View Full Version : First mead batch - high ferment temps?

09-19-2012, 08:20 AM
Hi all,

I recently began my first batch of mead, and my first ever home brew.

After much research and many hours spent surfing the net, I decided it was time to put my new found knowledge into action.
With all the different recipes and methods of production around, here's what I went with.

6.5kg/14.3lbs of white gum honey (white gum is a variety of Australian eucalyptus tree),
4 whole cinnamon sticks,
10 whole cloves,
5 navel oranges (quartered and seeds removed),
Water to make up a total volume of 23L/5 Imperial gal.

100 raisins (blanched with 200ml/6.9oz boiling water, then allowed to cool to room temp before adding yeast),
300ml/10.1oz of room temp must
3 x 5g/0.175oz packet of Lalvin EC-1118 yeast.

I put about 1/2 of my water into a large boiler and bought it up to 50C/122F, took it off the heat, then added the honey. After all the honey was well mixed, I put it back on the heat. I let it warm for about 15 mins to allow the scum to float, so I could skim it off. After I had removed all the solids (or as much as I could), I added the oranges, cinnamon and cloves; while the must was still hot.
I then splash filled my primary fermenter with the must, to aerate it, and added the remaining volume of cold water to bring it down to pitching temp.

With my starter I poured hot water over the raisins, then crushed them with a potato masher. After letting the raisins cool a bit, I poured in some of my must, pitched in my yeast and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes... The yeast went off, I had a brilliant layer of bubbles on top of the starter and what I assume is a very happy little colony.

I pitched in my starter, gave it a good stir then took my initial gravity reading, SG 1.095 @ 32C/89.6F

After fitting the lid and airlock, in half an hour I had some pretty decent bubbling, about 1 every 20 seconds; in 2 hours it was about once every 5 seconds.

My brew has been alive for 3 days now and all seems to be going well. I took the lid off it this afternoon, and gently ran a wine paddle through it to ensure the yeast was well suspended in the must. I have the same rate of one bubble every five seconds through the airlock and it smells absolutely delicious.
Where I live it is quite hot during the day, for example today was 38C/100F. The coolest room in my house is about 30C/86F, during the middle of the day. Is this too hot for good fermentation with EC-1118? I have read about the production of fusel alcohols and phenols at high fermenting temps, but Lalvin says that EC-1118 will still be quite happy at these higher temps.

I was wondering if anyone has had previous experience with using EC-1118 at higher temperatures and what their results were?


09-19-2012, 10:51 AM
This makes me think it was taken from stormthecastle.com

No need to blanch the raisins generally, the active yeast (especially an aggressive one like EC-1118 ) will eat any of the natural yeasts that show up on them.

14 pounds of honey in 5 imp gallons is not very much, the mead calculator gives me an OG of 1.085 using the calculator. EC-1118 has a tolerance of up to 18% but usually as much as 16%. This will go BONE dry and take a VERY long time to age.

EC-1118 can tolerate higher temps and will ferment, however the temp guide provided by the mfg is what it will ferment at, not what temps will provide good results. At 86F EC 1118 will provide a ton of fusels, most will become very evident towards the last 1/2 to 1/3 of the ferment.

No matter how you slice it, it will be years before this is ready.

Is it ruined? Not for certain, but it will take a very long time to become drinkable.

What would I recommend you do?

Let this finish, put it into a dark closet and forget about it for 3-5 years.
Read the newbie guide here and make a batch of JAO which does much better with high temp ferments.

09-19-2012, 07:10 PM
Thanks Loadnabox,

Would it be possible to save this batch, as it is only on its fourth day?
Could I gradually add some more honey over the next week, if I could remove some of the volume of the must?
Would placing the fermenter in a water bath bring down the temp, or would this shock the yeast that have acclimatized to what their environment is now?

09-19-2012, 07:26 PM
I would suggest backsweetening at the end rather than trying to add more honey now. More honey now is just going to make it even hotter-tasting.

Some light oak might help mute the hotness. Maybe. Or you'll just have to put it away for awhile and try to brew closer to the dead of winter. Although if it's that hot already, mid-winter probably isn't that cold. Shoot, it's barely spring there now isn't it? You can try a big bucket of water with frozen water bottles in it to moderate the temperature for future batches.

09-19-2012, 08:06 PM
And when you get it in that water bath, put a T shirt on it so it wicks water up, if you have a little fan even better as you can get a pretty good temperature drop that way

09-19-2012, 09:07 PM
Yeah, we're only just into spring here; it's pretty bloody hot already and it's only going to get warmer. It can quite easily reach 42-43c here in northern Australia.
I'm thinking it might be worthwhile investing in an old double door glass display fridge, to convert into a dedicated fermenting space, so I can brew all year round, and have room for temp controlled storage.

09-19-2012, 09:11 PM
I just now realized where you are. I spent several months in Darwin for what passes for winter in your area -- I'd invest in some form of chiller technology (even if that is only an ice bath as suggested by others) because it is very likely that you've only got a month or two every year that would be proper fermenting temperature for most meads.

You've set yourself a challenge! Good luck!!

09-19-2012, 10:25 PM
Just a word of advice from personal experience ( I am still rather new to this myself): A little clove goes a long way. Ten whole cloves might be a bit much unless you rack about the 1/2 sugar break. I have several small batches of JOA running for almost two years and the clove can be overpowering unless pulled out when the mead is relatively young. I did a five gallon batch of JAO with fresh and ground allspice and two cloves that frankly tasted like sweet cloves and allspice after 630 days.