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Trevor Lane
12-26-2012, 11:46 PM
So, I am a newbee, planning on making my frst batch of mead. I was inspired by this ancient recipe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mead#History which I am pretty much sticking to for approximately a 3-4 gallon batch as follows:
This is based on my calculations for a sextarius and a Roman pound being 1/2 quart and 12 oz. respectively
~18 lbs honey (I'll be using 31/2 5 lb plastic bottles from Costco
3 gallons artesian water
8 oranges (a FB firend of mine who has made a very similar mead for years says he uses organic oranges for the yeast, as yeast apparently grows on the skins, and recommends 2-3 quartered oranges per gallon of total liquid)
I'll heat the water and mix it with the honey, then put that into one of my 5 gallon food-grade buckets. Then I'll let that cool to room temp, add my sliced oranges and seal the bucket with a water bubbler/venter and leave it alone in my kitchen for about 2 months. Finally I'll strain it, bottle it, and drink it. I really want to keep a bare-bones/ancient approach to this which is why I am not messing with secondary fermentation or commercially produced yeast. But, I am open to suggestions from experienced folks, and welcome any sage advice that you may have to offer.

I am also going to make some cider/apfelwein in a similar way with 3 gallons of apple cider/juice and 6 oranges fermented in the same way.

Golddiggie
12-27-2012, 01:04 AM
1. Do NOT heat the must above 100-110F. I don't care what the book/recipe says.
2. Use the calculator (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16) on the main site to figure out what you'll get. Add enough water to get to the indicated volume level.
3. 12# of honey is about 1 gallon liquid volume. So with a 3-4 gallon batch, you'll use less than 3 gallons of water.
4. Even using 4 gallons total volume, you're looking at over 20% ABV potential with that amount of honey.
5. Use yeast from Lalvin Labs (http://www.lalvinyeast.com/strains.asp). Do NOT trust there to be yeast on the skins/rind of the fruit that will do jack squat. Especially since they'll probably go into shock with the must that concentrated.

For a first mead, IMO/IME, you're far better off going with a tried and true recipe. Once you have one, or two, under your belt, then start making your own recipes. Otherwise, you'll end up frustrated when it doesn't go according to what you imagine. Even though what you imagined was a crack-pipe deam. :eek:

Trevor Lane
12-27-2012, 01:17 AM
Thanks. I'll back that off to 2 gallons water w/12 lbs honey which should give me about 3 gallons then, but I'll probably just use a bread yeast. I want to keep this really basic and cheap.

Golddiggie
12-27-2012, 01:43 AM
Thanks. I'll back that off to 2 gallons water w/12 lbs honey which should give me about 3 gallons then, but I'll probably just use a bread yeast. I want to keep this really basic and cheap.

Do you hate honey and mead that much??? Really, bread yeast?? Are you such a cheap/tight wad that you can't speand <$2 on a packet of yeast that will do the mead justice?? Did you not use the calculation tool on the main site? You're still at over 18% ABV on that batch. FAR beyond what any crappy bread yeast will handle. Use Lalvin EC-1118 or K1V-1116 in the batch.

Also read up on using nutrients in the must. NOT doing so means you're going to be posting about fermentation troubles and pissing and moaning about how it's not getting going, etc. READ the newbee guides on the forums... Seriously. READ THEM!! Otherwise, you'll get zero empathy from me (especially) due to 100% human errors causing issues.

IMO/IME, going cheap and making a mead worth drinking almost never happens. Unless you're getting great honey on the cheap. Even then, you need to do what it takes to make the mead great. Otherwise, why invest the 1-1/2 years it will take for an 18% (or a year for a 12%) mead to be actually worth going to a glass.

It's fine to be a noob, but don't be a dumb-noob. :eek:

Trevor Lane
12-27-2012, 02:17 AM
Do you hate honey and mead that much??? Really, bread yeast?? Are you such a cheap/tight wad that you can't speand <$2 on a packet of yeast that will do the mead justice?? Did you not use the calculation tool on the main site? You're still at over 18% ABV on that batch. FAR beyond what any crappy bread yeast will handle. Use Lalvin EC-1118 or K1V-1116 in the batch.

Also read up on using nutrients in the must. NOT doing so means you're going to be posting about fermentation troubles and pissing and moaning about how it's not getting going, etc. READ the newbee guides on the forums... Seriously. READ THEM!! Otherwise, you'll get zero empathy from me (especially) due to 100% human errors causing issues.

IMO/IME, going cheap and making a mead worth drinking almost never happens. Unless you're getting great honey on the cheap. Even then, you need to do what it takes to make the mead great. Otherwise, why invest the 1-1/2 years it will take for an 18% (or a year for a 12%) mead to be actually worth going to a glass.

It's fine to be a noob, but don't be a dumb-noob. :eek:
The end result I'm looking for is as close to the ancient drink of the gods that vikings guzzled to get wasted on, nothing fancy, and very simple to make.

