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Kelvin
07-02-2012, 08:05 PM
First, let me say hello to everyone. I have been reading this forum like crazy for the past few weeks and it's absolutely wonderful. Now, about 14 years or so ago when I was a freshman in college I decided I wanted to brew my own beer. I got a kit and made a hefeweizen. It seemed to turn out well. But I was worried that I might kill myself drinking it so I only drank half a beer and gave rest to my friend. He didn't die so I guess it was ok.

I am now over the whole dying thing and I know that there is very little chance of anything too harmful to grow in my home brews so I am ready to start it again and this time perhaps stick with it as a hobby. I want to start with meads and here is my initial plan.

3 gallons of melomel.
-------------------------
10 lbs. honey
d47 yeast
1 gallon of oceanspray cranberry-raspberry
and water of course to top off to 3 gallons.
(I will be aerating with nutrients the first 3 days)

Here is what I am hoping for and my questions.
First of all, I want it to be a little sweet but I do not want to use any chemicals to stop fermentation so stopping fermentation that way is not what I want. I do not want to back sweeten so brewing to completely dry and back sweetening is not what I want to do. So I went with d47 yeast which is less tolerant then the 1118 I was originally planning to use. I want it to be roughly 15% alcohol with a bit of sweetness. From what I have been reading the d47 might go as high as 16% or so but not much more. (I know it's rated at 14%)

from what I have been calculating this means roughly 1/2 lbs. worth of the honey sugar and all the juice sugar would not be used. Of course I know they will both be used but I mean the sugars as a whole. Of course I am new at this so this is why I am asking you experienced people. But of course the yeast could go up to 16%? and I would have less sugars left but still some.

My questions.

1. Will this be too sweet? I want it to be about medium.

2. Should I let it sit a good amount of time to make sure the yeast were all killed by the alcohol? Or should I just check my hydrometer to see how much alcohol I have and trust they are dead?

3. I was originally going to use fresh fruit but I felt for my first batch it would be better to start more simply and just use juice. Would this juice be ok? I have heard that wine made with Welch's and other such juices are pretty nasty.

Anyway, that's all my questions for now and thanks in advance.

On second thought it looks like I am not going to be able to use the D47 at this time. I live in New Orleans and our house will just not be cool enough. I know the temperature range of the 1118 is quite high and will be good but so is the alcohol tolerance and it will also eat up all of my sugar most likely. I'm ok with 18% alcohol but again I do not want to back sweeten. This brings up the question of how much sugar is the juice likely to give me? Should I add another 2 lbs. or so of honey to my recipe? Again I want it medium sweet with high alcohol content. (who doesn't like a good port?)

dingurth
07-02-2012, 09:29 PM
1. The sugar from the juice won't be as significant as adding more honey. Even with 12lbs of honey though, the EC-1118 might eat through too much of it if you want it to still be sweet. I've never used a yeast with that much tolerance, so I'm not sure how much sugar you'll want to start with. I suggest trying to use the mead calculator to the left to figure out how much sugar/honey you will want to add.

2. The best way to see when fermentation is finished is to keep taking hydrometer readings, and when those stop changing for a few days, you know its probably done. Alcohol doesn't so much as kill all the yeast as it does to render them inactive because the environment is too harsh. Especially with a high tolerance yeast and a mead that you want to be sweet, you should probably stabilize before bottling. Stabilizing isn't the same as stopping fermentation early, it just makes sure that the yeast won't spontaneously start up again after you bottle (which can end very badly).

3. I would be in favor of fruit, but juices work well also. The thing to keep in mind with juices though is the less processed they are, the better flavors you will have when you are done. Look for juices that are 100% juice or only have ingredients that you can pronounce. That being said, I have no idea about the oceanspray cranberry/raspberry. I checked on their site, and if you are committed to them I would try this one as it says 100% juice (couldn't get the ingredient list on their website though).

http://www.oceanspray.com/Products/Juices/100-Juice/Cranberry-Raspberry-Blend.aspx

Another option might be to find some pure cranberry juice and then add 3lbs of raspberries.

Good luck, and welcome to Gotmead!

Kelvin
07-02-2012, 09:53 PM
Thank you.
Yeah I went to their website too which is where I found it. According to them none of their 100% juices have preservatives and are just pasteurized. I guess my main concern is I don't want something gross tasting because I fermented bottled juice and I don't want to spend an arm and a leg for honey in order to get the alcohol/sweetness levels that I want.

