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View Full Version : Planning 1st attempt at mead, suggestions welcome



rmccask
05-03-2013, 09:28 PM
I am making my first attempt at making mead. I have read a lot and started with the JOAM recipe and after lots of reading and editing have what you see below. I know my time estimates are probably way too short in some cases and those are just quick guesses. I have ordered some of the supplies but haven't started making it yet so please make any suggestions. I considered pasteurizing the honey but I don't think it is needed if I get it right.

5 gallon batch of Orange Clove Mead:
18 lbs of clover honey
5 oranges, juice and zest
5 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
0.5 teaspoon allspice
0.5 teaspoon nutmeg
5 gallons of spring water
Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead Yeast
0.5 teaspoon Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
1.5 teaspoons Fermax

Create must using 1.5 gallons water and honey using spoon, wisk, blender or whatever works. Stir in orange juice and zest and yeast nutrient. Place the remaining ingredients other than yeast and Fermax in the primary fermenter (pail with airlock). Pour the must concentrate into the primary fermenter and top off to the 5 gallon mark. Stir for 5 minutes to aerate and then add the yeast and cover. After fermentation starts (8 hours or so) add in 0.5 teaspoons Fermax and aerate. On days 2 and 3 add in teaspoon Fermax, aerate and recover. In around 2 weeks when it is releasing a bubble every 30 seconds or more then it can be racked to the secondary fermenter (carboy with airlock). Keep in secondary until fermentation is complete by watching for bubbles at first and then watching the gravity later. It can be racked more if needed (every month or two) to get the must off of the lees. When the gravity is no longer changing, then you can bottle it. Keep at least 2 weeks in bottle before drinking but longer is better.

Thanks
-Randy

skunkboy
05-03-2013, 11:07 PM
Not a bad starting recipe... I would suggest a different yeast, but that is personal preference. Definitely close to the Uncle Joe recipe I make once a year :)

rmccask
05-04-2013, 01:42 AM
I have already bought the yeast so I think I am going to go with the Wyeast Sweat Mead yeast this batch. I think Lalvin D47 looks good but it just can't handle high enough temperatures. I am already leaning toward 71B for my next batch.

Thanks,
-Randy

fatbloke
05-04-2013, 02:40 AM
The sweet mead yeast is, IME, a pain to use. Tried it 3 times and had snags all 3 times so I wont use it again.

Now, your recipe.......

On the face of it, it'll work fine, but it looks to me like you will experience the same issues that you'd get by making a JAO and voiding the warranty with wine yeast.

I'm not trying to p155 on your camp fire...... but I always suggest doing a benchmark JAO as a first brew because you only have to follow the instructions to achieve a decent first effort.

Initial success is important because a failed or mediocre batch can be very off putting. It gives the maker a bit of self encouragement to have a further try......

Plus there are some very specific reasons that JAO is made like that. Whether the great man formed the recipe with knowledge, consideration and a little cunning, or just found a good "chuck it all in a bucket" method by accident I don't know, but voiding the warranty seems to produce "bleargh" more often than not for equally specific reasons.

Your brew........your choice

maxmurder
05-05-2013, 01:25 AM
I don't have much experience with mead making, but the three times I used the Wyeast sweet mead 'smack packs', twice I had issues with fermentation starting and ended up adding Lalvin yeasts.

Curious as to how many people had trouble with the WYeast packs...

rmccask
05-05-2013, 02:18 AM
fatbloke,
I am getting a little worried about the Wyeast Sweet Mead yeast now. I have now ordered some 71B to have on hand in case there is a problem. I have already convinced myself to do 5 gallons and I would rather continue that route even if it ends up being not what I hoped for. If this requires some nursing then I will have gained some additional experience. I know I will try again whether this works or not and I am already thinking of a simple sweet mead with vanilla for my next attempt but first I want to see what I learn from my first batch. After I have my first batch racked to the secondary I will get more serious about planning my next batch.

maxmurder,
I have read a few people that claimed the Wyeast yeast worked for them but I have read about more failures than successes. I am curious what responses you get here. If my Wyeast experiment fails then I will probably stick with the Lalvin yeasts for the most part since most people have good success with them and the 71B has a good temperature range for my basement.

-Randy

fatbloke
05-05-2013, 04:53 AM
Lots of yeasts carry a caveat, and my experience with the wyeast sweet mead is the same as maxmurders.

In any case, dry yeast packs have considerably higher cell counts than the liquid packs so you wouldn't routinely make a starter with a dry yeast, just rehydrate. Plus they're normally much cheaper than the liquid stuff which is often preferred by beer makers.....

The only caveat for 71B is that its known as not being suitable for batonage/sur lie ageing. With a guesstimate of 1 to 2 months as a maximum period for a finished ferment to be left on the lees before it becomes a problem. Most generally rack off the lees within a week or so anyway.

As for racking while there is still active fermentation going on ? That's poor practice unless you are just moving the ferment to a carboy from a bucket to finish. People do that to remove some lees and end up with a stuck ferment because they remove a lot of the yeast colony, whereas if just moving the batch you'd give it a stir to bring all the lees into suspension and then rack/siphon (you can also remove fruit debris this way too). Invariably you can just leave it to finish in a primary bucket and then rack off the lees as its less hassle that way.....

Having just re-read your recipe idea you should be ok, as you say about just using orange zest and flesh, not the whole fruit. Though I would still monitor pH, because while orange isn't as acidic as lemon or lime its still an extra source of acid which could complicate matters.

Medsen Fey
05-05-2013, 02:00 PM
Wyeast sweet mead yeast can be finicky and prone to stall, however it does work in modified JAO batches. It will produce a sweeter result than you will get using the bread yeast because the ABV tolerance of the sweet mead yeast is lower. So if you like'm sweet, you will be fine.

You recipe is lacking in nutrients and this yeast tends to stall if undernourished. You are planning to use 2 tsp in a 5-gallon batch. To provide enough nitrogen, using about 10 tsp would be better. That may also keep the pH from dropping which is another thing that tends to stall this yeast.

Good luck!

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

rmccask
05-08-2013, 12:25 AM
fatbloke,

I have read lots of mead making instructions that have you racking off the primary when the bubble rate is more than 30 seconds between bubbles. When you asked about me racking when there is active fermentation going on, are you saying I should just leave it in the bucket until the specific gravity is no longer changing? Do you use buckets or carboys for your primary fermentation? I was planning on using a bucket for ease of aeration but was then moving to a carboy for aging and only racking it again if there was sufficient sediment and I wasn't expecting that in this case.

I think with all these warnings, I am going to switch and use the 71B for the first batch and use the Wyeast sweet mead for the next one so i have more information to compare against.

Thanks,
-Randy

Fisk Jaegaren
05-08-2013, 11:12 AM
A few other points i would also make:
Don't bottle when the sg stops dropping, let the mead clear first. If you want to use fining agents to hurry this process up, i would suggest K/C superclear.
Two weeks aging is most likely too short of time for this, especially if you end up using the 71b. I made a 5 gallon ginger mead nearly a year ago with 71b that is getting to be very good stuff now.
Racking off the gross lees is a good thing, then only when there is an appreciable amount of sediment build up after that. Racking too much will expose your mead to oxygen which can lead to oxidation....which in sweet meads isnt all that bad, as it may leave a sherry like note.....just mho.