I need to – or SHOULD. Currently, the fruit is all still floating, and the general clarity is “cloudy” at best. Again, I’m wondering if I should let the two months (or plus a week) pass, and then move it to the basement where it will be significantly cooler (until it clears), OR just wait it out until the fruit all drops, etc. Again, I’d appreciate any advice.
For the first week or so, I experienced the glorious aroma of orange donuts in my kitchen pantry. Also, I noticed about two weeks ago that there seemed to be some “collection of yeast” on the top among the fruit. I tried to keep my hands off of it; I really did. But I did pick it up and give it a mild “swirl” to put the yeast back in to the liquid. Since then, it has been “the cloudy majority” with the fruit floating on top. On a side not, it’s very interesting how the raisons seem to have rehydrated in to grapes and are floating amongst the orange pieces. As with most accounts of this recipe, the yeast activity was “off the charts” for the first week or so, slowly tapering off to nothing (or nearly nothing; I can’t say it’s not bubbling at ALL right now, but it sure seems to be “dead”. I have only stared at the air lock for a minute or two of no activity and then looked away).

Well, that’s about it. Thanks so much for reading through the long post. I don’t mean to “beat a dead horse” here, but I’ve now read probably hundreds of posts on dozens of threads on as many different message boards and have not found my answers. I really appreciate any help/information/criticism.

Sincerely,

Ladin

MetMädel
07-19-2011, 08:21 PM
Hi Ladin,

I'm currently also brewing up my very first batch of Joe's Ancient Orange...and it is also my very first batch of brewing anything fermented. I started mine on June 10 (about a week after you). I decided to stick with the one gallon and mine is starting to clear. (Maybe a larger batch takes longer to clear?) My main concern is how the heck am I going to get those orange slices out of the mouth of a one gallon carboy?:confused:

(Side note...I noticed that the single clove I put in somehow floated on top of the orange slices...so it wasn't really immersed in the brew for several weeks. I didn't want to agitate it too much so I just left it...I hope that doesn't mean my batch will lack that nice clove spice to it)

I'm not sure about your concerns regarding yeast proportions. I'd actually be interested in any other advice regarding this issue...I just started a 5 gallon batch of ginger beer and added an extra yeast packet, because 5 grams seemed to little.

Anyways...back to Joe's Ancient Orange...I'm also excited to try it, but I'm a little nervous about it being too sweet...I added I think a tad bit more honey than the recipe calls for. I think I recall someone posting recipes for cooking with it if the batch turns out too sweet.

I think if you wait until it has cleared it should be fine...but maybe a more experienced opinion would help? Let us know how it turns out!

Ladin
07-19-2011, 09:08 PM
MetMadel, thanks for the reply!

I'm actually interested to see how difficult it is to get the oranges out of my bottle too! But, last year as a stocking-stuffer, my in-laws bought me one of those weird/cheesy kits with a small mirror on the end of a telescopic stick, big tweezers, etc. (I hope you know what I mean). Included was one of those "grabbers" - a metal, spring loaded three-fingered claw on one end with a plunger on the other. I guess it's ideal purpose would be if you dropped something down a drain, or if you eat a lot of pickles. It is a about 18 inches in length so it's plenty long enough. I'm hoping I can reach in and grab any stubborn fruit rinds and rip them out. My carboy opening I'm sure is larger than the one on your gallon bottle, but we probably followed similar standards: Cut the fruit JUST small enough to fit through the hole and hope it shrinks! HAHA! Good Luck my friend. I hope it turns out great!

Ladin

kudapucat
07-19-2011, 09:30 PM
Will it be nothing more than a waste of yeast and come out fine?
Yep

In the bottom of a 1 gal fermenter, you will get about 1" of yeast thickly covering the bottom. This is because the yeast spends all it's initial efforsts eating the oxygen and other stuff and multiplying, only when the oxygen is depleted a bit, do they turn to the sugar and start making alcohol. This multiplying phase is called the 'lag-phase'. So if you put in a little too much, then they just wont breed as much, but as the multiplication rate is exponential, you wont notice a difference.


But I did pick it up and give it a mild “swirl” to put the yeast back in to the liquid.

This is often recommended with brews, to help the yeast out, however it's not recommended with JAO.
The bottles that I have swirled, have pretty much never cleared without racking. Never fear, just wait for the fruit to drop, and if it doesn't clear, then rack it.


I hope that doesn't mean my batch will lack that nice clove spice to it

It will probably be less clovey, but you might like it this way. if you don't, then rack it and bulk age it on another clove for a month or so before bottling.


I'm also excited to try it, but I'm a little nervous about it being too sweet...

if it's too sweet straight up, let it sit for 6 months and try again, sometimes aging a JAO can help it balance out. I know one of mine was sickly, and after 8 months trying it again, it was still sweet, but very well balanced and quite tasty.


