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View Full Version : A few tips from someone whose first 3 batches failed



maenad
01-07-2012, 03:57 PM
Success! It's my fourth batch and at LAST I've produced something that doesn't have to go into the spaghetti sauce!

Things I learnt along the way:

1. You CAN make Joe's Ancient Orange with regular wine-making yeast, but it's going to take a year or more to be drinkable (and even then, only your employees will ask for a second glass.) Follow the recipe.

2. My biggest issue: I live in a metric country (ie. 5-litre carboys) but mead-makers always seem to use 1-gallon carboys (ie 4.7 litres) on this website. I would follow recipes slavishly, leaving a layer of air at the top of the mead rather than topping it up with water. Big mistake. Air is a bigger enemy than water.

3. Do not siphon your mead into bottles using a tube which is wide enough to take a penny lengthways. The dog got drunk on the mead which spilt on the floor that day. The tube should be about the same width as a toothpaste tube opening.

4. The dregs of mead, mixed 4-1 with soy sauce, and cooked with a teaspoon of cornstarch, make an absolutely magnificent chinese-restaurant-style stir fry sauce. However, if you mix up ALL the dregs 4-1 and bottle it and put it in the fridge, and shake it when it's time to use it a week later, it will explode in your face like a very angry coca cola bottle.

5. Don't make mead at the height of summer in a house without air conditioning. Yeast stops fermenting when the temperature hits 45. (Husbands, interestingly, start boiling at about the same temperature.)

Mars Colonist
01-07-2012, 04:19 PM
2. My biggest issue: I live in a metric country (ie. 5-litre carboys) but mead-makers always seem to use 1-gallon carboys (ie 4.7 litres) on this website.


1 US gal = 3.78 L by my math... what is the equivalent size jug that is readily available where you are?

Also.. fermenting at 45C ?? That is like 113F? Wow! Yeah, best results when you can keep the liquid (air temp will be cooler than actual fermentation temp) under 70F (21C). Controlled fermentation temperature is a major part of the magic... try a water bath with frozen ice bottles to keep the jugs cooler... just have to float a thermometer in the bath.. works wonders on the cheap! Liquid to liquid transfers heat pretty well (same thermal capacitance).... liquid to air, not so much.... air just cant absorb the heat that quickly.

AToE
01-07-2012, 05:09 PM
The issue with jugs and carboys isn't even really metric vs US, we all use basically the same jugs and carboys with a few exceptions.

The issue is that they're all bigger than they sayd they are. You add the amount of fluid into one that it says it'll hold and you'll wind up with headspace for sure - understandable because it's nice to have a little extra space to make up for losses, but until a person figures the discrepancy out it can cause some pretty good grief!

tweak'e
01-07-2012, 06:58 PM
another reason to ferment more than what your carboy can hold.

kudapucat
01-07-2012, 07:09 PM
I guess I'm lucky being an engineer, I had a gut feeling about most of your issues before I even started brewing. And I know how to follow a recipe to the letter (though tweaking it later is inevitable)
Where are you? There aren't so many of us metric folk about. I'm guessing Australia because you used the imperial gallon in your post, not the US, and I don't know where else gets to 45. Sheesh it's been hot lately.

I only have access to 5L jugs here too. We make good JAO @3.8 litres, but to make more booze, we usually mix honey and water to an SG then fill the 5L jugs to just above the shoulder: 4.3litres is my guess.

Lots of headspace is only necessary in primary, and only if you're going to have a foamer or fruit cap.

Chevette Girl
01-07-2012, 07:10 PM
3. Do not siphon your mead into bottles using a tube which is wide enough to take a penny lengthways. The dog got drunk on the mead which spilt on the floor that day. The tube should be about the same width as a toothpaste tube opening.

4. The dregs of mead, mixed 4-1 with soy sauce, and cooked with a teaspoon of cornstarch, make an absolutely magnificent chinese-restaurant-style stir fry sauce. However, if you mix up ALL the dregs 4-1 and bottle it and put it in the fridge, and shake it when it's time to use it a week later, it will explode in your face like a very angry coca cola bottle.

5. Don't make mead at the height of summer in a house without air conditioning. Yeast stops fermenting when the temperature hits 45. (Husbands, interestingly, start boiling at about the same temperature.)

