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Exanime
09-30-2012, 08:25 PM
Hey guys and gals

I first head about Mead about a year ago when I wanted to buy something special for a buddy of mine... he never opened the bottle when I gave it to him so I my curiosity grew regarding Mead and what it would taste like...

Anyway after a while I started searching online and found this website which I have been lurking since... I decided I needed to make my own so after gathering equipment and a ton of reading I finally started my first batch today...

I must say it was a bigger than normal batch for a newbie because I got an incredible deal on some equipment but it was larger than I expected... I figured the deal was worth the risk of having a first batch go so so

Here is my recipe for a 54 litres batch:
43 litres of water (aprox)
15 kilos of Wildflower Honey
1 kilo of Buckwheat Honey
150 grams of Hibiscus flowers (dried)
3 Kilos of diced Apples (mostly McIntosh)
450 g of raisins

I sanitized everything with household bleach and rised fully... I then boiled the water and let it rest to remove impurities and chlorine.. Once the water was warm but not hot I poured it into my primary fermenter (a glass carboy). Warmed the honey by putting the tub in the sink with warm water and added it to the mix. I mixed the honey with the water fully with a made-shift lees stirrer and my cordless drill (which sadly did not survive the adventure). I then boiled the Hibiscus flowers and added them with the water (part of the 43 litres mentioned above). Finally I added the apples still frozen (I had previously cored and sliced them, washed them with lemon water and froze them) and the raisins... Finally I stirred everything with a plastic spatula.

At this point the gravity was exactly 1.100, I understand this is probably a little under since the apples and raisins had not had the change to provide their sugar to the must.

Once it cooled down to room temp I pitch the yeast, 2 packages (5 grams) of LALVIN K1-V1116

As I understand it I should not be able to produce more than 14% alcohol with this must. I am expecting to rack, stabilize and backsweeten it later as this yeast will probably consume all the sugars. I'm just hoping to stop fermentation properly as I would not like to end up with an 18% mead. Am I in the ball park here?

Also, I understand that using apples makes this a Cyser (or is that only the case when apple cider is used?)... I also added hibiscus which would make it a Metheglin, what are the rules for naming crossovers??

I would appreciatte any suggestions, comments or any feedback you can provide me... I have to say this website (and its patrons) have been a fantastic source of information and making mead was one of the most fun projects I have done so far... I just hope I end up with 50 bottles of drinkable something LOL

Cheers!

fatbloke
10-01-2012, 12:33 AM
Damn that's a big batch for a first go.......

Anyway, I'm thinking that the apples and raisins might not be enough nutrients for.the honey, so its probably sensible to have some boiled bread yeast available.

I'd say its gonna be best to aerate it daily down to the 1/3rd sugar break, which will help with getting some air/O2 in it for the yeast but also to remove some of the dissolved CO2.

54 litres ? A large carboy or a bucket ? Cos if its a carboy, make sure there's some head space to start with, as that'd be one hell of a mead eruption if it went when aerating.

A hundred point drop would give about 13.5% ABV, but there's the Apple sugars and K1V will likely take it lower than 1.000 so it may end up a not stronger.

Do you have another carboy/bucket ? As it could prove problematic to rack it piecemeal into smaller containers.

Fortytwo
10-01-2012, 08:05 AM
Considering the size of the batch, aeration by just shaking might not cut it. I'd start thinking about aeration stones if I were you...

mrperq
10-01-2012, 08:44 AM
How on earth do you move such a demijohn?
Do you trust the basket's handles?
You have to take stairs with it?
You move it alone?

Exanime
10-01-2012, 09:43 AM
Yes, it is a huge batch for a newbie like me... I wanted to start very small but had a hard time finding small equipment, everything I found small was more expensive than the big ones...

I ended up getting 3 of these monster glass carboys, a BuonVino mini jet, bottle washers and drainers and assorted accessories (hoses, hydrometers, thermometers, etc) all for $50!... I figure destiny was telling me to go big or go home hehehe

I am aeriating with my cordless drill and a lees stirrer, this is what I used to disolve the Honey and it made great turbulence in that Must... do you think I should switch to aeration stones then? Shaking is certainly not an option

I can lift it a bit but as some of you suggested I don't trust the handles on that wicker basket, so far I have just dragged it with a towel underneath from my kitchen to my laundry room... I am planing to get some help to lift it when I'm ready to rack. The plan is to rack to another carboy in 2 or 3 weeks time

Fatbloke: I make bread all the time so I have plenty of bread yeast available... this morning the batch was "bubbling" nicely which as I understand means it's in the growth stage, should I go ahead and add the boiled yeast? how much do you recommend? I am also attaching a picture for you to see, I think I left enough head space but being a newbie I am not sure :-)

Thank you all for your feedback!

