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Old_Skool
02-21-2012, 12:26 AM
So after countless delays I mixed up some mead today - all went pretty well considering the usual confusion. Only issue was the SG came out 10 points higher than expected. Hmmmmm - Oh well

At the last minute I decided to juice 2lbs of raspberries and 1lb of blueberries and add the juice to the must. In the Mead Calc I just substituted orange juice and got a SG of 1.098 --- actual measured was 1.108.

Pretty simple recipe

14.75lbs Orange Blossom honey
32oz berry juice
Spring Water to 5.5gal
Yeast - 2pks Lalvin 71-B

Aireated the heck out of the must with a paint stirrer on a electric drill - several times. Doing SNAs so I also added 3g DAP and 3g Fermaid-K. Yeast hydrated nicely at the proper temps

Now waiting for a hopefully active fermentation - holding the must temp at 67deg

Old_Skool
02-21-2012, 01:24 AM
I pitched the yeast about 5hrs ago --- bubbles starting to percolate in the airlock :)

fatbloke
02-21-2012, 07:20 AM
Looks good. The only thing you might find, is that is only a small amount of juice and won't supply much flavour or colour. If you wanted more of the fruit taste, you'll find that you need considerably more and it would probably need to go into secondary.

Old_Skool
02-23-2012, 04:38 PM
So day 0 was brew day and this is day 3 --- fermentation is chugging along and I did my first SNA on day 2. I've seen some very active fermentations when brewing beer --- water being shot out of the airlock -- this one is just chugging along.

I'm also used to seeing a layer of krausen on top of the beer wort. The must I have has no real layer of foam so to speak - maybe some very light thin patchy foam here and there - but thats all. Does this sound normal :confused:

My SG was high at 1.108 - but with two packs of 71B yeast I was braced for super active fermentation.

fatbloke
02-23-2012, 05:38 PM
So day 0 was brew day and this is day 3 --- fermentation is chugging along and I did my first SNA on day 2. I've seen some very active fermentations when brewing beer --- water being shot out of the airlock -- this one is just chugging along.

I'm also used to seeing a layer of krausen on top of the beer wort. The must I have has no real layer of foam so to speak - maybe some very light thin patchy foam here and there - but thats all. Does this sound normal :confused:

My SG was high at 1.108 - but with two packs of 71B yeast I was braced for super active fermentation.
Nah! that's not a high gravity.....maybe for a beer person, but not with mead. If you manage to drop it to 1.000 then you'd have 14.6% ABV which is IMO, about right.

With meads, unless you've got loads of fruit in the brew, fruit rather than juice, it's not unusual to see little or no foaming. Beer worts, have lots of elements in them that will foam i.e. non-fermentable sugars, proteins, etc etc. It won't always work like that though - if you had a batch of freshly pressed apple juice and one of the more fibrous fruits, like peaches, plums or something like that, then you may see a lot.

That said, I always suggest that when doing SNA, it's always best to give it a good stir first, that releases any dilute CO2 that's still in solution, that would otherwise cause a mead eruption if you just sprinkled nutrients/energiser into the batch and stirred.

Presumably you're stirring/aerating daily or similar ???

Old_Skool
02-23-2012, 10:49 PM
FatBloke -- Thanks for guiding me along - much appreciated as dabble in my first mead.

Yes I'm stirring gently every day and trying to get any lees worked off the bottom of the bucket. And stirring prior to any SNAs. I plan to take a gravity check on Saturday which is day 5

As a beer guy an SG of 1.109 seems crazy high. I'm working on a recipe for an Oatmeal Stout and its high at a SG of 1.070:o

wayneb
02-24-2012, 05:27 PM
You don't really get into "high initial gravity" meads until you get above about 1.125. We'll get you recalibrated eventually! ;D

fatbloke
02-25-2012, 09:00 AM
FatBloke -- Thanks for guiding me along - much appreciated as dabble in my first mead.

Yes I'm stirring gently every day and trying to get any lees worked off the bottom of the bucket. And stirring prior to any SNAs. I plan to take a gravity check on Saturday which is day 5

As a beer guy an SG of 1.109 seems crazy high. I'm working on a recipe for an Oatmeal Stout and its high at a SG of 1.070:o
Waynes "calibration" comment is excellent.

"Beer people" often find it hard to get their head round the different numbers, but if you think about it, rather than talking in the 5 to 8% ABV range, you're now playing in the 12 to 18% department !

A couple of points that will make your mead efforts a little less stressful, is that mead making has more in common with wine making, than it does with beer, though there's similarities to both, and that patience and understanding of different method are also required.

Because the use of honey makes it necessary to realise that honey must isn't a beer wort, even if the act of fermenting is similar. The characteristics of the base materials make it different i.e. beer worts need almost an OCD character toward hygiene, sterilisation, etc etc, whereas honey is natures most sterile substance. Malts, hops, etc will naturally rot if left unused. Yet you won't ever see fungus/mould/wild yeast doing anything to honey. You have to water it down just to get it to ferment and even then, it can be a bit of a bugger to get it fermented....

The patience thing ? well as you've probably worked out, the basic method isn't difficult, but when you've got your first batch finished, cleared, etc, when you take a taste (especially if it's a dry mead), it can see bloody horrible to the taste - after all, it's made from honey so it's supposed to be like honey isn't it ?.........erm, no. The thing that makes honey honey, is that it's very sweet. So sweet, that you will often not realise that it's also quite acidic, but the acidity is masked by the sweetness. So if you've fermented the hell out of it, that sweetness has gone.

