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TheGiantGinger
03-17-2013, 10:00 AM
Hello all,
Since mid last year, I don't remember how exactly, but I got it in my head that I wanted to try making mead. As it happens, my now brother-in-law works in a micro-brewery and decided to make some with me. Raw honey, water and some liquid yeast is all we used and it turned out fantastically. Now I've started trying it on my own, first with a batch of JOAM, a raspberry mead, a plumb mead and I also found a 2L glass bottle of cider that I'm trying to do something with. Now one thing to mention is that I normally raging perfectionist... but I'm doing my best to curb that by just doing a lot of things rather than wait until I meet the perfect conditions (which almost never come)... so I've done things like buying packaged (though pure) honey rather than raw (There's also a honey shortage happening at the moment, so I'd have to import large quantities of honey interstate if I wanted it)... not precisely measured the amount of tap water used (Melbourne water is quite good though) and used a different strain of yeast than suggested at times.

My questions relate to some particularly high readings I've received when measuring my SG readings for the raspberry mead and the plumb mead (did not take a reading for the JOAM or the cider). The other is to do with the yeast I'm using... you see, I live in Melbourne Australia and finding the Lalvin D47 yeast that seems to be recommended everywhere was tricky. I did find one place sold it... however upon arriving there, I found they only sold 500g packets... enough for a few lifetimes. Resisting the urge to continue a massive search for the D47, I took the shop keep's suggest of the Lalvin EC1118 (only a 100g packet)... which I now know is quite an aggressive yeast.

So can I get some advice on whether my SG readings are likely to be way out (have I done something wrong)? And should I be desperately trying to stop the fermentation anytime soon?

Raspberry Mead (5L batch)
2.1 kg Wildflower honey
700g Frozen Rasberries, mashed
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lime
3 tbsp of strong black tea
25 raisins
1 tsp Lavlin EC1118
SG reading: 1.198

Plumb mead
1.7 kg Wildflower honey
700g Black plumbs (quartered, frozen then mashed a little)
25 raisins
3 tbsp strong black tea
1 tsp Lavlin EC1118
SG reading: 1.121

These are both higher than what the calculator has said... though I haven't filled the demijohn all the way up... left a couple of inches or so.

Also, the cider is something along the lines of:
1.75L Pure apple juice
200g honey
1 Cinnamon stick
A slice of lemon peel
10 raisins

So just re-iterating... are my SG readings ok? And are these all just going to turn out as rocket fuel if I don't do something soon? Thanks.

Chevette Girl
03-17-2013, 12:30 PM
Welcome to the addictio- er, hobby! ;D

I suspect that the recipes you're following may have some conversion errors between US and UK gallons perhaps? As long as it reads 1.000 in room-temp tap water, trust your hydrometer over the mead calculator. And yes, not filling up to the top will cause your readings to be a little higher than the calculator says, but 1.198 is a bit extreme.

EC-1118 is a beast and should be able to deal with your plum mead but I think even it will have some problems with your raspberry must starting at 1.198, that's pretty high and I'd recommend you dilute it down to 1.130 or lower if you want a complete fermentation, what you've got there will finish syrupy sweet, if the yeast can even get started at all (with that much sugar in solution, osmotic pressure will be sucking moisture out of the yeast cells).

If you made your JAO according to directions, its SG was probably somewhere around 1.125, similar to your plum mead. Other folks start musts higher than that, but it's usually my upper limit for what I'll put my yeast through, if I want to push the tolerance or have it finish sweet, I add more honey at the end. Generally unless I'm making a JAO I try to keep the honey amount down under 1.75 kg in 4 litres (less if there's fruit also likely to be contributing suars to the must)...

Next time at your brew store, see what else they've got in the way of yeasts. EC is known to be pretty vigorous and you'll never feel dumb for having some on hand to restart stuck fermentations, but some folks find it's so violent that it blows half the flavour out the airlock. That said, it's what I used myself for years and years until I got here and discovered that there were other things!! And I think my early stuff didn't suffer from my yeast selection (although I'm sure it suffered from other things I did!)

