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Swordnut
03-26-2013, 06:08 PM
This is my very first batch. I was interested in making mead after drinking the stuff and discovering that the essence of making mead is very simple. I'm also a complete nutter when it comes to cleanliness and the importance of being clean when brewing just appeals to me.

So, as to start off my home brewing hobby I have chosen to go for a basic mead, only honey and water, basic baker's yeast and dextrose as a nutrient. Each batch is only 2 liters.

My recipe
900gr. Honey
1100ml. Water
50gr. Dextrose

I used baker's yeast, the first batch being 10gr, the second 7gr. and the last one 14gr. The reason for the difference is that I heard about the 'bread taste' this hyperfermenter can cause so I have adopted an experimental approach as to how much yeast I should pitch.

For each batch I have heated the must for 15 minutes at 75C. It then got a cold bath until the must was 21C. The must was then poured into a 2L plastic jugs. The yeast was dissolved into a small amount of cooked and then cooled down to 21C water and then pitched. Finally I added 50gr. of pure Dextrose.

As an airlock I use a balloon with a single needle puncture.

After 3 weeks I assessed the first batch and concluded fermentation had slowed down to where I heard no more hissing and saw no more bubbles rising. I racked it into a new 2L plastic jar and let it ferment for 2 more weeks. The new balloon did not rise anymore despite for a week of very faint renewed hissing. I then racked it once more into a new jar, added 1 complete dried egg shell powdered to dust and placed it into the refrigerator to stop any left over fermentation for 1 week.

At this point I could bottle it and decided to sample my mead.

Assessment of the first batch

Visual
It is quite clear and dark in color. I can see through it but not read letters. I am unsure if this is because of a lack of clarity of its dark color. I cannot see any moving or suspended particles. The mead seems to be clear yet dark, almost as dark as the initial undiluted honey I used.

The lees is very firm and does not easily stir up when the flask is carried or tipped lightly.

Smell
The mead has an alcohol smell which reminds me of white wine. The mead smells clean, no sourness or any off smell. There is a very vague hint of honey in the smell but only if you clear your nose outside while keeping your hand on the glass to let the aroma collect.

Taste
Again, my mead tastes like a medium sweet white wine when initially taken in with a very, very light hint of honey. When swallowed it gives off a slightly sweeter after-taste still where one can 'just slightly more' detect the honey in there. The overall taste is sweeter than white wine. The taste is not objectionable at all, no alcohol heat or sting.

In my opinion, as a complete less-than-novice, I am pleased with the results seeing as it can already pass off as a good table wine. There was absolutely no hint of any bread taste or 'off taste'.

My question:
Is the taste I described acceptable as an outcome for young mead and a good basis to let it age into a good mead?

Grimm312
03-26-2013, 07:03 PM
I'm no expert yet, but that's a weird recipe. The dextrose is odd to me, as is the egg shells. That doesn't mean that I just don't know about them yet though.

The smell and taste seem to be spot-on, though.

Swordnut
03-26-2013, 07:07 PM
I'm no expert yet, but that's a weird recipe. The dextrose is odd to me, as is the egg shells. That doesn't mean that I just don't know about them yet though.

The smell and taste seem to be spot-on, though.

Thank you for your feedback.

The dextrose is just a yeast nutrient which seems to have done it's job very well. The eggshells were first boiled (and the egg deliciously eaten) and then dried in the oven at 180C for 10 minutes. This made the shells very brittle and obviously free of any germs. I then crushed the shells into a dust.

The shells, almost pure and agitated calcium, will float around a bit and pick up impurities before settling to the bottom. In short, it's a fining agent.

In a next batch I want to try and add them with primary fermentation so that the bubbling rises them up time after time, hopefully aiding in more clarity after racking.

akueck
03-26-2013, 07:20 PM
Dextrose is just sugar (it's a particular kind of glucose). Yeast will certainly eat it, but your honey contains a lot of glucose anyway.

I've heard of egg whites used as a fining agent, but the egg shell idea is new to me. They will probably dissolve a little into the mead, as mead is pretty acidic. Did they do a good job clearing the mead?

Swordnut
03-26-2013, 07:26 PM
Dextrose is just sugar (it's a particular kind of glucose). Yeast will certainly eat it, but your honey contains a lot of glucose anyway.

I've heard of egg whites used as a fining agent, but the egg shell idea is new to me. They will probably dissolve a little into the mead, as mead is pretty acidic. Did they do a good job clearing the mead?

