View Full Version : new to mead not to brewing

09-12-2012, 05:18 PM
I have been home brewing for about 12 or so years and have never tried making a mead before. I have not made a batch of beer in about a year and wanted to make a special beer for the holidays. I got all my ingredients and brewed up a batch of ale. As I was bottling it I really wanted to make another batch. Unfortunately the HB store is over 45 minutes away.
I started to think about mead. The owner of the shop always talks about how he is a mead maker. I did some research and decided that what I would do. I ran to the store and bought a lot of honey, the cashier made a comment about "Someone really likes honey" I smiled and explained that I was making a mead, she never heard about them before.
I started this past Monday, now I wait. I have never had mead before so this will be interesting to taste. From what I am reading it is a lot of waiting involved for a good batch. I am used to waiting though, I brew many barley wines and English strong ales that take years to fully mature.

09-12-2012, 05:26 PM
Patience is key, but if you used nutrients and have healthy yeast working, it's not as long as without. It also depends on many factors. The JAO can be done in two months no problem. I've had meads go for at least 6 months, if not more. What was your OG? The more sugars there are to ferment, the longer it will take (clearly). However, I do suggest don't even think about it until 3 months of aging. If you taste it before, you'll hate it! Oh, and three months is still quite young, someone just said they wait 6 months.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy it.

09-12-2012, 05:33 PM
Here is what my ingredients are:

10.5 lbs clover honey
2 gallons spring water
1 gallon unfiltered unpasteurized apple juice
1 lbs dark brown sugar
4 oz raisins
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp jamaican allspice
1 pack coopers ale yeast (made starter day before in apple juice and honey)
yeast nutrient

I think it will end with a nice balanced flavor, the smell from the fermentation is amazingly good. I am not sure if this yeast is the best for what I am doing, I also have a red star champagne yeast I can pitch, but I am worried it will make it to dry. The fermentation is still going strong 3 days in. I may pitch the champagne yeast next week, but still trying to research effects of both varieties of yeast.

09-12-2012, 05:34 PM
If you'd like, we could take a look at the recipe that you used (if you post it) and let you know how long you are likely to need to wait until the mead has matured. Feel free to post any information, and any questions, that you might have.

Also, if you haven't done it already, you might want to take a look at the NewBee Guide to Meadmaking (a link is over on the left side of this page). There you'll find useful tips specific to meadmaking, and you can compare our recommended process steps to those that you usually follow for beer brewing. You'll find that for best results with meads you might have to change some of the ways that you typically do things for beer.

09-12-2012, 05:40 PM
Ahh... you beat me to it! Your recipe looks good, and it is likely to finish fermentation a little sweet. Coopers Ale yeast ought to top out at about 10-12% ABV if my memory serves, and you've got enough honey in your mead recipe to push past that ethanol concentration if you were to use a yeast that would take this recipe to dryness.

I'd recommend that next time you use a hydrometer to take an initial specific gravity reading after the honey and water are thoroughly mixed, but before you pitch your yeast. That initial gravity, along with a measurement of final gravity after all fermentation is over, can allow you to get a reliable estimate of the net ethanol concentration in the resulting mead. That estimate is more of a guess if you have to work only with measurements of honey and water volumes, since the density of honey varies a bit from place to place, and also depending on what time of year the honey is collected.

09-12-2012, 06:12 PM
I used to always use hydrometers but stopped using them a few years back. My and hydrometers don't last long together. I seam to break them and replace them constantly. I am not to concerned with alcohol content as flavor so I do math if I am curious. since all the beers I have made the last years of brewing were strong they were in fermentors for long periods and were fully done before bottling. I use a 3 piece air lock and I take it apart when I think fermentation is done and put it back together without it floating, then wait another day. If it has risen fermentation is still happening. I don't know if it is the best test but its how I check if co2 is still being made.
I used the calculator on this site, my mead has a 14.37 ABV potential. So either yeast will work depending on if I want sweet or dry mead.

09-12-2012, 10:12 PM
If my memory serves me correctly I did a Cyser with Coopers ale yeast and it turned out quite nice. For choosing yeast the question to ask is do you want a beerish-yeast taste at the end or just nothing at all (what champagne yeast will give you)?

09-13-2012, 04:11 PM
How I would like it to finish is like a sweet champagne. I think with my amount of sugars it will just be sweet. I dont understand what is meant by a beerish finish. Not being a wine drinker I don't have much experience with finish other then beer and champagne. If I want like a sweet champagne finish is it to late to add the champagne yeast (4 days in and still fermenting good)? I plan on aging this for 6 months to a year once bottled, will that affect the finish? I know that long aging my beers makes a world of difference.

09-13-2012, 04:16 PM
Also I read somewhere yesterday that if I was to add a second yeast it would increase yeast bite and flavor. I definitely don't want to do that if it is true.

09-13-2012, 07:44 PM
I just read you can not bottle carbonate a sweet mead, it has to be forced with co2. I would like a carbonated mead, so will I have to go dry?

09-14-2012, 11:23 AM
The concern when trying to bottle carbonate a sweet mead is that the yeast may chew through more sugar than that needed to get the carbonation level that you desire. Yeast are unpredictable beasties - even though a yeast strain may have a rated ethanol tolerance, in reality if conditions are right to support it, that strain may end up surviving in much higher alcohol concentrations. If the yeast are in the process of bottle carbonating a mead that you want to finish sweet, that could result in the yeast making too much CO2 and overpressurizing the bottles. That results in bottle bombs, which in the worst case can explode without warning, sending glass shrapnel over a rather wide area.

Not good.

