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View Full Version : First batch on a whim....



McJeff
05-17-2013, 07:43 PM
But i didnt, this is where im at. On a whim decided i wanted to make some Mead. Bought a bunch of stuff, talk to my local brew shop owner(who im pretty sure was drunk) and came home to start.
Started first with hydrating my yeast, Bourgovin RC 212? its what the shop guy gave me. Boiled 1gallon of water combined it with 6lbs of local raw honey.
waited for the temp to get around 80 and tossed in the yeast and 1teaspoon of yeast energizer that the shop owner gave me in a ziplock baggy, no idea what it is.
Add all that to another gallon of water in my bucket along with 2lbs of fresh strawberries. OG is 1.090

So how much did i screw it up :P

Edit: I did stir and aerate for a good 5 mins, this was only 2 hours ago. Is it too late to add of change something?

Chevette Girl
05-17-2013, 09:10 PM
1) relax.

2) breathe.

;D

6 lb in two gallons is an accepted honey to water ratio, so that's fine, you're not making something so weak-ass it won't keep, nor are you starting out with something so strong it chokes up your yeast.

RC-212 is not what I'd select for a traditional mead, but it's good for fruit so it should do your strawberries justice, although you may find that 2 lb in 2 gal isn't enough flavour for you, but there's nothing at all wrong with adding more strawberries later. We usually recommend 2-4 lb of fruit per gallon (depending on the fruit).

Unless there's something wrong with your water that requires boiling, it'su usally an unnecessary step so next time you can safely skip it (presuming your water is safe to drink as-is).

About the only thing I'd change is I would have put the honey water in with the fruit and the extra gallon before adding the yeast, high sugar concentrations can damage yeast but yours will probably be OK if you didn't let them sit too long in 6 lb/gallon.

Honey doesn't have a lot of nutrients for yeast, next batch you may wish to get ahold of some yeast energizer as well as the nutrients, but since you've got some fruit in there, it should be fine. I went for years without ever using energizer and most of my stuff worked out fine.

So, congratulations, the answer to your question is "not much" :)

McJeff
05-17-2013, 09:14 PM
So what's the point of boiling water? To mix the honey better? So it's ok to just start everything cold?

Not so patiently waiting for bubbles in my airlock. But then again, I only have 3ish gallons of stuff in a 6 gallon bucket.

McJeff
05-18-2013, 06:34 AM
How long should I leave the strawberries in? Will the seeds make it bitter?

McJeff
05-18-2013, 10:15 PM
1) relax.

2) breathe.

;D

6 lb in two gallons is an accepted honey to water ratio, so that's fine, you're not making something so weak-ass it won't keep, nor are you starting out with something so strong it chokes up your yeast.

RC-212 is not what I'd select for a traditional mead, but it's good for fruit so it should do your strawberries justice, although you may find that 2 lb in 2 gal isn't enough flavour for you, but there's nothing at all wrong with adding more strawberries later. We usually recommend 2-4 lb of fruit per gallon (depending on the fruit).

Unless there's something wrong with your water that requires boiling, it'su usally an unnecessary step so next time you can safely skip it (presuming your water is safe to drink as-is).

About the only thing I'd change is I would have put the honey water in with the fruit and the extra gallon before adding the yeast, high sugar concentrations can damage yeast but yours will probably be OK if you didn't let them sit too long in 6 lb/gallon.

Honey doesn't have a lot of nutrients for yeast, next batch you may wish to get ahold of some yeast energizer as well as the nutrients, but since you've got some fruit in there, it should be fine. I went for years without ever using energizer and most of my stuff worked out fine.

So, congratulations, the answer to your question is "not much" :)

So my fermentation wasn't all that vigorous after 24hours. Maybe one bubble every 20 secs. I did notice the yeast I used needed to ve between 70-90 so I brought it outa the basement. Gave it another good aerating and wrapped it in a blanket for the night. If it doesn't pick up I thought maybe another teaspoon of energizer. After that I'm not sure.

