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View Full Version : Suggestions for my next batch of mead



LittleMissDanii
04-17-2012, 12:49 AM
Before I begin with my main question, I would like to say hello to the forum, and I thank you all in advance for any help and/or suggestions that are given to me!
:)
With that being said, I am extremely new to the mead making process, and I honestly believe that I am one of the youngest mead makers that I know of currently. I have done a lot of research about mead and I even started my first 5 gallon batch of vanilla mead, which I think is going well. My question is not for my first batch of mead, but for my second. I plan on making a Vanilla Cinnamon Tupelo Mead, and I truly want it to come out perfect! I have all the equipment for the process and I planning on using the following ingredients:

15-18 lbs. of Savannah Bee Co. Tupelo Honey(expensive stuff)
4 gallons of either spring or reverse osmosis water(which is better?)
2 packets of Lavin D47 yeast
yeast energizer and yeast nutrient(amounts will be based off the directions)
3-4 whole vanilla beans split in half(added to the secondary)
3-4 whole cinnamon sticks(added to the secondary)

As for the process I use the no-boil method, and I basically add my water and honey first, then my yeast energizer and yeast nutrient, I check the temperature to make sure it's not too hot or cold, and then I add my yeast, stir constantly for about 5 minutes, then cover and set aside until it is time to rack it.
I am open to any suggestions, tips, etc. I really want this next batch to come out sweet and perfect. If there is anything I should know that I may have overlook or was unaware of besides the basics, I would really appreciate it.

Chevette Girl
04-17-2012, 01:48 AM
Hey, welcome to the forum!

If you haven't read the Newbee Guide yet, I highly suggest you do so before starting. And get a hydrometer if you don't have one.

Things you should find in there (if I'm wrong on that, well, it's been a while since I've gone through it myself):

You don't want to rack it until the fermentation's done. This is when the SG readings on your hydrometer stay the same over a couple of days.

Stirring your must gently for 5 minutes doesn't accomplish that much, you really want to be aerating it, so make sure you're splashing around as much as your fermenter will allow before sloshing over the sides. You'll also want to aerate it a few times a day if you can until the yeast has eaten 1/3 to 1/2 of the sugars, which you can figure out with your hydrometer, you probably want to be checking it daily until then, so you can't just cover it and forget about it, it will need some attention during fermentation.

Things you might not find in there:

Current data suggests using a little less DAP (nutrients) and a little more energizer than the typical directions on the package indicate, as these amounts were designed for grape musts.

Also, current theory suggests not adding anything that contains DAP until after the yeast's lag phase, and then add it in small doses. Do some forum searches using the search tool on "staggered nutrient" and you should get some information how to do this if you want to use more advanced methods.

Rehydrate your yeast according to the package before adding it to the must. Also, one package should do for a 5 gallon batch.

If you want it to be sweet, I'd also suggest reserving a pound of your honey, let it ferment dry, then get some potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate and stabilize it and backsweeten.

The spice levels sound about right, although you may find after a few months in secondary that you want more vanilla, remember, you can always add more later but you can't take it out!

Good luck with it!

LittleMissDanii
04-17-2012, 05:02 AM
Thank you so much for your help. I was originally going off the directions from stormthecastle.com for my first batch, which was a very simple process that didn't require too many extra step. But since my next batch will be very expensive (about $300 for the honey alone), I want it to come out perfect, which obviously requires more advanced mead making methods. I do have a triple scale hydrometer, and a "whip" which I attach to an electric drill to aerate my mead. I also was aware how to sweeten my mead after stopping the fermenting process, and I have some potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate currently being delivered to my house. And lastly, it has become quite clear to me that the website I was going off of before didn't have enough information for me to make my mead properly, so I have some more learning and researching to do, but I really do appreciate your advice and I will definitely use that advice while making my next batch. :)

TAKeyser
04-17-2012, 10:27 AM
We need to find you a less expensive source for honey, looks like you're paying Grocery store retail plus some if it's almost $300 for the 18 pounds. Shit I can get 120 lbs of Orange Blossom mailed to me and have change left over for $300. I looked at my normal places I order from and none seem to have Tupelo right now.

HunnyBunz
04-17-2012, 01:05 PM
Hi Danii - or maybe LMD for short? ;D

It looks like you've done your homework and you're on the right track.

One suggestion I might make is that if you've only made one batch so far you may want to try a couple of smaller batches before investing so much money into a larger batch. That way if you do make any errors (which aren't likely to be serious based on the knowledge you apparently have already) it wouldn't be so costly for you. Plus you'll be able to refine your methods and figure out what works for you and what doesn't.
Also, you can learn a lot just by reading through this forum for a few weeks, if you haven't already been doing so.

That said, if you feel confident go ahead and do what you feel comfortable with.
Good luck and welcome to the forum!

THawk
04-17-2012, 02:06 PM
4 gallons of either spring or reverse osmosis water(which is better?)


Well, unless you've got any problems with your water (i.e. either too hard or too soft), I'd say neither... I've done mine with good old tap water -- I think (but I could be wrong) that a lot of people here do the same.