I know the 1118 is rated for 18% but that is not always the case right? And as long as my readings stay constant then the yeast are pretty much done and I can transfer to my carboy then eventually bottle?

I might just add an extra few lbs. of honey and see what happens.

I'm still waiting on some supplies. I'll let you know how it seems to be looking once it gets going. As it is now I think I will add a couple lbs. because of the yeast then see how it turns out.

Thanks for the reply.

BTW - I am really against the whole using chemicals to stop fermentation or stabilize because I really want to be able to do this without the help of chemicals that would be hard to find during a zombie apocalypse. Yes, I know I am using commercial yeast but at least yeast could come naturally if need be. I also don't want to risk any of my friends having a bad reaction. Anyway, once I get the batch going I'll update : ). Thanks again

Kelvin
07-03-2012, 12:13 AM
OK, I did some calculations. I REALLY hate math but I think I managed to figure out that the juice is roughly 15% sugar. I input this into the calc. and with 10 lbs. of honey and 2 gallons of the juice (1 gallon of water) I should have an SG of 1.174 and ABV of 21.49%. Obviously the the yeast won't go that high (I hope not) but judging from the amounts would this be too sweet for a medium if the yeast fermented to 18%? I ask because I don't know how sweet something like that might be since this is my frist time. I'm not asking for perfection my fist time and I know it's trial and error but do you have any thoughts on that? If I use only 1 gallon of juice the estimated abv is 18.58%. That seems like it would be cutting it close to me as far as not ending up dry with the 1118 yeast. Thoughts? Is it safer to go with 1 or 2 gallons of the juice? Or maybe even 1.5 gallons?

Chevette Girl
07-03-2012, 09:47 AM
Welcome to the forum, Kelvin!

Just guessing where your yeast are going to quit and front-loading your must to a really high gravity like 1.174 is just asking for a stuck fermentation.

My suggestion? Go by hydrometer. Pick a sensible starting gravity, and mix your honey and juice and water together until you get the right volume close to your starting gravity. You can use the mead calculator to get approximate starting values and I'd suggest something around 1.120 if you're looking to max out your yeast. Then keep an eye on the SG and every time it drops below your desired sweetness level (say 1.020), add a small amount honey until the SG's back up there, after a few such feedings (the process is called step-feeding) your yeast will eventually tap out and you'll have a strong mead near your desired level of sweetness. And no chemicals, no math, just some monitoring and mixing.

Also, your "aeration and nutrients for three days"? Also go by hydrometer, if you start at 1.120 you want all your nutrients in by the time the SG reaches 1.080 (1/3 sugar break) and you want to stop aeration somewhere between there and 1.060 (1/2 sugar break).

Oh, and I've made some really good wines and meads with bottled juice, it's definitely not a bad idea and is a whole lot less fuss than working with whole fruit if you're trying to keep it simple for a first attempt.

Just keep in mind that if you're always shooting for high alcohol meads because you want them sweet but don't want to stabilize for whatever reason, they ARE going to taste pretty hot for a good while and may need a year or two to stop tasting like paint thinner. It's the tradeoff you get for not wanting to use chemicals.

I don't much like using them either which is why I end up doing a lot of Joe's Ancient Orange mead and variations on that recipe. Plus it's easy to slap together and it's drinkable in a couple months rather than a couple years.

dingurth
07-03-2012, 10:55 AM
Yeah, 1.174 is ridiculous. My hydrometer only goes to 1.16! With that much sugar, you are very likely to have the yeast stay stuck as chevette said. I'd say go with just one gallon of juice and then step feed; that will most likely get you the best results.

One other alternative might be to try a different yeast if you can get one. 71B would probably work well, and with your recipe as is, will definitely finish sweet if you have a potential of 18% as it pumps out about 14%.

Kelvin
07-03-2012, 02:25 PM
Step feeding sounds like it might be a good solution then, thanks Chevette Girl. This step feeding and hydrometer reading will all take place prior to the 1/3 break correct? I should be all done with the feeding by then?

I'll look into that yeast dingurth. I assume it's got a good temperature variation? Like good up to 75f? The 14% is fine I just worry about the heat in NOLA.

Thanks guys.

