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Grimm312
02-16-2013, 09:09 PM
Hello, I made my first 2 batches of mead yesterday. One was a JOAM, and the other was a plain mead based on the JOAM recipe. I followed the instructions as closely as I could.

I'm a little concerned about how they're "gassing". I haven't seen any movement in my airlock's at all (a balloon with a pin-hole in the end). I swapped them for unbroken balloon's this morning, and after about an hour or so the plain one had inflated quite well, but I can't be sure about the JOAM. I'll check again in an hour or so, and see what the go it, but I can't help but worry a bit. I also can't see any activity in the fermenter's either (a 4L plastic bottle). Could it just be that such a small batch (a gallon each) just won't gas up as much or be as active?

It'll probably amount to nothing, but this is my first go so I dunno what the norm is yet.

Cheers

Grimm312
02-16-2013, 09:47 PM
Alright, just checked again, the JOAM is working, the balloon was inflated. I suspect the holes in my original balloons were just too big (cut with scissors instead of pin pricked)

What a relief ...

fatbloke
02-17-2013, 04:38 AM
No so much of a relief, probably more "newbie impatience".

Most of us get that when we start and as we progress in the learning curve, we learn (often with the help of others suggestions to "calm down") that meads are a bit strange in many ways.

If you get them "right" (relative), then they can indeed start to ferment very quickly, also the ferment can complete quickly too. Yet I suspect it's because we presume that all that fermentable sugar should make it go quickly, whereas, in truth, of the necessary criteria for that too happen, it only needs something to be slightly off and we see slow ferments, or longer than expected lag phases, or even for those who've made other stuff before, little or no foaming etc.

So good on yer for getting them underway, but there's a number of things that might cause them to run slower than you'd hope.

Oh and welcome to the forums.

Grimm312
02-17-2013, 07:31 AM
Yeah, I get pretty impatient with things like this.

fatbloke
02-17-2013, 07:58 AM
Ah then you have to learn some. Mead makings a bitch for the impatient.....

There's a few ways to get round some of that but not waiting for fruit to drop or ageing.

You just end up saying WTF and starting another batch :rolleyes::cool:

And its not such a bad idea if you've got some place to put it out of regular sight, that can help some.....

Grimm312
02-17-2013, 08:05 AM
I'm lucky in that respect, my father homebrews beer and has a fridge set up to put his fermenter in (fridge has a thermostat and a heat lamp), so I can stick them in there. Trouble is, there's only room for maybe 2 more ...

Grimm312
02-17-2013, 09:53 AM
Alright, all my mates have found out and they want a taste. I intend to keep some to age, but I'd say most of it will be gone pretty much as soon as it's ready, so I don't think 2 gallons is enough. So I might make another one. I'm thinking an Apple and Cinnamon variant of JOA. I'll be making another gallon, and looking for a nice balanced flavour, with no element in particular dominating.

I'm thinking 2 apples, peeled and cored, and a stick of cinnamon. What type, or colour even, apples would be best suited to this? I'm led to believe the bitterness from the orange peel is what balances out a JOAM, so that makes me think perhaps some green ones? But then, I've always preferred red apples ...

Any other thoughts?

Chevette Girl
02-17-2013, 11:53 AM
I've had good luck with ornamental crabapples (which are really pucker-powered) so I'd suggest you go with the tartest apples you can find, my initial suggestion would be Granny Smiths. And don't bother peeling or coring, just scrub them well and chop them up small enough to fit into your fermenter.

And if your friends are perpetually thirsty, get them to buy you the honey for a 5-gal batch of JAO, it scales up just fine!

Grimm312
02-17-2013, 07:59 PM
Thanks Chevette Girl, Granny Smiths it is. Which is good, because they're super easy to come by.

And I'll wait and see if they like it before I commit to 5 gallon batches. For now a gallon at a time suits me just fine.

EDIT: Just checked, I've got the room, so I'm gonna do a spiced mead based on the JOA recipe as well. I need more space ...

Chevette Girl
02-18-2013, 12:44 AM
I need more space ...

...a common refrain...

