PDA

View Full Version : Today is mead day at our home



Frnic
04-18-2013, 08:54 AM
A little background first to put our story into perspective.

My DW and I recently retired from California and moved to a few acres in Northern Florida. In planning what we want to do on our land in the country we decided to have Goats, Chickens, Honey Bees and a garden. The garden is in, the chicken coup and chickens are done, and the bees will be ready for us to pick up in a couple weeks.

In planning how much honey we expect to get from the hive and what we are going to do with it, DW found out about Mead and suggested it would save us some money if we made our own instead of buying wine. (We like to have a glass of wine each night while watching a movie and relaxing after a day working in the garden.)

We live in a small town and could not find any Mead to try, and neither of us had ever tasted any - so, we went to the local liquor store and ordered a case. They got in a case of Bea's Sweet - Honey Wine from Germany and we love it! It is light clean simple and slightly sweet (to us) and is great for sitting and sipping at night!

In searching the internet I ran across this site and began reading everything I could find here about making mead and it appears a simple Honey, water and yeast Mead should cost us about $4 per 750 ml bottle to make if we buy the honey at 2 1/2 lbs for $10 (ignoring startup expenses and time). Bea's costs us $12 per 750 ml bottle - so, that is a nice savings even with us buying the honey while we wait for our hive to be producing. Once we have our own honey the price will be harder to calculate - :)

We have never made anything like this so it is all new to us.

I started yesterday by running a simple experiment to see if I could get some fermentation started. I took a cup of water, a couple tablespoons of honey, one sliced up raisin and a 1/4 tea spoon of SAF-Instant baking yeast (I bake our bread with it), stirred it up for a few minutes and set it aside to see what would happen. To my pleasant surprise within an hour or so it started generating very small (teenie - tiny) bubbles and this morning there was a layer of "scum?"/crust on top!. I expect this is a good thing from what I have read here.

So, I threw that out (it wasn't sanitary, just an experiment) and today we will start our semi-real two 2L batches of Honey, water and yeast as our first foray into Mead making. I call this semi-real since we do not have any equipment yet - hydrometers, siphon tubes, carboys, primary buckets, etc. etc. etc. (that will all be here on the 1st of next month) Next month we plan on starting our first real 5 gallon batch.

Meantime, I can't stand the wait! So, these 2 2L batches will be made in a couple 2L soda battles with balloons with pin holes in place the air locks. Racking will consist of slowing transferring the must from one bottle to another at various stages of the process. This will most likely be a "NO AGING" process. The recipe is scaled (I think - suggestions welcome) to produce 2ea 750 ml bottles (remainder of 2L of Must - 500 ml - will no doubt be taste tested :) ) of a semi-sweet to sweet Mead from each batch:

tap/well water adjusted to make 2L of Must.

1.5 Lbs of raw clover honey.

2 1/2 teaspoons of SAF-Instant yeast (just a guess - I converted a post I read here that used 10mg of bakers yeast in a 2L batch)

2 sliced raisins. (I will only use this in one of the two batches - to see if it affects the taste/flavor.)

The plan is to make this blind - meaning I don't have a hydrometer yet, so I will time things based on the fermentation appearance and not specific gravity, like I should be doing. I plan to shake the bottle like crazy several times a day during primary fermentation. Once the fermentation appears to stop (no bubbles for a week) I will rack the Must to a new bottle with a new balloon. Then I will wait to see if any CO2 is produced over a week or so while - hopefully - the Must begins to clear. If more Lees appears on the bottom of the bottle I will repeat racking to a new bottle until the Must is clear.

I expect once the primary fermentation if done we will store the musts in the fridge while waiting for it to clarify - is this okay, or should we keep it around 70F until it is done clarifying?

Once the must is clear and there is no sign of fermentation, I think we can call it Mead and drink it? Is this correct, or do we need to let it "age" a little anyway?

Once we have all our equipment we will follow a more rigorous process, but for these "play" batches, what do you think - are we wasting our time? Or should these be drinkable?

TIA,
Frank

skunkboy
04-18-2013, 01:24 PM
You may wish to shake the fermenting bottles gently until you get used to how much
they can foam up after starting to generate C02. Nothing wrong with your recipe, but I have no idea how close they might come to that German mead since I have never had it before.

2 raisins probably won't make difference either way...

Yes, a little age, or more age, will help to mellow the mead after it stop fermenting.

Frnic
04-18-2013, 04:44 PM
I see Joe Mattioli's Ancient Orange and Spice Mead calls for 25 raisins per gallon, so I will up the raisin count to 13. Thanks for pointing that out.

Frank

Marc F.
04-18-2013, 06:39 PM
I see Joe Mattioli's Ancient Orange and Spice Mead calls for 25 raisins per gallon, so I will up the raisin count to 13. Thanks for pointing that out.

Frank

Raisins are put in for nutrients for the yeast, not taste.
they may leave a bit of their taste but your mead won't have a raisin taste.
So you can put in 10 to 15 raisins.

Frnic
04-18-2013, 07:12 PM
Thanks, I up'd the count to 14 and the balloon is inflating - YEAH!

Frank

WanderingRemnant
04-19-2013, 02:01 AM
The only tastes that I noticed in my first JOAM initially what the pithy taste from the orange. However after a year in a bottle, the pith was gone and it tasted amazing. My buddies who initially tried my "prison wine" were there for the last bottle because some type of miracle enabled all of us to show up at the party. We all looked around wide eyed and amazed at how much the mead had improved...

I actually have a JOAM variant that is currently still going right now. I used minola oranges. First I zested them pretty good, then peeled and diced them to fit into my carboy, along with the zest. Instead of raisins I used cherries. I just racked off the fruit after 3 months on and it is actually quite tart. I am hoping it will mellow out over time because it looks and smells gorgeous to me.

Frnic
04-19-2013, 10:31 AM
Now into day 2 of this experiment/fun. I forgot about CO2 in solution and when I shook it things got a little exciting for a few moments - lol. Luckily none of the must escaped.

Frank