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Elaith
09-10-2012, 10:42 AM
So I finally go the gots to make a post on my first try at mead...

First things first, the recipe, given that I am going for an SCA submission I went extremely simple:

10 lbs of Orange Blossom Honey (2 reserved for later)
Pure filtered spring water to bring batch to 3 gallons
Lalvin K1V-1116 yeast
1 cup strong Scottish Blend Breakfast Leaf Tea (leaves and all)
1 package of boiled yeast (K1V) for nutrients

All items other than water, honey, tea, and yeast were sanitized with StarSan solution.

Must was heated to approximately 170 degrees (was aiming for 150, but my stove is a bit more aggressive than I gave it credit for) for several minutes. Because I couldn't find my funnel, I poured must into 8 cup glass measurer and from the measuring cup to the 3 gallon glass carboy. I shook the entire glass carboy for about 5 minutes as well, just to mix/aerate more. I let the mixture sit overnight until the morning to let it cool. Once the temperature reached approximately 80 degrees I pitched the yeast into the mixture, after following directions on the back of the packet to re-hydrate it.

I stuck the batch in the basement with a fermentation lock and attempted to exercise patience, which was a lot easier because I left for the weekend :D. Upon returning I noted a large amount of tiny bubbles rising from the lees on the bottom, with some floating bits on the top, but no activity in the fermentation lock. The glass carboy is sealed with the orange rubber cap and lock stuck in it, as far as I can tell there are no leaks there (did the pressure test of pushing on the cap).

The same level of bubbling has occurred since the first observation, current temperature and constant temperature is 71 degrees.

Since I don't have my notes in front of me, I am unsure of the exact date, but I think I added in the boiled yeast and further aerated the mixture on day 4.

Sadly I don't have a starting hydrometer reading because I couldn't convince my LHBS that I was making mead, not beer so they sold me a hydrometer that only read 1.000 or below (which was not evident on the package). I have since gotten the correct hydrometer and my gravity reading is (assuming I am reading it correctly) 1.125.

I realize that I have not done the schedule for aeration, etc. and that the ferment will go a lot slower as a result, but that's ok with me. I have also done a ton of reading of the newbee guide and various other resources online, but I was wondering what your thoughts were?

I did taste it slightly when I mixed it and added the boiled yeast and there was a definite honey/alcohol taste to the mixture, but neither overpowering the other and no "bad" taste at all.

The other part of the questions are as follows:

Given that I am trying for a mead, not a melomel, etc. At what point does it stop being a regular mead? I am considering adding raisins for nutrient, but I don't want to make a "fruit mead".

Is the timing too late for raisin additive?

I think that about sums things up for now :).

Thanks!

Pewter_of_Deodar
09-10-2012, 10:54 AM
If you are seeing bubbling activity in the must, you should be seeing activity in the trap. Check the seal around the cap again or try a plug with a hole for your trap.

Is 71F the thermostat temperature in your home, the temperature in the basement, on the temperature of your must? I only ask because your yeast is going to slow way down as the temperature goes towards 60F.

There should be enough nutrients in your must from just the honey that the late addition of your yeast hulls should not affect things.

My two cents...

Third thing. Avoid raisins if you can. They add undersirable mouthfeel and tannins you may not want.

Elaith
09-10-2012, 02:14 PM
I will definitely check the seal around the cap and may go with one of the "cork" style seals instead. There are tons of bubbles in the must and I can see some of the larger masses at the top "popping" every once in a while popping, but no lock activity.

The temperature is the temperature of the must and surrounding basement area as determined by an infrared thermometer measurement of the surrounding area and pointed directly at the must.

Sounds good on the nutrients and I will avoid the raisins. I don't mind being patient, I just hate the feeling that I may have screwed something up and have to wait to see :D.

ambloplites
09-10-2012, 02:57 PM
Hi Elaith - what type of airlock are you usung, the "S" shaped, or the one with what kind of looks like an upside down cup inside another cup? I ask because I've been using both kinds, and I absolutely always see bubbles moving and percolating through the "S" shaped lock, but even if bubbes are forming and rising in the jugs with the "cartridge" style, it doesn't always appear to be popping up and down ... not sure why.

A starting point on your hydrometer of 1.125 sounds about right for the amount of honey you used and the total volume of the must.

Did you "proof" your yeast before pitching it? Generally, you should be seeing some pretty good activity after 10 days. If not, you might just want to proof another batch of yeast, and re-pitch.

And you might very well need better nutrients ... raisins really aren't all that bad, and I'm pretty sure they were used in "period". For the most part, honey is very high in sugar, and yeastie-beasies aren't very fond of that ... they don't work very well at way high sugar levels ... they need good nutriens, and the tea and dead yeasts that you threw in might not be enough.

And, in the end, it might just be a very slow take off! But I'd look into what might be a "stuck" fermentation, or one that never really got going. It really can't hurt to proof another batch of yeast and pitch it in. Just be sanitary about it!

Finally, what Kingdom are you in? Going for an A&S competition? Good luck!! I'm in the Barony of Arn Hold in Artemesia.

FishFace

Elaith
09-10-2012, 03:16 PM
I am using the cup in a cup model of lock, which could explain lack of air bubbles up there. I don't think the fermentation is stalled/not started since I am seeing a ton of little bubbles in the must itself.

Depending on what you mean by "proof" the yeast, I think so. I re-hydrated it and once it was showing good activity in the little amount of water used to start it, I pitched it in.