Thoughts?

Telkey
05-19-2013, 12:08 AM
As Chevette said, simmer down, let the yeast do their thing. I was using a hardy strain of yeast and it took 3 days and a slight pH adjustment before my brew started going. Once it started it went through to completion with no problems. Check my thread out if you get worried, I had the same concerns and questions.

As a first timer I found researching this site and listening to the experienced members to be the best thing for me.

Another thing I would suggest is put the primary out of sight, you will want to go and poke and prod it every day to try and make it go faster. It will work at it's own pace and all you have to do is measure the gravity every few days or so.

Take your time, enjoy the process and think about the next batch you are going to brew up.

fatbloke
05-19-2013, 02:29 AM
Well, I'm thinking that for a "whim" batch, not bad at all.

The two things that come to mind here, are that the yeast can be a bit nutrient hungry, so having something on hand just in case it plays up a bit would be a good idea.

The problem is, that if you do get some rotten egg/h2s smell, you want to sort it quickly as it can be rather unpleasant.

Normally, if a must has passed half way through the ferment, there's nothing gained in using normal nutrient/energiser as it contains inorganic nitrogen which the yeast doesn't like later on in the ferment, so if the HBS bloke doesn't keep FermaidO (which is different from the regular Fermaidk), then if you've got some boiled bread yeast, a vitamin B1 tablet (crushed) & a small handful of raisins then if you get the stink, splash racking between one container and another and adding the boiled bread yeast (microwave a couple of teaspoons of bread yeast in 100mls of water for that, then let it cool......can be kept in the fridge if made in advance) the B1 and raisins should do the trick.

Its not guaranteed to go stinky but the possibility is there.

Secondly, strawberry is surprisingly low on flavour. A strawberry wine recipe would use between 3 & 6 lb per gallon for a good flavour. Fruit in primary also can lose a lot of the original flavour, hence I'm thinking that if you let it run as is, for the moment, get some more strawbs but in the freezer in 1lb bags, then once the gravity gets down to something like the 1.010 level, put the extra strawbs in and let it finish.

Some of the sweetness and most of the fruit flavour should be preserved. If the batch is still fermenting, just defrost the fruit and put it and any juice that comes out into the batch.

If it manages to finish first, you could put the strawbs in still frozen.

Dunno whether most of this is your idea or that of the half cut HBS bloke, but IMO its a better first go than many you could read about both here and over at places like HBT.......

《edit》the hardest part of mead making is the patience it requires. Often it's nowhere near as fast as wines or beer. That said, you could also make a batch that ferments in a week......

McJeff
05-19-2013, 05:50 AM
since bought more stuff and read a book. That's where I got the idea to add more energizer. So checked the progress again this morning, the airlock is only bubbling once every 15 secs. At what point do I declare it sluggish and troubleshoot?

fatbloke
05-19-2013, 09:34 AM
since bought more stuff and read a book. That's where I got the idea to add more energizer. So checked the progress again this morning, the airlock is only bubbling once every 15 secs. At what point do I declare it sluggish and troubleshoot?
As bubble rate is a poor method of judging fermentation progress, you should ideally test the gravity to see how "slowly" its dropping.

If you follow recommended method, it should be being aerated at least once daily until it passes the 1/3rd sugar break. Plus after each aeration there's an opportunity to add any further nutrient/ energiser additions when the batch is least likely to erupt......

McJeff
05-19-2013, 11:09 AM
As bubble rate is a poor method of judging fermentation progress, you should ideally test the gravity to see how "slowly" its dropping.

If you follow recommended method, it should be being aerated at least once daily until it passes the 1/3rd sugar break. Plus after each aeration there's an opportunity to add any further nutrient/ energiser additions when the batch is least likely to erupt......

Ok. Trying to read thru the noob guide at work on my phone is a pia.
So adding energizer won't hurt any :p

fatbloke
05-19-2013, 02:21 PM
Ok. Trying to read thru the noob guide at work on my phone is a pia.
So adding energizer won't hurt any :p
Trying to read docs with complex formatting is a bit of a pain. I do read ebooks on my phone but they're formatted to be read on various types of screens (perhaps its time to have a rewrite/reformat of the newbee guide).

