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View Full Version : First time brewer, did I miss something?



Shett
01-05-2012, 06:33 PM
I've been wanting to brew my own stuff for quite a while but spent way too much time in places where it's not allowed. I finally got off my butt, did a bunch of reading, and brewed up a batch. I understand this can take a bit of time but since I don't know anyone in person who has done this I wanted to run this by you guys to see if I got started right. I have read through the newbee guide and think I'm ok as far as that goes, but I did have a question I'll ask in a second. To start, this is what I did:

1 gallon distilled water
2.8 pounds clover honey
1 medium orange (sliced)
about 1/2 handful of raisins
1 packet Fleischmann's (sp?) active dry yeast

22 December - I poured about 1/2 gallon out of the jug then put the honey, orange, and raisins in the jug. Gave it a good shake then poured the yeast packet in. I filled the jug back up with the distilled water and poked a small hole in the cap, I covered the cap with a piece of plastic wrap since I didn't have a balloon handy. Nothing much happened until the next day when I opened the jug to see what was up, turns out if was pressurized pretty good so I made sure the hole in the cap was open and then let it sit for a while. It was gurgling and foaming up pretty good for a week or so, and built up a good amount of crud in it. I kept checking on it from time to time until around new years.

2 January - Now it was smelling pretty boozy but the crud in the jug was kinda grossing me out. I didn't have a siphon or hose available so I just took a funnel and poured the liquid into a new clean jug, leaving the crud with the orange and raisins in the original jug. I didn't want it to keep fermenting and explode so I did the same thing by poking a small hole in the cap and covering it with plastic wrap.

4 January - I decided to taste it to see if it was funky at all, so I took about 1/8 teaspoon and tasted it. It definitely tasted like citrus booze, so I'm not sure what that means lol. It is still cloudy and when I tasted it, it kinda came with a slimy aftertaste, which leads me to my questions.

Is it normal at this stage to have a slightly slimy feel to it? I haven't done anything other than rack it one time to clarify it.

I was expecting it to taste more like honey or wine, but not citrus. Is that fairly normal too considering the ingredients I used? Will that mellow over time?

Funny thing was after I tasted it and got over the slimy feeling, I actually wanted to get some more. I don't think I'll mind a citrus taste at all as long as I can get the texture to clear up a bit. Is there anything I missed in the process or should be doing at this point to help it along? I was hoping to wait a little longer, maybe another week or so, then rack it into a nice glass jug where it will probably stay until it's time to party ;D

Oh also, I was debating on trying to toss 1/2 a cinnamon stick into the mix for a while because I think it might actually go well with the orange flavor. What do you guys think?

Mars Colonist
01-05-2012, 07:39 PM
Properly done, mead takes some patience, on the order of 6 months to a year. Beer has a much quicker turn around (6 weeks), but there is cooking involved and generally more equipment. So there is that....

Crud: You have any idea if it done fermenting when you racked it? Its likely that it was active yeast, just more of it, as it had multiplied.

Boozy flavor: What was the air temperature whilie it was fermenting? Fusels (boozy nose and flavor) is accentuated by most fementations about 70F. If the air is 70F, and you have mad fermentation, your liquid is several degrees (~6-10F) higher than the air temp. Keep it cool for best results.

Slimy mouthfeel: It was still cloudy, right? Probably still had a TON of yeast in suspension along with various proteins and things the yeast break down and spit out. If you can shine a strong flashlight through your jug/carboy, and you can see the beam, it isnt clear. If its done fermenting, put it in the refrigerator for a week or two, and see if it doesnt clear up a bit.... really you want it just below freezing (but dont put it in your freezer!), but a refrigerator is better than nothing.

1/2 cinnamon stick in a gallon should be fine. And the honey should come around later.. needs to clear a bit though. The sliminess should decrease as it clears. You are just drinking it YOUNG.

Shett
01-05-2012, 07:56 PM
*ahem* :( I am pretty sure it was not quite done fermenting, I wasn't really worried about the crud but it was starting to smell really strong so I wanted to get it to stop. I figured if I took it away from the hard foods it would die out before it became too potent.

The air in the house usually sits around 70-72, my wife is kind of crazy and likes to keep it like we live in San Diego so it's not that ideal. I might move it into one of the cooler rooms in the house where it stays around 65 or so. If it turns out it just smelled potent because of the temperature (and isn't really that potent) I'm going to be mildly depressed haha.