Which recipe did you use from stormthecastle.com??

Chevette Girl
04-17-2012, 03:03 PM
Yep, I use mine straight from the tap, chloramines and all. If I ever do beers I may get bottled water or crack out the Britta filter, I'm told beer's more sensitive to the water you use. And hard water's not usually a problem, usually it's quite alkaline so it'll offset some of the acidity from the honey. If you've got sulphur or iron taste in the water, maybe go with something else, but just plain hardness will probably be good for your must... and I wouldn't use softened tapwater, I'd go to the bypass tap for brewing water.

LittleMissDanii
04-17-2012, 05:02 PM
We need to find you a less expensive source for honey, looks like you're paying Grocery store retail plus some if it's almost $300 for the 18 pounds. Shit I can get 120 lbs of Orange Blossom mailed to me and have change left over for $300. I looked at my normal places I order from and none seem to have Tupelo right now.


I was going for the more expensive $300 honey because it's a really good quality honey (www.savannahbee.com), I already have a 20 oz. bottle of it which I use in my tea and it's quite delicious and really smooth and buttery. I have never tasted any other brand of tupelo and my only concern is that if I go cheaper, it won't be as good of quality. If you have any suggestions to a less expensive, but good quality tupelo, I'd definitley appreciate it :)

LittleMissDanii
04-17-2012, 05:19 PM
Hi Danii - or maybe LMD for short? ;D

It looks like you've done your homework and you're on the right track.

One suggestion I might make is that if you've only made one batch so far you may want to try a couple of smaller batches before investing so much money into a larger batch. That way if you do make any errors (which aren't likely to be serious based on the knowledge you apparently have already) it wouldn't be so costly for you. Plus you'll be able to refine your methods and figure out what works for you and what doesn't.
Also, you can learn a lot just by reading through this forum for a few weeks, if you haven't already been doing so.

That said, if you feel confident go ahead and do what you feel comfortable with.
Good luck and welcome to the forum!

At first, I wanted to go smaller, but I had already bought a wine kit that came with a 7.8 gal fermenter and a 5 gallon carboy. I really didn't want to go back and have to buy a smaller fermenter/carboy since it would cost more, and if I used a smaller recipe, there would be too much air space within the fermenter. Cost isn't too much of an issue with me since I can make one batch and then save up until it's time to make my next batch. I literally have so much stuff to make mead(everything from this kit http://tinyurl.com/6lszzfg), that I should have no issues. Obviously, since I'm currently in the works of my first batch, I can't do my second right now(well I could, but I want to see how my first batch comes out), but I plan on doing my second batch near the end of summer. So until then, I'll act like a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as I can.

LittleMissDanii
04-17-2012, 05:24 PM
Which recipe did you use from stormthecastle.com??

I basically followed the youtube videos starting with this one http://tinyurl.com/6oymdbd except I used 18 lbs of honey. I wanted it to have a vanilla taste so I used the update on this recipe http://tinyurl.com/7eybl8s to make a vanilla extract, which I honestly don't think worked to well, and I learned a few days ago that I might have done it wrong, so split up 4 vanilla beans and put them into my batch.

khildahl
04-17-2012, 05:27 PM
Yep, I use mine straight from the tap, chloramines and all. If I ever do beers I may get bottled water or crack out the Britta filter, I'm told beer's more sensitive to the water you use. And hard water's not usually a problem, usually it's quite alkaline so it'll offset some of the acidity from the honey. If you've got sulphur or iron taste in the water, maybe go with something else, but just plain hardness will probably be good for your must... and I wouldn't use softened tapwater, I'd go to the bypass tap for brewing water.

The biggest concern regarding water in beer brewing is during mashing if you're doing all-grain. Water added afterwards isn't a big deal (though some say chloramines will make extract beer taste like bandaids, I have yet to experience it). I've never brewed with anything other than tap water.

THawk
04-17-2012, 07:28 PM
I was going for the more expensive $300 honey because it's a really good quality honey (www.savannahbee.com), I already have a 20 oz. bottle of it which I use in my tea and it's quite delicious and really smooth and buttery. I have never tasted any other brand of tupelo and my only concern is that if I go cheaper, it won't be as good of quality. If you have any suggestions to a less expensive, but good quality tupelo, I'd definitley appreciate it :)

The issue with expensive honey is that if your batch goes south you've just burned a hole in your pocket. I suggest using cheaper honey (not necessarily bad) to learn/perfect your mead before trying the more expensive stuff. You should also try other types to see what works for you. :)

LittleMissDanii
04-17-2012, 08:54 PM
The issue with expensive honey is that if your batch goes south you've just burned a hole in your pocket. I suggest using cheaper honey (not necessarily bad) to learn/perfect your mead before trying the more expensive stuff. You should also try other types to see what works for you. :)

You make a good point! I have researched other brands of tupelo and have found cheaper ones for a total cost of around $80 for 18lbs. I'll probably go with that type of honey first and as long as that batch goes well, I'll possibly go with a more expensive honey. I'm a rather fast learner, especially when it comes to hands-on learning, and I get EXTREMELY paranoid with the cleanliness of my work area, how sanitary my equipment is, and how exact my measurements are. Thank you for the suggestion! :)

Chevette Girl
04-17-2012, 09:02 PM
At first, I wanted to go smaller, but I had already bought a wine kit that came with a 7.8 gal fermenter and a 5 gallon carboy. I really didn't want to go back and have to buy a smaller fermenter/carboy since it would cost more, and if I used a smaller recipe, there would be too much air space within the fermenter. Cost isn't too much of an issue with me since I can make one batch and then save up until it's time to make my next batch.

