PDA

View Full Version : New mazer here!



max384
12-17-2012, 11:44 PM
Okay, well I guess the title mazer is a bit of a stretch at this point! I actually just put my first batch into carboys a few minutes ago. I didn't find an introduction subforum here, so I figured this would be a good place to say hi. I've made a couple of batches of wine and a few batches of beer in the past, but definitely far from being an expert at any of them.

I kinda sorta used the Joe's ancient orange mead recipe, but I didn't have a lot of the ingredients, so I just threw a few things in that seemed like they would be tasty. This may have been a bad idea, but it's only two gallons, so if I completely ruined my first mead, there's always next time. Damn my impatience!

Here's my recipe for if (when) I eventually come back to this thread to ask questions:
I made two gallons.
I used about 8lbs of Suebee honey (I know, it's not a local source, but I already had two 5lb jars in the cupboard).
3 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp of ginger
1 packet of champagne yeast (good to 12%) I got from the local homebrew shop
4 small oranges

http://max384.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/Random-bike-pics/i-N36P3jC/0/XL/20121217_221400-XL.jpg

celticgladiator
12-18-2012, 12:12 AM
welcome to the mead addiction, keep reading, learning, and fermenting!!!

kudapucat
12-21-2012, 06:31 PM
Welcome!

I'm concerned. I don't think I've ever seen a 12% champagne yeast.
It's more likely either wine yeast or more like 18%.
Try to buy brand name yeast, it helps with reproducibility.

Did you take a gravity reading? Head back to your homebrew store, and buy a hydrometer with specific gravity readings (about 0.900 - 1.150 scale) on the side. It's the most important tool you can use if you want to reproduce or refine your brew.

This may go dry, in which case I think it'll be terrible with the oranges, so be prepared to buy some more honey to sweeten it back up a bit, once it's finished.

Finally: good luck!
Welcome to the madness!

max384
12-21-2012, 06:56 PM
Welcome!

I'm concerned. I don't think I've ever seen a 12% champagne yeast.
It's more likely either wine yeast or more like 18%.
Try to buy brand name yeast, it helps with reproducibility.

Did you take a gravity reading? Head back to your homebrew store, and buy a hydrometer with specific gravity readings (about 0.900 - 1.150 scale) on the side. It's the most important tool you can use if you want to reproduce or refine your brew.

This may go dry, in which case I think it'll be terrible with the oranges, so be prepared to buy some more honey to sweeten it back up a bit, once it's finished.

Finally: good luck!
Welcome to the madness!

I'm going back to the store tomorrow to get some grains for a pilsner I'll be brewing, so I'll snap a pic of the specific yeast I bought. It was Red Star brand.

... About the gravity reading... I dropped my hydrometer and shattered it on the floor before I could take a reading. It was on a towel, and I didn't see it when I grabbed the towel... and well, it went airborne! I've since bought a new one, but I definitely do not have a gravity reading on this mead. I had already mixed the honey with the water when it fell, so I figured it was best to just continue on with it rather than let it sit for a day before getting a new one.

Why do think it may go dry? I'm new enough to this that I don't have the slightest clue how to predict such a thing.

Thanks!

kudapucat
12-21-2012, 11:09 PM
In short: because you're new :-D
Let me do some maths and make an accurate estimate.

kudapucat
12-21-2012, 11:22 PM
OK First things first: Use metric, it makes the maths easier.

2 gallons = 7.6 Litres (l)
8 lb = 3.6 kilograms (kg)

honey has an estimated SG of 1.400
SG = kg/l

so 3.6 kilos of honey is 3.6/1.400 = 2.6 litres

so you started with 2.6 l of honey and 5 l of water totaling 7.6 litres (2 gal)

Water has an SG of 1.000
so 5.0 litres of water weighs 5kg

so your total weight is 8.6kg

SG = kg/l = 8.6/7.6 = 1.132

OK so this is a heavy brew. JAO style.

1.132 - 1.000 = 0.132 (maximum drop possible)
0.132*135 = 17.82% ABV maximum (135 is the constant I use for estimating alcohol)

if your yeast is 18% it'll be dry
if it's 12% it'll probably be quite good.