Kelvin
07-03-2012, 02:36 PM
71B looks like just the yeast I'm looking for. Very high temperature goes quite a bit hotter than it will be in my house and 14% alcohol. So that should be great. I can reduce my sugars now and have a decent result. Thanks guys! : )

Kelvin
07-03-2012, 02:46 PM
10 lbs honey and 1/2 gallon of juice will give 1.134 SG and ABV of 17.13. So with the 71B yeast those numbers look pretty good and the juice won't be as overwhelming either : ) This is fun!

dingurth
07-03-2012, 03:36 PM
With a OG of 1.134, and assuming you want it to finish around 1.02, your 1/3 break will be around 1.092. Since you would want to have your mead finish at 1.02, you would step feed only when it fell under that mark (to make sure you had enough sugars again to prevent it from going dry), so well after your 1/3 break. As long as it keeps dipping under your mark, you can keep feeding it small amounts at a time. You should be taking hydrometer readings with a fair bit of frequency. Some people do it multiple times a day, especially at the start/end, or you can do it once a day or every couple of days.

That being said, if you go with 71B now, you will likely not have to step feed. It would be good to keep an eye on it though just to make sure you get it where you want.

Another important thing to note with 71B is that once fermentation if finished (same hydrometer readings for a few days in a row), you will want to rack it to another container to get it off the lees. 71B can do some strange things if you leave your mead sitting on all the junk.


This is fun!

Isn't it! Wait til you bottle. Bottling is my favorite part. Drinking is also fun too. ;D

Chevette Girl
07-03-2012, 11:48 PM
Step feeding sounds like it might be a good solution then, thanks Chevette Girl. This step feeding and hydrometer reading will all take place prior to the 1/3 break correct? I should be all done with the feeding by then?


I think you're combining two separate concepts into one: nutrient feeding and step feeding are not the same thing... staggered nutrient feeding happens before the 1/3 sugar break. Then you let it go until it gets close to 1.000 (nearing the end of the fermentation) and step-feed it honey by boosting it back up to your maximum sweetness threshhold (I used 1.020) with honey, keep repeating this every time it drops past your minimum sweetness threshhold (I used 1.000) until it no longer drops below the minimum. Work and attention at the beginning, work and attention at the end, but you have to keep measuring in the middle or you don't know when you're at the end.

Kelvin
07-04-2012, 01:25 PM
nah I understood the difference in the concepts for some reason I was just thinking about 1/3 sugar break. Was just having a brain fart. Thanks though, you guys are awesome.

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 04:54 AM
I started a JOA without the cinnamon and cloves and it is going very well. So just leaving that guy alone.

I started a 2 gallon batch with delicious 6 pounds Orange blossom honey. And 5 cups of Ocean Spray Cranberry.

I started the 71B yeast but it didn't seem to be going anywhere but I thought maybe I'm just a newb and pitched it anyway. Well 3 hours later and really nothing. So, I started another 71B with some honey and water, waited 15 minutes and it was foaming great so I pitched it. An hour or so later Krausen was forming and a couple hours later I aerated it the first time.

However, after reading a few posts I am a bit nervous I may have messed up. I added the recommended dosage of my yeast nutrients before I pitched and it contains DAP. I have been reading this is bad but how bad is it? Is this going to be a wasted batch just because of that? I certainly hope not. Everything seems to be going well.

Thanks

Edit: Ok found out why my first yeast I started conked. I put a little of the dap nutrient in with it. No wonder. Is it likely to hurt anything that I pitched with that yeast initially? And how likely did it hurt the second pitched yeast since it was forming Krausen and is now showing activity?

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 11:46 AM
JAO rather.

Duracell
07-15-2012, 11:56 AM
I started the 71B yeast but it didn't seem to be going anywhere but I thought maybe I'm just a newb and pitched it anyway. Well 3 hours later and really nothing. So, I started another 71B with some honey and water, waited 15 minutes and it was foaming great so I pitched it. An hour or so later Krausen was forming and a couple hours later I aerated it the first time.

Aeration needs to be done before pitching the yeast, if I'm in a rush I'll actually pitch the yeast as I am aerating but the aeration will help decrease the lag time so you want it done before you see activity.


I added the recommended dosage of my yeast nutrients before I pitched and it contains DAP. I have been reading this is bad but how bad is it? Is this going to be a wasted batch just because of that? I certainly hope not. Everything seems to be going well.