As for the clarity, it was definitely not clear, I could tell that even though it's in a plastic milk jug (i.e. not clear). I'm waiting for my mother-in-law to come back and finish drinking this jug of wine I got her so I can have the bottle. Once I get that I'll sanitize it and move the mead over to that so I can see it better. If it's normal that the regular floaties would cause that texture then I won't be worried, I just don't want to end up with some random bacteria slime like stagnant water.

triarchy
01-05-2012, 08:09 PM
Hi Shett, welcome to Got Mead! The recipe you did sounds a lot like the Joe's Ancient Orange or JAO that you will find in the General Recipe Discussion section of this site. It is "stickied" on the top. Id read thru that, it will answer a lot of your questions.

It will tell you you didnt have to rack at all, just leave it sit until all the solids fall out of suspension and the mead clears and stops fermenting. Then you can transfer to bottles. I doubt transferring early will hurt anything though. This is supposed to end up sweet with enough bitter orange to balance (the JAO also uses spices like cinnamon, clove, and allspice).

This is meant to drink early, so you dont really have to wait 6-12 months, but as with all mead, the longer it ages the better it gets. So it sounds like you are on the right track and this will come out fine.

JohnS
01-05-2012, 08:16 PM
Sounds like a JAO to me. If this was the intent then I would have used purified water. Yeast like minerals in water and distilled has no minerals or anything in it for that matter. Glad that the fermentation was started though. JAO calls for 3.5 lbs of honey. The finished product might be a bit dry but I think drinkable ofter aging. A half handful of raisins is ok. I think the recipe calls for 25, but never mind. Fleischmanns is ok. Too much might have been pitched though. JAO calls for one teaspoon which is about 5 grams. It might taste a bit yeasty, or the yeast might just die after its done feasting. The later option might be probable.


Did you take a hydrometer? This is the for sure way to see if the fermentation is complete, that and put a airlock on the jug. Once the airlock is in place you can tell that fermentation has finished when there are no more bubbles coming from the airlock. Also when the hydrometer is used the reading should read 1.00. A little above or a little below is ok too, but not too much above. It might be that a complete fermentation may have cut short. There is no danger of making "bottle bombs", since it has not been racked to a glass bottle and capped and the plastic bottle was sealed with plastic wrap.


The slimy aftertaste and the cloudy mix will clear in time. Remember patience is a virtue here. :D JAO usually take a minimum of 2 months to drink, or so I have been told.


Racking involves getting a stainless steel pipe that bent slightly on the end, along with a rubber hose that fits on the end and sucking the mead into a second container, by the use of gravity. I have also seen plastic racking pumps (but I prefer stainless). Everyone here will agree to getting a hydrometer and taking a SG or OG (starting gravity or original gravity), and periodicly, maybe after a week, or more to see where the fermentation is at.

Welcome to the board! A great source of mead resource information. BTW, I found this board only a few months and frequently come here to see out ways to improve my mead.

Chevette Girl
01-05-2012, 08:17 PM
*ahem* :( I am pretty sure it was not quite done fermenting, I wasn't really worried about the crud but it was starting to smell really strong so I wanted to get it to stop. I figured if I took it away from the hard foods it would die out before it became too potent.

Bwahaahaahaa!!! If only getting yeast to stop was so easy!!! ;D I'm not sure if bread yeast will take that dry or if it will leave you a little bit of sweetness when it's done.

What you've done is very similar to the Joe's Ancient Orange recipe only with less honey, and by taking it off the orange, you will probably avoid a lot of the bitterness that comes with leaving the pith on the orange. The Ancient Orange recipe does actually call for a cinnamon stick, so it's well documented that cinnamon and orange work out pretty well, and half of one shouldn't be overpowering. This mead will probably be drinkable in 6 months and really nice in a year, so all you're really missing is time... and with bread yeast I don't think there should be any problem fermenting at 70-72, that's about what my brewing space ends up being all summer, and it's not much cooler in the winter.

Welcome to the forum, and the addiction (of meadmaking, soon you'll look at everything and wonder, can I ferment that?)!



Sounds like a JAO to me. If this was the intent then I would have used purified water. Yeast like minerals in water and distilled has no minerals or anything in it for that matter. Glad that the fermentation was started though. JAO calls for 3.5 lbs of honey. The finished product might be a bit dry but I think drinkable ofter aging. A half handful of raisins is ok. I think the recipe calls for 25, but never mind. Fleischmanns is ok. Too much might have been pitched though. JAO calls for one teaspoon which is about 5 grams. It might taste a bit yeasty, or the yeast might just die after its done feasting. The later option might be probable.