Grimm312
02-18-2013, 03:28 AM
I've made up the musts, just waiting for them to cool to add the yeast.

The apple and cinnamon seems to be a very popular idea, everyone seems very interested in it.

kudapucat
02-18-2013, 06:31 AM
...a common refrain...

...and yet refrain we do not...

TheAlchemist
02-18-2013, 10:01 PM
...a common refrain...

I need more carboys...

Grimm312
02-19-2013, 01:19 AM
For now I'm using the plastic bottles the water comes in. They're $4, 4L (perfect for a 1 gallon batch), and I can use natural spring water instead of tap water. Although I'd have no problem using tap water, and only buy the bottled water for the bottles.

If I get really serious I'll invest in some proper kit. I'm thinking a homebrew beer fermenter (23-24L, or 5 gallons, iirc) and some carboy's.

Or maybe I won't. At the moment I like the idea of doing multiple gallon batches instead of less bigger batches. I'll probably eventually set up a fridge like my old man (not running, but has a thermostat and a heat lamp) and the 4L bottles will definitely be easier to manage. If this is the case I'll probably end up getting some 1 gallon carboys (do such a thing exist) and reusing them, instead of using the plastic bottles. I've already accidentally warped one by putting water that was a bit too hot in it ...

But back on track, I topped up the Spiced, and Apple and Cinnamon (everyone seems to like the idea of this one), batches this arvo after adding the yeasts last night. The balloon's I have working as airlocks are inflated, and they're fizzing away nicely.

Oddly, the Apple and Cinnamon one went faster than the Spiced one (the same as the "plain" one I made, but with spices added), whereas the Plain one went faster than the JOAM. This is a little perplexing. I've been doing some reading, and I would think that either the more plain ones would go quicker (because the have a lower SG?) or the fruit ones would go quicker (more nutrients for the yeast from the fruit), but not one of each. S'pose it doesn't matter, as long as they're fizzing away happily? once they get going?

Soyala_Amaya
02-21-2013, 11:36 PM
Yes, 1 gal carboys exist. I often use them because I usually make my recipes at 5.5 or 6 gal amounts, rack out of the bucket into the main carboy, then the leftover into the little one and keep it as a top off mead for subsequent rackings. It's nice and simple, keeps the flavour true, and doesn't dilute your mead like water or juice would.

Grimm312
02-21-2013, 11:46 PM
Yeah, I managed to find some on the internet. There's plenty of other 1 gallon glass vessels around, jugs and stuff.

Now I'm thinking maybe some 3 gallon BetterBottles. I like the idea of having a tap on the side, to make for easy racking/bottling. Then again this morning I was thinking I'll just keep using the bottles the water comes in like I am now. They're 4L, and I won't have to worry about cleaning them between batches. I'm also wondering about how I'd get the fruit out of a JOAM, or something like the Apple and Cinnamon variant. As it is, I can just chuck it away.

fatbloke
02-22-2013, 01:23 AM
Now see if you are methodical about your meads and measure/document carefully there's no reason not to make smaller batches. You can easily repeat them.....

Once the fruit has been in a JAO for a couple of months and sunk etc, it usually comes out the carboy/jug/demi-john/whatever quite easily with just a good shake or an unbent wire coat hanger.

Yet just using the water bottles should be fine if they're made from P.E.T. personally I dont like to use fermenters with taps on the side as its yet another mechanism that needs sanitising/can hold spoilage organsims/leak. Racking with a siphon cane is just as controllable.....

A 5 or 6 gallon bucket is fine for smaller batches during the primary ferment as any air space is irrelevant at that stage its only afterwards that you need to remove air space but even that can be sorted by a blanket of CO2 after youve done anything that needs doing.....

Many ways/methods etc. You can only become unstuck with smaller batches in smaller fermenters really ifnyou try to "push the envelope" too far (stupidly large amounts of honey, vvv high starting gravity, etc etc).

Grimm312
02-22-2013, 01:56 AM
That's a good point about the documentation, fatbloke. For now though I'm super keen on trying as many different types and variations of mead as I can, so the smaller batches seem to be easier to manage and lower risk. And like I said, I can have variety straight away.

