View Full Version : Getting started, what do I need?

09-05-2012, 04:45 AM

As you might have guessed, I'm a complete newbee to meadmaking. So I've set my mind to JAOM as a starter. So I'm getting all the stuff together.

Now I'm in luck, I work in a pharmaceutical company at the process development department. So I know bioreactors and I can easily get my hands on some very nice laboratory grade equipment etc. Now, I'm not going to make the mistake of starting with a complicated bioreactor, let's keep it simple here.

But I do have 2 nice food-grade plastic containters of 25L each. They have a big opening at the top and a tap at the bottom for easy draining. The plastic isn't clear, but a you can see the liquid level. They are completely new and gotta go anyways.

As far as I've read, these should do nicely as fermentors. Having two of them means I already have my second fermentor, should I go beyond the JAOM. I do need to stick an airlock on them, but then I'd be ready to go. Or am I missing something? Can I use the bottom tap to drain a fermentor of will it get plugged up way to soon? And is 25L not too much for a batch?

I could also get my hands on some 5L glass bottles or such. But the plastic containers I can get for free, so I'd rather use them.

I'll keep you guys posted to what's going on. :)

Yo momma
09-05-2012, 05:54 AM
Those platsic buckets will do fine. When using those you can use a towel and a bungee cord as your cover so you dont need an airlock. However, IMHO, you will need some glass carboys to see when your mead is clear.

As far as your next step, read the Newbee guide.

You said keep it simple, stay on your first one and get that one correct. Move slow and stay vigilant to make every batch correctly. As your confidence move upwards, expand your habit.....er.....hobby out.

Chevette Girl
09-05-2012, 10:46 AM
Welcome to the forum!

Just be careful with the spigots that they stay sanitary, I quit using my bucket with spigot because it was too much of a pain in the arse to clean and keep clean... that and the half-litre of banana wine on the kitchen floor when it decided to leak the first time I used it (make sure the gaskets are good and the thing's nice and tight!)

09-06-2012, 04:05 AM
Tnx for the advice. :) The towel is a great idea! Like you said, nice and simple. I want the first few batches to be simple and foolproof before moving on.

Someone took the 25L ones. :mad: But the 10L ones are mine. Might be for the best though, starting off with some relatively small batches. :) And easier to move around for cleaning etc.

The spigot is actually a plug valve, which is easy to take apart and clean. That's on of the advantages of lab-ware, it must all be very easy to clean and sterilize. I'm thinking of using chlorine to clean and sterilize everything first and than rinse in 70% ethanol. But I can also use something like 0.1% NaOH as a first cleaning step. Not sure which one is best though.

As for tubing, I've got several sizes of platinum cured silicon tubing. I'm guessing these will do fine. I've got enough of them to only use them for a couple of batches and then throwing them out after they become difficult to clean.

As you can see, I'm just gathering all the basic materials for now. The plan is now get all the equipment first (still need some bottles and a large vessel for bulk aging). Then it onto the ingredients. Should be no problem, except the yeast. I'm not sure if they sell the mentioned bread yeast here. Might have to try a different "brand" of yeast.

Also have to clear out some space for the fermenters etc. :D

09-06-2012, 05:47 AM
Just made myself a list of equipment:

I already have:
- 2 x 10L container with solid lid and tap
- Tubing
- Chlorine tablets and 70% ethanol spray for cleaning
- Spoons, scale and other various kitchen stuff.

Things I still need for JAOM:
- Proper cloth for covering the top of the container
- Sealable small bottles
- Large storage container for aging

The cloth shouldn't be too much of a problem. I just want to make sure it is really clean.
For bottles I'm thinking of Grolsch type beer bottles to start with. They should seal pretty good and are easy to come by. Unfortunately, I really don't like Grolsch beer. So I'm hoping to find some empty ones somewhere. Or some rip-offs in some of the cheapshops around here. The first bottles are only for short term storage (JAOM should be drinkable pretty quickly as far as I know).
But I do want to try to age my batches. I'm thinking of somewhere around a year or two. I have some small storage space underneath the house (no real cellar unfortunately) I also use to store beer for aging. It is dark and relatively cool. I would really like to have some glass containers for aging (I would really like some small wooden barrels, they just look cool, but not on this budget...). But finding enough 5L or 10L glass bottles might be a problem. Plastic Jerrycans are a possibility, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea. So still thinking about those. But I can start without them I guess.