I've have never read that DAP is bad for fresh yeast, I almost always throw in a small amount of nutrients right before I pitch, just ensure it gets mixed in before you drop the yeast on top of it. Also, read up on staggered nutrient additions. It's a process of spreading out the nutrient additions instead of dumping them all in at once.

IMO you are most likely going to be fine. Worst case you will need longer aging to let the mead smooth out.

Deacon Aegis
07-15-2012, 11:58 AM
I started a JOA without the cinnamon and cloves and it is going very well. So just leaving that guy alone.

I started a 2 gallon batch with delicious 6 pounds Orange blossom honey. And 5 cups of Ocean Spray Cranberry.

I started the 71B yeast but it didn't seem to be going anywhere but I thought maybe I'm just a newb and pitched it anyway. Well 3 hours later and really nothing. So, I started another 71B with some honey and water, waited 15 minutes and it was foaming great so I pitched it. An hour or so later Krausen was forming and a couple hours later I aerated it the first time.

However, after reading a few posts I am a bit nervous I may have messed up. I added the recommended dosage of my yeast nutrients before I pitched and it contains DAP. I have been reading this is bad but how bad is it? Is this going to be a wasted batch just because of that? I certainly hope not. Everything seems to be going well.

Thanks

Edit: Ok found out why my first yeast I started conked. I put a little of the dap nutrient in with it. No wonder. Is it likely to hurt anything that I pitched with that yeast initially? And how likely did it hurt the second pitched yeast since it was forming Krausen and is now showing activity?

Kelvin, chalk this up to a learning experience. Now you know that DAP and rehydration is a bad combination. On the positive side of things, this batch shouldn't really be ruined at all. If the new pitch is churning away on it, you'll be fine. On a side note though, if you are used to running JAO-style of meads, switching to 71B is a different beast. You don't want the mead to age on the lees with 71B, that will ruin the mead. (I'm pretty sure it's 71B that doesn't lees age well at all, but someone step up and correct me please...) Just something to think about with this batch. Good luck to you here. :)

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 12:02 PM
Thanks Duracell,
Yeah I aerated really well prior to the first pitch, but not the second and as I said I aerated a few hours after when the Krausen was formed. I did a SG reading this morning before aerating and it doesn't seem to have changed much. Is this normal? I would have thought there would have been a more significant change in SG by now.

Duracell
07-15-2012, 12:05 PM
I don't see any real hydrometer readings in your post, only people guessing by the amounts of stuff you've added? What is it now, what did it start at? If you know great, if not what was the recent drop and where is it now?

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 12:05 PM
Thanks Deacon,
I'll ask you the same as Duracell. There is definitely airlock activity but my SG readings don't seemed to have changed much. Granted it has only been about 12 hours since I did the good pitch. Does this see, aout right? I went from 1.120 to only about 1.110.

AlphaGenetics
07-15-2012, 12:10 PM
A little late, but just chiming in on the juice thing. I haven't looked at your Oceanspray type specifically, but often times "100% juice" means the bulk is made up of apple juice (because it's way cheaper), with some small amount of concentrates like cran and rasp for the flavour. So technically you may not get the same experience as the fruits themselves.

Deacon Aegis
07-15-2012, 12:10 PM
Thanks Deacon,
I'll ask you the same as Duracell. There is definitely airlock activity but my SG readings don't seemed to have changed much. Granted it has only been about 12 hours since I did the good pitch. Does this see, aout right? I went from 1.120 to only about 1.110.

A 10 point drop in 12 hours is a pretty reasonable drop for the first day of fermentation. There is absolutely no need to stress this type of hydrometer reading. That is a really good drop and you'll see it progress at this rate for several days before it starts slowing down. (Usually... sometimes things slow due to nutrient requirements or temperature variables, watch those.) Duracell is definitely giving you some great feedback here as well. Thanks for the hydrometer numbers there. Looking pretty good so far. :)

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 12:15 PM
Yeah Alpha,

Because this is my first real mead I wanted to make it a bit easier on myself and not use real fruit. I'll be using real fruit next time. I didn't use a whole lot of juice in hopes I would just have a hint of it left over in the mead.

You guys have all been very helpful. Thanks a lot.

