View Full Version : Two Week Window

10-06-2011, 06:17 AM
This is my first post on Got Mead forums, and my first post on any forum to be quite honest. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan and will be heading home for R&R in about a week. Over the past couple of months I've been scouring forums (this one, home brew, wine making, even cheese making) and am almost to the point of obsessing over the home brew culture. I really want to brew a batch of mead while I'm home, and looking for some advice on feasibility and maybe some expectation management.

Here are the facts:
I will be home on leave for 15 days.
After the 15 days I will return to Afghanistan for 4-5 more months.
I have no brewing equipment.
I have zero brewing experience.
There is a local home brew store on the island (poor me, I live on Oahu) that has everything I think I could need to start.

Here is my question:
Is it feasible to brew anything in 15 days? This is high on my list "relaxation" activities when I get home (In addition to emptying beer bottles, to be used later).

I was thinking I could make a batch of JAOM and let it age while I was gone. I thought I remembered reading a thread about JAOM where someone left it in the primary for months and it came out "great". I cannot, however, find this thread now. Beer seems possible, but if fermentation took even one day longer than 15 days, I'm assuming I would lose the entire batch.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

10-06-2011, 07:53 AM
Sounds like a fun brew challenge.

You've got two options.
1.) You can make a set it and forget it type of brew like JOA.
2.) You can make whatever type of mead you'd like, and try to finish the primary fermentation before you depart, leaving it to age in the secondary.

A primary fermentation can typically be done in 15 days. I've had them done in 5ish days before, but it's typically more like 10-15. I a few brewers who let their meads age on the lees.. and that's not really a problem. IMO.. I prefer to age the mead off of the sediment.

To aid fast primary fermentation you've got a few things you can do.
1.) Make a starter, as you aren't going to want to pitch twice. I'd recommend using GoFerm to get this going.
2.) You want a health fermentation... so you are going to want to follow a proper yeast nutrion schedule. The keys here are .. Aerating daily, adding DAP, and adding ferment-k.. and watching out for the sugar breaks.
3.) Start with an appropriate S.G. If you are aimging to make somethign really strong, those sometimes have a sluggish start, and can ferment for longer. I like shooting for the S.G. of 1.100 to get you in the 12-14%

Lastly.. even if you can't finish the primary.. some yeasts are better than others for aging on the sediment. You could mitagate the risk of not being able to transfer intoa secondary by using a yeast that is more appropriate for that. 71B is not good for lees aging, whereas D47 is a better choice.

Dan McFeeley
10-06-2011, 03:59 PM
It's possible to bring a mead from honey must to completed fermentation in two weeks, but there's more to the method than completion alone. Good choice of honeys (go for the darker varietals, they have more nutrients and buffering material compared with lighter honeys), a vigorous yeast strain with low nitrogen requirements, proper nutrient additions, pH control, will probably get you there in the required time.

Afterwards, however, can be the trick. Although a mead may look finished out, the final gravity reading looks good, the mead has dropped crystal clear, you can never be 100% sure it won't wake up again. After finishing out and clearing, it needs to sit for a good long time to be sure the yeasties have given up the ghost. With only two weeks and then back to Afghanistan, even with bulk aging and fixing air locks, it's chancy. You also have to check air locks every so often to be sure the fluid level hasn't dropped too low. Any possibility that there may be someone to keep an eye on the carboys while you're away?

You could also try a general 'net search for Quick Mead Recipes. You might find something there that could work.

At the emergency room where I work, one of our emergency room physicians is a military doc, he was over in Afghanistan just recently, spent five months in a combat zone taking care of our soldiers. He was the sole physician for 150 troops.

A tip of the mazer cup to you and all of our military personnel overseas!


Medsen Fey
10-06-2011, 04:14 PM
You might want to take a look at the recipe for Joe's Ancient Orange. It is a mead that requires little in the way of equipment. It helps to have 1 gallon glass jug, and a stopper with an airlock. Everything else can easily be obtained at the grocery store and/or pharmacy.

With Joe's recipe, you put everything in the fermenter, and let it go, then top it up with water when the fermentation slows down (which it usually does after about 1 week). Normally you leave it alone in a dark place until the fruit drops and it is totally clear which often takes 6-12 weeks. Then you can bottle it. Now in your case, you're going to be gone for 16-20 weeks, but I have left Joe's batches sitting for longer than that and still had them turn out OK. I can't swear that you won't have any problems, but the odds are good that when you get back, you'll have a smooth, sweet, orange batch waiting for you.

