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ErinElizabeth
08-01-2013, 10:05 PM
I'm totally new to meadmaking, though not to fermenting. I'm not even totally sure what sent me down this rabbit hole, I think I was looking at beekeeping and link hopping brought me here. Anywho, I'm so intrigued I've been reading everything I could find for a couple days now and I grabbed a bunch of honey from my local beekeeper this afternoon to try something out.

There aren't any brew stores around here (why not?? I live in the middle of Oregon wine country for pete's sake!) so I don't have easy access to tools or fancy materials. So until I'm ready to head to Portland which would be an all day deal I'm left with working with what I've got.

The honey I have is a rather dark blackberry/meadowseet combination (blended by the bees, wasn't that nice of em?) it's deliciously sweet/tart/with a hint of vanilla-ness and I'm thinking of a Ginger and Vanilla metheglin possibly with a tiny bit of cinnamon.

I've got bread yeast which I understand is not ideal but it can work. But what I'm really interested in trying is using a ginger bug as my yeast starter. I suppose if I want to get that adventurous I really should have at least a hydrometer if not means to pH test as well. I have some more research to do as I have no intention of purchasing any of the yeast feeder thingys, I'm rather picky about knowing precisely what's in what I consume so I want to find good alternatives. So far it looks like pollen and raisins can fill some of those nutrient needs.

I'm totally okay with results that aren't reproducible as long as they're tasty, I never cook anything the same way twice, brewing will assuredly be the same. I just want something tasty, mildly sweet, and not so alcoholic as to make us blind. ;) Patience enough for it to mature a bit shouldn't be too difficult either, it'll have 6 months or so before I can touch it as I'm 3 months pregnant.

So um, one wall-o-text later, I guess my question is: am I totally crazy to contemplate making a first mead with a ginger bug? Any ideas for anything in particular I'd need to watch for to improves chances of tasty results?

Chevette Girl
08-01-2013, 10:28 PM
Had to go look that one up, never heard of a ginger bug... It might work but I think you'd probably have a better first go by using bread yeast. Check out the JOA and JAO variants around the site (try "Joe's" rather than "JAO", the local search engine doesn't do three letters or less, there are a few good threads out there), I've made some really tasty stuff in a couple months getting creative with the JAO recipe... and your condition (congrats!) will insist that you let it age, which makes it even better!

Jim H
08-01-2013, 10:38 PM
I'd never call you crazy to do so. I'm too new at meadmaking myself to know what's the best thing to do. I came to meadmaking from a very short career in beer brewing, so I was used to some of the kitchen-craft needed to make mead. But, what do I know? I only have two batches, six months, and several mead making mistakes under my belt. Some of the others here have been doing it since they were little tykes.

However, the sage advice around these parts is to make the JAO recipe (see the NewBee Guide link in the panel to the left of the page). And if you start with that, make it exactly according to the recipe, do not deviate, fold, spindle, or mutilate. This is so that your chances of success increase -- and therefore your chances of getting hooked on the art of mead making increase.

I, myself, made a "traditional" mead for my first try. Essentially, yeast, water, honey, nutrients, and a few months. No fruit or spices, and dead simple to make. Like you, I had a really nice honey to start with, and for me, that's the reason I avoided the additional flavors of the fruit and whatnot. I wanted to know what "just the honey" tasted like.

I'm glad I did that. My first turned out mighty nice, and everyone who I gave a bottle to said the same. (Giving mead away makes you an instant hero - tons of instant street cred! ;) )

ErinElizabeth
08-01-2013, 11:35 PM
I have been reading about the JAO and variants but all the talk about "you really really really should follow the directions precisely" rather made me hesitate. I'm chronically unable to follow a recipe. Even when I try really really really hard. :dontknow:

Plus, the orange and spice just doesn't really interest me. Some of Chevette Girl's variants do look interesting and I was actually planning to start with JAO with lemon instead of orange but my honey just told me differently and then a whole bunch of ginger jumped in my grocery cart. :rolleyes:

Of course, the odds of me waiting until I've tasted my first to start the second are rather poor so maybe I'll just do both. I did buy 12 pounds of honey...

Talked myself into it. I'll do the lemon variant of the JAO and start it now and meanwhile I'll get my ginger bug good and active and I may be able to make it to a brew store in the next week or two to get a few more tools to help with the much more questionable ginger attempt.

After reading some old threads on "natural" meadery (there's a trigger word around here, sheesh) I think I'll use a combination of raisins and long brewed black tea for nitrogen for the little yeasties.

I'll formalize my formula and start my first brew log tomorrow! ;D

mannye
08-01-2013, 11:37 PM
Why not? Who knows? You might have something wonderful there. I read on starting the ginger bug... where does the bug come from? Does ginger have its own yeast? What spore is doing the fermenting?

smertz001
08-02-2013, 08:06 AM
Hello and welcome!

Medsen Fey did a Ginger Beer (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20910) which you may want to read about. His posts are super informative and would be a good place to start I think on this train of thought...

ErinElizabeth
08-02-2013, 10:46 PM
Hello and welcome!

Medsen Fey did a Ginger Beer (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20910) which you may want to read about. His posts are super informative and would be a good place to start I think on this train of thought...

Thanks for the link!

That was interesting to read. The one thing I noticed was there wasn't much nitrogen in there and I think kombucha scoby's like nitrogen, that's why you're supposed to brew the tea so long for it and while herbal teas are okay occasionally you need to use black tea too. Could be why it seemed a bit slow. The other thing is that scoby mushroom thingy really is a byproduct, it isn't even necessary to make kombucha (stick a jar of raw kombucha in the cupboard for a few weeks and you'll get a scoby on top, that's how I got mine). So I wonder if putting a little active kombucha itself would have yielded a more active ferment.

Hmm... those are interesting lines to ponder. Huh, that reminds me of Dom the kefir guy's website (lots of kombucha there too) I think he may have made kombucha with honey at one point. I'll have to look again. And I suppose I really should get my kombucha going again, I've been neglecting it. At least it seems like it's a really tough culture to kill!

ErinElizabeth
08-02-2013, 11:39 PM
Why not? Who knows? You might have something wonderful there. I read on starting the ginger bug... where does the bug come from? Does ginger have its own yeast? What spore is doing the fermenting?

I don't know if the bug is inherent to the ginger or something in the air that happens to thrive in the ginger/sugar brew but while most of what I see online directs you to use fresh ginger my first ginger bug was made with non-irradiated dried ginger from the grocery store and it worked fine (that was delicious ginger ale).

Hmm, I think I even have everything I need to make a batch of ginger ale once this new bug is ready, methinks that might be in order.