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View Full Version : First mead ever keen for your thoughts...



NZMatt
03-19-2013, 04:55 AM
Hiya first post here, thanks in advance for your thoughts.
Been keeping bees at a hobby level (four hives at the moment) for four years now, thought it was about time I had a go at a brew. Hail from Auckland, New Zealand. Howdy y'all. Or gidday mate.

Just keen for your thoughts and advice to make sure I'm going in the right direction. Feel free to pick holes in my naivety.
23 liter batch (6 US Gallons)
6 Liters honey made to 23 L OG 1.100. No easy way of weighing the honey but assume its 1.4kgs/L so 18.5 lbs.
Added to this, which I boiled for 15 minutes first,
juice and zest of 4 oranges
zest of 4 lemons
4 handfuls of raisins
2 cinnamon quills
2 vanilla pod chopped up/ slit.
5 tablespoons of fast acting bread yeast
2 whole cloves

Pitched Gervin GV5 wine yeast Thursday last week (5 days back now)
Added vintners harvest wine nutes, 6 TSP all up staggered, final dose at 1.06.

I initially thought the bread yeast and raisins would be enough but after some advice from here and there I decided to add the nutes as well.

Stirred to aerate and degas twice/day until 1.06 then stirred to degas only, twice/day till now.
Have just bought a racking cane/23l glass carboy + K metabisulphate, K sorbate and a 100ml bottle of isinglass finings today.
SGs as follows - this is QUICK (I suspect)
OG 1.100
36 hrs 1.08
48hrs 1.06
72 hrs 1.03
Day 4 1.02
Day 5 (tonight) 1.004

Am a bit concerned re the speed of this ferment as I believe if it brews too fast you can end up with petrol flavors and a loong aging process. We are at the end of summer, daytime temps 23C nighttime 14C.

At this rate it will be finished by tomorrow or thursday night! I suspect it will ferment dry as it is a wine yeast and 1.1 to 1.0 gives 13.3% ABV.
I have been told that honey has some longer sugars which the yeast will not touch, so sweetness will be retained despite fermenting dry. I suspect this is BS from looking around the forums?
I cant really taste the vanilla/cloves/cinnamon in the must so will add the same quantities as above to the secondary vessel prior to racking, as well as some more lemon zest and maybe juice this time. Didnt add lemon juice in the primary as was afraid pH would go too low. Don't have pH testing capability.

I would like a medium drink so plan is to stabilize on racking with the K met and K sorbate, then add honey/water to back sweeten to taste and to top off carboy. Once it has cleared up I may or may not add the isinglass. At this stage I will cap the carboy and check for pressure every week or so, depending of course if there is fermenting going on still.
I have 2 dozen 1L swing top bottles that I will bottle age in once its all cleared up (I wanna brew something else now!), lees have stopped falling and fermentation has stopped.

Once again, would appreciate some expert advice and or reassurance. ;)

fatbloke
03-19-2013, 04:58 PM
Well, not a bad effort for a first go, some ?'s though......

Why boil the honey and water ?

Bread yeast and the Gervin yeast ?

Speed of ferment is no guarantee of off or other negative flavours, well nourished and balanced brews can ferment quite quickly, so what's to worry about ?

Have you thought about how long you're intending aging this lot ?

I'm a lazy git, so I routinely do my stabilising, then after a day or so just to make sure that the chems have had a chance to do their thing, I then back sweeten, because honey or honey/water mix can cause hazing in an already cleared batch and I don't like having to clear a batch a second time, so have you thought about that ?

I make 100 point drop equating to 13.58% ABV, so your numbers aren't far out, but it may depend on the yeast as to whether it goes lower. It will likely finish dry and also have some "alcohol hot" taste to it initially. That mellows with aging.

You'd have to do a bit of digging to find out the temperature range for the yeast as to whether there's any likely issue with that, but it doesn't sound too far off the norm given your day/night temps. Though it may be worth seeing if you can compare the yeast strain to anything from Lalvin. There are a few that do carry caveats, though generally nothing serious......

Finally, if you do just say WTF and back sweeten before it's cleared, you can indeed just hit it with finings, so you've got something in bottles and it can do the aging thing. A final/finished gravity for medium would be something like the 1.010 to 1.015 range, but if you do the back sweetening in increments, taking a gravity reading and then a little taste, to get the numbers but also have an idea of the level of sweetness at that number/level, you shouldn't be far off.