The one thing I would do if I expected to have to leave it unchecked for a few months would be to fill the airlock with glycerin rather than water. That way it won't evaporate out of the airlock leaving it open to air.

Good luck with the batch!
Thank you for your service!

And Welcome to GotMead!

Chevette Girl
10-06-2011, 04:16 PM
If you've never brewed before, I'd go with a JAO too, it's pretty idiot-proof (even I haven't screwed it up as long as I follow the recipe!) and I don't think leaving it on the fruit and spices for that long will hurt it (I'd be interested in hearing about it after you get back to it though!)

I did a variation on JAO where it ended up staying in the primary bucket from April until August and it didn't seem to do any harm.

If you've got someone to check airlocks for you, great... if not, a double layer of plastic wrap and a rubber band will do the trick, this JAO based batch (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17322) seems fine after going from January until June in a widemouth jar with plastic wrap.

Hope you enjoy your R&R, that must be a rough job, we talked to some of the Canadian forces who were on leave a couple years ago and.... well, it's not a job I could do, thanks for being one of the people who can and will do it.

10-06-2011, 05:37 PM
I'd advise another of ChevetteGirl's tricks, and zest the orange, add the flesh and leave out the pith.
Prolonged exposure to pith can cause bittering that may take your entire r&r next time to dissipate.
It's more work, but could be worth it. My pith free JAO has just finished fermenting, but not cleared, so I can't personally vouch for this technique.

10-06-2011, 07:12 PM
I have made all my JAO with reduced pith and love them. I recommend going with JAO especially since you have never brewed anything before. Odds are you will come back and wish you had made more than a gallon!

10-07-2011, 03:51 AM
Thank you all for your advice and guidance. Based on your replies I've decided the JAO is the way to go. Additionally, in order to eliminate the chance for regrets, I'm thinking a 5 gallon batch is in order. I can't imagine I'll be any more disappointed with a 5 gallon loss than a 1 gallon loss, but the payoff for success is much greater. So, here's to a pour and pray!

My wife will be able to check the airlocks for me and hopefully send pictures of the progress over time, so I've got that going for me.

Two questions:

When you mention zesting to remove the pith, do you still include the fruit itself?

6.5 Carboy or bucket?

Thanks in advance!


10-07-2011, 07:59 AM
6.5 Carboy or bucket?tin

Good question. If you were sticking to the recipe.. it'd be a 1 gallong carboy. If you are upping the batch size then you are breaking the warrenty and the results are not gaurenteed.

That said.

When I do a 6 gallon JOA.. here are the points I think are key
1.) Use a mesh bag to contain all of the solid. Orange, cinamon sticks, raisens..ect. It's nice to be able to pull them out easily and not go fishing for them. Using the meshe bag is really only possible in a bucket.
2.) The problem with brewing in the bucket.. is that there is a lot of surface area exposed to air. You you have a great risk of your mead oxidizing. That's typically not a problem if you transfer it into a carboy or keg after the primary.

In your case.. it's probably best to just use a 6.5 gallon carboy. You will be fishing to get all the orange slices & whatnot out later... but at least it adheres to the set it and forget it mentality.

10-07-2011, 08:05 AM
Yeah, flesh and zest. Only the pith is left out.
I'd go for the carboy, cos I like them.

But some arguments to back up my irrational prejudice.

1. As you'll be leaving it in there for an extended period, it will provide better oxygen protection than a bucket.
2. You can more easily see when the fruit has dropped and the must has cleared
3. You can see dirt on the glass so it's easier to clean.
4. It's an easier to clean surface than plastic
5. It doesn't flex and suck air in when it's picked up.

Some arguments against...

1. They're expensive
2. They're breakable
3. They're hard to get fruit and additives in and out of.
4. They're heavier
5. They don't come in über-big sizes

It really comes down to personal choice.

10-07-2011, 01:40 PM
I still occasionally do primary in carboys if I have enough headspace and am feeling lazy. The one main advantage is that if you ferment in them with lots of headspace and an airlock on, you can just leave it for a while longer than you can in a bucket (my style of bucket anyways, not a good seal around the rim).

Medsen Fey
10-07-2011, 02:39 PM
If you decide to go for 5-gallons (and I certainly would), you may want to cut down the cloves and perhaps use only 2-3. They are powerful and you are leaving them in for a long time. Also, you won't need five packets of yeast, but I would use 2.

10-07-2011, 05:57 PM
Two packets of yeast huh? I'm making a 6 gallon batch and just added two teaspoons... That might explain the slow ferment, eh? (is it pointless to add more if it's already been a week?)