And yes, generally a bit more energiser is fine, just that it seems obvious to me to understand the difference between adding something that has organic nitrogen in the later stages. So something like Fermaidk, fermax or similar is good when you work out how much to use, especially as its easy to find out the levels of nitrogen in these.

Equally to have some organic based nutrient, whether its the elusive FermaidO or just some boiled bread yeast etc as there's no telling when a yeast might get stinky, and the more nutrient hungry yeasts are more likely to get stressed and stinky.

Just don't go too mad as excessive amounts that is unused can taint the brew flavour.

When mixing a brew up, there's an academic paper kicking around that basically approves of a staggered nutrients addition method but also seemed to establish that nutrients can be front loaded up to about 85% of the total amount needed. So it just takes a bit of reading to work out how much is necessary.

Good luck with your batch, it sounds like its going ok at the moment.

McJeff
05-24-2013, 07:34 PM
So after a week SG is 1.010. Haven't seen an bubbles in awhile, but never really saw many bubbles to begin with. I hadn't planned on bottling for a few more weeks. But I think it's rdy. How do I make sure the yeast is done.

Edit: OG was 1.090

fatbloke
05-25-2013, 02:21 AM
So after a week SG is 1.010. Haven't seen an bubbles in awhile, but never really saw many bubbles to begin with. I hadn't planned on bottling for a few more weeks. But I think it's rdy. How do I make sure the yeast is done.

Edit: OG was 1.090
I suspect its not done yet. From memory RC212 tops out at 14% ABV and I don't think that 80 points is 14%......

I'd forget about bottling for a while yet.........

You'd normally check for finished by taking a gravity reading every 2 or 3 days and you want 3 identical readings. Even a single point change means theres still fermentation occurring.

Hence there's no point in being too impatient. Its unlikely that the batch is anywhere near finished yet......

McJeff
05-25-2013, 09:18 AM
I suspect its not done yet. From memory RC212 tops out at 14% ABV and I don't think that 80 points is 14%......

I'd forget about bottling for a while yet.........

You'd normally check for finished by taking a gravity reading every 2 or 3 days and you want 3 identical readings. Even a single point change means theres still fermentation occurring.

Hence there's no point in being too impatient. Its unlikely that the batch is anywhere near finished yet......

Yeah I was goin to let it sit for another week and test it again.

Chevette Girl
05-25-2013, 05:17 PM
In answer to other questions... strawberry seeds shouldn't make your mead bitter unless you run them through something that breaks the seeds. I usually don't leave fruit in longer than a week or two, one week is long enough for any flavour that's going to transfer out of the fruit and into your mead to do so.

And older recipes suggest boiling water and honey because it was thought that honey needed to be pasteurized (it really doesn't, it's not a very hospitable environment for bacteria) and often times water sources weren't so great to drink and boiling would make sure there wouldn't be anything in it to foul your fermentation. Also a good vigorous fermentation prevents most other organisms from taking hold in your must anyway. Some people heat their honey to make it easier to mix in but even when it's crstallized it doesn't take THAT long to mix up a 3 gal batch with a bit of hot tapwater and the rest cold tapwater...

Everything else? Patience :)

McJeff
05-25-2013, 05:37 PM
In answer to other questions... strawberry seeds shouldn't make your mead bitter unless you run them through something that breaks the seeds. I usually don't leave fruit in longer than a week or two, one week is long enough for any flavour that's going to transfer out of the fruit and into your mead to do so.

And older recipes suggest boiling water and honey because it was thought that honey needed to be pasteurized (it really doesn't, it's not a very hospitable environment for bacteria) and often times water sources weren't so great to drink and boiling would make sure there wouldn't be anything in it to foul your fermentation. Also a good vigorous fermentation prevents most other organisms from taking hold in your must anyway. Some people heat their honey to make it easier to mix in but even when it's crstallized it doesn't take THAT long to mix up a 3 gal batch with a bit of hot tapwater and the rest cold tapwater...

