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Corey_tess
02-20-2012, 08:14 PM
Hello,
I'm getting ready to start my first batch of mead, hopefully tomorrow night, and I just wanted to see if anyone sees any issues. I'm going with a 5 gallon batch, I bought a wine kit from a local homebrew store with a 7.8 gallon fermeting bucket and a 6 gallon carboy. This first time around I am trying to keep is basic and just going traditional, no fruit or anything.

5 Gallons of water
14 pounds of honey
Wyeast 4184
Wyeast Nutrient (1 tsp?)

According to the calculator this should put be at around 13% ABV which is under the 14% the Wyeast is supposed to be good for. I should have an SG of 1.107.

I wasn't going to go with nutrient, but another customer at the homebrew supplier said if I don't put in some nutrient I'd be waiting 6+ months. He said to start with 1 tsp, and add more if needed.

This is my first homebrew of any sort, I am not a fan of beer so I never bothered to try that.

Any glaring errors here, or tips? I'm still a little unsure of how long I'll be fermenting this exactly, but it looks like a couple weeks in the bucket at least while I wait for the bubbling to drop, then I am not sure what to expect once it is in the carboy.

Thanks for any guidance.

HunnyBunz
02-20-2012, 08:36 PM
It looks like you are on the right track!
I haven't used the Wyeast nutrient but I can recommend that you take a look at the NewBee Guide (yellow box on the left) and look at chapters 9 & 10.

And you'll want to measure the fermentation by means of your hydrometer (i'm assuming one came with your wine making kit) so you will know when the primary fermentation is finished (or mostly finished.) Then you can rack to the carboy.

Best Wishes!

The_Bishop
02-20-2012, 08:54 PM
Another note: You're going to have 5 gallons aging in a 6 gallon carboy - That's a lot of headspace. Unless you have a means of purging the air from the top of the carboy with some Co2 or Nitrogen, you could have oxidation issues.

Corey_tess
02-20-2012, 09:02 PM
Another note: You're going to have 5 gallons aging in a 6 gallon carboy - That's a lot of headspace. Unless you have a means of purging the air from the top of the carboy with some Co2 or Nitrogen, you could have oxidation issues.

Ok, so what would I need to do to account for that? Should I just add in more water and/or honey? I'm not sure how much to add. Would I redesign he recipe at a full 6 gallons? If I just add some extra water that will affect the SG and ABV right?

HunnyBunz
02-20-2012, 09:13 PM
You could simply adjust to a 6 gallon batch. Use the mead calculator to determine how much honey to use to get you to gravity you want.

You will also want to know what the alcohol tolerance is for your yeast. I don't think 4184 is listed in the chart in chapter 9 so hopefully it is stated on the package.

Corey_tess
02-20-2012, 09:32 PM
So how much does a 6 gallon carboy actually hold?

Adjusting the recipe to 6 gallons of water brings the honey up to almost 18 pounds. So my next question is, how exact do you need to be with measurements? The calculator says 17.861 pounds, but will rounding to 18 screw it up? I see the ABV goes up, To 14.13% which is a tad past the yeast 14% rating. I've seen somethings say that yeasts aren't exactly reliable and they can sometimes over or under perform. So my guess is that it won't be an issue, but better safe than sorry so I asked.

Oh an I do have a hydrometer so I should be good there. I've also been reading the NewBee guide, but this is all a lot like a choose your adventure book.

akueck
02-20-2012, 10:39 PM
Choose your own adventure is about right. ;D It's more fun that way.

The pounds of honey is not as important as the starting gravity. Use the calculator to give you a rough estimate, but when you get close to the weight estimate (all the calculator results are just estimates) you should be using the hydrometer and not the scale. Honey varies in its water content so you might have more or less sugar than the 79.6% or whatever the calculator uses. Aim for the SG you want, and you might have a little honey left over at the end.

The yeast tolerance number is also just an estimate. It depends a lot on the conditions you provide. For most of the Wyeast products, you want to make a small starter before pitching. There is tons of info on starters on this forum and all around the web. (starters are most common in the beer world.) Basically a starter is a tiny batch of mead you make for the yeast to get going.

Definitely, definitely use nutrients. Especially with a traditional mead, you need them to get the most out of your yeast.

As some general advice, jumping in to a 5 or 6 gallon batch as your first brew ever is a bit ambitious. You might consider starting with a gallon recipe to cut your teeth on the whole idea. 18 lbs of honey is a lot to risk at the first go, but a gallon only takes about 3-4 lbs. Many, many people start with Joe's Ancient Orange (JAO) mead, which you can find a recipe for on the main site here and an entire thread dedicated to it on the forum, plus about 10000 smaller threads concerning it. It's a really well known recipe, so you'll have a lot of support and past experiences to lean on. My personal first mead was a gallon recipe of cyser found here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7449). The whole sorbate/sulfite cold crashing thing can be ignored if it sounds too ambitious, though the mead will take a little longer to clear and be drinkable.

As far as the "keep it simple" idea for making a traditional mead, that does sound good in theory but traditionals are actually a lot harder to produce than a melomel or other mead with additional flavor components. Especially a dry traditional, which is what it sounds like you're after. A mead like JAO or the cyser above, with some residual sugar and lots of flavor components, will be drinkable much sooner and will hide small imperfections. Save the dry traditional for your 5th or later batch, once you've worked out the kinks in the system.

In terms of vessel size, you can easily up your batch to about 6.5 gallons in the bucket and then rack to your 6 gallon carboy for aging, or pick up a 5 gallon carboy and use that for aging. Minimal headspace after fermentation is done is the best.