Medsen Fey
10-07-2011, 06:14 PM
Actually 2 packets would work out to be close to 2 tsp so I don't think that is your problem.

10-07-2011, 10:52 PM
Are you sure? My two teaspoons came out of one partial packet.

10-07-2011, 11:00 PM
I use 2 metric teaspoons for 5 gal, and have never had issue.
I have NFI how many packets that is, as I buy my yeast by the pound.

10-08-2011, 03:29 AM
Oh. Well no worries then!

10-11-2011, 05:12 AM
Thank you to everyone for contributing to my future demise. I have sent the shopping list forward to my wife and am looking forward to getting started. I fly out of here in 3 days!

I will be sure to keep you all updated with the process and hopefully in 6 months, I'll tell you how well it turned out.


10-11-2011, 12:01 PM
God keep you safe.

10-20-2011, 03:03 PM
I made it home and my wife Sarah had all the ingredients, to include the brewing equipment waiting for me. She's possibly the best wife of the year. You'll be happy to know that the batch is brewing in the closet right now. Everything went off without a hitch.

Thank you everyone, again, for all of your help!!!

Chevette Girl
10-20-2011, 03:09 PM
Good luck, enjoy your two weeks, stay safe when they're over, and when you get back to it again, let us know how it turned out!

10-21-2011, 08:16 AM
Glad to hear you got it brewing! Did you end up going with JOA?

10-21-2011, 11:29 AM
I followed this tread from the beginning and it makes me :)

What did you primary in?

10-21-2011, 01:19 PM
The LHBS had a really good priced starter kit that was a better deal than most online kits. Because she got me the whole kit, I decided to do the primary in the 6.5 gallon bucket and then rack it to the the 5 gallon carboy the morning before leave. It smells so good.

I might have used a little too much honey, it had an OG of 1.130, this means it will finish pretty sweet right?

10-21-2011, 02:16 PM
If you used bread yeast, yeah. Did you end up making JAOM? If you rack just before you return to duty, make sure you fish out all the chunky stuff and include it in the secondary.

10-22-2011, 01:23 PM
I did end up making the JAOM. You say to include all of the fishy stuff? Like the fruit and what not?

10-22-2011, 01:38 PM
I did end up making the JAOM. You say to include all of the fishy stuff? Like the fruit and what not?

Ideally, yeah. JAO is designed to have all that stuff in it for a month or two (or even longer as some have pointed out).

Personally, I don't think you'll be disappointed if you don't include all the fruit/spices when racking. It's really up to you though. Taste it as you rack it, and if you think it needs more orange/cinnamon/clove flavor, then include all that stuff in the 5 gallon carboy. If not, then don't bother. Just my $0.02.

Thank you for your service! Stay safe over there!

Chevette Girl
10-22-2011, 05:43 PM
If you decide not to include all the chunkies, do at least squeeze all the juice out of the orange pieces.

05-02-2012, 07:35 PM
Thank you everyone for your help preparing this batch of mead. It came out amazing! It's all bottled and ready for consumption. I wish I could post a photo of the final product, but from my iPhone it's a task beyond my abilities. Thanks again everyone!


05-03-2012, 07:27 AM
Congrats on your first batch! Just curious if you have a hydrometer and bothered to check FG? But, how it tastes and that you like it is all that really matters.Cheers.

05-03-2012, 04:19 PM
My FG was 1.010 and using the Got Mead calculator I think it's just under 15% abv. The mead starts with a faint sweetness and finishes with a subtle dryness. We love it and we're already planning the next batch.

My wife who has complained about headaches from beer and most wines in the past (even one would trigger them) drank a half a bottle of the mead without even a trace of a headache. So, she's hooked.

I think we're going to use local honey and incorporate some island fruits for the next batch, maybe starfruit and passion fruit.

05-03-2012, 06:22 PM
My FG was 1.010 and using the Got Mead calculator I think it's just under 15% abv. The mead starts with a faint sweetness and finishes with a subtle dryness. We love it and we're already planning the next batch.

My wife who has complained about headaches from beer and most wines in the past (even one would trigger them) drank a half a bottle of the mead without even a trace of a headache. So, she's hooked.

I think we're going to use local honey and incorporate some island fruits for the next batch, maybe starfruit and passion fruit.

That's right about where I like my meads to finish, 1.010.

And I'm jealous you live on Oahu, I've surfed most of my life but haven't ever made it out there yet.

Good luck with that next batch. Sounds good.

05-04-2012, 03:01 AM
I have followed this thread all along too. Glad to hear it turned out soooo good.