Hope I'm not boring you guys to death. :P

Chevette Girl
09-06-2012, 11:50 AM
Sometimes you can find gallon (~4 litre) jugs for sale with apple juice or cheap wine in them. They're a great idea for longer-term aging if you're not bottling them in wine bottles. I have also used bottled water bottles for aging up to a year and so far no problems.

Be careful with cholorine and plastic, I had a plastic mug once that I had to bleach the hell out of (my then-boyfriend now husband made garlicy soup in my travel tea mug!) and the bleach stayed in the plastic and I had to then soak it in tea for a few days because it would leach all the taste out!

There's a pink cleanser that's got some cholorine in it that's really good for removing odours, flavours and stains from plastics without leaving any residuals, it might be worth the investment if you decide you're going to keep up with brewing. My $5 container that I bought eight or nine years ago still has about 1/4 of its original contents.

Campden tablets or sodium metabisulphite powder is what I use as a sanitizer, although for now, soap and hot water "clean" is good enough for JAO.

Yo momma
09-06-2012, 04:59 PM
Yeah CHLORINE BAD! You will never get that out of your plastic. Bleach i8s like pickle juice, cant get the smell out of the container.

09-07-2012, 02:50 AM
Whoops. The container should be able to handle the chlorine, but the taste isn't something I'd like.

For the first batch I should be all right. They came gamma sterilized. But away with the chlorine. The NaOH might still be an option after batch one.

The containers are Kartell aspiration bottles made from food-grade HD-PE. They should be able to handle quite the punishment. ;) Before first use I'll stick to 70% ethanol only.

Going to look for those large bottles then. Not sure if they sell bottles that big here, but I haven't looked really I must admit.

09-10-2012, 07:41 AM
I got lucky, there are some 2L Scott bottles I can have. I've got at least 3 of them, so those should do nicely for aging. :) As for the small bottles, I've got some old glass bottles around the house, so I'm not too worried.

So I've got pretty much everthing covered for my first batch. Next up is finding all the ingredients...

09-10-2012, 08:37 PM
A Doug Adams fan, are you?

09-13-2012, 03:18 AM
Yups! ;D Kinda like this nickname too.

Word is spreading. I've gotten some more stuff from people. Including a very nice magnetic stirrer/heater with external temp probe. Not going to use that for the first batches of JAOM of course. Sticking to the recipe! But could be very useful for the future. Could be very useful for dissolving honey in water. Also got some extra Scott bottles (250mL, 1000mL and 2000mL).

I hope to set up shop this weekend. Also started to think about the ingredients. I'm going to get some supermarket honey and use tap water. Tap water here is of really good quality. Most people actually like to drink it, including me. No chlorine taste or anything. So I reckon it should be good enough for JAOM.

Fruit I might get off the market here. Or maybe just the supermarket for the first batch. I plan on making at least a batch or 3 of JAOM before moving onto something more difficult. :) Don't want to rush things...

09-25-2012, 07:05 AM
Ok, here we go!

I've cleaned the kitchen and all the supplies very carefully. Here's my fermenter:

It's going to be way to big for a 1 gallon batch. But that's fine. I'll up the volumes once I'm confident I'm not going to mess it up.


My stirrer/heater. This will be very useful for dissolving the honey. Speaking of which...


Very cheap honey. But no additives, just pure honey. Should be good. The clove and cinnamon sticks are also ready. Going to the shop today to pick up the orange and the yeast. Hopefully by tonight the batch will be brewing!
I have to admit I'm getting nervous. Would be a shame to mess it up, eventhough JAOM is said to be pretty idiotproof...

More to come today I hope. :)

09-25-2012, 08:56 AM
Got it! It's really happening now!

Here's all the stuff:

I've started by weighing 1588 gram of honey into a plastic bowl (can't be metal or the stirrer won't work). Then added some warm tap water to dissolve.


Not too much room to spare. But the stirrer will handle. It took some minutes, but it dissolved nicely. Pouring it into the fermenter was a bit of a challenge, but except for a couple of drops everthing went in.


Next step, ingredients...

09-25-2012, 09:04 AM

I've washed them well with water as well as with some white vinegar. The vinegar should kill off the nasty fungi that tend to ruin the fruit around here. Rinsed with lots of water afterwards, so no vinegar should enter the mead.
Then cut...

And add. They splashed down nicely. Next I added the cinnamon, raisins, clove and nutmeg/allspice.


09-25-2012, 09:06 AM
The clove doesn't seem like much, but I've already learned not to underestimate these bad boys.