K1V-1116 is almost as high-tolerance as EC, can withstand some pretty high temperatures without creating off flavours (dunno what your summers are like but ours can be pretty brutal without AC), it's OK to let it sit on the lees if you forget to rack it, and it's a little gentler on your must so it would be a good addition to your brewing cabinet... 71B is also pretty good as long as you don't leave it on the lees. RC-212 is awesome for dark fruity meads but not for a show mead, you have to feed it plenty of nutrients and energizer or it gets stinky...

And about stopping your fermentation? Good luck with that :) Yeast are funny creatures and usually only quit when you don't want them to. If you're seriously going to try, you'll want to cold-crash (refrigerate) for a couple days till everything's settled out, rack the clear stuff into a new demijohn, and add stabilizers (if it's not covered in the Newbee Guide, check out the glossary or do a forum search on stabilization, stabilizers etc), and hope like heck that it worked...

kudapucat
03-17-2013, 05:24 PM
Where abouts are you?
The only place I know in Melbourne that sells D47 in 500g packs is winequip, just down the road from me.
I buy it in those quantities ;-)
I have it vac-packed off into smaller amounts. If you want some, we could do a deal, it's about $10/100g
I also have some EC-1118 I think and just bought some 71B so I definitely could spare some.

kudapucat
03-17-2013, 05:30 PM
Nope sorry I have K1V-1116 not EC-1118.

I agree with CG, 1.198 is a bit high.
EC-1118 will handle 18% which is roughly a 0.130 drop.
70 points of residual will be sickly indeed. The EC-1118 may even clap out earlier making it sweeter.
Water it down a touch.
I know plenty of JAO that start at 1.140, but my hydrometer won't even read above 1.120 so I tend to use that as a guide.

TheGiantGinger
03-18-2013, 03:02 AM
Thank you both for you replies!


I know plenty of JAO that start at 1.140, but my hydrometer won't even read above 1.120 so I tend to use that as a guide.

Ok... so as it turns out... my hydrometer won't read above 1.120 either. In that case my raspberry mead is most likely only at 1.119 and the plumb... possibly at 1.112


And about stopping your fermentation? Good luck with that Yeast are funny creatures and usually only quit when you don't want them to. If you're seriously going to try, you'll want to cold-crash (refrigerate) for a couple days till everything's settled out, rack the clear stuff into a new demijohn, and add stabilizers (if it's not covered in the Newbee Guide, check out the glossary or do a forum search on stabilization, stabilizers etc), and hope like heck that it worked...

I've had some experience with that just recently actually. Made ten pizza bases from scratch for a house warming and decided to put them in the fridge so they didn't keep growing.... yeah they kept growing and went EVERYWHERE.

But anyway... so both these meads are now likely to be eaten dry by the yeasts (both meads are bubbling away happily now btw). Putting the demijohns in the fridge to cold crash them is out of the question unfortunately... we barely have enough space as it is. So my understanding would be that it's best to just let the yeasts do their thing and when they've stopped, check to see if it's too dry... and if it is, rack the meads onto potassium sorbate and Campden tablets, wait... and then back sweeten until I'm happy with the result. Is that about right?


Where abouts are you?
The only place I know in Melbourne that sells D47 in 500g packs is winequip, just down the road from me.
I buy it in those quantities ;-)
I have it vac-packed off into smaller amounts. If you want some, we could do a deal, it's about $10/100g
I also have some EC-1118 I think and just bought some 71B so I definitely could spare some.

Yep, winequip is where I went too. I've just moved into Ivanhoe... so 'just down the road' from winequip is more than close enough for me! I'll PM you my details because I'd be more than happy to work something out like that!

kudapucat
03-18-2013, 03:25 AM
Yeah, just let it be now and see what happens.
I've got a bottle of JAOv set aside for you so you've got an idea of what you're expecting.