I think a packet is usually around a teaspoon so you're fine. Some of the senior members around here like to overpitch to ensure a good start, it shouldn't hurt anything. Remember, when you pitch your yeast, the first thing they do is multiply until they reach a critical biomass and only THEN do they start making your alcohol, all you do if you overpitch is save them a few rounds of multiplying.

YogiBearMead726
01-06-2012, 04:06 AM
Must be pretty big teaspoons in Canada. I can't imagine a packet of bread yeast only has one teaspoon worth, but then again, I've never actually measured! :p

I'll second CG here and say slightly over pitching in this case probably didn't do any harm.

Chevette Girl
01-06-2012, 04:59 AM
Must be pretty big teaspoons in Canada. I can't imagine a packet of bread yeast only has one teaspoon worth, but then again, I've never actually measured! :p


It might be two tsp, I didn't measure the one time I used one.

Shett
01-06-2012, 01:29 PM
Bwahaahaahaa!!! If only getting yeast to stop was so easy!!! ;D I'm not sure if bread yeast will take that dry or if it will leave you a little bit of sweetness when it's done.

***

Welcome to the forum, and the addiction (of meadmaking, soon you'll look at everything and wonder, can I ferment that?)!

So I found out about the yeast, I got home from work yesterday and found my plastic jug quite swollen. I loosened the cap to let the pressure out and am still keeping plastic wrap over it so other stuff doesn't get in there. One day I'll get a hydrometer and proper cap with an airlock, right now the budget is a little tight due to unforeseen circumstances. Lesson learned though, it is clearly still fermenting.

I read the JAO recipe and it is pretty close to what I did, but at this point I'm hesitant to add more honey to it, I think I'd rather just leave it and see how it turns out. I did toss in a cinnamon stick and a touch of nutmeg, so we'll see how that goes. Right now the mixture has a very slight layer of foam/slime on top but is very cloudy, a bit more like watery orange juice than any kind of wine. In fact it kind of reminds me of a gigantic screwdriver, which is cool in it's own way. Waiting is the hardest part of this whole operation I think, I might have to get a couple more batches brewing in the meantime to help ease the time.

And I totally get ya on trying to think of what else to ferment. Once I did this and found out how easy it was to turn something into booze, it makes me want to try it with all kinds of things. I've already been looking at maybe an apple cider or pomegranate juice since I planted some of those in the yard. My wife keeps asking me what I'm going to do with all the fruit I want to grow, now the answer is easy 8)

Thanks for the replies and advice, you guys are great!

*EDIT: As far as the quantity of yeast, the packets contain about 1/4 ounce which is about 1 teaspoon. I would have gotten the jar instead but I didn't know it was going to be as addicting as it's turning out to be.

Chevette Girl
01-06-2012, 02:31 PM
LOL, another addict. Welcome to the club :)

Take off the lid altogether and just use plastic wrap and a rubber band, works fine. I do that somewhat regularly as I'm always running out of airlocks and improvising carboys 'cause all mine are full...

Soyala_Amaya
01-06-2012, 03:54 PM
Did you take a hydrometer? This is the for sure way to see if the fermentation is complete, that and put a airlock on the jug. Once the airlock is in place you can tell that fermentation has finished when there are no more bubbles coming from the airlock. Also when the hydrometer is used the reading should read 1.00. A little above or a little below is ok too, but not too much above. It might be that a complete fermentation may have cut short.

This is quite correct. A hydrometer is used, preferably, every time you make mead, whether or not you are taking it completely dry or not. The hydrometer helps you know whether or not the yeast has eaten enough sugars to reach it's alcohol tolerance level or not, through a lengthy equation that involves the OG, the FG, and the Brix levels. Or, one could use the GotMead Mead Calculator to give you an approximate FG and ABV, and then start watching the hydrometer more when you get to that point.

To truly tell whether a fermentation is over, you check the SG with the hydrometer over the course of 3-7 days, and if it doesn't change at all, even .001 point, it's done. Not when the airlock stops bubbling.

And using the airlock as the sole determining factor of a finished fermentation is actually something we advise against. There are too many factors in utilizing an airlock that it's usually unreliable. One could have an imperfect seal, a very slow ferment that isn't releasing CO2 at a rate that you can see airlock bubbles very well, temperature, or a low liquid level in the airlock. Also, the fermentation could be over, but bubbles could still happen because CO2 stays trapped in suspension for months after primary. This is called the degassing period, and several people on here are known to 'swirl' their mead gently every once in a while to help the CO2 escape.