My main concern is how the heck am I going to get those orange slices out of the mouth of a one gallon carboy?

Rinse the carboy to get rid of the icky lees.
Turn it upside down and shake.
One orange segment will wedge in the mouth of the carboy, pull it out with your fingers.
I use VERY large oranges, as are available here, and I have never struggled for more than 2 minutes to empty a carboy.



Good luck guys,
To quote a favourite of mine (well paraphrase)

It's not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy, it's still young, that's it's fault, there's so much you have to know.
I was once as you are now, and I know that it's not easy to be calm when you've found something going on.
Take your time, think a lot, think of everything you've got, cos you'll still be here tomorrow, but your mead may not.
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it

and remember: RDWHHB

MetMädel
07-19-2011, 10:28 PM
Thanks for the advice kudapucat!

I'm assuming you mean that if my mead is too sweet...then I should let it age for 6 months after i've racked it in a new carboy with the airlock in place? Or- just age it 6 months once i've bottled it? Wow..us newbies need to really be talked through everything. :rolleyes:

I have my eye on a quite a few Melomel recipes that look good. I think I might try a fruit wine next though due to the expense of honey. (I only get the raw good stuff).

Chevette Girl
07-19-2011, 11:13 PM
I use a wide-mouth jar for JAO's, but I have heard others claim that a crochet hook is great for getting orange bits out of carboys, just turn it upside down and when they slide towards the mouth, you can hook them and pull them out. And they'll be a bit floppier than when you put them in.

... just remember to wash the crochet hook before you return it to whoever crochets, or there's gonna be hell to pay...

As long as your clove got shook back into the must for a couple weeks before you bottle (or you leave it for a week or two after the fruit sinks), your mead will probably have extracted all the flavour it was going to get out of the clove anyway.

And (don't tell Joe!) I've swirled JAO's in the early weeks to shake the yeast back into the must and had no problem clearing them up. I usually find that it will start to clear near the top and about a week after it starts clearing, the fruit starts dropping and takes a week or two for it all to sink to the bottom.

There's no shame in making fruit wines, it gives you a really solid idea of what the fruit contributes if you later decide to repeat the process as a melomel.

psuath
07-20-2011, 08:39 AM
i thought a pickle grabber would be a good tool to get the slices out.

although the slices should be fairly pliable after soaking for that time

Ladin
07-20-2011, 03:28 PM
Thanks a ton for all the replies folks! I feel a lot better about this batch now. I guess I'm just going to wait for the fruit to drop and for it to clear. Hopefully it WILL happen in that order? Also, it it true that lowering the temperature helps it clear faster? Like if all the fruit dropped and it wasn't clear, could/should I move it downstairs where it is likely 10 degrees cooler?

Thanks again!

Ladin

Loadnabox
07-20-2011, 05:04 PM
I bent up a clothes hanger to get the fruit out.

One end I used pliers to turn into a small sharp hook

the other end I just bent into an oval shaped loop that's bigger than the mouth of the jar. Thanks to hanger metal being a lot like spring steel, it bounces back after shoving it through the mouth. This also helps for the bigger pieces; you shove the loop through the mouth and under an edge of the fruit so that it touches at least part of the rind. As you pull it into the mouth the loop closes up gripping the orange piece and helping pull it through. You have to get the loop at least partially on the rind though as after several months of being eaten by yeast, the meat of the orange just mushes up and disintegrates.

Dan McFeeley
07-21-2011, 09:01 AM
I like to cut the oranges unto 8th segments, along with cutting off the pithy vein along the inside of the orange. That keeps them small enough to get out of the carboy neck. You have to shake the carboy over a sink to get the segment into the neck, after that it comes out pretty easily. I use a small paring knife, sticking the point of the knife into the inside portion of the rind and the levering it out.

A bit labor intensive, you have to shake and poke for each individual orange segment, but it works.

--

YogiBearMead726
07-21-2011, 09:47 AM
I guess I'm just going to wait for the fruit to drop and for it to clear. Hopefully it WILL happen in that order? Also, it it true that lowering the temperature helps it clear faster? Like if all the fruit dropped and it wasn't clear, could/should I move it downstairs where it is likely 10 degrees cooler?

The fruit may actually not drop before this is clear. Joe himself says he doesn't bother waiting for the fruit to drop, just for it to clear. Lowering the temperature can help things to fall out solution. Do a search for "cold crashing" (with the quotation marks around your query) and you should find some useful info.



This is because the yeast spends all it's initial efforsts eating the oxygen and other stuff and multiplying, only when the oxygen is depleted a bit, do they turn to the sugar and start making alcohol. This multiplying phase is called the 'lag-phase'. So if you put in a little too much, then they just wont breed as much, but as the multiplication rate is exponential, you wont notice a difference.

