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UKTony
05-29-2013, 09:07 AM
Hi All,

I go away on work trips quite often and need to get a rough idea of timings for fermentation, racking, etc, so I can plan the mazing around my erratic schedule.

So, from "mead day" what time period should I be expecting fermentation to last before racking etc.

I can provide my intended recipe if required, if that controls the variables? It's been six months since I initially planned my first batch, but work trips keep on throwing a spanner in the works, I know it's not an exact science, but if I have approximations I can try and adjust to fit.

Regards

Tony

P.S. apologies if you read this in my other thread, I reposted because I think it wasn't seen much buried in an ancient thread.
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Marshmallow Blue
05-29-2013, 09:33 AM
I think as long as you can dedicate the first week at home for nutrient additions and aeration etc. You should be fine going away for long amounts of time. You don't need to rack until a good portion of the lees have dropped out, which can take a month. However there are a couple yeasts (one in particular that I cant remember) that should be racked diligently to stop off flavors. But most yeasts can sit in there for a few months at least before you really need to rack.

Or even just a few days to get to the 1/3 break. (point where 1/3 of the sugars have been converted to alcohol)

UKTony
05-29-2013, 09:38 AM
The yeast will be 71B-1122 for a show mead, I'm aiming for a final ABV of about 14.6, which I realise might be optimistic since the quoted limit from lalvin for this yeast is 14.

But thank you, a week without travel is a perfectly reasonable goal for me. I realise that once the main work was out of the way there is a lot of patience involved, which given my schedule isn't a problem, I just didn't know if the main work was one week or three etc.

Tony


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Marshmallow Blue
05-29-2013, 10:30 AM
I would recommend switching yeasts, as 71B is actually that one strain known to be bad all around for leaving it on the lees. D47 if its not too hot down there yet will be good, I also haven't had any issues with Red Stars Cotes De Blancs in terms of lees and off flavors. Both of those can get you to 14%

71B is fine, if you make sure to rack when you see the yeast sediment start to pile up, and do a first racking before too long after primary fermentation.

UKTony
05-29-2013, 11:39 AM
I would recommend switching yeasts, as 71B is actually that one strain known to be bad all around for leaving it on the lees. D47 if its not too hot down there yet will be good, I also haven't had any issues with Red Stars Cotes De Blancs in terms of lees and off flavors. Both of those can get you to 14%


I could some D47 now then, the room it is stored in, is unlikely to climb above 69F. But with that in mind, would EC-1118 not be a safer bet? It seems far more tolerant to temp, easily goes to 16.4 ABV, it seems to have the most flexibility of all the yeasts, and in addition to that, if I have % of error, I'd rather have it slightly drier than slightly sweeter.

Tony.

Medsen Fey
05-29-2013, 12:55 PM
But with that in mind, would EC-1118 not be a safer bet? ...

EC-1118 ferments fine but may not give the best results. K1V is probably better in most cases, but if you provide recipe details, that may help clarify what you are aiming for.

Another easy option for you would be to try Joe's Ancient Orange. You can set it and forget it. When you get home, top it up and leave it alone until it clears. After clearing, whenever it is convenient, you can bottle. It makes a delicious sweet orange mead.

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UKTony
05-29-2013, 01:42 PM
but if you provide recipe details, that may help clarify what you are aiming for.

The recipe I have so far looks like this:

Mead Type: Traditional Show
Honey Variety: Summer Thistle
Target ABV: ~14.6
Quantity: 6 (US) Gallons
~ 3lb 1oz per Gallon (for target ABV) = 18lb 7oz Honey

Having shopped around a little based on your feedback, the White Labs WLP720 seems ideal for the job I have in mind!

Primary Fermenter - Plastic Bucket
Secondary - 6 Gallon Glass Carboy

Medsen Fey
05-29-2013, 03:11 PM
Any particular reason you want the ABV that high? In dry meads, higher ABV usually requires longer aging, and often doesn't mean "better."

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UKTony
05-29-2013, 03:24 PM
Yes, quite simply I find lower ABV meads far too sweet for my taste, my very favourite mead that I used to enjoy weekly until I emigrated was 14.6 ABV. More importantly, my wife quite enjoys the drier meads, which helps me to validate the entire effort.

