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james93711
09-30-2011, 11:20 AM
hey all
i got a 5gal batch going, using 12 lbs honey and lavin 1118 yeast and watermelon chunks in the primary. its bubbling once every 2 seconds or so. should i wait till it bubbles once every 15 or 30 seconds to rack? not getting much info from the homebrew forum.. id buy a hydrometer but i dont wanna expose it in the primary.

also gonna make another batch of caramel apple mead using about 10lbs of honey and 2lbs or more of brown sugar. is using brown sugar a good or bad idea? thanks all...

triarchy
09-30-2011, 11:32 AM
Id recommend using a hydrometer, even in the primary. If you are worried about infection, just make sure you sterilize before each use. I think you will find that most everybody here does this with good results. Air lock activity just isnt a good way to judge fermentation. A few (or more) actually primary ferment without a cover on the fermenter, just a sterile cloth to keep stuff out, myself included. Im not much of a beer brewer but I get the impression that beer is a lot more apt to spoilage than mead.

Regarding the brown sugar, I see plenty of recipes calling for it. I usually dont add sugar to my ciders and add honey to my cysers so I cant say what kind of flavor impact it will have, but it will produce more alcohol :D

And welcome to GotMead!

Loadnabox
09-30-2011, 12:07 PM
If you want to avoid too many things being exposed to your mead, use a sanitized turkey baster as a wine thief and just take a small sample into the plastic tube that the hydrometer came in.

This way if you're afraid of putting the brew back into the fermenter you only have a small sample that you can drink after you're done testing it :)

Remember that fermentation can be continuing even if there's ZERO airlock activity visible.

Dan McFeeley
09-30-2011, 12:09 PM
. . . also gonna make another batch of caramel apple mead using about 10lbs of honey and 2lbs or more of brown sugar. is using brown sugar a good or bad idea? thanks all...

If it works, ferments out and finishes well, and you like the taste, it's a good idea. ;D

--

dave_witt
10-01-2011, 08:57 AM
also gonna make another batch of caramel apple mead using about 10lbs of honey and 2lbs or more of brown sugar. is using brown sugar a good or bad idea? thanks all...

I'd be careful using that much brown sugar. That's almost 17% of the fermentables. If you use that much, the sugar will lighten the body drastically and only add alcohol to the end product. I personally use 1.25 cups of brown sugar for a 5 gallon batch, because I want a hint of the molasses flavor, and to lighten the body just a bit (and it goes along with my grandmom's apple pie theme).

If you want the flavor without lessening the body, add some molasses in the boil. Alternatively, you can add about a cup or so of raisins in the primary for the color and a rather healthy fermentation. I find that the raisins don't change the flavor profile too much, but it really does darken the mead.

AToE
10-01-2011, 12:32 PM
I'd be careful using that much brown sugar. That's almost 17% of the fermentables. If you use that much, the sugar will lighten the body drastically and only add alcohol to the end product. I personally use 1.25 cups of brown sugar for a 5 gallon batch, because I want a hint of the molasses flavor, and to lighten the body just a bit (and it goes along with my grandmom's apple pie theme).

If you want the flavor without lessening the body, add some molasses in the boil. Alternatively, you can add about a cup or so of raisins in the primary for the color and a rather healthy fermentation. I find that the raisins don't change the flavor profile too much, but it really does darken the mead.

I also think that's a bit much brown sugar because it might cover up a lot of the honey character - but I think you're thinking of beer, where adding sugar means you're adding 100% fermentables so they really do mostly just contribute alcohol - but that's what honey does too, also pretty much 100% fermentable so I'm not really quite sure where you're coming from! Also I think you're thinking beer because you mention "the boil" which we don't normally have with mead! ;)

dave_witt
10-01-2011, 09:16 PM
I also think that's a bit much brown sugar because it might cover up a lot of the honey character - but I think you're thinking of beer, where adding sugar means you're adding 100% fermentables so they really do mostly just contribute alcohol - but that's what honey does too, also pretty much 100% fermentable so I'm not really quite sure where you're coming from! Also I think you're thinking beer because you mention "the boil" which we don't normally have with mead! ;)

LOL, yeah, sorry, I've been reading a lot of beer brewing books lately.

Medsen Fey
10-02-2011, 08:56 PM
should i wait till it bubbles once every 15 or 30 seconds to rack? not getting much info from the homebrew forum.. id buy a hydrometer but i dont wanna expose it in the primary.