Corey_tess
02-21-2012, 12:41 AM
Thanks for the advice on the recipes and batch size. I looked at the cyser and the JAO, I think I'll give a small 1 gal. batch of the cyser a shot. I have one question though. I can't seem to find the substate k, what is it exactly?

Chevette Girl
02-21-2012, 12:53 AM
What everyone else said :) JAO is a good suggestion, even if it's only to give you something to do/drink to keep you out of your traditional until it's aged!

My main comment is about the proposed use of yeast nutrient. If you're only using nutrient and not energizer, you want 1 tsp of nutrient per gallon. If you find yeast energizer, 1/2 tsp of each (per gallon) should do you.

My favourite size is 3-gal batches, they give you a full case of wine bottles plus a couple extras. And I can pick up the carboys myself.

And welcome to the forum! (and the addiction...:rolleyes:)

akueck
02-21-2012, 02:08 AM
Sorbistat K is the trade name for potassium sorbate, a common 'stabilizer' sold in brew shops. It goes by some other names too, but if you ask for potassium sorbate you should be pointed in the right direction.

Loadnabox
02-21-2012, 10:47 AM
I don't see it having been mentioned yet, but many people report problems with the Wyeast strains in mead.

Beer brewers swear up and down that liquid yeasts are better. On these forums some claim there are differences, but most agree that it's not worth the extra cost (A packet of Lallemand dry yeast is $0.99 and liquid yeast runs about $5.95)

You might consider a yeast that people here are very familiar with (and doesn't require a starter) something like K1(v)-1116 tends to be very easy to handle (Low nutrient requirements, goes dry easily, easy to rehydrate etc)

Wingnut
02-22-2012, 09:22 AM
Ok, so what would I need to do to account for that? Should I just add in more water and/or honey? I'm not sure how much to add. Would I redesign he recipe at a full 6 gallons? If I just add some extra water that will affect the SG and ABV right?

I am not clear on the answer to the above quoted question about headspace. So how do you take up that space? My wine making coworker uses dry nitrogen but he makes alot of wine. Not an option for us beginners.

Jim

Sent from my DROID X2 using Tapatalk

Chevette Girl
02-22-2012, 10:35 AM
I am not clear on the answer to the above quoted question about headspace. So how do you take up that space? My wine making coworker uses dry nitrogen but he makes alot of wine. Not an option for us beginners.


The easiest one is outlined earlier in the thread - plan your recipe to make enough in primary that you fill the carboy after racking.

Other than that (if you're past the planning stage), you can add more liquid to take up the volume. I prefer a honey-water mixture (or sugar-water for wine) at the same SG as my original must but have used water or apple juice when feeling lazy. Or instead of adding more must, some people use aquarium marbles or synthetic corks.

Corey_tess
02-22-2012, 06:16 PM
The first batch seems to be going well, save for one small issue. I checked it when I got home from work, I see plenty of bubbles so the yeast is doing its job for sure.

The one issue is that the water in the airlock looks like some mead got in there. I watched it for a bit and see some foam going up into the airlock occasionally, not like the tube is full of mead. Do I need to worry about this? If so, do I just siphon off some of the mead?

Chevette Girl
02-23-2012, 01:24 AM
Do I need to worry about this? If so, do I just siphon off some of the mead?

I'd just clean it out and replace it, but make sure that whatever you fill the airlock with is something you don't mind having your mead exposed to should it go climbing again... If it does it again, you may consider a blow-off tube or a piece of plastic wrap with an elastic band to hold it in place while it's fermenting violently, after a couple of days it should stop gunking up your airlock.

Corey_tess
02-24-2012, 08:36 PM
I sanitized a second airlock and bung and replaced it yesterday. Fermentation is still moving along and the airlock is clear. Should be racking this soon, day 4 is tomorrow so it should be ready for the fridge in a couple days.

I'm also planning starting a JAO next week as well. Because of the apple juice I have a 3rd 1 gal carboy sitting around. It seems a shame to not take advantage of it.

Chevette Girl
02-26-2012, 01:09 AM
Because of the apple juice I have a 3rd 1 gal carboy sitting around. It seems a shame to not take advantage of it.

Aah, it begins ;D

Wingnut
02-27-2012, 04:44 PM
The easiest one is outlined earlier in the thread - plan your recipe to make enough in primary that you fill the carboy after racking.

Other than that (if you're past the planning stage), you can add more liquid to take up the volume. I prefer a honey-water mixture (or sugar-water for wine) at the same SG as my original must but have used water or apple juice when feeling lazy. Or instead of adding more must, some people use aquarium marbles or synthetic corks.
That will do. Thanks again for the info.
Regards,
Jim

Corey_tess
03-04-2012, 08:38 PM
I just racked to mead over to the second carboy. I'm curious, how much head space should there be at this point?

Chevette Girl
03-04-2012, 11:32 PM
You want the must level in your vessel to be up somewhere in the neck where it's narrow, not down below the "shoulders" where it's wide.

Corey_tess
03-05-2012, 07:46 PM
Ok, well it was up in the neck during the primary fementation, after racking however it is a little below the shoulders. What should I do to fix that? I could add water, but that will bring its gravity down right? Should I make a mix of new honey and water to add in too raise the level and keep the gravity at 1.017?

Chevette Girl
03-07-2012, 12:33 AM
Actually you will still dilute the alcohol if you match your current SG. When I have to make up something to top off a still-fermenting mead with, I usually make it up with the same SG as my initial gravity reading. It brings the batch's SG up a bit but if the yeast were going to finish the job anyway, they will go through it and then you don't really have to do any math to figure out your new alcohol percent since it will be the same as your original, just backed up a step or two temporarily.