Chevette Girl
10-01-2012, 12:29 PM
Welcome to the forum! I just got back from crossing La Belle Province on my way home from Nova Scotia :)

I have one of those demijohns in the basket, mine seems to be made with really thin glass compared to the cylindrical carboys I usually usually use, and I don't believe they are meant to be moved after they're filled so be damn careful with that. Do the math on the volume of water, 54 kilograms is a bit much...

Maybe do some experimenting and see if you can run your Buon Vino without a filter in order to use it as a pump to transfer from one place to another? (damn good deal you got on that, my Buon Vino jet filter cost me $150!)

When I finally fill mine, I suspect I will start out with three 5-gal pails for primary and get creative to rack them into the thing while it's up on a sturdy shelf where it will live until I need to rack it again, and since I only have the one, it'll have to go into multiple carboys or buckets if I need to rack it off the lees before I bottle whatever batch I end up with.

With the boiled yeast, the earlier you get it in there, the sooner your yeast can use it.

As for nomenclature, I suspect there's not enough fruit in there to matter, but you should get good colour and flavour from all that hibiscus, so I'd probably go with metheglyn for this one.

Exanime
10-01-2012, 01:00 PM
Thanks for your feedback...

A friend at work also suggested the idea of using the mini jet as a pump only... if not, water pumps are rather cheap so I will look into that... I agree that moving that carboy is a risk (for the glass and for my back!) so I will try to avoid moving it... so far, I have only dragged it by putting a towel under the basket and pulling on the towel so minimal stress on the glass

I will also be adding the boiled yeast tonight so my K1V have more to munch on...

The color right now is great, it is a dark pink hue I wish I could keep for the final product but that is a long way coming

Thanks again for your feedback... hope to see you soon in La Belle Province

Chevette Girl
10-01-2012, 02:03 PM
Thanks again for your feedback... hope to see you soon in La Belle Province

You're welcome!

...and if you're anywhere farther from Ottawa than Montréal, don't hold your breath...I don't get out much, and just driving through Montréal is an adventure ;D

fatbloke
10-01-2012, 04:21 PM
Thanks for your feedback...

A friend at work also suggested the idea of using the mini jet as a pump only... if not, water pumps are rather cheap so I will look into that... I agree that moving that carboy is a risk (for the glass and for my back!) so I will try to avoid moving it... so far, I have only dragged it by putting a towel under the basket and pulling on the towel so minimal stress on the glass

I will also be adding the boiled yeast tonight so my K1V have more to munch on...

The color right now is great, it is a dark pink hue I wish I could keep for the final product but that is a long way coming

Thanks again for your feedback... hope to see you soon in La Belle Province
If your mini-jet is the same as the one I've got, then yes, you just need to bypass the filter section and it will pump the brew nicely (not quick, certainly not with a 54 litre batch, but it will do the job).

I once made a 50 litre brew in one of the 2 I have, and damn, they're heavy when full, so the pump would be a good idea, just attach a racking cane to the bottom of the pipe (and once it's finished in the primary ferment), bingo. Racked off the sediment just nicely.....

As for the boiled bread yeast ? I generally get it in the local grocery store, and it's packed in 7 or 8 gramme sachets, so I just put one sachet in 50 to 100 mls of water, bring it to the boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer it for 3 or 4 minutes, then switch it off and let it cool. I've put that amount in batches up to 3 gallons and it seems to have done the trick i.e. enough, seemingly, to provide nutrient/nourishment for the fermenting yeast, but not enough to cause any kind of flavour/taste issue (don't know if too much might leave any kind of bread type taste - I presume any that didn't get munched by the fermenting yeast would just settle out with the rest of the sediment).

Hopefully, I've been getting it right, though anyone who's done this more than a couple of times may have a better steer on amounts/quantity.

Exanime
10-02-2012, 08:35 AM
Here is the mini jet I have

http://www.buonvino.com/index2.html

I am planing to perform the maintenance described in their manual and use it as a pump for racking... it would certainly make my life easier and safer!

I added the boiled yeast as indicated last night... as of this morning it seems to be bubbling through the fruit cap and every time I aerate it with the lees stirrer and my new drill it seems to bubble from below as well... kind of like an effervescence... it is also starting to produce a stronger yeasty scent with a sour/citrix tone...

I will keep aerating at least twice a day and will messure the gravity again today although I suspect actual fermentation may have just started so there may not be much change there.

Cheers and thanks again for all your usefull feedback!

Chevette Girl
10-02-2012, 01:56 PM
I've only used mine a couple of times, I do recall having problems getting it started, it didn't have enough suck to draw the liquid very far up the hose so I ended up filling the hose with sulphite solution first.

And start your drill slowly and work it up gradually when the fermentation's really going, the effervescence you're seeing is actually degassing, which can sometimes be very rapid (read: explosive) if you just start whipping the crap out of your must to aerate without a slow degas first.