And a good point about the tap's as well, I hadn't considered that.

Actually, now that I think about it, once I have a stockpile of aged (current plans are to put half away as soon as they're bottled, and drink/share the rest) meads to drink while I wait I'll probably start making bigger batches. By then I should have a pretty good idea of what I like, and be a bit more skilled/knowledgeable and be able to predict the results of new recipes better.

But this is ages away. Just thinking out loud at the moment.

Cal
02-22-2013, 08:29 AM
I keep a brew journal that has my recipe along with notes of what I did so in future batches I can modify/correct things I have done.

And I hear y'all on needing more space. My cabinet is full up can only fit one more 1 gallon carboy :(

Soyala_Amaya
02-22-2013, 10:07 AM
Actually, now that I think about it, once I have a stockpile of aged (current plans are to put half away as soon as they're bottled, and drink/share the rest) meads to drink while I wait I'll probably start making bigger batches. By then I should have a pretty good idea of what I like, and be a bit more skilled/knowledgeable and be able to predict the results of new recipes better.


This right here is actually why most people at least graduate up to 3 gallon batches. It's hard to think about when you first start, but a 5 gallon batch makes roughly 25 wine bottles or 48 beer bottles. Since you're doing imperial 4 liters instead of american 1 gallons, you'll get a LITTLE more, but call it an extra beer bottle here or there if you're super careful about racking off the lees.

So you now have either 5 wine bottles or 9-10 beer bottles of a finished product. You want to drink one, you want to share one, you want to save at least two, maybe three...oh crap, you're out of mead!

And it is a sad sad world to be out of mead. :confused2:

Marshmallow Blue
02-22-2013, 04:31 PM
My system is just now rolling into place, and it seems to be a good one once it gets rolling. I can afford to do about a gallon a month at the moment.

I have 4 one gallon carboys and everything is on a rolling 4 month schedule so that as one batch of 8 or 9 beer bottles gets bottled. I drink about one beer bottle (of mead) in a week (3-4 glasses) and I share one with co-workers for their opinions. I try to make them be as honest as possible. so it leaves me with 3-4 extra bottles by the time the next batch finishes which allows for more aging and as the months go by ill be able to age these out a lot longer without needing to drink them for being the only mead in the apartment.

When I get a house and a raise Ill probably move up to a 3 gallon rolling schedule with reserved 1 gal carboys for experimenting and meads that I want to age much longer. I know in the beginning ill be drinking a lot of green mead but it will catch up and should be a nice system.

Grimm312
02-22-2013, 11:05 PM
This right here is actually why most people at least graduate up to 3 gallon batches. It's hard to think about when you first start, but a 5 gallon batch makes roughly 25 wine bottles or 48 beer bottles. Since you're doing imperial 4 liters instead of american 1 gallons, you'll get a LITTLE more, but call it an extra beer bottle here or there if you're super careful about racking off the lees.

So you now have either 5 wine bottles or 9-10 beer bottles of a finished product. You want to drink one, you want to share one, you want to save at least two, maybe three...oh crap, you're out of mead!

And it is a sad sad world to be out of mead. :confused2:

Ahh, but I have 4 batches going, but I'm only counting on 3.5L (probably a bit conservative, but I'd rather end up with more than I expect than less) from each (to account for lees and the fruit). I have 750ml bottles, so I am expecting 4.66 bottles worth (that last ~half of a bottle will have to be drank straight away, to sample the product. Obviously). So I'll end up with 16 bottles, 4 from each batch.

Half will go away for aging, leaving me 8 bottles to drink with my family and friends. And considering that a JOAM only takes about 8 weeks, I don't think that's too bad. For now at least.


I keep a brew journal that has my recipe along with notes of what I did so in future batches I can modify/correct things I have done.

And I hear y'all on needing more space. My cabinet is full up can only fit one more 1 gallon carboy :(

Yeah, I'm doing this as well.

xopher425
02-22-2013, 11:38 PM
I get apple juice form Whole Foods in one gallon bottles for $8. The first two I used in my virginal cyser, and this last one I'll drink the juice, then make a small batch in it. Since 1g carboys cost about $6, I'm getting my juice for just 2 bucks!