Just to clarify a bit (no pun intended :P). The yeast actually produce almost 30 times the amount of alcohol (by weight) during their growth/aerobic phase than they do during their fermentation/anaerobic phase.

Also, the yeast will try to reach their maximum amount of divisions if they can (they won't reproduce infinitely) before starting fermentation. As a result, each individual yeast is getting less nutrient in an over-pitched batch compared to yeast in a batch with the appropriate amount of starting cell count, simply because there is more competition for those nutrients.

So at worst, the yeast in an over-pitched batch may show signs of stress. At best, you won't notice (two tsp vs five tsp isn't that different...:rolleyes:) or you might get some bread-like flavors in the final product. If you severely over-pitch (as with the ginger beer...5g is plenty for a 5 gallon batch, 10g or two packets is a little much...unless you had a high gravity must to start with or something else that required a higher-than-usual starting cell count), you may get some pretty off flavors and aromas that may or may not age out.

One of the best ways to make consistently good products is to use consistent pitch rates. Find what works for you, and don't deviate. Yeast are responsible for a majority of the flavors and aromas found in a final product, yet most people treat it like the most minor ingredient. Treat your yeast well, and they will return the favor.

Hope that helps.

Ladin
08-15-2011, 07:01 PM
Just wanted to thank everyone for all the comments/advice. I bottled my first JAOM and I think it tastes pretty good! I'm surprised at how much it does NOT taste like honey. My best description would be that it tastes like a white wine with orange zest and some VERY mild spices. I'm generally pleased and will be starting another semi-tweaked batch next weekend. I'm gonna sit on 3 bottles for my personal stash to drink at 3 months, 6 months and 1 year to see the difference.

Also, just thought I'd share, I used 1 liter bottles with the Grolsch (sp??) style wire/plastic/rubber caps. They worked AMAZINGLY. I couldn't be more pleased.

In addition, (I couldn't help it) I wanted to attempt a Braggott. I mixed, in a pint glass, 1/3 to 1/2 glass of JAOM and filled it up with Blue Moon and garnished with an orange. I know everyone's taste is different, but I think it's DAMN GOOD!! I'm a pretty serious beer drinker. I can put away 15-18 pints or so in a good day of gettin' it in. I didn't test the alc. content of my mead, but it "feels" pretty hefty. Mixed with the Blue Moon it's downright sneaky. I'm not as sophistocated as most, but I'd reccommend it to anyone who's curious!

Cheers!

Ladin

AToE
08-15-2011, 07:05 PM
Nice, JAO with beer is almost the ultimate Brass Monkey. ;)

psuath
08-15-2011, 08:30 PM
great to hear.

huesmann
08-25-2011, 06:53 PM
I bent up a clothes hanger to get the fruit out.

This is what I was going to suggest, and what I would do if I used a jug for JAOM. As it happens, I used a wide-mouthed gallon jar to not have to worry about that problem!

JSquared
08-26-2011, 12:18 AM
Nice, JAO with beer is almost the ultimate Brass Monkey. ;)

That funky monkey....Brass Monkey Junky!

AToE
08-26-2011, 01:02 AM
That funky monkey....Brass Monkey Junky!

Yup! Unfortunately I'm not a fan of brass monkies, thought they would be awesome, but sadly not my thing. Makes for an awesome song though!

JSquared
08-26-2011, 01:08 AM
Yup! Unfortunately I'm not a fan of brass monkies, thought they would be awesome, but sadly not my thing. Makes for an awesome song though!

Oh, I'm not fond of them either, but do like me a little Beastie Boys to jam out to...

MetMädel
09-03-2011, 03:02 PM
Glad to hear yours turned out Ladin!

I thought I'd update that I finally bottled my first JAO's today. It took awhile to clear (I added a tad bit more honey than the recipe called for...maybe that's why?). It turned out great, however the spices aren't too discernible...it actually reminds me of a local chamomile mead I've tried. Maybe I used the same type of honey. I'm hooked and already planning my next batch. I'd like to try an extra cinnamon stick for a nice fall mead. :D

I tried to get as much mead out as possible, but I think I accidentally racked up some sludge into my bottles- it was slightly opaque when bottled, even though clear before I racked it. I didn't bother to rerack or anything because I was just anxious to try it!

kudapucat
09-03-2011, 06:21 PM
No problem. Just mark the cloudy bottles. It'll clear again, but it won't handle travel. So I mark them as "home samplers" then just pour really carefully, and you'll be fine.

moyer442
09-16-2013, 10:19 PM
so, i used flieshman's rapid rise bread yeast. is that a bad thing. i have never seen anyone make mention of the specific difference between rapid rise and regular bread yeast. in addition, i started my JAO on 30 AUG 13 and it is now only the 16th of SEPT and it has already cleared quite a lot under the fruit. the fruit has not dropped and it is still slowly bubbling, just wondering if i messed up with the rapid rise.

joemirando
09-16-2013, 11:00 PM
so, i used flieshman's rapid rise bread yeast. is that a bad thing. i have never seen anyone make mention of the specific difference between rapid rise and regular bread yeast. in addition, i started my JAO on 30 AUG 13 and it is now only the 16th of SEPT and it has already cleared quite a lot under the fruit. the fruit has not dropped and it is still slowly bubbling, just wondering if i messed up with the rapid rise.