Welcome to GotMead James!

You can get a lot of good information from the NewBee Guide (see link in the column to the left).

Any definitely do get a hydrometer. There is essentially zero risk of contamination in testing gravity if you use basic sanitation. There is great risk of problems like bottle bombs using that yeast if you aren't sure where your gravity ends up.

AToE
10-03-2011, 02:57 AM
Just to add to that, while I do NOT recommend do as I do, lately I've been really busy in real life and have been making a lot more beer than mead - and beer is was more likely to get infected due to the lower alcohol content...

Long story short I've been doing lots of batches without even sanitizing my racking equipment, secondary carboy, bottles... you name it and I didn't sanitize it! No problem yet! Plus I've done dozens of batches of all kinds of things with lots of testing for SG and various levels of sanititation and not one contaminated one yet.

Like I/Medsen said, DEFINITELY sanitize everything, but I figured that info about my recent recklessness might help reassure you! ;D

james93711
10-03-2011, 01:39 PM
i sanitized my equipment pretty well, used bleach but rinsed till there was no bleach smell. i'm talking about oxygen being exposed to my mead, doesnt that ruin it? a few days ago i gently shook it around a bit, it was bubbling like crazy after i did that but now its only bubbling once every 5sec or so. just ordered a hydrometer off amazon so im gonna check it when ever it gets here. how do i know that its done and ready to rack?

AToE
10-03-2011, 01:50 PM
Nope! Check out the newbee guide for sure, it will explain a lot of this kind of thing.

The yeast actually need O2 during the first 1/3-1/2 of fermentation, most of us go to great lengths to whip the crap out of the surface of the mead to aerate it during this period and get the O2 to the yeast.

Even during the rest of fermentation O2 is fine as long as you don't sit there splashing it around for minutes, the CO2 being produced constantly by the fermentation is a pretty decent sheild. It's really only during aging that you worry about O2 because yes at that point you do want to keep it to a minimum.

james93711
10-03-2011, 02:15 PM
tahnks for telling me about the newbee guide, i didnt even aerate mine at all. i though o2 was the enemy. could this cause a big problem in my finished product? its been bubbling away till a few days ago.

AToE
10-03-2011, 02:27 PM
You should be fine, aeration is just part of refining the process in the quest for ever better meads, you can get away without it in some cases for sure. Check the SG though, if it's not past the 1/2 mark I'd definitely aerate it to help it ferment.

james93711
10-03-2011, 02:44 PM
i just did it, added some yeast nutrient and shook the hell outta it.its still producing gas so thats good. think i might rack it soon though i got watermelon chunks in there and it been 3-4 weeks so far. doesnt smell bad and doesnt taste nasty so might rack it next weekend

AToE
10-03-2011, 03:05 PM
Wait wait, what was the SG?!

If this is 3-4 weeks in it's probably way past the point of adding nutrients and aerating, unless it's a really sickly ferment (a normal ferment should really be done in around 10 days or so).

As for racking, I wouldn't rack it until it's done fermenting, which may have already happened, or maybe not.

james93711
10-03-2011, 03:21 PM
i dont have a hydrometer yet, should i just rack it? its bubbling once every 10 sec or so. it doesnt smell great just smells like a winery

AToE
10-03-2011, 03:28 PM
Oh ok, I thought you meant you'd opened it to get a hydrometer reading and did those other things... hopefully the nutrient additions don't cause you problems (I doubt the aeration will do much damage if any).

Bubble rates are almost meaningless, but if it's still bubbling that often then it's almost certainly still fermenting, so no I wouldn't rack it until you can gget a hydrometer and figure out what's happening in the ferment.

james93711
10-03-2011, 08:47 PM
what should i be at with the hydrometer reading at about 1? should i put some potassium sorbate in it to stop the fermenting?

Medsen Fey
10-03-2011, 09:28 PM
No just let the fermentation stop and wait for the gravity to stop dropping. When it remains stable, the fermentation is complete and you can rack it to another container.

james93711
10-05-2011, 07:47 PM
made my second batch, used about a cup of light brown and regular sugar and boiled it with apple juice came out pretty caramely and apples and a vanilla bean in the primary. smells kinda like a vanilla chi tea. im gonna aerate like you guys told me to, should only aerate it during the first week or so? i got some yeast nutrient and i used alittle, i put some in my hand and tasted it and it taste like crap... dont think im using that stuff anymore, is that stuff even necessary?