Typically you don't get the same thing happening in "sweet finishing" beers, because of the range of sugars available from malted barley, some are complex enough not to be metabolized by the yeast. Yet they still taste slightly sweet to our palates. You could achieve something of the same thing by adding non-fermentable sugars to your mead along with the charge of fermentable sugar that will do the carbonation for you. However, those complex sugars will either have taste characteristics that would remind one of beer (maltodextrine for example, which will add beer-like mouthfeel and head retention when added to a mead, or lactose - milk sugar - which also adds body but has very little "sweet" flavor), or they have other non-mead flavor and mouthfeel characteristics that just don't seem right in a finished mead. Some folks have tried various non-nutritive sweeteners (everything from aspartame to stevia extract) with varying degrees of success, but most of those, when I taste them, taste artificially sweet to me.

So the easiest, most reliable way to carbonate a sweet mead is to stabilize it against renewed fermentation (with sulphite and sorbate), and then force carb it in a keg with pressurized CO2. There's not any easier safe way, unfortunately.

09-18-2012, 08:01 PM
Day 8 in and still bubbling every 3 second. I did decide to put the champagne yeast in after my last post. Smells and looks great. Its going to be a while before I can try my mead so I plan on checking local stores and see if I can try a mead. I dont know what to expect in mead since I have never tasted any.

09-19-2012, 12:32 PM
Most meads are still (non carbonated) as they are traditionally a wine, not a beer or champagne. I am not aware of any carbonated varieties available commercially (someone will correct me if I'm wrong here :) )

Meads are as varied as wines, sweet, dry, red, white, complex, plain, fruity, spicy, and any other flavor you can come up with.

If you know what you like in wines, that will help choose a mead that suits your tastes, rather than the reverse. The reverse would be like trying a Port and deciding wine sucks when you've never tried a Chablis, Merlot, Chenin Blanc, Merlot or any other type!

09-19-2012, 08:47 PM
There are some carbonated meads (sparkling) being produced commercially, but I'd guess that the ratio of still to carbonated runs somewhere in the neighborhood of 10:1 in this country. Although mead is often portrayed as a beer-like beverage in movies, more meads are like wines than like beers, just as Loadnabox says.

09-21-2012, 01:11 PM
I went to the biggest beer/wine store around here and picked up the only mead they carried. It is a bottle of chaucers, I will be trying it a little later today. I am not sure how to drink it, it came with two spice bags to seep into it on the stove. Should I try it straight first or seep the bags?

09-21-2012, 04:30 PM
Trying the mead chilled. It taste good makes me think about what I been missing. I hope my mead comes out good because I can see myself as a mead drinker.

Vance G
09-21-2012, 09:10 PM
After seeing the posts about commercial mead and reading the not so subtle slams, I went shopping last night. This place is a very good wine shop, huge selection of fine wines. There was the mead! I looked at all of them and what do I see, but traditional meads with some added flavorings and here is your spice kit where they place the ONUS on YOU to properly spice their mead! Isn't that a bit ridiculous. If Mr. Schramm is listening, I don't think he will have much trouble finding a niche. I also think most of us on this forum who pay attention can make better mead than we will find in the package store.

09-23-2012, 01:10 AM
Chaucers is not the swill that it used to be. A few years back they hired someone with training in winemaking to take over the mead operation - and the change was readily apparent. Less than two years after that change in personnel, Chaucers took a gold medal in the sweet mead category of the commercial section of the Mazer Cup. I used to steer clear of all their meads - now I actually will buy a bottle of Chaucer's mead from time to time. But I admit, I throw away the spice packet. I actually like their sweet mead slightly chilled, with nothing added. It is a fine example of a sweet traditional mead.

09-29-2012, 01:15 PM
I transferred to the secondary fermentor today. The smell is strong with the brown sugar and is sweet to the nose. I only took a small sip or two for taste, so far it taste sweet but taste strongly of alcohol. I think some time in the secondary fermentor (about a month) and then bottle aging will get the flavor to relax a little more. I cant wait to taste what this finished product will be like so far so good.

10-24-2012, 10:33 PM
I am starting to think about bottling. My mead has got very clear and has a beautiful copper color. I smelled it and it smells great. I am going to have to order some bottles soon. I am thinking about getting 750 ml screw cap glass bottles since I have now decided to keep it a still. Anyone have experience with these? And should I go for metal caps or plastic?

11-04-2012, 09:43 PM
I bottled today in 750ml screw tops. I bought a hydrometer and reading was at 1.000. I accidentally stirred up some yeast while racking so my bottles are not as clear as the carboy was. It should settle out again but now I may have yeast in the bottom of the bottles and I really didn't want that.
The taste is still a little hot but not as bad as the last taste. The honey can now be tasted over the alcohol. A few more months in the bottle and I sample again and see how it is getting.

Chevette Girl
11-05-2012, 12:11 AM
If it's an ale yeast intended to be used for bottle carbonating then you're probably fine with a little yeast sediment in the bottles. I always manage to kick up the lees myself... ;D The nice thing is that if you pour carefully, the yeast stays on the bottom of the bottle and you can avoid it till the last glass (at which point you may not care, if you drank the rest of the bottle!).

11-06-2012, 11:07 PM
Looks good to me

01-10-2013, 06:33 PM
It currently taste good and the hotness has gone away. It is very smooth and tasty.

07-26-2013, 09:53 PM
I opened my first bottle tonight, my first taste in a long time. It is very smooth now and taste like a sweet juicey candy apple, you get hints of brown sugar and the ginger in the after taste and smell. I cant wait to share it this in the fall.
When I bottled this I did not expect it to come out this good, I was only hoping to have something drinkable for my first batch.

07-27-2013, 12:35 AM
It tastes really good.