Chevette Girl
07-15-2012, 12:27 PM
DAP is bad for rehydrating yeast, as you found out :) The only thing you ever want to give your yeast in the rehydration water is go-ferm or something similar that's intended for rehydration.

The current thinking is that you don't want to give your yeast too much DAP right at the beginning, or they gorge themselves, then burn out early, but I front-loaded my musts (added all nutrients just before pitching) for years before I found out about it and discovered staggered nutrient additions and most of my batches turned out just fine, the ones that didn't, it probably wasn't that anyway.

I usually add energizer at pitch and then wait until there's activity before adding any DAP.

Just something to keep in mind as a new meadmaker: usually with all these tips and tricks we've come up with here, missing any single thing is not going to affect your batch that much, even a couple of them might not affect your fermentation, but if research shows this is the best chance your yeast have for a good complete fermentation, why wouldn't you give them the best chance you can?

There are a couple (like DAP in the rehydration water, or aging on 71B lees) that CAN ruin a batch, but we're generally pretty good at helping you avoid those.

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 12:35 PM
Yeah I've read quite a bit about the 71B on lees. I'll be taking readings like a mad man to make sure I rack it once it's done. I have the 2 gallon batch in a 3 gallon carboy atm and will be racking to 2 glass gallon jugs.

akueck
07-15-2012, 01:40 PM
The window of opportunity for getting the 71B off the lees is fairly wide. It's not like those little guys start exploding the second the sugar runs out. You've got a few weeks at least after fermentation is done before autolysis kicks in and the flavor starts changing. Realistically it's probably more than a month after reaching FG before you get negative flavor impact. So, yes, get it off the lees. But don't give yourself an aneurysm trying to pick out the exact moment to do so.

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 02:23 PM
Hehe ok, thanks, man.

THawk
07-15-2012, 07:20 PM
Thanks Deacon,
I'll ask you the same as Duracell. There is definitely airlock activity but my SG readings don't seemed to have changed much. Granted it has only been about 12 hours since I did the good pitch. Does this see, aout right? I went from 1.120 to only about 1.110.

I actually have the same experience. Went from 1.12 to 1.112 in about 3 hours. Took a reading now and it's more or less the same.

I've made mead for about a year now but this is my first time doing a staggered feeding -- so this is also a learning experience for me...

Do I degas BEFORE taking the sample or does it matter?

THawk
07-15-2012, 07:22 PM
It's not like those little guys start exploding the second the sugar runs out.

THE FOOD'S ALL GONE! Initiate self-destruct sequence!! Goodbye cruel world!!! ;D

(sorry -- too good to miss!)

akueck
07-15-2012, 08:31 PM
You don't have to degas the whole batch before taking a sample, but you should degas the sample before taking a reading. Bubbles tend to form on the hydrometer and lift it up, giving you a false reading. Spinning the hydrometer also helps dislodge bubbles.

Kelvin
07-15-2012, 11:45 PM
Just thought I would give an update. The orange blossom-cranberry juice batch is coming along nicely. At final aeration tonight it's at 1.090 (I figure around 1.077 will be 1/3 break). I realized that I did NOT in fact put all the nutrients suggested on the package but rather I put in the recommended dose per application. The max dose is also listed so I started staggering. I added another half dose at second aeration today, leaving me having used half max dose and another half if needed before 1/3 break. It there is a gallons worth of room left in my 3 gallon carboy and during my last aeration I got very close to geisering but I only lost a little. Note to self, stir slowly for a little while before aerating. Anyway, this one is looking good so far.

And.... I just can't stop! I started a new batch today in my 6 gallon bucket.
3 gallon batch.
10 lbs. Wild flower
4 lbs. frozen strawberries.
71B yeast.
SG of 1.122

I put the strawberries directly into the must and it looks and smells wonderful.

Unfortunately I am running out of room so I have to wait until these are done before starting anything else. Or at least until I rack them.

Thanks for all the help guys.

I'm excited to see how they turn out.

Chevette Girl
07-16-2012, 02:50 AM
And.... I just can't stop! I started a new batch today in my 6 gallon bucket.


Might I direct you to this thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?p=195327) if you're having problems with your meadmaking addiction...

Kelvin
07-16-2012, 02:54 AM
I joined the MMA group

Kelvin
07-16-2012, 04:48 AM
Have I mentioned how fun this hobby is yet? I cannot not wait to taste and get drunk off of my own creation.