Racking involves getting a stainless steel pipe that bent slightly on the end, along with a rubber hose that fits on the end and sucking the mead into a second container, by the use of gravity.

Racking can be done with just a long hose, with the stainless steel pipe, or with a racking cane. There are also people who use special mechanical pumps, not gravity, to rack through a filter. And if one is using the sucking method with the mouth, you should take a small swig of alcohol to clean your mouth with. The mouth is gross and can introduce bacteria by sucking on the end like that.

What racking means, in the simplest terms, is removing the mead from on top of the lees in the smoothest way possible so as not to shake up the mead or draw up dead yeast into the new carboy. How you accomplish it is up to you, but some methods are better than others. I like my pumping racking cane because I don't have to suck on the hose, it's smoother and cleaner for me.

Loadnabox
01-06-2012, 09:35 PM
It might be two tsp, I didn't measure the one time I used one.

According to my -JAR- of Fleischmanns 2.25 tsp = 1 packet

JohnS
01-06-2012, 10:59 PM
According to my -JAR- of Fleischmanns 2.25 tsp = 1 packet

one packet of bread yeast is 7 grams and that would mean that approximately one teaspoon is 3 grams.

I goggled "how many grams are in a teaspoon" and came up with a query from the yahoo answers page. There it gave me an answer of 5 grams. One guy wrote "more precisely, 4.745 grams in a teaspoon". If by that figure, I might have made a mistake, since yahoo might have been opinionated. I was curious on this point, because I wanted to get as close to the JAO as possible. The JAO doesn't say how many grams to pitch in a gallon batch, so I tried to find out for myself. Interesting point however.

Therefor, I pitched 5 grams into 3 separate gallons. and one gallon with 6 grams. Maybe I made a mistake? Anyway it might have been better to pitch too much rather then too little.....................right?

mmclean
01-06-2012, 11:08 PM
Grams are weight.

Teaspoons are volume.

Unless you know the weight per volume (atomic weight?) you are comparing apples to oranges.

Mars Colonist
01-07-2012, 04:32 AM
Therefor, I pitched 5 grams into 3 separate gallons. and one gallon with 6 grams. Maybe I made a mistake? Anyway it might have been better to pitch too much rather then too little.....................right?

More yeast is an okay thing... best if they are healthy, happy yeast.


Unless you know the weight per volume (atomic weight?)

Density (mass per unit volume)

mmclean
01-07-2012, 07:29 AM
Density (mass per unit volume)

Yeah, that's what I was looking for.

Thanks for keeping me honest.

Shett
01-08-2012, 01:56 AM
I just checked the packet (came with three, so I have two left) and it does say each packet contains 7 grams of yeast, and each packet is equal to about 2.25 teaspoons. So if I was only supposed to use 1 teaspoon, then no wonder it got all agressive right off the bat.

It is still fermenting fairly well too it seems, not real visible to the naked eye but enough to where it's pressurizing the bottle if I cap it.

JohnS
01-08-2012, 03:32 AM
Mars Colonist...

Thanks for the heads up. Yea, my yeast look healthy, not sure about happy, They look like they want to escape my airlock. lol Had to clean it out once or twice everyday for the past 3 or 4 days. Everyday I take a little bit out, thinking that it will be ok, and everyday they just want to leave the lock on top of the gallon container. They are understanding now that they will be in there for some time and should get use to it. lol

Next time,I will only fill to a little less then the shoulder.

Chevette Girl
01-08-2012, 12:48 PM
Yea, my yeast look healthy, not sure about happy, They look like they want to escape my airlock.

If they're trying to escape, they're happy yeast! ;D

Shett
01-09-2012, 08:40 PM
So another random-ish question:

About how long does it usually take before mead will start to clarify? Mine looks like orange juice with a cinnamon stick floating in it and I'm looking forward to the next benchmark.

Chevette Girl
01-09-2012, 09:57 PM
My most recent JAO is starting to clear, I started it in mid-November.

Sprigg
01-30-2012, 01:33 PM
Awesome... lots of good advice in this thread! I'm working on (by which I mean resisting the urge to move or taste) my first batch of JAO, which is three weeks old this Wednesday. I threw quite a lot of yeast in, a full tablespoon, because I mis-read the directions I had found... but it sounds like it should be fine and any problems I encounter will be solved by aging?

