View Full Version : Maybe you can explain this.

02-02-2013, 11:48 PM
Greetings all, long time reader first time poster.

I have a scenario explaining my brewing experience, and I was wondering if someone here 'bouts could explain what I am doing right/wrong and why.

My Basic Mead Recipe

15 pounds clover honey
5 tsp Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
Enough water from the local tap to fill a 5 gallon carboy
7 4 inch sticks of cinnamon
1 tsp All-spice
1 pinch nutmeg

Now, steps are as follows.
1. Mix honey with hot water from tap to dilute, pour into carboy.
2. Stir in yeast to honey container, fill with hot water, mix, pour into carboy.
3. Place hand on top of carboy, slosh with all of might.
4. Insert 7 sticks cinnamon.
5. Place heat belt around carboy, strap ballon over top with a pin hole in it.
6. Leave it be for two weeks.
7. Siphon liquid from the top into another carboy, leaving as much of sediment (and cinnamon sticks) in initial carboy as possible.
8. Repeat step 6 and 7 two times.
9. Siphon into bottles, store in ice-box, resiphon in two weeks.
10. Drink.

The mead is extremely sweet and extremely alcoholic. I don't know numbers, but a half a bottle does the job of a whole bottle of red wine.

I've been told my mead shouldn't be possible, without nutrients and what not. However, it's the same recipe every time and the result never vary. Can someone analyze my process and what not and render an assesment?

Much appreciated to any and all who choose to respond.

Very Respectfully,

Marshmallow Blue
02-02-2013, 11:57 PM
Maybe you got some Frankenstein super bread yeast. We're you drinking on an empty stomach? Might sound silly but when I drink without having eaten I find my alcohol tolerance is near zip.

Other than that I'm not sure there's a sure-fire way to get the actual abv without gravity readings.

02-03-2013, 12:04 AM
Rarely did I drink on an empty stomach. The mead is primarily used for religious feasts and what not, so there is always much food about. And I have never taken gravity readings. This is a very "homebrew" homebrew.

And yes, drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for the cost effective drinker hahaha.

EDIT: Sorry I didn't read my notes properly, its 5 tsp yeast. My apologies.

Chevette Girl
02-03-2013, 02:24 AM
That's three pounds per gallon, which if you check out our handy-dandy mead calculator, would give you a maximum of about 14% alcohol. My experience with bread yeast usually gets around 12% before it poops out, and if yours is still pretty sweet, then that's probably about right.

Now, I do know a few people who get more intoxicated on sweet drinks than on dry, your metabolism may be this type too.

02-03-2013, 05:12 AM
I think my question was misunderstood. I'm not really concerned about the alcohol content. It does the job just fine. What I'm wondering is why people say honey doesn't have the needed contents to make a complete brew (aka one "must" have enzymes or nutrients or catalysts or whatever) when mine brews perfectly fine.

Why does my brew not need these extra things? What about my process circumvents the requirement? What are the rammifications to this circumvention and what effects (if any) would this have on a long rack time, say a year or more? Sadly I've never been able to allow a batch to last more than an extra month or two so I don't know.

Also, how would the addition of said extras effect my brew? Since they obviously aren't needed, why do people swear by them? And am I the only one who brews without them and has no problems?

02-03-2013, 06:35 AM
Ok so maybe its the type of honey ? Possibly its not processed to hell and back ?

Or maybe that yeast strains for bread are particularly low nutrient requirement and that there is some value in the spices ? I know that we think of spices as just flavouring elements but I suspect that little testing of nutritional value of them has been done. After all, we use them in tiny amounts as using too much produces over powering tastes, that's not to say that they don't or can't provide enough for the yeast ?

Just because its normal that wine yeasts seem to suffer after a while because they can still handle the sugars albeit slowly in show meads, yet it needs the presence of "vitamins" for the yeast to thrive fully, wine yeasts at any rate.

How much research has been done identifying the exact strain used for breads I don't know ? Yet when you consider how much nutrient is required for a "big" well nourished high alcohol batch when compared to what the yeast gets from 1 orange and 25 raisins in a JAO often makes me wonder......

So whether there is any definitive answer I can't say but if your recipe and method works for you then that's gotta be a bonus - especially if you're into the world of organics and low/limited "chem" additions...

02-03-2013, 08:56 AM
Let a realative newbee go out on a limb and suggest the biomas of the pitch was the trick? 5 tsp of dry yeast will contain a rather large cell count and prehaps there just wasn't a lot of cell division required.

Marshmallow Blue
02-03-2013, 09:57 AM
I think the nutrients are used to help ensure a healthier, faster fermentation. I haven't made any meads with nutrients and 3 have moved along fine. I did have one slow one that I had to change my recipe in order to give it a boost.

Every batch is a little different since I'm sure we're not all in a lab setting. If you did your batch 10 more times, I'd be willing to bet, one or two of them would have issues getting going.

Medsen Fey
02-03-2013, 10:32 AM
I think my question was misunderstood. I'm not really concerned about the alcohol content. It does the job just fine. What I'm wondering is why people say honey doesn't have the needed contents to make a complete brew (aka one "must" have enzymes or nutrients or catalysts or whatever) when mine brews perfectly fine.