It's been known for many centuries, that meads take a long time, and it seems that it's not so much about the time it takes to actually make, but the time it takes to age, and I can promise you will be surprised in the difference of taste that you will experience with meads newly made/cleared/etc and one that you've had ageing for 6, but probably 12 months. It's one of the truely amazing things about meads.

There aren't actually many recipes/methods that will give you something drinkable once it's first finished - just that "drinkable" is relative as we all have different ideas of what tastes good.

Well done with your efforts thus far, if you've any further Q's, then you only have to ask. In the meantime, have a read through of the NewBee guide, which is linked left in the yellow box. It's worth the effort.......

regards

fatbloke

Old_Skool
02-26-2012, 01:28 AM
So at day 5 the SG has dropped from 1.108 down to 1.069. So maybe another 4 to 6 days or so.

The SNA schedule I'm on stops on day 6 with the final addition on day 6. It seems like I'm at the 1/3 sugar break which I guess correlates with the last feeding ...

Do I continue to stir the must daily until I rack ?

I can see that I would like a bit more raspberry taste to this ---- could I rack this onto more fruit juice in a glass carboy -- let that go for week or 2 and do a final rack into another carboy where it will age and clarify ?

fatbloke
02-26-2012, 05:32 AM
So at day 5 the SG has dropped from 1.108 down to 1.069. So maybe another 4 to 6 days or so.

The SNA schedule I'm on stops on day 6 with the final addition on day 6. It seems like I'm at the 1/3 sugar break which I guess correlates with the last feeding ...

Do I continue to stir the must daily until I rack ?

I can see that I would like a bit more raspberry taste to this ---- could I rack this onto more fruit juice in a glass carboy -- let that go for week or 2 and do a final rack into another carboy where it will age and clarify ?
I would just add the final nutrient addition, then lock it off to finish.

It's routine to not stir after this point, yet you will also be able to find examples where people do continue to stir/aerate further, some until it's pretty much finished. I'd say just stick to the usual method as it's your first batch.

More fruit ? IMO it's worth leaving that until it's finished, then you can stabilise the batch before adding extra fruit flavour a little bit at a time, so as not to add too much and make the fruit the dominant taste.....

Old_Skool
02-26-2012, 03:25 PM
FatBloke - Once again thanks for cutting through the chatter and giving me a few exact statements to cling on to ;D

I try to do a fair amount of searching but cannot always get some answer that sounds definitive ... of course few things are definitive in brewing but there are some general tenets and rules of thumb.

Old_Skool
03-17-2012, 12:48 AM
OK - time for an update and a question or two.

So after just over 2 weeks in the primary, my Little Berry Mead had slowed way down on bubbles. It had finished out at 1.000 --- down from 1.108. There is a definite (but mild) berry aroma and taste. Its a bit sweet upfront and dry on the back end. And its definitely got alcohol at about 13 - 14% ABV. The entire fermentation was held at 66 - 67deg F. Its a curious beverage at this point ...

I racked it into a carboy - minimal head space. After several hours the airlock had pressurized and a few bubbles were passing. I then put it in a fermentation chamber and pushed the temperature down to 55deg F for several days. This sped up drop out of yeast and particulates. Its now in the garage where it will sit for at least a month and should sit between 55 - 59deg F. At that point I'll draw a sample and have a few friends I can trust give me some feed back on taste.

So after a month or so in secondary I'm guessing I will rack again ? Or if clarity is Ok I can bottle ? As long as fermentation is complete is there any need to add sulfites ?

Thanks for your help

TAKeyser
03-17-2012, 01:00 AM
So after a month or so in secondary I'm guessing I will rack again ? Or if clarity is Ok I can bottle ? As long as fermentation is complete is there any need to add sulfites ?

Thanks for your help

You can bottle when you want to, but it seems like you are rushing to get it into the bottles (Brewer first before trying mead?). Mead especially something with additional ingredients, like a Melomel, will benefit greatly from bulk aging. It will allow the flavors to meld together and will give you more a more consistent taste from one bottle to the next. I never even considering bottling before 8 months in bulk aging. This is just my opinion and it's your mead so do what you feel comfortable with.

Oh and I follow the better safe than sorry mode of thinking so I always add sulfites and sorbates.

Sadie Lady
03-18-2012, 06:06 PM
Yes I'm stirring gently every day...

For your next batch you can stir vigourously, nothing gentle about it, up to the 1/3 sugar break (some people might do it after that point). But the main thing is to get plenty of oxygen to the yeast when they need it. Just a newbee myself, but I know I was treating the must like it was fragile when I started.

Old_Skool
03-19-2012, 11:56 PM
You can bottle when you want to, but it seems like you are rushing to get it into the bottles (Brewer first before trying mead?).

Indeed - I think I've learned in this first mead that I'm really more of beer brewer than a mead maker. The process has worked largely as I had read and been told by the fine folks on this forum. Using SNAs - stirring - and controlling the fermentation temperatures the yeast stayed healthy and fermented out.

Its clear though I don't have the patience for things hanging out for months in carboys. I'll bottle this up in a month or two and put it in storage. But its nice to have tried something different and seen a different process.

Next up is a hearty oatmeal stout. Cheers

TAKeyser
03-20-2012, 12:04 AM
Don't give up on it.

I started as a brewer as well and through the years Mead started taking over. About 70% of what I brew now is Mead and only 10% is beer with the other 20% being the Hybrid we call Braggot.

I know people that bottle fairly quickly and it is some damn tasty mead.

Chevette Girl
03-20-2012, 11:13 AM
If you're going to bottle anything less than about 4 months old, I'd stabilize it just to be sure, especially if the SG is above 0.995.