I've also found that lots of people don't like mead because it's like drinking syrup in many cases (especially commercial sweet varieties around 10% ABV). I suspect that mead would be far more popular if people got to taste the drier, less sweet meads. So maybe this effort will go someway to winning hearts and minds, and breaking out of the "stereotype" that non-mazers have set in their minds of mead (assuming it doesn't turn out to be vinegar or worse!!)

Tony

Marshmallow Blue
05-29-2013, 03:32 PM
Wouldn't that just be a matter of not backsweetening your mead? Hot alcohol (Fussels I think) are not a meter of dryness. I feel like you'd be more likely to run dry with a lower gravity must. Plus you can make a higher volume of mead!

StuckTiger11
05-29-2013, 03:34 PM
You can make a dry mead without it being a 20% ABV monster.

UKTony
05-29-2013, 03:35 PM
Oh.... it's all very confusing isn't it!! I thought ABV had a direct effect on sweetness/dryness? Sigh..... back to the drawing board? ABV is the only stick I have to measure against in terms of what I like to drink. Is there something, somewhere that tells me what measurements I need to make a sweet/medium/dry batch? I don't see anything on the newbies guide?

Tony.

StuckTiger11
05-29-2013, 03:48 PM
Oh.... it's all very confusing isn't it!! I thought ABV had a direct effect on sweetness/dryness? Sigh..... back to the drawing board? ABV is the only stick I have to measure against in terms of what I like to drink.


It's okay. It's all a learning process. I'm not a mazer by any means, but my understanding of dryness is related to the amount of residual sugar left after ferment is finished.

For instance, if you have a must with a yeast that will ferment up to 18%, and you let it ferment to completion, then it will be dry (no to very little residual honey/sweetness). If you have the same must with a yeast that will go to 14% but you use enough honey/ingredients for 16%, it's going to have a lot more residual sweetness because the yeast was unable to eat through all the honey/ingredients. I say that with this caveat: yeast are finicky beasts. They will do whatever they want given the provided conditions. They may go higher or crap out early. It's the combination of many variables that make a good mead.

A lot of people on here will ferment something dry, then backsweeten to an acceptable level after stabilizing. Or if it's too sweet at then end, you can dilute it to drop the ABV%.

I hope that helps a bit. Any of the more knowledgeable types can certainly answer your quations better than I.

Happy brewing! :)

Marshmallow Blue
05-29-2013, 03:53 PM
Scientifically speaking. A hydrometer reading will tell you the gravity of the mead. In terms of dryness I think a Final gravity between .995 and 1.006 are "dry" by the book, but may taste sweet depending on ingredients. I've found cysers (mead with apples or cherries (specifically speaking about apples here, haven't made anything with cherries) to be pretty true to their dryness roots and taste good too.

Red Star Champagne yeast has been great in my experience of making dry meads really show that dry characteristic. I've got one bottle left of my Apple Cider mead, that I'm saving for the 1 year mark with that yeast. I'm pretty excited for it. Great dryness as well as apple character. (now that the heat is subsiding.)

UKTony
05-29-2013, 03:56 PM
So the final gravity has ultimate say in "generic" sweetness or dryness, and honey variety and other ingredients "fine tune" the sweetness... is that about the strength of it??

If so.... where do I find the "by the book" values for FG's in regards to the varying sweetnesses??

Cheers

Tony.

StuckTiger11
05-29-2013, 04:14 PM
So the final gravity has ultimate say in "generic" sweetness or dryness, and honey variety and other ingredients "fine tune" the sweetness... is that about the strength of it??

If so.... where do I find the "by the book" values for FG's in regards to the varying sweetnesses??

Cheers

Tony.

Yes. The SG is basically your "measuring tape" for the progress of your mead. It will tell you what you need to know as far as progress is concerned.

Look in the NewBee Guide for the stopping points. I think it's in the planning section. It has what the "accepted" values are.

Marshmallow Blue
05-29-2013, 04:18 PM
Like stucktiger says, Its more of a guideline of fermentation. It should give you a basis of what is dry medium and sweet, but I've had a 1.003 mead that tasted medium sweet and a 1.027 bochet (which should be cloying as heck) be pretty nice, sweet bu far form cloying.

Medsen Fey
05-29-2013, 04:32 PM
So the final gravity has ultimate say in "generic" sweetness or dryness, and honey variety and other ingredients "fine tune" the sweetness... is that about the strength of it??


Yes, that's a good way to put it. Acids and tannin additions also make things taste less sweet.