I have actually no comparison so I couldn't tell you if it helped without a doubt. From what I heard and saw of how long mead without fining takes to clear, mine looks quite clear already (2 rackings, 1 week of refrigeration only as opposed to months of standing around).

I have 1 other batch nearly ready to be racked, I'll leave that without egg shells and see the difference. I am leaning towards; yes it does help though. I have heard of the egg white as well, which I shall be using on my last batch in a powdered form (I really dislike the idea of any other fauna getting in there other than the ones I put in myself).

Grimm312
03-26-2013, 07:28 PM
As akueck says, dextrose is just sugar, so would it not just add no real nutrition (in the way raisins, yeast hulls, Go-Ferm or a Fermaid would) and only contribute to the alcohol content?

And I'm curious to know more about these eggshells. I'm be pretty keen to have "chemical free" meads, and if they really work I might have just found a way to stop fermentation and clear them up, instead of being patient.

Swordnut
03-26-2013, 07:36 PM
As akueck says, dextrose is just sugar, so would it not just add no real nutrition (in the way raisins, yeast hulls, Go-Ferm or a Fermaid would) and only contribute to the alcohol content?

And I'm curious to know more about these eggshells. I'm be pretty keen to have "chemical free" meads, and if they really work I might have just found a way to stop fermentation and clear them up, instead of being patient.

That was exactly my intention as well. Calcium has a positive charge, whilst yeast has a negative charge. So the two attract each other. Since the egg shells are obviously heavier than mead they'll eventually settle to the bottom, having picked up dead yeast along the way. So scientifically it's a sound reasoning. I want to compare it to a batch without any fining to assess it's effectiveness at this process.

I read somewhere (I know, nice use of sources, sorry) that dextrose can be used as a nutrient for yeasts as a kick-start so I used that.

And yes I guess some of the calcium will be absorbed by the mead. I guess I made a mead which is good for the bones of growing children? :p

skunkboy
03-26-2013, 08:52 PM
As in regards to the darkness/color of the resulting mead, if you used a dark honey you will end up a with darker mead. Does the mead taste and aroma remind you of the honey that you used?

Sounds acceptable as a first mead to me, although you probably want to get it off of the lees rather then let it age on them for and extended period of time...

Swordnut
03-27-2013, 06:45 PM
As in regards to the darkness/color of the resulting mead, if you used a dark honey you will end up a with darker mead. Does the mead taste and aroma remind you of the honey that you used?

Sounds acceptable as a first mead to me, although you probably want to get it off of the lees rather then let it age on them for and extended period of time...


I have racked it and there's no lees now. Just nice, clear mead, still looking the way I described it. Now I'm considering bottling it and aging it in the bottle, it's only 2 liters anyway so it's not like I'll learn anything like bulk aging with these batches.

Now I need a good aging strategy. My small batches means I don't have a lot of mead to distribute over time as aged test samples.

Too be honest I think it's too soon to make the call if I can detect the taste of the honey I used. It's still too lightly flavored. Perhaps in a little while it'll make its presence more known.

Grimm312
03-27-2013, 09:01 PM
My plan, for now at least, is to make something that is finished and drinkable "quickly" every second batch. That way I still have stuff to drink, share and enjoy while I wait for the rest to age. I suppose it'll mostly be JAOMs and their variations.

I suspect there might be a little drop in quality, but it's a trade off, and it shouldn't be too big. JAOMs are very popular.

Swordnut
03-27-2013, 09:39 PM
I have just bottled my very first batch and sampled a full glass of it.

I must say, this is a very enjoyable drink indeed. If it's supposed to get even better while aging in the bottle I shall enjoy this hobby very much so. After a good sampling I have to revise my previous opinion a bit.

Visual
Lighter than before, near to the color of most commercial meads I have seen. Light golden, lighter than most honeys but not white. As for clarity, I think it is very clear already. Not transparent like commercial meads but I reckon a long bulk aging would have cleared it completely. There is no haze, only as if the glass were frosty from being cold without there actually being moisture on it; that is what the clarity of the mead looks like. No suspended particles left.

Smell
Same as before, very pleasant to smell with a very pronounced alcohol presence. I was very scared to smell that stale oxidized wine smell all the time but so far its smell is clear and like that of white wine, no overbearing presence, with a very small hint of honey sweetness in there.

Taste
The same as before except a stronger hint of honey when it touches the tip of the tongue. When it rolls back this taste first disappears a little and then reappears slightly stronger. A much more pronounced presence of honey lingers when swallowed. The honey hint seems to be stronger when small sips are taken.