4feathers
12-27-2012, 02:18 AM
Hi Trevor, on the other hand you could get on to your mate who has used Orange Skin Yeast and extract all the info you need from him. I can respect your desire to produce something that maybe just left of centre and not follow the well worn path of just doing what everyone else does. This is were invention comes into play so enjoy yourself...Peter

Trevor Lane
12-27-2012, 02:27 AM
Hi Trevor, on the other hand you could get on to your mate who has used Orange Skin Yeast and extract all the info you need from him. I can respect your desire to produce something that maybe just left of centre and not follow the well worn path of just doing what everyone else does. This is were invention comes into play so enjoy yourself...Peter

I asked him about buying yeast and he said he's made mead for several years simply by tossing in 2-3 sliced oranges per gallon of liquid and has never bought yeast of any kind. His only recommendation was using organic oranges because pesticides and other crap sprayed on them can kill the yeast on the skins. The bottom line is that if I try it this way and it doesn;t work I'm only out a couple gallons of water and a few pounds of honey. And, if it works I'll have something kindred to the mead drank by my Norse ancestors.

4feathers
12-27-2012, 03:07 AM
If you can get the Organic non sprayed or dipped unwashed Oranges you will have Yeast on them the question is , is it a good one for what your doing and you won't know till you do it. I do the same thing with yeast for my Cider and other Apple based drinks from the skins of Organic Apples.I took skins from several different Organic Apple types and propagated several yeasts from each different Apple type. I then selected for what i needed and went from there. I imagine it would be similar with oranges. It would only take a couple of weeks to suss it out and go from there...Peter

Trevor Lane
12-27-2012, 03:29 AM
If you can get the Organic non sprayed or dipped unwashed Oranges you will have Yeast on them the question is , is it a good one for what your doing and you won't know till you do it. I do the same thing with yeast for my Cider and other Apple based drinks from the skins of Organic Apples.I took skins from several different Organic Apple types and propagated several yeasts from each different Apple type. I then selected for what i needed and went from there. I imagine it would be similar with oranges. It would only take a couple of weeks to suss it out and go from there...Peter
Yup, that's kinda my plan.

Midnight Sun
12-27-2012, 01:47 PM
Good Day Trevor!

While I feel that Golddiggie was a little harsh you, I would agree with some of that advice.

Perhaps you would be willing to consider the following question: does a youngster learn to run before or after learning to walk? In my mind, you are trying to run a 5k when you should instead be taking baby steps. Cultivating wild yeast and fermenting with them can be a daunting task.

As a new brewer, I would like to point you toward a very good starter recipe Joe's Ancient Orange Mead (JAOM). Click here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6885). It's 1 gallon, uses bread yeast, ages quickly, and turns out a fairly good sweet mead.

If you choose to continue in the direction you are headed, be prepared for several failures before you hit on a success. Once you get going, you can leave the beaten path whenever you please. Trying to bushwhack as a newbee is probably going to result in you quitting before your first success.

Still not convinced to attempt something tried and true? Then I would recommend the "Documented Recipes and Period Mead Resources" (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=224) forum.

Medsen Fey
12-27-2012, 04:58 PM
Midnight Sun's suggestion to try Joe's ancient orange recipe is a really good one. It uses 3.5 pounds of honey per gallon with an orange and a handfull of raisins - spices are optional. The bread yeast used is cheap and reliable and it consistently makes a really good mead; one that any thirsty Viking could appreciate.

fatbloke
12-28-2012, 03:43 AM
Medsens suggestion is, as usual, excellent. There's little point "trying to run before you can walk".

Plus the use of wild yeasts isn't quite as easy as it seems. Wild yeasts that are found on oranges haven't been known to regularly make alcohol. Whereas if you tried apple, there's plenty of history in the cider making world (hard cider in the US) where they make traditional ciders with wild yeasts - is that apple type and regionally dependant for the right yeast strain? I don't know, hence for consistent and most likely successful results a wine yeast is your best bet.....

Trevor Lane
12-29-2012, 08:44 PM
Thanks for the help guys. I think I will try Joe's recipe first, because I don't want to risk having to throw out an undrinkable first batch.
The only variations I wil make is to triple the recipe (for whatever reason 3 gallons just "seems" right), and I'll be using a 5 gallon food-grade bucket with an airlock on the lid instead of a carboy with a stopper. I shouldn't think that would be a problem though.
Then, maybe I'll try my original idea next. Again, thanks for the help. I'll probably get started and begin a log within a week or 2.

Chevette Girl
12-31-2012, 01:29 AM
Good choice on the JAO, the recipe triples quite well and is pretty reliable whether you know what you're doing or not. ;D

I've done a LOT of playing around with meads based on the JAO recipe and I've determined for myself that 3.5 lb honey plus bread yeast can be a great start for a lot of interesting things, although if I were going to try it without the bread yeast, I'd probably try reserving at least 1 lb of the honey, maybe even 2 lb, until after I see some activity. That much honey might be too much of a shock for your wild yeast.

Good luck with your experiments, and please keep us posted!