3. If you can get your hands on it, get a bottle filler attachment, best $3 wine equipment purchase ever. Unless you're the dog :)

4. I like putting stuff like that in a mason jar with the flat metal lid sitting on top of the jar but without the metal ring, either that or plastic wrap with an elastic band...

5. Good grief, where do you live?!? I think it's almost unbearable when it's in the 30's! Lots of folks here on this forum live where it's warm, Medsen and Mars Colonist and some of the others have a lot of good tricks for keeping your must cool even if your husband is melting. And I think K1V-1116 is one of the best yeasts for higher-temp fermentations, although I think 45C would probably do it in too.

kudapucat
01-07-2012, 07:16 PM
@CG: nothing should be brewed at 45. In fact, nobody should even get off the couch. It hit 42 here last week, it was abominable, and I HAVE air conditioning.

Loadnabox
01-08-2012, 03:50 PM
@CG: nothing should be brewed at 45. In fact, nobody should even get off the couch. It hit 42 here last week, it was abominable, and I HAVE air conditioning.

I have suffered through 52.8C weather in Phoenix back in the day.

My wife keeps telling me she would love to go live in Phoenix and doesn't believe me that she needs to suffer through a summer there first before making such demands. When it gets that hot you aren't out enjoying the sun, you don't go have fun at the lake shore or the golf course. You cower in your house and make the briefest possible excursions to the store, because by the time you make it back to your car in the lot, the inside is 95+ C.

It just sucks in so many ways, I'll take the snow here 'cause you can at least go sledding if you dress warm.

Medsen Fey
01-08-2012, 05:04 PM
When it gets that hot you aren't out enjoying the sun, you don't go have fun at the lake shore or the golf course. You cower in your house and make the briefest possible excursions to the store, because by the time you make it back to your car in the lot, the inside is 95+ C.

...I'll take the snow here 'cause you can at least go sledding if you dress warm.

Tut tut. During the summer, when the heat is oppressive during the day, once the sun sets, it cools off enough to be out and about having a good time in the fresh air. In the snow, when the sun sets, it goes from bad to frostbite. ;)

maenad
01-08-2012, 08:31 PM
Well, that would explain the problem then... I didn't know what a gallon was, so I googled it and came up with 4.3 litres. 1.3 litres of airspace? No wonder it tasted rough.

I'm in Turkey. It doesn't usually get that hot here but yes, it hit 45 at one point the first summer and the mead suffered as much as I did.

I've turned my turkish friends onto mead but had to tell them that it was honey beer to get them to try it.

skunkboy
01-09-2012, 12:29 AM
Success! It's my fourth batch and at LAST I've produced something that doesn't have to go into the spaghetti sauce!

Things I learnt along the way:

1. You CAN make Joe's Ancient Orange with regular wine-making yeast, but it's going to take a year or more to be drinkable (and even then, only your employees will ask for a second glass.) Follow the recipe.

4. The dregs of mead, mixed 4-1 with soy sauce, and cooked with a teaspoon of cornstarch, make an absolutely magnificent chinese-restaurant-style stir fry sauce. However, if you mix up ALL the dregs 4-1 and bottle it and put it in the fridge, and shake it when it's time to use it a week later, it will explode in your face like a very angry coca cola bottle.


1. If you plan to use regular wine yeast leave out the orange pith, and this will be much more copacetic...

4. Oohhh....I'm gonna have to try that. The recipe, not the forced bath... ;-)

Loadnabox
01-09-2012, 05:39 PM
Tut tut. During the summer, when the heat is oppressive during the day, once the sun sets, it cools off enough to be out and about having a good time in the fresh air. In the snow, when the sun sets, it goes from bad to frostbite. ;)

Remember, I lived in Jacksonville, FL for 4.5 years. I know very well how hot it gets (Hell I paid for college by loading semi trucks on an open air loading dock in Jax!)

At the fort there you're only getting 90F/80 hum which is very different than 127FiYou also have Gulf/Ocean breezes to help cool things off.

In Phoenix, there's nights when it doesn't get below 90 Fi (32C) during the summer.

VERY different!