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View Full Version : First Mead - How am I getting on?



maykal
02-07-2012, 04:11 AM
Hello folks,

After a few months of procrastination I've finally got round to putting on my first batch of mead. So far I think it's going ok, but not having done it before it would be good to get an expert eye cast over it. This is more of a test batch, to see how things work, after which I'll be more confident in making adjustments and experimenting with flavours.

Firstly, in this part of the world most additives are unavailable without having them mailed in (not really worth it unless buying in bulk due to tax/packaging costs). I can get a few things locally (or smuggled in by people coming from the UK) but for the most part I'm quite limited in what I can and can't use. Fortunately, raw honey is plentiful and cheap here with many people owning small-scale apiaries and selling on their produce. Nobody seems to make mead though.

So, my recipe was put together as follows (everything sanitized, naturally):

1. Warmed 4 litres of bottled water and added 3.5kg of honey (warmed in a sinkful of hot water to make it pour more easily). Stirred to dissolve. Kept it at about 70C for 10 minutes.
2. Poured 6 litres of chilled bottled water into FV (standard brewing bucket) and added the must and mixed well.
3. Added 2tsp of DAP (instructions on bottle said 1tsp per UKGal) and mixed in.
4. Left it for about 20 minutes, covered, to cool to 27C and then pitched the yeast (Richies W0814 - white wine yeast) which I had mixed with a little warm water and a drop of honey about 30 minutes before to start it off. Mixed well.
5. Aerated the must for about 15 minutes with paddle.
6. Lid on, airlock on, put away into the cupboard - ambient temp about 20C.

After about 5 hours the airlock showed signs of action. Gave it another 5 minutes of aeration. By the following morning (after cc. 20 hours) it was bubbling regularly. Aerated it again twice throughout the day. This morning I aerated it once more. Still very active. No krausen was visible on the must.

I intend to aerate it once more tonight, and then pretty much leave it be for a couple of weeks, or until the bubbling in the airlock slow noticeably. Once bubbling has reached about a bubble every 30 seconds, I plan to rack it into a 10 litre carboy and possibly add some flavouring: Schramm suggests for fruits it's not a bad idea to add them at this point as the alcoholic content is up and this'll kill off any nasties in/on the fruit.

I'm also aware that it would be a good idea to add some yeast hulls at some point during the fermentation. I can make this by boiling up some baker's yeast. From reading around posts here and elsewhere I think about a teaspoon per gallon seems to be the right amount. Is that about right? How long should I boil them for and when is the best time to add them?

Thank you!

fatbloke
02-07-2012, 09:24 AM
Some confirmation ? 3.5kg of honey in 4 litres of water ?

That'd make for a very sweet mead. I routinely use about 3.5lb topped up to 1 Imp gallon (4.55 litres) which would be about 1.5 kg of honey........

maykal
02-07-2012, 09:27 AM
Hi,

Heated 4 litres, added 3.5kg of honey, dissolved it, then added all that to the 6 litres of chilled water in the FV, so 10 litres of water plus 3.5kg of honey. Came to about 11.5 litres on the scale on the FV, after a little removed for testing the OG.

fatbloke
02-07-2012, 09:44 AM
Ha ha! That'll teach me to be more careful trying to scroll a thread on a phone screen....

Looks like a good start.

With your nutrients, you can use tronozymol instead of fermaidk, and the other one you've got for the DAP recommendations.

It would still be better if you could source some Lalvin yeasts. Maybe order then to be sent to whoever is coming over next (which is how I get reasonable amounts of Polish honey and not have to pay high shipping rates).

Once you're happy that its gone into the anaerobic fermentation, then just leave it until its finished, and confirm that with a hydrometer. Only then think about racking and clearing etc....

maykal
02-07-2012, 10:27 AM
Cheers!

I've been searching around on the net and in my brewing books, but I can't seem to find anything which clearly indicates how you know it's time to stop aerating because the anaerobic fermentation has started. I've read through a few scientific explanations or the fermentation process and am I right in assuming that the yeast will basically prefer to feed off the oxygen for as long as you provide it (through aeration or leaving the lid off), meaning that anaerobic fermentation will start only after you stop aerating it?

mmclean
02-07-2012, 06:14 PM
Most people stop aerating at the 1/3 sugar break.

maykal
02-08-2012, 12:01 AM
Thanks mmclean,

I'm probably just about there then: yesterday it was at 1.068 (OG 1.090). Would this also be a good time to add the boiled yeast?

fatbloke
02-08-2012, 12:21 AM
Thanks mmclean,

I'm probably just about there then: yesterday it was at 1.068 (OG 1.090). Would this also be a good time to add the boiled yeast?

It's as good a time as any........

As for when to stop aerating, mmclean is spot on, yet further reading would show others who aerate to half way, some who aerate to when they move the batch from an open fermenter, to a carboy and even those who make a batch in a carboy and put it on a laboratory stir plate and run the stir plate for the entire ferment.. though if you read the NewBee guide, you'd probably find that its recommended to go to the 1/3rd point as already suggested.....

maykal
02-08-2012, 01:23 AM
Yes, that's the problem I've found with reading around the different forums and books - the more you read, the more differing opinions you get, which can just be confusing for a newbie like me.

I spent a lot of time yesterday searching through this and other forums, and various books, on the subject of adding boiled yeast and my research shows that adding boiled yeast is a) vital for healthy fermentation b) a complete waste of time c) detrimental to the flavour of the mead d) dosed at 0.5g per litre e) or 1g per litre f) or 2g per litre...