Personally I doubt it'll be less than 14% but you never know.
Check the yeast type and see. Backsweeten if it's too dry.
You've done nothing wrong, but more info would be good (SG, yeast type etc)

Good luck with your new hydro, I have a mate who's busted 4 like that!

max384
12-22-2012, 12:02 AM
OK First things first: Use metric, it makes the maths easier.

2 gallons = 7.6 Litres (l)
8 lb = 3.6 kilograms (kg)

honey has an estimated SG of 1.400
SG = kg/l

so 3.6 kilos of honey is 3.6/1.400 = 2.6 litres

so you started with 2.6 l of honey and 5 l of water totaling 7.6 litres (2 gal)

Water has an SG of 1.000
so 5.0 litres of water weighs 5kg

so your total weight is 8.6kg

SG = kg/l = 8.6/7.6 = 1.132

OK so this is a heavy brew. JAO style.

1.132 - 1.000 = 0.132 (maximum drop possible)
0.132*135 = 17.82% ABV maximum (135 is the constant I use for estimating alcohol)

if your yeast is 18% it'll be dry
if it's 12% it'll probably be quite good.

Personally I doubt it'll be less than 14% but you never know.
Check the yeast type and see. Backsweeten if it's too dry.
You've done nothing wrong, but more info would be good (SG, yeast type etc)

Good luck with your new hydro, I have a mate who's busted 4 like that!

Thanks for showing me the math involved! Is the 135 constant a recognized constant used for determining alcohol from specific gravity drop? Is it from your personal experience making mead? Is it just a shortcut to save doing tedious math? I minored in chemistry in college, so I definitely appreciate you going through the steps here, rather than just giving your final alcohol estimation.

Once the alcohol content of the mead meets and/or exceeds the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, what happens? Well, I mean I know that fermentation stops, but... Does it kill the yeast? Does it just stop fermentation?

I'll check back in once I get back from the store tomorrow and see which yeast I used... I've definitely gotta be a bit more organized with writing everything down.

fatbloke
12-22-2012, 05:23 AM
Thanks for showing me the math involved! Is the 135 constant a recognized constant used for determining alcohol from specific gravity drop? Is it from your personal experience making mead? Is it just a shortcut to save doing tedious math? I minored in chemistry in college, so I definitely appreciate you going through the steps here, rather than just giving your final alcohol estimation.

Once the alcohol content of the mead meets and/or exceeds the alcohol tolerance of the yeast, what happens? Well, I mean I know that fermentation stops, but... Does it kill the yeast? Does it just stop fermentation?

I'll check back in once I get back from the store tomorrow and see which yeast I used... I've definitely gotta be a bit more organized with writing everything down.
There's a number of methods/equations used for working out the exact, or exact as possible % ABV of a brew, but as with any theoretical assessment of a natural substance, it's to do with a certain level of presumption i.e. mainly the % of sugars in the honey. Slightly different levels can give different strengths of finished brew.

I use the "alcohol calculation" table over at WaH (http://www.winesathome.co.uk/forum/index.php). Now that one doesn't go through any mathematical calculations. It just uses a listing for the % alcohol that is worked out from a drop in gravity readings i.e. 10.05% ABV equates to a drop of 74 ponts, 15.08% ABV is a drop of 111 points and as close to 18% ABV, which is the regularly quoted tolerance for the vast majority of high alcohol yeasts, like the champagne yeast that is EC-1118, but also the better option (IMO) for meads but isn't actually a champagne yeast is K1-V1116, and that's a 133 point drop.

The drop being the difference between the starting and finishing gravity, or the total amount of gravity drop from the start to finish even if you've done some step feeding of extra honey to a batch (say starting at 1.100 with finished at 1.000 - but when it gets down from the start of 1.100 to 1.050, you then add enough honey to bring it back up to 1.083 and then the ferment finishes at 1.000 you'd still have a total drop of 133 points so a tiny fraction over 18% ABV etc etc).