I have used both Fleischmann's Active Dry and Rapid Rise yeast in baking, and I can tell you that the Rapid Rise does not seem to have the... longevity of the 'regular' Active Dry.... when dealing with gluten. It seems to do its job more quickly, then peter out.

As far as using it for mead, the same does not seem to hold. I have been told by several people who have used it for JAOMs that the results are indistinguishable from using Active Dry.

Of course, to purists, using Rapid Rise yeast may "void the warranty", but that just means you can go ahead and make another batch shortly. ;)


Joe

ScotRob
09-17-2013, 04:46 AM
I started a batch in March of this year, and it fermented slow and steady for more than 2 months. It only really dropped clear at the end of June, and after racking once and leaving it I bottled it in July....so depending how the fermentation goes it can take several months to achieve clarity. When it stopped fermenting i did give it the odd gentle knock/swirl to make sure that any particles adhering to the oranges was freed, but I didn't wait until the fruit had dropped before racking, just until it had cleared.

Have patience- it will get there, there are no hard and fast rules about how long it will take but 3-4 months is perfectly possible.

moyer442
10-08-2013, 09:19 PM
My bubbling has officially stopped, started my mead on 30 Aug and CO2 production has stopped as of 8 Oct. I still plan to wait until the oranges drop. I am just surprised that at only 6 weeks it is clear and done bubbling. Any thoughts?

kudapucat
10-09-2013, 01:51 AM
This is normal.
If it's warm where you are, and your mead is inside, you may never have the oranges drop.
See how you go.

moyer442
10-13-2013, 09:46 AM
so apparently just a cruel trick of mother nature is what stopped my JAO from bubbling, three nights of lower temps and atmospheric pressure changes then the damn stuff started to bubble again. and I don't want to bottle up some glass grenades. so back to the waiting game I shall return. it is still bubbling maybe once every 5 minutes or more- really slow.

mannye
10-13-2013, 12:04 PM
so apparently just a cruel trick of mother nature is what stopped my JAO from bubbling, three nights of lower temps and atmospheric pressure changes then the damn stuff started to bubble again. and I don't want to bottle up some glass grenades. so back to the waiting game I shall return. it is still bubbling maybe once every 5 minutes or more- really slow.

This "could" be just degassing. See if you can steal a half a glass and give a taste.

moyer442
10-13-2013, 12:38 PM
When it originaly stopped, I have the S shaped airlock and all the water in it went over to the fermenter side, then leveled out the next day and then yesterday or the it might have been the day before started bubbling again. What am I looking for when I taste it? Good taste go ahead and bottle?

moyer442
10-13-2013, 01:46 PM
Good flavor, but this is my very first making not to mention the first mead I've ever tasted. I'd bottle it and knock a bunch down right now if I wasn't worried about exploding bottles.

mannye
10-13-2013, 03:09 PM
When it originaly stopped, I have the S shaped airlock and all the water in it went over to the fermenter side, then leveled out the next day and then yesterday or the it might have been the day before started bubbling again. What am I looking for when I taste it? Good taste go ahead and bottle?

You said it in your next post (good flavor). If you want to bottle it and drink itm, then you're ready to start your next batch. I made my first JAOM with orange blossom honey so it was double orange mead technically, but it was delicious.

What I did because I couldn't wait was I took a siphon and drew out a 750ml bottle full and put it in the fridge overnight. Yum! I predict it will dissapear before you have to worry about bottle bombs.

moyer442
10-28-2013, 10:07 PM
i did bottle it two weeks ago, one bottle got drank right down the next night, one went with my mom back home on a ten hour car ride to be enjoyed, the third got slowly sipped down over the week and i have 3/4 of the last bottle sitting on my counter being slowly picked at. damn stuff goes too quick for as long as it takes to make but it sure is tasty!
i used
3 1/2 lbs Suebee brand clover honey
one cinnamon stick
one clove
one teaspoon fleishman's rapid rise bread yeast
one naval orange
distilled water to fill jug
used no heat just shook the crap out of the jug with it all in there then added the yeast.
it fermented from 30 august to 17 october- was still bubbling slowly (every 9.5 minutes) next batch wont get bottled until completely done.