For dry, aim for a final gravity below 1.000. It is often hard to get a mead below 0.995 as they don't tend to go quite as dry as wines. Still, at that level they definitely won't be sweet. As long as the ABV tolerance of the yeast is above the potential alcohol level of the must, it will go dry ( if something doesn't cause it to be stuck).

So if you start with a gravity of 1.097 (13% potential ABV) any of the yeast will take it dry. If you want 14.6%, be sure and use a yeast that has a tolerance of at least 15% (such as the dry mead yeast you mentioned). Nourish and aerate it well, and for getting them dry, it often helps to be able to measure and manage pH.

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UKTony
05-29-2013, 04:41 PM
Right, but the higher the final ABV, the longer the maturation period. I realise that meads improve with age, but I must admit, I don't really want to wait years for my first batch, but by the same token, I'm not so impatient that I want results in a month (hence no need to try JAOM yet). So I want to try a middle ground I guess, maybe 3 to 6 months at a lower ABV?

I'm a very scientific black and white kinda person, if I have a grasp of the numbers I need, then I can try and fill in the art as I go.

Things I know and have recently learned.

I know:
- Which Honey I want (Summer Thistle)
- My production capacity (6 Gals US)
- That I want medium dry or medium as my first batch, I just want a benchmark to work with and refine (1.006 - 1.010 should be fine)
- I'd like to use White Labs yeast because in liquid form it's much harder to screwup!

Things I don't know
- What affects the overall time scale of production to finished product

Things I don't care about
- ABV (I thought it impacted what I wanted but now know it doesn't).

So, with this information in hand, I'll try and rework my recipe. Oh and from reading between the lines, the "Final Gravity" is simply the last "Specific Gravity" reading you take after youve stopped the fermentation process?

UKTony
05-29-2013, 04:49 PM
Nourish and aerate it well, and for getting them dry, it often helps to be able to measure and manage pH.


Well, I have no really major hobbies sucking up my cash right now, so buying a PH meter (done) and a lees stirrer for my drill (done) and potentially, an carbonstone/airstone to airate (would be done if I knew where the heck to find Oxygen!!), and other things to improve the chances of success isn't a big deal, and most of the measuring stuff is mostly inexpensive overall, since it's a single outlay. Measuring and Airating should be covered.

Heck I've been trying to get around to making this stuff for six months now!! Accumulating brewing paraphernalia has been really easy!!

Medsen Fey
05-29-2013, 06:59 PM
You critical time for a traditional is the first 3-4 days. That is when you need to pitch yeast, add nutrients, check and adjust pH and aerate (you don't need pure oxygen). Once those things are done, you mostly need to leave it alone. After it finishes, you can rack it right away, or a few weeks later - there's no hurry.

Even if you make an 11 or 12% ABV mead, count on aging at least a year before it starts to be really good.

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UKTony
05-29-2013, 08:20 PM
So with all of this in mind, can someone check my recipe and tell me if it looks good.

So trying to use the calculator.... I put in the following values.....

Target Volume: 6 US Gallons
Target Gravity: 1.01 SG (Medium)

This gives an ABV of 1.44 and Honey Qty of 1.869 pounds

If I want my target ABV to be around 12% - I do

12 / 1.44 = 8.3

So 8.3 x 1.869 pounds = 15.51 pounds of Honey (which is about 1 and 1/4 Gallons)

Am I doing this correctly? If so, is it not possible to do that last part of the calculation for me, since it already knows all of the information... I was a little confused as to why it gives me 1.44 instead of the final figure using the ABV?

StuckTiger11
05-29-2013, 08:37 PM
So with all of this in mind, can someone check my recipe and tell me if it looks good.

So trying to use the calculator.... I put in the following values.....

Target Volume: 6 US Gallons
Target Gravity: 1.01 SG (Medium)

This gives an ABV of 1.44 and Honey Qty of 1.869 pounds

If I want my target ABV to be around 12% - I do

12 / 1.44 = 8.3

So 8.3 x 1.869 pounds = 15.51 pounds of Honey (which is about 1 and 1/4 Gallons)

Am I doing this correctly? If so, is it not possible to do that last part of the calculation for me, since it already knows all of the information... I was a little confused as to why it gives me 1.44 instead of the final figure using the ABV?