Hence all the 'idiot questions' ;)

mmclean
02-08-2012, 08:37 AM
If you would like to take a nickel worth of free advice, I'd really not look futher than this fourm for mead crafting advice. The mead mentors here are leaders in the field. The patrons are helpful and inspiring. All are friendly and supportive.

This does not mean there isn't other good sites and good ideas out there. Just that this is the one to which all others compare.

maykal
02-08-2012, 09:30 AM
Thanks for all the advice, well worth a nickel, penny, or leu!

So, next question is about the addition of yeast hulls. I found a few posts on the forum that seem to suggest that if you are boiling dried yeast then about 2g per gallon is the right quantity, taking into account that boiled yeast contains more than just the hulls so more might be needed. My batch is around 3 USG, so 6g (about one packet) should do the trick, right?

I have two choices of yeasts. The first is a dry active yeast (the kind you just mix in with the flour) and the other is 50g packs of fresh yeast. The dry yeast says that one packet is the same as 25g of the fresh stuff. Is one better than the other?

Also, search as I might, I can't seem to find any reference to how long they need to be boiled for. ???

maykal
02-08-2012, 02:33 PM
OK, just going to trust my instincts on this as I'd like to add them tonight (not sure if I'll have time tomorrow and it's just hit 1.060 - 1/3 sugar break).

I'm guessing you can't really boil the yeast too long, and risking adding un-killed yeast is going to be worse than adding over-killed yeast, so I'm going to boiled up a packet of dry active yeast (6-7g) in about 200ml of water for 5 minutes, let it settle, drain off the excess liquid, then stir it into the must and give it a final aeration. Then lock it down and leave it till fermentation slows.

Hope I'm doing the right thing!

maykal
02-08-2012, 03:09 PM
So, I've been reading even more posts: YAN should be 150-350 for healthy fermentation and one 7g pack of yeast adds 50ppm of yeast to one gallon, and honey normally only has 10 ppm. So for a 3 gallon batch, to raise it up to, say 200ppm, would require 4 packs per gallon, so 12 pack of yeast. Seems kind of a lot.

The yeast I've just boiled up and is now cooling, according to these calculations, will only add about 15ppm of YAN...sure it won't do any harm but it goes against the post I read earlier where only 2g per gallon was being discussed.

Confusing stuff this mead making...might just go back to putting it on my toast :'(

mmclean
02-08-2012, 04:39 PM
Here is a link on adding boild yeast. (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17770)

Here (http://meadmaker.net/forum/showthread.php?p=142635) is another one that might help.

When adding up the total YANC don't forget to add for the DAP.

maykal
02-08-2012, 04:56 PM
Thanks, you're a star! Makes sense now. I hadn't taken the DAP into consideration.

Going by that info, I should now have (approx):

10ppm from the honey
150ppm from the initial DAP addition
15ppm from the boiled yeast

So about 175ppm in total, which should be enough. Anyway, it seems happy enough so now I've finished added stuff and aerating, it's probably best to leave it to do it's own thing for a while now.

Thanks again mmclean.

maykal
02-09-2012, 03:56 PM
I've been looking around for supplies which aren't available here, particular some of the nutrients like Fermaid K. Getting a pack shipped over really doesn't make much sense - would end up paying more for the shipping than for the yeast/nutrients.

However, there's a small homebrew community (beer mostly) here who put in orders to Brouwland in Belgium from time to time so I can add a few things to the order at virtually no extra cost for shipping.

They don't have Fermaid K but I've noticed that they sell a Weast Nutrient Blend which seems to consist of similar things, namely 'A blend of vitamins, minerals, inorganic nitrogen, organic nitrogen, zinc, phosphates and other trace elements.'

Anyone heard of this or used it as a substitute for Fermaid K?

http://www.wyeastlab.com/com_w_productdetail.cfm?ProductID=9

Sadie Lady
02-26-2012, 03:13 PM
If you would like to take a nickel worth of free advice, I'd really not look futher than this fourm for mead crafting advice. The mead mentors here are leaders in the field. The patrons are helpful and inspiring. All are friendly and supportive.

This does not mean there isn't other good sites and good ideas out there. Just that this is the one to which all others compare.
Couldn't agree more. Now, I only look at this web site and Ken Schramm's book.

Old_Skool
02-27-2012, 01:25 AM
I've been looking around for supplies which aren't available here, particular some of the nutrients like Fermaid K. Getting a pack shipped over really doesn't make much sense - would end up paying more for the shipping than for the yeast/nutrients.

However, there's a small homebrew community (beer mostly) here who put in orders to Brouwland in Belgium from time to time so I can add a few things to the order at virtually no extra cost for shipping.

They don't have Fermaid K but I've noticed that they sell a Weast Nutrient Blend which seems to consist of similar things, namely 'A blend of vitamins, minerals, inorganic nitrogen, organic nitrogen, zinc, phosphates and other trace elements.'

Anyone heard of this or used it as a substitute for Fermaid K?

http://www.wyeastlab.com/com_w_productdetail.cfm?ProductID=9

As I am also new to mead I'm not going to be a lot of help - but the Wyeast Nutrient Blend is basically used like GoFerm to supply nutrients to your yeast during yeast hydration. I've used it in my beer brewing. Its a good product and will be useful in rousing your yeast but I don't know if its a replacement for Fermaid-k. Meaning I don't know if it would adversely affect taste. I think yeast boiled for 5 min plus some DAP is probably better in the short term.