Perhaps you have also misunderstood what folks are saying about nutrients. If you pitch yeast into a honey-water mixture, they will ferment. However, honey doesn't have enough nutrients to allow the yeast to have a fast, complete fermentation. Fermentations lacking nutrients typically get slow and stop before reaching the ABV tolerance of the yeast. That doesn't mean they wont make any alcohol, just that they will leave it sweet, and with less alcohol, and if they are not stabilized, they may be (unpredictably) prone to restarting later and possibly blowing corks and bottles. Also the hungry yeast may make sulfur odors and produce harsher flavors.

In your case, they are fermenting your honey adequately, and you are happy with the results so there is not a problem. Depending on the honey and water, others that follow your recipe may or may not get similar results. I'd be interested to know if you have used different varieties of honey with the same results.

It is clear that you aren't getting complete fermentation. The bread yeast should be able to take 3 pound per gallon dry because they will usually get to 13-14% ABV without problem when nourished. Your yeast are stopping short of that most likely due to the lack of nutrients and/or pH issues which is why it tastes extremely sweet. How far short of completion I can't say without knowing some gravity readings. You may be getting 10-12% ABV, but I'd guess it is probably less.

So your mead may taste extremely alcoholic because it has "hot" alcohols from the fermentation that haven't had time to integrate and smooth out, but the alcohol level isn't particularly high. That isn't a bad thing - I typically find that high alcohol levels often don't make better meads.

Yes, pitching large amounts of yeast does help with nutrient-poor musts, and the fact that you are pitching about 1 gram per liter probably is helping to get you a quaffable mead. If you were pitching a 5-gram packet of yeast, you might be ending up with something syrupy.

My one caution would be to realize that if you are bottling a fermentation that isn't complete, if it warms up, be very careful because the yeast could restart in the bottle and make "bottle bombs". The fact that you consume it quickly is probably safer. If you decide you want to try aging some of this recipe, I strongly encourage you to consider stabilizing it before bottling.

I hope I am not sounding critical of your mead. There is nothing wrong with a ready-to-drink sooner-rather-than-later mead, and your recipe seems too produce a consistently good product. I hope this helps to clarify at least some of your questions.

Good meading!

Chevette Girl
02-03-2013, 12:59 PM
Right, I did misunderstand the question :p

Medsen covered most of the points I would make if I'd gotten to it first, the only thing I have to add is if you take a look at the Joe's Ancient Orange recipe, it's very similar in using bread yeast, being drinkable early, and having pretty consistent results. Again, as he said, without hydrometer readings we can't tell you how strong your mead is or how efficient your fermentation was.

I think your success has mostly got to do with the yeast selection, bread yeast is designed to get to the job very quickly with only sugar to eat (you can't wait weeks for your bread to rise!) whereas wine yeasts are designed to make grape must into very good wines, emphasis on taste and not on fermentation versus time...

Bread yeasts (in my experience at least) are also pretty good for being done when they say they're done and not starting back up again no matter what you do to them. Wine yeasts can take a looooong time to finish and may be going so slowly at the end that you think they're done but they're not. Check out a brewlog on show meads, mine (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16141) took about a year to completely finish, although it was pleasantly drinkable at a couple months, if I'd bottled it then, I'd have had bottle bombs.

02-03-2013, 03:21 PM
Just a thought: what about organics in the water? Maybe some nitrogen or ammonia from somewhere, the water table, pipes . . . . . Maybe do a water test (like the type for fishtanks) for the presence of those, might explain it.

And as I've seen on here before, those little yeastie beasties can do some odd things sometimes.

Medsen Fey
02-03-2013, 06:08 PM
Generally water that's suitable for drinking won't contain any significant ammonia or nitrogen. However the content of magnesium and other key minerals, and the content of carbonates to help keep the pH stable can certainly have an impact on yeast performance.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

02-03-2013, 07:46 PM

Yes! You are certainly being critical! However that's what I wanted, a critique. That being said, your information is very educational and that makes me want to slap together another batch with some more gear. Mayhap I'll get some gravity what-notness and a whoosawhatsis and a few more jiggermathings. The hobby is wonderful, but I guess I need to take it a step further.

Thank you all for the information, kind words and hypotheses. I shall (within a few months due to the weather) get another batch on the brew with all the new tech and retun with stories... stories of drunken song and dance, of gravity readings and nutrients!

Until then, happy brewing!

02-03-2013, 07:50 PM
Also, I have no idea how to use this forum, it's format is freakin weird. Can anyone explain to me how to change the settings so ALL replies are just straight down the page and in descending order?

02-03-2013, 11:06 PM
Under User CP (control panel), select Edit Options in the left panel (but to the right of the yellow master panel). Scroll down, you'll see Thread display options. I have it set to Oldest fisrt, I believe. The FAQ page is here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/faq.php?faq=vb3_board_usage#faq_vb3_thread_display ). Took me a couple times to get it how I wanted it.

02-04-2013, 02:41 AM
Under User CP (control panel), select Edit Options in the left panel (but to the right of the yellow master panel). Scroll down, you'll see Thread display options. I have it set to Oldest fisrt, I believe. The FAQ page is here (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/faq.php?faq=vb3_board_usage#faq_vb3_thread_display ). Took me a couple times to get it how I wanted it.

You are amazing, thats been bugging me since day 1... Hate newest first.