I think maybe an easier route to take would be from the new Bee Guide:

3 mass ounces of honey= 1% ETOH (in 1 gallon)

So, for you:

12(3)=36 mass ounces/gallon

6 gallons= 186 mass ounces (11.625 lbs) - for dry

For Medium:

I come up with 12 lbs 7 ozs, or just over a gallon.

Medsen Fey
05-29-2013, 09:58 PM
If you want 12% ABV, start with a gravity of 1.090. For 6 gallons that will take roughly 15 pounds of honey, but that varies with the moisture content of the honey so go by the starting gravity. Then ferment it dry. If you want it a little sweeter, stabilize and backsweeten. That will be the easiest way to get it to the exact level of sweetness that suits you.

fatbloke
05-29-2013, 10:48 PM
You don't make much (any) reference to nutrients Tony........

Without something you'd be looking at a long, slow fermentation that will likely finish sweet.

Personally I just mix the honey and water, then check gravity. As long as the yeast will take it dry, I just run with it.

I start my brews at 1.100 to 1.110 and most regular wine yeasts will get it dry.

Once the yeast is in (just rehydrating with water as per the instuctions) and I see some sign of ferment (bubbles), then I give it a stir and add nutrients (mix of 2 parts energiser, the tan cloloured powder and 1 part nutrient/DAP, the white, sugar like crystals) at 1 teaspoon per gallon.

I then stir it at least once a day to get some air/O2 in, and check gravity to see where its at.

Once I see a 1/3rd drop in the gravity, I give it a last stir and then ad a further 1/2 a teaspoon at the same mix as above, then airlock and let it finish.

Once it stops bubbling, I check gravity to see where its at. If its done, great. If it still has room for further fermentation, then I test pH.

For sweetness (I don't enjoy too dry or overly sweet), I just stabilise the finished brew (sulphites and sorbate), then I add increments of honey, testing and tasting after each increment. The test of sweetness being my gob!

I find 1.010 to 1.015 being about right.

Your quest for timings can only ever be a guesstimate. Like the time from pitch to the 1/3rd sugar break, it could be just a day or two it could be a week to 10 days etc.

UKTony
05-29-2013, 11:45 PM
Hiya,

With regards to nutrients, my local brew shop supplied me with an Energizer and a DAP Nutrient by LD Carlson, so I have them, I just didn't mention them because I assumed they were a "given" so to speak.

The yeast I plan to use is a White Labs WLP720 http://www.whitelabs.com/yeast/wlp720-sweet-mead-wine-yeast?s=home because it's liquid (so I can pitch it with minimal chance of screw up), it's good for up to 15%, and it suits the ambient temperatures where I live better than some of the others I've looked at.

I'm really sorry for all the dumb questions, every time I think I have a handle on this thing, something else throws me for a loop. I really want to get this started, and I think if I can get the honey on Friday, I might be able to get it started this week, where I have a weeks break in my work schedule.

Cheers


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fatbloke
05-30-2013, 03:06 AM
The only dumb question is the one you don't ask.......:D

Pretty much the best yeast to cover possible ambient temperatures is Lalvin K1-V1116. If it was good enough for Brother Adam (Buckfast Abbey, bee breeding and mead making) up to his death in the mid-90'sthen Is fine for me........

And yes its a good yeast for meads, espespecially traditionals.......

UKTony
05-30-2013, 06:29 PM
Looks like it's all academic for me again anyway; looks like I'm off to Far East soon, so maybe I can try again to get one started in July or something.

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TheAlchemist
05-30-2013, 06:34 PM
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=18481&highlight=foreign+languages
If you're off to the Far East, you may find this thread useful...

UKTony
05-30-2013, 06:38 PM
Thanks for that... nothing for Chinese tho :-)

UKTony
07-16-2013, 09:45 AM
And now I'm back from China and Hong Kong, I feel a brew coming on!!

I've ordered a bunch of extra chemicals and stuff, not because I like spending money, but more because it takes 3 to 5 days to receive any stuff thru the mail, and I'd rather have it and not need it, than be in a pickle without it.

Ordered the yeast today; decided to try the White Labs Mead Yeast (720), I bought two vials in case I need double the trouble.... Which leads me to the next question.

Is it better to pitch both vials at the beginning in order to mega-yeast the brew (as I've seen some on the forum do...) or better to hold one back in case fermentation sticks?

Cheers

Tony.