Time to shake it like a Polaroid picture...


Next are them yeasties...

09-25-2012, 09:11 AM
Never met Grandma, that's for sure...

And a good thing at that. They put op quite the fight! Almost cost me my fingers getting the thing open. Putting the "meat" into "mead"? Not this time...


Sealed the fermenter with a brand new and clean cloth.


And so it rests in the closet. So far, nothing has happened. I expect to see some activity by tonight. But we'll have to see.

I'm really hoping this is going to work. I did have a lot of fun at least...

09-26-2012, 02:43 AM
It's difficult to see if things are happening. Not too much foaming going on at least. That might be normal though, I didn't expect to see a bubble bath right of the bat. And I don't want to disturb it, so let's hope and pray. We're at less than T=1 day, so I've got some time to go. Probably at least to the end of November. Might even become Christmasmead... :D

09-26-2012, 03:43 PM
Stuff is definately happening. I can see it even through the opaque plastic of the fermenter! Whoohoo!

This might just actually work...

09-28-2012, 03:06 PM
I'm pretty sure things are happening. So I've started thinking about what's next. Should I be worried about aging JAOM with just a cloth filtration? I don't think that'll remove all the yeast and lysis might go and spoil it during aging? Should I try a more thorough filtration before aging to remove all yeast? Or should I just forget about aging?

I've decided that if this works out, my next batch will be JAOM, but then 10L. But first my patience is tested... :D

09-28-2012, 04:01 PM
so no vinegar should enter the mead.
This isn't mentioned enough but vinegar eats alcohol! That's how vinegar is made.

09-28-2012, 04:40 PM
Vinegar is a byproduct of bacteria... The vinegar itself doesnt cause vinegar. Vinegar flys transmit the bacteria. Which can survive the alcohol.

I love my airlocks

Chevette Girl
09-30-2012, 05:45 PM
White vinegar is apparently OK because it's been distilled... but I wouldn't use a cider vinegar anywhere near my mead because often that DOES still have the bacteria in it.

Fortytwo, I'd suggest replacing your cloth with plastic wrap once the fermentation dies down, keeping foreign matter out is one thing but after the yeast is done breeding, you don't want to let too much oxygen near your must.

That said, I've found that JAO is pretty resistant to oxidation, at least once it's been racked and you don't need to worry about any fruit sticking up out of the surface.

10-01-2012, 02:24 AM
White vinegar is apparently OK because it's been distilled... but I wouldn't use a cider vinegar anywhere near my mead because often that DOES still have the bacteria in it.

Fortytwo, I'd suggest replacing your cloth with plastic wrap once the fermentation dies down, keeping foreign matter out is one thing but after the yeast is done breeding, you don't want to let too much oxygen near your must.

That said, I've found that JAO is pretty resistant to oxidation, at least once it's been racked and you don't need to worry about any fruit sticking up out of the surface.

It's white cleaning vinegar, so it should be ok. And I rinsed the orange well afterwards. But thanks for the tip, I'll be very careful with vinegar.

Would a plastic wrap not seal the entire fermenter airtight? I could then also put the screw lid on?

Chevette Girl
10-01-2012, 12:38 PM
I use plastic wrap (double or quaduple layer) and an elastic band when I'm out of airlocks or if I can't fit a stopper to the container I'm using, it resists oxygen and contaminants but it's not quite airtight so any CO2 produced can still escape without building up unsafe pressure within the vessel. DO NOT put an airtight lid on anything that might still be fermenting, this is where the term "bottle bomb" comes from, though it's far less safe with glass, we've even had a member here injured with a plastic bottle explosion.

Yeast only needs oxygen for about the first half of fermentation, after that you're risking spoilage, so once the really active fermentation dies down, you'll probably want a little more than a cloth there.

With your particular container, you might be able to find a stopper big enough so you could properly airlock it.

10-03-2012, 02:15 AM
That was what I was worried about. :P Tnx. I'll start by using the plastic wrap for containment. I did find a local shop that sells airlocks and rubber stoppers, so that's definately worth looking into. They also sell a lot of dedicated equipment for wine making, so if this works out I'll have to get some proper stuff to start making more sophisticated meads.

10-05-2012, 02:19 AM
I've put some plastic wrap over the fermenter instead of the cloth. I'll keep an eye on the pressure, but I think it'll be all right. Thanks for the advice! :D

I was worried about how it was going to smell, but I was pleasantly surprised. The cloth smelled faintly of wine, so that's good I'm guessing.