Exanime
10-02-2012, 03:38 PM
Thanks for all your information... alas, being a newbie I have yet another question

I was planing on running an "open" fermentation for the first 3 days, in my case I am covering the mouth of the carboy with coffee filters... and then switch to the rubber stopper + water lock

Once the water lock was in place I was planning to do nothing until the bubbles slowed down significantly (as suggested in the newbee guide) and then rack to leave all the fruit/yeast behind; however, fatbloke suggested to continue to aerate until the 1/3rd sugar break... so my questions is:

1) how do I know when fermentation has fully kicked in? should I stop aerating then or should I go on aerating twice a day until the 1/3 sugar break? I am worried about introducing oxygen after fermentation started

Thanks again, you are all great!

Chevette Girl
10-02-2012, 04:21 PM
Fermentation has "set in" when there are bubbles. Your yeast's lag phase (breeding more than making alcohol) is over when the SG starts to drop, but they're still breeding a little (which is when they need oxygen) up until they've eaten about 1/3 to 1/2 of the available sugars, so they will use the oxygen up until that point and you don't need to worry about the must oxidizing until you're into the second half of the fermentation (ie, if your SG was 1.100, you're fine to aerate until between 1.066 and 1.050 but then you want to keep the oxygen out after that.)

fatbloke
10-02-2012, 05:13 PM
+1 on CG's last comment.

Your fear of introducing O2 into an active ferment, is sort of what you hear/read from people who are already experienced in beer making. Bless 'em ! they're paranoid about it, for understandable reasons.

Yet it's also fair to point out that making most mead type recipes, is closer to wine making than it is beer making. Plus with beers, and cider (hard cider if that's how you understand it), the lower levels of alcohol mean that you have less preservative effect from it.

Wines, especially reds (grape wines that is) will last considerably longer in the bottle before any problems appear. Mead's (normal wine type/alcohol levels) do tend to be better at resisting the effects of oxidation more. Hence using some O2 to benefit the yeast isn't an issue.

In a similar vein, people persist in putting nutrient into their must, before pitching yeasts. Whereas, while it's also a selling point, there's plenty of info out there about using rehydration nutrients i.e. GoFerm, then not adding anything that contains DAP/di-ammonium phosphate, despite the fact that it's one of the major materials for nourishing the yeast during ferment. The info suggests that it's injurous to the yeast when it's in it's early stage of development, and that you should only add a nutrient that contains it after the lag stage.

So, if I've managed to get the point across (with the help of CG's post), the same thing applies. It's not just one or two of us suggesting something that borders on heresy, it's routinely carried out by a lot of us, to good levels of success !

Hell, we might be wrong (taking the philosophical view), but it really does seem to aid the ferment........

Exanime
10-02-2012, 08:36 PM
You guys are better than wikipedia! LOL

I am really excited about this Mead and learning so much from you two... If this thing turns out half-drinkable I will mail you a couple of bottles for sure!

I aerated it today with similar results are yesterday... some bubbling and some effervescense... I also took a sample and it is now at 1.080 so 0.020 less than the original gravity... I suspect the yeast may have already eating a tad more than what the reading suggests as the apples and raisins must have certainly released some sugar by now. It also changed color... it started pink as in pink lemonade and now it's a light red kind of like sangria.

I think I will switch to the air lock in a day or two to help me gauge fermentation activity from the bubbling on the air lock as well but will certainly keep on aerating at least until the 1/3 sugar break.

As far as I can tell everything is going well, I will keep on aerating and measuring gravity every couple of days and keep you posted.

Once again, thanks... you guys are my Mead Godparents hahaha

Exanime
10-05-2012, 02:06 PM
Alright so last night I aerated again and checked for gravity... I am now at 1.060... .040 below my OG

I switched to a water lock and I am seeing a strong bubble every 2 seconds... bubbles are also very visible going through the fruit cap... at this point it seems fermentation is going strong and I will start gently pushing the fruit cap down as oppose to aerate vigorously

If things keep going this way I will likely be racking off on the 20th of October is things keep on going this way

Cheers to all!

Exanime
10-21-2012, 08:59 PM
Hi Guys,

So today is 3 weeks from my Mead making day... I am exactly at 1.000 so I am where I want to be!

Fermentation is still going, I get a bubble through the water lock every 15-20 seconds but I am thinking of stopping it at this point I almost got drunk after a little taste hehehe

I am planing to rack to a second carboy (same type of giant glass bottle of 54 litres)... I am hoping to add sulfites to stop fermentation and then add a couple of litres of honey and water to sweeten it back up...

Question: is it ok to leave a 4 or 5 litres head space for a few days before I back sweeten? I just want to confirm the sulfites stopped fermentation before adding more sugars

Thanks again for all your help guys...