There are a few Kiwi's hereabout, as well as some Aussies, a few of my lot, as well as a few from other locations (not forgetting the chaps/chapesses from home of the great satan ;) ).

Sounds like you've already done plenty of reading, but if you haven't already, then the NewBee guide linked in the left hand yellow dialogue/links box is worth the time. Oh and it's also worth while making a batch of JAO too, a benchmark batch or as close as you can get. It's a good recipe IMO, that's easy and straight forward.

And of course, welcome to the forums......

NZMatt
03-19-2013, 05:23 PM
Hiya Fatbloke thanks for your reply :-).
I only boiled the additives not the honey /water. That was to kill the bread yeast and any nasties that may have been on the fruit/spices. Just found out will likely need to add pectinase because of the boil. Bread yeast was for nutrients.
Have a bit more honey so will give the JAOM a go soon too once the fermenter is free.
GV5 will ferment down to 8 degrees C can't find the upper alcohol tolerance anywhere but it is a (French) wine yeast so I should be fine.
Will save the isinglass until I have back sweetened thanks. Will stabilize and rack when I get home from work tonight.
Have read the noobies guide.
Thanks again,
Matt

NZMatt
03-19-2013, 05:27 PM
To add I'm thinking of ageing 6 to 12 months but as it's my first batch I don't know if I can leave it alone for that long. Last night there was a bubble every 5 second, this am nothing so will take an sg tonight and likely rack it.
Thanks again.

PitBull
03-21-2013, 10:14 AM
To add I'm thinking of ageing 6 to 12 months but as it's my first batch I don't know if I can leave it alone for that long. Last night there was a bubble every 5 second, this am nothing so will take an sg tonight and likely rack it.
Thanks again.
I highly recommend at least half-a-dozen to a dozen 12-ounce beer bottles when you're ready to bottle. That way you can sample your mead monthly to see how it improves with aging with out having to open a standard 750 ml (25.4 oz.) bottle. Your stock will last much longer that way and it's really a great educational experience. I'd also recommend taking notes on each sampling and/or adding them to your brew log.

With a 6-gallon batch, if you use 12 beer bottles at one/month, you will still have 24 regular bottles at the end of one year. Along the way you can decide when (and if) it's time to crack open a full bottle.

Marshmallow Blue
03-21-2013, 10:45 AM
I'm at the point now where I'm bottling one gallon every month. Since I only have 1 gallon batches, I use only 12oz bottles. I open one per week so the ones I don't get to by the time the next one is bottled can continue to age.

smertz001
03-22-2013, 07:46 AM
So far, I have bottled one batch. And it's currently in 375ml wine bottles. Good enough for two glasses and looks pretty. I used the mushroom corks with plastic tops, so they do have a time limit on them (about 1 year) so I have to drink them all by December. But since I will have some more getting bottled soon, that shouldn't be a problem.

I look forward to having enough on hand to have a bottle a week at least! To go with my bottle a day of home brew beer. *hic*

Soyala_Amaya
03-22-2013, 08:57 AM
Wow I don't think I ever planned my bottles this far out, lol. My first mead was a 3 gallon I split into three 1 gallons...and was depressed when they only produced a handful of bottles each. Ever since then 1 gal batch means highly experimental (garlic, hops, fortified, so on), 3 gal is as small as I go (and depending on the batch even that seems depressing sometimes!).

Now my plans are just "Do I have enough money to call the apiary for another pail of honey yet?" and that determines how much I'm making at any one point in time! Before I had to take a break for my move, I had between 70 and 80 gallons in various stages of ferment and aging? Hoping to get back up to that pretty quick once the move is over, it's the only way I've found to keep a backlog of bottles long enough for decent 2+ year aging.

Marshmallow Blue
03-22-2013, 09:11 AM
To go with my bottle a day of home brew beer. *hic*

A Bomber a Day keeps the liver at bay!

Medsen Fey
03-22-2013, 10:40 AM
I used the mushroom corks with plastic tops, so they do have a time limit on them (about 1 year) so I have to drink them all by December.



You might be surprised. Meads can be much less susceptible to oxidation than wine. Depending on your recipe, your mead under T-cork could last much longer than a year.

stagnant waters
03-23-2013, 09:37 PM
I had between 70 and 80 gallons in various stages of ferment and aging.

I'm jealous! I have one little closet to store 10 gallons. Your right about the 1 gal batches though, by the time you rack them you've lost 20% of your mead. Doesn't seem to pay to do less than a 3 gallon batch.