Loadnabox
10-05-2011, 08:17 PM
made my second batch, used about a cup of light brown and regular sugar and boiled it with apple juice came out pretty caramely and apples and a vanilla bean in the primary. smells kinda like a vanilla chi tea. im gonna aerate like you guys told me to, should only aerate it during the first week or so? i got some yeast nutrient and i used alittle, i put some in my hand and tasted it and it taste like crap... dont think im using that stuff anymore, is that stuff even necessary?

up to the 1/3 break aeration is normal however definitely not past the 1/2 sugar break.

Yeast nutrient isn't for your tastes but the yeasties. The yeast will eat up most of the nutrients you put in (if you dose it properly) so the taste won't transfer.

Is it necessary?... no
Recommended... absolutely

without it your fermentations will be slower, increasing the risk of spoilage organisms taking foot.

Your fermentation also suffers an increased chance of stalling out early without nutrients

Further, without the nutrients the yeast can become stressed and produce off flavors and sulfur like smells.

A "show" is a mead brewed without any extra flavorings or nutrients, people do it all the time, but they're extremely tricky.

A traditional is done with nutrients but no other things mixed in (honey & water only)

It is often said that the only reason for doing a show mead is to "show that you can" This is because it takes a crazy good pallet on the range of Chef Ramsey to tell the difference. Even then it's debated frequently if he could tell the difference between a trad and a show mead.

If you want a ferment to go nice and smooth, nutrients and HIGHLY recommended.

james93711
10-05-2011, 08:38 PM
i got enough nutrient for 2 batches and i've used about 2/3 of the nutrient on both batches so i think i'm doing alright. it taste pretty salty, only used about a tbs in each one maybe a little less. sugar break, what does that mean? is that when fermentation starts, the bubble? i dont plan on exposing too much o2 to the batch so ill just aerate it for probably the first 4-5 days.

AToE
10-06-2011, 12:21 AM
Don't go by days, in 4 or 5 days the ferment could potentially be over - 1/3 break means when 1/3 of the fermentation has happened.

So if your starting gravity was 1.099, then your 1/3 break would be 1.066, the 2/3 break (which isn't really that important) is 1.033 - so forth and so on.

EDIT: HA! and yes, the nutrients are for the yeast, unless you use too much they don't end up in the final product and will in no way influence taste or aroma.

james93711
10-06-2011, 08:19 PM
ok my watermelon batch taste like crap outta the primary, i just racked it today, but it does mellow out over time right? i only took a couple sips and i could feel it so i know itll get me where i wanna go. i put three 24oz of arizona watermelon juice in it to make it a bit more sweet.

just hope its not a total waste, it taste like a boilermaker with vodka and cheap wine.

still no hydrometer for the other batch but it just started bubbling today and it smells great ;D so im keeping my hopes high for that one. any weird smells i should watch out for? what should my ending reading be when ever my hydrometer gets here? i dont care about strong alcohol content just a pleasant taste, thanks all

Soyala_Amaya
10-07-2011, 12:01 PM
I think MOST meads taste like crap out of primary, lol. I prefer not to take my first taste (after fermentation) till at least a month so the initial OMG ALCOHOL flavor is at least beginning to mute.

As for your ending reading, it depends on your OG, your yeast tolerance, and the temperature. If your yeast has a high enough tolerance to go completely dry, your reading can be anywhere from .995 to 1.000. If you have enough sugars for 18% conversions but only a 14% yeast tolerance, you're going to be quite a bit higher. (Too lazy to get my hydrometer and to the math right now) Not having an OG means you can't look for a number very well, and even then just looking for even that 1.000 can mess you up. It can obviously still go lower, and sometimes at that .995 it can still show signs of fermentation anyway.

When it seems like it's down, check the SG. Wait a week. Check the SG again. If it hasn't changed and all visible signs of fermentation are done, THEN you can call primary over. Some people even wait a second week and do it again. Everything else can fool you.

AToE
10-07-2011, 01:33 PM
I don't honestly even taste my meads for the first year anymore (unless I'm really excited about that particular mead and want to watch it change over time). I did enough of that earlier on when I was making mead to learn a lot about aging, and now it just seems like a hassle that does nothing helpful for me...