During fermentation, there's no such thing as too much headspace, I regularly start 1-gal batches in a 5 or 6 gal fermenting bucket. It makes aeration SOOO much easier... It's not until the fermentation's finished that you want to make sure there's no headspace, and a 1-gallon carboy shouldn't cost more than $6, maybe $8-10 if you purchase it filled with something you can either drink or ferment :)

THawk
04-17-2012, 09:06 PM
and I get EXTREMELY paranoid with the cleanliness of my work area, how sanitary my equipment is...

Search the forum -- but you don't need to be terribly paranoid about sanitation. You'll be shocked to read about small critters being found (usually dead) in ferment buckets. I remember someone's ferrets even took a swim in the must and the mead came out ok... Especially with really aggressive yeasts like EC-1118 or K1V-1116, anything dumb (or suicidal) enough to enter the must will get the !@#$% kicked out of it...

oh and flying bee ranch (http://www.flyingbeeranch.net) has several varieties that you can use. I paid about $100 for 21 lbs of honey...

LittleMissDanii
04-17-2012, 11:55 PM
Search the forum -- but you don't need to be terribly paranoid about sanitation. You'll be shocked to read about small critters being found (usually dead) in ferment buckets. I remember someone's ferrets even took a swim in the must and the mead came out ok... Especially with really aggressive yeasts like EC-1118 or K1V-1116, anything dumb (or suicidal) enough to enter the must will get the !@#$% kicked out of it...

oh and flying bee ranch (http://www.flyingbeeranch.net) has several varieties that you can use. I paid about $100 for 21 lbs of honey...

A ferret? In the must? How the hell did that happen? I don't think I'll have too much of an issue with my pets though. I have two dogs who are way too big to fit in the primary, but they do like the smell of the fermenting process ;D

Chevette Girl
04-18-2012, 12:12 AM
Erm, yeah. On sanitation, do your best, but don't sweat it if something untowards happens... when you consider what ends up in must on a commercial scale, forgetting to sanitize your hydrometer or sucking on the siphon hose with your "dirty mouth" are drops in the bucket... here are a few discussions (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19060), including the one about the ferrets (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17104&highlight=ferrets)......

MJJ
04-29-2012, 01:29 PM
We need to find you a less expensive source for honey, looks like you're paying Grocery store retail plus some if it's almost $300 for the 18 pounds. Shit I can get 120 lbs of Orange Blossom mailed to me and have change left over for $300. I looked at my normal places I order from and none seem to have Tupelo right now.


Wegmans Grocery store in upstate NY sells 5 lb jugs of clover honey for $10 each. That's $2 a lb.

skunkboy
04-29-2012, 02:42 PM
You make a good point! I have researched other brands of tupelo and have found cheaper ones for a total cost of around $80 for 18lbs. I'll probably go with that type of honey first and as long as that batch goes well, I'll possibly go with a more expensive honey. I'm a rather fast learner, especially when it comes to hands-on learning, and I get EXTREMELY paranoid with the cleanliness of my work area, how sanitary my equipment is, and how exact my measurements are. Thank you for the suggestion! :)

You could also, make some with the cheaper tupelo, and if needed backsweeten with the other tupelo that you are fond of. But you should be able to compare both honey's by tasting them to see how much they differ...

LittleMissDanii
05-03-2012, 02:34 AM
You could also, make some with the cheaper tupelo, and if needed backsweeten with the other tupelo that you are fond of. But you should be able to compare both honey's by tasting them to see how much they differ...

I really like that idea! Thanks for the tip! ;D I have to wait to get any tupelo for now though because it's only harvested a few days during April or May. I have one website that I'll probably be ordering from (http://tinyurl.com/3yr9zu6). Says their new crop should be available in the first or second week of this month, which I'll be getting my hands on ASAP!

Wijnand
05-03-2012, 05:06 AM
Well, unless you've got any problems with your water (i.e. either too hard or too soft), I'd say neither... I've done mine with good old tap water -- I think (but I could be wrong) that a lot of people here do the same.
I use bottled water for 2 reasons, first there is a lot of chlorine in the water here and second, I don't like the taste of the tap water here. Hmm, I guess there is a third: bottled water costs about nothing, I think I paid 60 cents for a 5L (~1.5 gallon) bottle.

As for honey, Spain seems to be a good place too. I've been to a couple of artisinal shops and good honey seems to go for about 6 per kilo (a lil under 3 per pound). :D I just bought some small jars to try out some flavors. Lavender, Orange blossom, Rosemary, Thyme and "forest" honeys seem quite popular and affordable here.