As for personal taste, each sip invites another one with the lingering honey taste in the mouth.

It is not yet as full as the commercial ones I had, neither does the honey come out as strong when swallowed (mind you this is in light of my previous sampling). I hope that with aging, the white-wine taste becomes more subtle and the honey flavor after swallowing more pronounced. If that happens, I can die a happy man (after many many many years of drinking my meads of course)

Medsen Fey
03-27-2013, 11:27 PM
Just a couple of comments.

As pointed out already dextrose is just corn sugar, not a nutrient in the way we use the term.

Egg shells are calcium carbonate and don't really act as a direct fining agent. The calcium carbonate dissolves and the calcium may bind and precipitate a few fatty acids, but you'll be raising the pH which can make meads taste flabby or cloying.

If you bottled it while there is haze, you're going to get a ton of sediment in your bottles eventually - again, time is your best fining agent.

I'm not sure what your starting and final gravity numbers are, but without nutrients (a nitrogen source) there's a good chance your yeast did not go to completion. If that's the case you have the potential for bottle bombs if they warm up. Please exercise caution.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

NZMatt
03-28-2013, 12:59 AM
My two weak old mead tastes like a cross between sick, orange juice and petrol. Still quite cloudy but by the amount of lees that are still settling, hopefully not for long. Kinda see through at the top of the carboy already. OG 1.1 FG 0.995. No finings added yet.
Gonna start getting into brewing some nice beers until the next honey flow in 8 months or so....

Swordnut
04-08-2013, 03:58 PM
Update!

And a nice update as well. After bottling my said batch and storing it, it has cleared up completely after only a day or 3, 4. :D I've taken Medsen advise however and replaced the cap with a balloon when it was still a tiny bit hazy to avoid the bottle bomb.

It has however now cleared up to commercial mead clarity. I wanted to share this earlier but had to earn some money first :p There is a tiny bit of sediment at the bottom now which I will rack off in the near future after which the cap will reapplied and left to age for a good time.

I'll provide pictures as soon as I can of the mead in its bottle.

I don't know what caused this rapid clearing of the mead; whether it is the egg shell powder as a fining agent or the week long refrigeration at near 0 degrees Celsius..., or both. Either way from what I read this is a very fast clearing indeed without the use of any specialized products.

Grimm312
04-08-2013, 09:17 PM
I'd guess it was the refrigeration rather than the egg shells.

Chevette Girl
04-08-2013, 09:35 PM
I second Grimm on the refrigeration being the likely reason for the clearing :)

Also, further to what Medsen said about eggshells raising your pH and his warning about bottle bombs, if you add those at the end of a fermentation that stopped because it got too acidic (as some meads do) just adding the eggshells could potentially drop the pH enough to start fermentation up again even after refrigeration.

Something that's mentioned a lot on this forum but I didn't see on this thread, age can bring the honey taste and aroma back to a young mead that doesn't really taste like the honey you used. The magic number is usually between 6 months and a year of aging.

And of course you've got me curious as to where you're from, posting all metric and stuff ;D

Swordnut
04-12-2013, 09:23 PM
xD I'm from Holland :p

I'll try two batches without egg shells but the same refrigeration routine as the first one and compare results. One batch has less initial yeast and one has more so I should be able to get a reasonable judgement from it.

Anyway, I have a new larger 10 litre batch going right now as well. Same recipe except I added 100gr. of raisins as nutrients. A bit more than the usual 20 to 25 from other recipe's I've read but those list a lot of other nutrients to be added as well.

How will raisins affect the taste btw?

P.S. Racking has already become my least favourite job.
P.P.S. Except for the part where I can sample a bit.

Swordnut
04-20-2013, 03:49 PM
Final batches, 4 liter together (about 1 gallon) is undergoing its final day of cold crashing. I don't have any bottles yet but that's OK, I found I get the best clarity to rack them again after a few days of warming back up again. They come out of the fridge with a very slight haze, which clears up with a minimal deposit in 2 to 3 days.

Now comes the Long Wait. D:

Chevette Girl
04-27-2013, 06:25 PM
Your mileage may vary, but I haven't found that I can taste the raisins as raisins when I use them, even at 1 lb per gallon, it just gives a bit of mouthfeel to an otherwise thin wine. Even the raisin sherry I made with 8 lb of raisins in a gallon doesn't taste raisin-y to me, I don't like raisins to begin with, it just tastes a little bit like oxidation (sherry!), which I don't mind.