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Maeloch
09-06-2013, 08:17 AM
Hi All. I decided to have a crack at a few batches of JAO as my first adult foray into meadmaking (the less said about the forays as a teenager the better). I made 3 different gallon batches as follows:

1) As original recipe.
2) As original + 3/4lb grated ginger
3) As orginal but with high alcohol tolerant wine yeast (Gervin No.5 as far as I know - have to admit didn't trust the bread yeast altogether and my taste tends to run dry anyhow).

5 weeks or so onwards and 1) and 3) are bubbling away, but 2) has slowed to a crawl and started to clear a little. At first I thought, it had stuck, but tasting it, it's already pretty dry, while 1) and 3) are still sweet.

I guess my questions are: is it really possible the JAO is fermenting dry with the bread yeast? Also, would the ginger really turbocharge fermentation? (extra nutrients?)

It's no big deal, more of an academic question. The dry, ginger batch already tastes pretty good to me, although obviously it will change. I know what you're gonna say - buy a hydrometer for next time! (already on order).

Chevette Girl
09-06-2013, 10:29 AM
Welcome to the forum (and the addiction!)

It's quite possible for bread yeast (or any other yeast) to exceed its usual limit if the conditions are just right. And you never know what'll kick them into overdrive, so ginger may well have done it.

When they're starting to clear, it's a sign that your yeast is almost done, whether that means it's completed the job or just given up.

Since you're in the UK, were you using US or IMP gallon? If IMP then your recipe is a bit more dilute (US gallon is what the original recipe's based on and is 3.78 litres while your imperial gallon's 4.5 litres) so it's natural to expect it to go a little further than it usually does, mine (usually made with closer to 4 litres) usually start with a SG of 1.125 and finish around 1.025, giving around 12 or 13% alcohol. Bread yeast are happy enough with a start like that but often wine yeast likes a lower starting gravity unless you make it an acclimated starter (rehydrate it according to the package, then add a small amount of must, wait till it's bubbling, add enough must to double the volume, wait till it bubbles again, repeat until you've got about 1/4 of your volume in the starter all bubbling happily, then pitch it.

Maeloch
09-06-2013, 10:41 AM
Since you're in the UK, were you using US or IMP gallon? If IMP then your recipe is a bit more dilute (US gallon is what the original recipe's based on and is 3.78 litres while your imperial gallon's 4.5 litres) so it's natural to expect it to go a little further than it usually does, mine (usually made with closer to 4 litres) usually start with a SG of 1.125 and finish around 1.025, giving around 12 or 13% alcohol.

Thanks for the advice! You got a good point about the US vs IMP, it slipped my mind completely. I'll have to check my maths on this, but I suspect you're right. I took a photo of all the ingredents prior to starting so I should be able to work back (newbie pride!).

We're pretty much 50/50 between IMP and metric here and the metric/IMP conversions took my eye off the ball regarding the US/IMP ones.

On the plus side a lighter mead should be ready faster?

Maeloch
09-06-2013, 11:07 AM
Yep, looked back - my maths was out of whack. 3.5lbs honey per IMP gallon, not US. So looks like it will finish dry, bar me adding more honey.

Chevette Girl
09-06-2013, 05:53 PM
Canada's about half and half metric vs imperial too (which is why I end up ballparking a gallon to be 4 litres, cause that's the size water jugs are here, I started to refer to it as the unofficial Canadian gallon). I still use teaspoons and tablespoons and cups for baking, I know distances in km, I remember my weight in kg, I measure things in grams and ounces and pounds and kilograms depending on where the recipe came from, but I only know my height in feet and inches, and the construction industry is split down the middle too, most jobs are metric but still use imperial measures... it's just so much easier to order a 2x4x8' rather than whatever the metric conversion happens to be! :)

A mead with less honey is often finished fermenting more quickly and more drinkable earlier than other brews, but you can always sort of approximate the original by backsweetening it a bit and seeing if the yeast keep on chowing down.

Or do like Fatbloke and just use the imperial gallon with 3.5 lb honey because he finds a standard 3.87 litre JAO recipe comes out too sweet.

Maeloch
09-09-2013, 06:22 AM
Canada's about half and half metric vs imperial too (which is why I end up ballparking a gallon to be 4 litres, cause that's the size water jugs are here, I started to refer to it as the unofficial Canadian gallon). I still use teaspoons and tablespoons and cups for baking, I know distances in km, I remember my weight in kg, I measure things in grams and ounces and pounds and kilograms depending on where the recipe came from, but I only know my height in feet and inches, and the construction industry is split down the middle too...

A mead with less honey is often finished fermenting more quickly and more drinkable earlier than other brews, but you can always sort of approximate the original by backsweetening it a bit and seeing if the yeast keep on chowing down.