Everything else? Patience :)




You must have read my mind. I was actually thinking I would rack the stuff now into my glass secondaries. Getting the berries out.

McJeff
05-26-2013, 06:17 PM
So check the gravity again and it didnt move from 1.010. Racked it into two secondaries. With airlocks just incase. But i sampled it oh man it was super bitter. :(

Medsen Fey
05-28-2013, 06:00 AM
Give it lots of time. The mead hasn't fermented to completion. RC212 has a tolerance of 16% ABV and should have taken your gravity down to 1.000 or lower. It may continue to drop the gravity slowly over the next couple of months. This would be a good time to put these away and forget about them for awhile.

You can start a batch of JAO in the meantime. :)

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

McJeff
05-28-2013, 07:19 AM
Give it lots of time. The mead hasn't fermented to completion. RC212 has a tolerance of 16% ABV and should have taken your gravity down to 1.000 or lower. It may continue to drop the gravity slowly over the next couple of months. This would be a good time to put these away and forget about them for awhile.

You can start a batch of JAO in the meantime. :)

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

Does that stand for Joes Ancient Orange? Cuz I was just looking for that recipe.

Medsen Fey
05-28-2013, 08:11 AM
Yes. Just look at the Joe's Ancient Orange thread. The recipe is at the beginning.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

Kelvin
05-29-2013, 12:46 AM
Oe of the first meads I made was strawberry and it has probably been one of the most popular meads I have made. I just threw a ton of thawed out frozen strawberries in straight from the bag after the first sugar break... it was great. I have found that unless you are not very sanitary or you mess something up majorly then meed and beer usually come out very drinkable. It's really hard to go wrong. It might not win any awards but hey, I'm not out to do that myself. I just want to drink it and impress my friends with a delicious alcoholic concoction I made myself.

I say, be as clean as you can. Just follow the advice from the newbie section and you'll 99 times out of a 100 come out with something very drinkable.

Some people on here might remember my scared post about having a fruit fly land in my mead once. They said to relax, so I did. Nothing happened to it except for being a delicious mead.

Now, I just take it all in stride. After having done about 15 batches of mead (yes 15 in this short time) and about 30 batches of beer, the majority being all grain. I feel I have come a long way in the last year or so.

And my best advice is, be clean, follow your own recipe, watch your: temps, gravities, adjust accordingly and wait a few months, rack, then wait some more.. then enjoy.

Not kidding, I asked my local brew shop (and mind you this is not the only place I bought stuff.) How much I spent last year and it ended up being like $2,500.00. Granted, some of that was for a kegging system but that was only like 200. The rest was mainly ingredients or a few cleaning things here and there. Point being, just keep working at it. Pretty soon it'll be like second nature. The more you do it the more you know it.

McJeff
05-29-2013, 03:03 PM
My local connection for honey only had 12lbs and I was goin do some JAO in my 5gallon carboy. Should I go buy some honey at the store?

fatbloke
05-29-2013, 11:27 PM
My local connection for honey only had 12lbs and I was goin do some JAO in my 5gallon carboy. Should I go buy some honey at the store?
Yes........

TheAlchemist
05-30-2013, 06:37 PM
Yes........

Hear! Hear!

McJeff
06-01-2013, 09:18 PM
Well ok so my local did have more honey. But it only comes in6lbs mason jars. I now have 18lbs. Per the recipe I only need 17.5. Do I measure off .5 lb or so screw it and throw it in. How much would I measure off for half pound?

Calehedron
06-01-2013, 10:48 PM
Just toss it all in. From what I have been reading, 17.5 could be too little depending on other factors such as lots of pith, heavy duty bread yeast, etc. I have 18lbs in my first batch also. Eight days in and its still bubbling away. Had a decent head on it in the carboy and a bubble a second in the airlock.