Chevette Girl
01-30-2012, 07:33 PM
Hey Sprigg, welcome to the addiction-er, hobby ;D

I don't see there being a problem with over-pitching like that, it likely just got it up and running a few hours faster than if you'd only used a teaspoon... although if you make another batch with the correct amount of yeast, you can do a taste comparison and let us know if there's any difference!

(...yes, my own to-do list is full so I'm adding things to other people's lists instead! :D)

Sprigg
01-30-2012, 11:07 PM
Awesome! I'm incredibly excited, gonna start a batch of raspberry mead this week ;D

Shett
01-31-2012, 06:24 PM
Well it's now been over a month and it's a dark amber color but looks like it's starting to clear up. I'm hoping that another jug opens up for me soon so I can transfer it, darned economy has kept my ability to buy any equipment down to nil.

I did get a small bottle of mead from a friend of mine, it was a sack mead that he brewed in 2010 and was incredibly sweet. He said he used about 5 pounds of honey per gallon and you could definitely taste it, almost tasted like a liquid boozy honey candy to me. I like drier flavors myself but the wife liked it, which was good for me because it broke down some of her resistance to me brewing more :cool:

Apathetik
02-01-2012, 02:07 PM
Grams are weight.

Teaspoons are volume.

Unless you know the weight per volume (atomic weight?) you are comparing apples to oranges.

Although this is true, you can get a general idea what you are working with without always consulting conversion scales and looking up density.

One teaspoon is roughly 5ml. 1ml of water = 1g of water. Generally, a solid is more dense than water and most liquids are generally slightly more dense (about halfway between water and an average solid.) This may not be scientific, but we aren't in china so we aren't making mead with lead or rubidium or some heavy metal, so we should be able to live with a little generalized and vague comparison to get us through successfully.

A quick way to determine density is to take the questionable material and put it on the surface of water and if it floats it is less dense and if it falls it is more dense.

We should all have put some yeast on the surface of some water by now and we can see that it's first action is to float on the surface. The yeasty-pellets are less dense that water until they soak up some water. Therefore, one can assume that one tsp of yeast is slightly less than 5g.

Or maybe I have been out of school for too long...

Chevette Girl
02-01-2012, 03:06 PM
I suspect that pelleted yeast initially floating has more to do with water's surface tension than the yeast's density.

I don't get too worked up about weighing out my ingredients versus using volume measurements because humidity can mess with your readings, and I'm assuming that all my assumptions are approximate anyway. And I'm lazy ;D

Apathetik
02-01-2012, 03:18 PM
I suspect that pelleted yeast initially floating has more to do with water's surface tension than the yeast's density.



I had considered that while I was writing my Essay on the Science of Measurement Conversions as Applied to Modern Mead Making...or simply put, that post below.

I put considerable thought into it and decided that the small pellet size, if it was truly denser than water, would be enough to break surface tension. I am fairly sure that those pellets are actually more air than solid and doubt that they are actually densely packed, nuts-to-butts, yeasties. I based this on I how long I think it would take a densely packed cake of yeast to absorb sufficient water and how lumpy it would be vs how quickly the yeast actually do absorb water and create an even solution.

This being said, I reserve the right to be wrong on this and all other matters.

Chevette Girl
02-01-2012, 10:47 PM
This being said, I reserve the right to be wrong on this and all other matters.

I'm quoting you on that. ;D

Even silt and sand will sometimes float on top of water, despite essentially being rock which we know is denser than water.

It would be easier to just take a measured-weight packet of Lalvin yeast and see what volume it is...

chams
02-01-2012, 11:04 PM
I had considered that while I was writing my Essay on the Science of Measurement Conversions as Applied to Modern Mead Making...or simply put, that post below.

I put considerable thought into it and decided that the small pellet size, if it was truly denser than water, would be enough to break surface tension. I am fairly sure that those pellets are actually more air than solid and doubt that they are actually densely packed, nuts-to-butts, yeasties. I based this on I how long I think it would take a densely packed cake of yeast to absorb sufficient water and how lumpy it would be vs how quickly the yeast actually do absorb water and create an even solution.

This being said, I reserve the right to be wrong on this and all other matters.

Granted and confirmed. Another bubble frequency thread.
Just weigh it. Otherwise, it's not really an exact science unless you want it to be.
A pinch of this and that works for me until you want to duplcate the recipe.
Then you begin to wonder; why the hell didn't I take notes.