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Lyrian
09-16-2012, 07:28 PM
Hi folks! I am in the process of making my very first original recipe. I have a gallon of JOA a'brewin but I am a mead n00b for sure. The yeast for my new batch are fizzing away in their starter and the must is waiting patiently on my kitchen counter. Here's the process I've followed so far:

brew date: 9/16/12
1 gallon
final S.G. goal = 1.05
%ABV goal = 10-11%

Ingredients thus far:
3 lbs blackberry honey
2 lbs backyard grapes
water to fill
1 oz powdered Hershey's chocolate
1 tsp brewcraft yeast energizer (1/2 in yeast starter, 1/2 in carboy)
lavlin 71b-1122 (full packet)
OG reading = 1.09

boiled grapes and some water in saucepan for about 10 minutes (reached about 180 degrees)
while grapes were boiling, rehydrated yeast in 2 oz water starting from room temp, warmed up to 105 degrees, held for 15 min
while yeast was holding, transfered grapes to sanitized tub, dissolved 2 1/2 lbs honey in hot tap water in saucepan
added honey water and grapes to sanitized carboy
filled carboy to 3" from top with warm tap water
put rehydrated yeast in starter of 2 cups must and 1/2 tsp yeast energizer
took sg reading = 1.05
dissolved rest of honey from 1 qt jar in about 2 cups warm water
siphoned off about 2 cups from carboy
added dissolved honey
took another sg read = 1.09
added a bit of new must to the yeast starter and will let sit 18-24 hrs before pitching, aerating and installing airlock

My questions are:
Is it going to become a grape chocolate geyser during fermentation?
How long do I let it bubble before taking a SG reading and add more nutrients and/or sugars?
Do I have to aerate when I add more nutrients?
When should do my first rack and should I rack it completely off of the grapes?
Will I have to backsweeten to achieve my final SG goal?

Sorry for the huge post. Thanks in advance for your time and words of wisdom :)

Lyrian
09-16-2012, 08:44 PM
Ok, so I answered a couple of my own questions when re-reading the newbee guide. There's so much information in there it's easy to get overwhelmed! So, I will aerate twice/day for the first three days and if it overflows I will put a collection bucket under it. When fermentation is complete (no more bubbles) I will take a reading and see where it's at. If it's not where I want it, I will add more honey and energizer until it gets there. When it's where I want it and all the yeasties are done eating, I will chill it to kill them and rack it to secondary on top of some apricots (and maybe more honey) to add some fruitiness and sweetness back. Does this sound like a good plan? Any suggestions?

akueck
09-16-2012, 09:10 PM
Sounds like you've got the basics down. For sweetening at the end, be sure to review "backsweetening" and "stabilization". You'll want to do more than just cold crash the mead if you add more sugar and don't want it to continue fermenting.

Lyrian
09-17-2012, 04:30 PM
One more question: I imagine since my OG was 1.09 that it will finish pretty dry at a final SG of 1.00 or so. The type of yeast I used is supposed to max out about 12% ABV. If I want it sweeter after the initial fermentation is complete, I can rack it to fruit and honey to sweeten it back up without the yeast reactivating, can't I? I know there is some give or take with the 12% but I should be pretty safe if I cold crash after the initial ferment, right?

akueck
09-17-2012, 08:12 PM
71B can definitely go past 12%. Step-feeding (adding sugars gradually) will also extend the alcohol tolerance of pretty much any yeast strain. If you cold crash and add more sugars, it will ferment more. I guarantee it. ;)

Altricious
09-17-2012, 08:15 PM
One more question: I imagine since my OG was 1.09 that it will finish pretty dry at a final SG of 1.00 or so. The type of yeast I used is supposed to max out about 12% ABV. If I want it sweeter after the initial fermentation is complete, I can rack it to fruit and honey to sweeten it back up without the yeast reactivating, can't I? I know there is some give or take with the 12% but I should be pretty safe if I cold crash after the initial ferment, right?

No. You're never safe.

Yeasties do not read those rules about when they're supposed to quit and cold crashing doesn't kill them, it just makes them dormant a while. Even if you backsweeten and it doesn't restart immediately, it could restart 6 months or a year from now. You know, when it's all bottled and sitting nice somewhere. Hello Bottle Bombs.

If you want to be sure, sulfite and sorbate. (Or get a really expensive filter) Then you can backsweeten.