I am in Atlantia, in the Barony of Black Diamond. And not sure whether I will compete with it or just put it in an A&S display.

Thanks!

ambloplites
09-10-2012, 03:34 PM
Yep - you proofed it! Just another fancy name for rehydrating.

I have a gallon of basic mead (just honey, water and yeast - with a bit of nutrient) still cranking along slowly since February (been 7 months now). It is my only gallon with the cup style lock ... bubbles are rising even as I type (lots of them - kind of looks like the fizz from a soda), and there is no indication of the cup popping up and down ... I suspect that you are A-OK!

If this is your first time brewing a mead, they can go for a very long time. Patience is the word I see bantered around a lot on the forums here!

If you want to just do a nice easy tried and true mead, just to give it a good shot, try the Joe's Ancient Orange Mead (JAOM) recipe ... easy to find on the forums here, and it turns out great ... you just can't mess it up! It's a good one to start with and to enjoy, and then to move on from. I recently bottled four gallons of it, and just started four more gallons yesterday! ;D

FishFace

youngmeadman
09-11-2012, 01:03 AM
Completely forgetting about it can be the best thing. I love when I get to busy and when I get back to it I have a finished, aged mead to attend. It's wonderful.

You'll also hear a lot around here about how hardy KIV-116 is. Although it seems possible you are low on nutrient, if I remember correctly it's about a package (5 grams) per gallon (search tool will lead to to the correct number, but I am pretty sure that's it). So for a 3 gallon batch, you should have two more packets. However, I brewed for years with no nutrient, and KIV-116 is a very good yeast strain to do this with (nutrients are a great thing though!).

I am very interested that the cup in cup airlocks are not bubbling for Ambloplites and Elaith, it's all I have for airlocks and I have always had them bubble. Interesting...

$0.02
Young

Elaith
09-11-2012, 10:00 AM
For me it was my carboy cap just as Pewter had suggested as one of the possibilities. I went to the LHBS and purchased a cork style plug instead of the orange cap and suddenly my cup fermentation lock is now bubbling along happily.

Not entirely certain why the orange cap failed to keep a good seal, but better to find out now instead of when I really need to keep O2 out.

ambloplites
09-11-2012, 02:43 PM
My cupstyle lock is in a rubber stopper ... seems to be a great seal ... all of my s-type locks are cranking along just fine. Something strange is afoot here! Perhaps I should make more mead to test this!

youngmeadman
09-11-2012, 02:52 PM
My cupstyle lock is in a rubber stopper ... seems to be a great seal ... all of my s-type locks are cranking along just fine. Something strange is afoot here! Perhaps I should make more mead to test this!

Sounds like an excellent idea!

Elaith
09-13-2012, 08:47 AM
So with the rubber seal my first batch is chugging along at a nice clip, it is hitting about a bubble every 8 seconds in the fermentation lock. Still not much in the way of clarification of the mead, but that's ok. At least I am finally in the "hurry up and wait stage", I can live with that.

And much to my wife's dismay this is just making me want to start another few batches :D. I think I want to try my hand at a blackberry/vanilla combo that I have seen mentioned and then maybe start something from "A Sip Through Time".

columbiacritter
09-13-2012, 04:08 PM
LOL! My first batch was barely 2 wks along before I started my 2nd about 10 days ago and I am contemplating a third. My husband is grumbling about the wait so I fgure I'll make him some beer pretty soon so he has something to sample. And I don't even drink!

Elaith
09-15-2012, 09:33 PM
So day 15 on my show mead is pretty much the same as every other day so far recently, 1 bubble every 8 seconds. Given the amount of time in ferment mode, I am considering adding in another two packets of boiled yeast for nutrient, but the question is, should I? Is it far enough in at this point that I shouldn't worry about it or will adding in more at this stage speed it up/not make things worse?

Also, because I wanted more to do, I started my next batch. This is the melomel I had considered, the blackberry/vanilla mead.

Recipe:
10 lbs Sue Bee White Clover Honey (went cheap on honey due to fruit idea)
24oz pureed blackberry
24oz crushed blackberry
1 vanilla bean
water to 3 gallons
1 pack K1V-1116 yeast
1 strong cup scottish blend breakfast tea

This time through the only heat to the honey was sitting it in a hot water bath for pouring. Re-hydrated the yeast per instructions and put all the ingredients above in.

I have another 48oz of Blackberries that I am reserving for secondary.

Given the potential of "explosive" reactions I have read about here I went with the 6 1/2 gallon brewer's bucket for plenty of head room during ferment.

Once all ingredients were combined I sealed the lid on the bucket and plopped on the fermentation lock. I plan on checking it at least twice a day for cap management and will await the results. Have I forgotten anything (other than "commercial nutrients" which I am still not going to use)?

Thanks!

Elaith
09-17-2012, 09:36 AM
So the Blackberry mead is coming along very well. The airlock is bubbling quite vigorously and I have taken care of cap management. Already the actual mead in the bucket seems to have a beautiful rich purple almost silken color. If it turns out as good as I hope it does it will definitely be clear bottle worthy.

I still have a question about my first mead, it was mentioned in the posts above that I may not have used enough boiled yeast for nutrients for my show mead. Given that I am about 17 days into ferment with it and it hasn't cleared at all and is still bubbling along, is it too late to add more boiled yeast? Should I not add the boiled yeast? Will it do bad things if I add it or will it just serve to speed things up?

Thanks very much!