Yes, we're pretty much in the same mess with the units. I don't even think it's a generation thing too much, although I think the young will be more at home with kgs and grams for food shopping.

I was thinking when it comes to racking, to top up with dissolved honey for one of the batches and let it go some more - so to at least get close to the JAO recipe. I guess it would lengthen the turnaround time some more, but is there any reason it wouldn't work out?

Cheers for the help so far anyhow!

fatbloke
09-09-2013, 01:21 PM
Yes, we're pretty much in the same mess with the units. I don't even think it's a generation thing too much, although I think the young will be more at home with kgs and grams for food shopping.

I was thinking when it comes to racking, to top up with dissolved honey for one of the batches and let it go some more - so to at least get close to the JAO recipe. I guess it would lengthen the turnaround time some more, but is there any reason it wouldn't work out?

Cheers for the help so far anyhow!
Well you could add a bit more honey if you wanted too. One of the Dutch or Belgian members worked out the exact ratio to use as he could only get 5 litre DJ's, but I've found it usually comes out OK as 1 imp gallon with enough residual sugar to balance it.

The batch with wine yeast will, most likely, need back sweetening though. Wine yeast tends to ferment it dry and that will focus the taste on the bitterness that comes from the orange pith, and which is usually balanced by the residual sweetness.

don't forget though, for safety reasons, any that you do top up with any form of fermentable sugars, should be stabilised first. Just in case the yeast has the ability to continue to ferment, because you wouldn't want any restart once it's in bottles - that makes for rather hazardous bottle bombs (yes, some will just pop a cap or even push out a cork, some will explode and that's no bundle of laughs).....

mannye
09-09-2013, 06:28 PM
To protect against bottle bombs, wrap everything in a large plastic construction refuse bag and forget about it. That way if any do go boom, the mess doesn't go all over the walls, floor, etc.

Chevette Girl
09-09-2013, 07:29 PM
To protect against bottle bombs, wrap everything in a large plastic construction refuse bag and forget about it. That way if any do go boom, the mess doesn't go all over the walls, floor, etc.

To protect against bottle bombs, don't bottle it unless you're SURE it's done, whether because of time or chemicals... and if you're not going to do that, at least be stupid the smart way and have a screwtop bottle as a control so you can check for "ssst" every so often, I use this as my bottle bomb early warning system when I bottle JAO's and variants... if you crack the seal and hear a sound, carefully refrigerate the whole batch, then pour it out into a carboy to finish.

mannye
09-09-2013, 09:30 PM
To protect against bottle bombs, don't bottle it unless you're SURE it's done, whether because of time or chemicals... and if you're not going to do that, at least be stupid the smart way and have a screwtop bottle as a control so you can check for "ssst" every so often, I use this as my bottle bomb early warning system when I bottle JAO's and variants... if you crack the seal and hear a sound, carefully refrigerate the whole batch, then pour it out into a carboy to finish.

She's a absolutely right of course. That's what I used to do for bottle conditioned beers not still mead.

Chevette Girl
09-09-2013, 11:16 PM
Yeah, I do it with my beers or carbonated meads too.

Maeloch
09-10-2013, 07:34 AM
The batch with wine yeast will, most likely, need back sweetening though. Wine yeast tends to ferment it dry and that will focus the taste on the bitterness that comes from the orange pith, and which is usually balanced by the residual sweetness.

don't forget though, for safety reasons, any that you do top up with any form of fermentable sugars, should be stabilised first. Just in case the yeast has the ability to continue to ferment, because you wouldn't want any restart once it's in bottles - that makes for rather hazardous bottle bombs (yes, some will just pop a cap or even push out a cork, some will explode and that's no bundle of laughs).....

I guess I'll taste when the fruit drops and make a call on them. The little of it I have tasted I quite liked the bitterness from the pith, but like you say it may be a different story once all the sugar's hoovered up.

Regarding the bombs, I'll most likely let it age in the carboys for a while. Question tho, is it usual to leave an airlock on for this, or seal it properly?

fatbloke
09-10-2013, 11:46 AM
Either or......

Airlocks need keeping an eye on so they don't run dry, or stoppers/bungs/corks will pop if there's any pressure build up.....

Check your HBS or online as I have a couple of plastic stoppers with pressure relief valves - couple of quid a piece but reusable....

Vv handy for ageing....

Maeloch
09-10-2013, 11:59 AM
Either or......

Airlocks need keeping an eye on so they don't run dry, or stoppers/bungs/corks will pop if there's any pressure build up.....

Check your HBS or online as I have a couple of plastic stoppers with pressure relief valves - couple of quid a piece but reusable....

Vv handy for ageing....

Okay thanks a bunch. I'll have a google for em.