I was going to start with one gallon batches, but quickly encountered the bottle/gallon math and the fact that I'd probably drink/give it all away, then I'd have none! My cyser is two gallons (a bit better), and my melomel is 3 g. I'm thinking of getting a 5 or 6 g carboy Monday, just, as usual, not sure where to put it . . . .

Thanks, fatbloke, I was wondering about the fruit in a carboy. I did my 3 g melomel in my 5 g bucket.

Chevette Girl
02-23-2013, 02:26 AM
I really like the 3 gallon size, it's not so imposing at bottling time to move it around OR to get that many bottles cleaned, and it does give you enough to put some away for later. When I've done 1 gal batches I wanted to share around or savour or whatever, I've bottled them in the little 375 ml bottles, it seems to go further that way...

And as for fruit in a carboy, I really like using 1 gal wide mouth glass pickle jars for anything where I'm using fruit in primary, they're what I use for most of my JAO's these days. Any other batches involving fruit get made in a bucket with the fruit in a bag...

fatbloke
02-23-2013, 03:48 AM
I really like the 3 gallon size, it's not so imposing at bottling time to move it around OR to get that many bottles cleaned, and it does give you enough to put some away for later. When I've done 1 gal batches I wanted to share around or savour or whatever, I've bottled them in the little 375 ml bottles, it seems to go further that way...

And as for fruit in a carboy, I really like using 1 gal wide mouth glass pickle jars for anything where I'm using fruit in primary, they're what I use for most of my JAO's these days. Any other batches involving fruit get made in a bucket with the fruit in a bag...which I agree with because it can be worse in imperial gallons..... yet it seems that getting 375's is harder here, not impossible but they are harder to find. So it'd usually mean that it's easier to use beer bottles for smaller amounts.....just a "local market" type problem I suppose.

With the pickle jars, they can be used but I try to keep my home brew away from anything that has held vinegar in any form because the caps/lids are generally unusable as the vinegar seems to penetrate the metal and seals however many times they're washed/sanitised I can still smell it so it'd be impractical to drill the lid for an airlock bung, so currently I use buckets mainly for fruit batches but have been thinking about whether to get a couple of the wide mouthed carboys that are listed on the brouwland website as I believe they do caps/lids for them so they should be convertible to take an airlock bung (well I'd have thought so) and have easy access to punch down a cap of fruit or for easy aerating etc etc

Cal
02-23-2013, 12:57 PM
I really like the 3 gallon size, it's not so imposing at bottling time to move it around OR to get that many bottles cleaned, and it does give you enough to put some away for later. When I've done 1 gal batches I wanted to share around or savour or whatever, I've bottled them in the little 375 ml bottles, it seems to go further that way...

And as for fruit in a carboy, I really like using 1 gal wide mouth glass pickle jars for anything where I'm using fruit in primary, they're what I use for most of my JAO's these days. Any other batches involving fruit get made in a bucket with the fruit in a bag...


What do you use for an airlock with the pickle jars? Also thanks for the bucket tip. I have a 2 gallon bucekt with fruit in a bag right now. Waaaaay easier to maintain.

Chevette Girl
02-23-2013, 08:14 PM
What do you use for an airlock with the pickle jars?

Triple-ply plastic wrap and an elastic band :)

Grimm312
02-23-2013, 11:45 PM
So, it's been a week, and they're fizzing along happily, and the air locks (balloons with pinholes in them) are still nicely inflated.

I have just one question though, about the Apple and Cinnamon variant. The Apple pieces are still on top, but there's some that isn't submerged in the must. Should I top it up a bit (it's not quite filled to the full 4L), give it a stir to rotate the pieces around, or leave it as it is? I'd think if the pieces aren't submerged there's no point in having them there at all, and I won't get any flavor from them.

kudapucat
02-24-2013, 06:27 AM
You can swirl it if you like, but keep the airlock on tight.
The alcohol will get in via osmosis, but I do like to swirl mine. Never done an apple though.