Without some mega expensive kit (gas chromatography or similar) it can only ever be a guesstimate, however close a guess (or calculation) you can achieve......

kudapucat
12-22-2012, 09:27 AM
+1

The 135 is a 'high alcohol "constant"'
The value is in fact not a constant, but proportional to the alcohol.
ie a beer brewer may use a constant of 100 or less for their 5% brews. So you sorta need some idea before you start.
I forget where but somewhere on this forum there's a table showing how the "constant" varies with respect to finished alcohol quantities.

But now we're getting really technical!

max384
12-23-2012, 12:42 AM
The yeast I used was Red Star Pasteur Champagne (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/red-star-wine-yeasts-5-grams-pasteur-champagne.html). According to the Midwest Supplies website, the alcohol tolerance for this yeast is 13-15%. My local homebrew shop has it listed at 12%.


There's a number of methods/equations used for working out the exact, or exact as possible % ABV of a brew, but as with any theoretical assessment of a natural substance, it's to do with a certain level of presumption i.e. mainly the % of sugars in the honey. Slightly different levels can give different strengths of finished brew.

I use the "alcohol calculation" table over at WaH (http://www.winesathome.co.uk/forum/index.php). Now that one doesn't go through any mathematical calculations. It just uses a listing for the % alcohol that is worked out from a drop in gravity readings i.e. 10.05% ABV equates to a drop of 74 ponts, 15.08% ABV is a drop of 111 points and as close to 18% ABV, which is the regularly quoted tolerance for the vast majority of high alcohol yeasts, like the champagne yeast that is EC-1118, but also the better option (IMO) for meads but isn't actually a champagne yeast is K1-V1116, and that's a 133 point drop.

The drop being the difference between the starting and finishing gravity, or the total amount of gravity drop from the start to finish even if you've done some step feeding of extra honey to a batch (say starting at 1.100 with finished at 1.000 - but when it gets down from the start of 1.100 to 1.050, you then add enough honey to bring it back up to 1.083 and then the ferment finishes at 1.000 you'd still have a total drop of 133 points so a tiny fraction over 18% ABV etc etc).

Without some mega expensive kit (gas chromatography or similar) it can only ever be a guesstimate, however close a guess (or calculation) you can achieve......

Thanks for all this info!


+1

The 135 is a 'high alcohol "constant"'
The value is in fact not a constant, but proportional to the alcohol.
ie a beer brewer may use a constant of 100 or less for their 5% brews. So you sorta need some idea before you start.
I forget where but somewhere on this forum there's a table showing how the "constant" varies with respect to finished alcohol quantities.

But now we're getting really technical!

Thanks! I'll try to do a search and find this table.

Chevette Girl
01-01-2013, 10:34 PM
Aha, another lab rat, welcome to the addiction, er, hobby, they keep telling me to call it a hobby :)

Generally champagne yeasts are pretty high-test to ensure that they'll take even a sweet grape juice down to dry before it is primed and bottled to carbonate, so that it's still under its tolerance to finish the carbonation job.

There are ways to get an estimate of your alcohol content once your fermentation is complete, I've done spirit indication tests a couple of times when I've not been convinced that my hydrometer knew what it was talking about or when I'd miswritten a reading or step-fed a batch (adding honey more times than I cared to do the math for)... it's only as accurate as your ability to measure SG and volume though, using a syringe or something where you're accurate right to the millilitre is better than using an arbitrary mark I made on my hydrometer test tube, and a fine-scale hydrometer would be more accurate than my plain old standard hydrometer, but hey, it's still more accurate than guessing. Really, the only value you have to look up is the SG of ethanol, although I admit full well to being a lazy lab rat myself and I use the calculator on this handy gentleman's webpage (http://www.musther.net/vinocalc.html#spiritindication).

You asked what happens when the yeast hit their tolerance? Well, usually the yeast won't die, but they will become inactive and settle out. Oftentimes, adding water to dilute it (if you were topping off to eliminate headspace, for instance) can cause it to kick back up briefly until it hits its tolerance again. The yeast cells become inactive and settle out and you can rack off the lees to decrease the number of cells in your must, but there will still be a lot you can't see that are still in suspension, and without the addition of stabilizing chemicals, sometimes they can spontaneously kick up again even years later, or they can continue to ferment very very slowly for years after they appeared to have stopped.