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View Full Version : skeptical first timer, did i ruin it?



firstymer
10-22-2013, 09:55 PM
Long story short, I tried a mead at a micro brewery and loved it. Thought if my brother could brew beer and my friends can brew wine, I should be able to make something too. I started a batch, everything went well (or so i thought) it bubbled and stopped and i tasted it, and it was aweful. I finished the process and it was still aweful. I did some research, found a recipe that looked a little more beginnerish, and now I'm wondering if I missed steps that were implied to a novice but easily over looked by a beginner. (hence the "skeptical" portion of the title)

So here it is, the exact recipe I used.

-2.5 gallons of cherry juicy juice (instead of water)
-7.5lbs of honey
-1 packet of lalvin 71-B yeast
-1/2 pound of cherrys halved and pitted (i bought a bag of frozen already pitted so i just halved them and dropped them in the carboy)
-1 table spoon of cinnamon

I warmed one gallon of juicy juice to 110f, and stirred in the honey.

I then used the other gallon and a half chilled in the fridge to cool the must back to 75ish degrees f (whatever the yeast packet said, i dont recall now)

i then added everything else, the yeast, cherries, and cinnamon.

3 weeks went by, the first 2 weeks were a consistent bubble, nothing too crazy. i did not use any additives, what I mentioned is what is in it. The last week was pretty slow, no bubbling through the air lock and tapered off drastically toward the end of the third week to nothing. (still nothing has been added)

I tasted it after the 3 weeks and it was pretty good, how i would have expected it to taste, based on my beginner mead tasting skills. tasted like cherries and honey, with alcohol. (im very happy with the taste)

My instructions then said to rack once a week. My first rack after the 3week rack will be wednesday afternoon. doing random research though, im wondering if i screwed up by not using any sort of additives (campden tablets, potassium sorbate, acid (which i think is just flavor....) or what have ya)


the instructions i have says this is drinkable in 6 weeks, no months of racking and aging.

I suppose my question is, will this mead (melomel?) still turn out? or did I make a rookie mistake somewhere and my recipe was intended for a more advanced brewer that knows what goes on behind the scenes.


Also, if i did screw up. Is it fixable?



Thanks in advance for the input, I appreciate all constructive criticism. =)


Oh also, its in a 5 gallon carboy =/

bernardsmith
10-22-2013, 10:26 PM
First, apologies for this long post.
One thing I would say you need is a hydrometer. You want to be able to measure the specific gravity of your mead as it ferments. You say that you have - what -? about 2 gallons in a 5 gallon container. Having that amount of space above the surface is likely to cause the mead to react with the air and you will get off flavors as it oxidizes. If the specific gravity is getting close to 1.000 you want to transfer the mead into containers where there is no "head room" but where you have some kind of device (an airlock) that enables the CO2 (carbon dioxide) to escape without allowing any air to get in.

I don't know the recipe (and I don't follow recipes. I work with principles), but campden tabs are used to add SO2 (sulfur dioxide) to kill wild yeasts and allow your chosen yeast to have space to grow and take over the fermentation. You use it later (perhaps 1 tab per gallon crushed) every two or three months. SO2 acts as a preservative.
K Sorbate is used after your mead has fully fermented and you want to prevent any further fermentation especially if you are backsweetening (adding more sweetener) or you want to stop the fermentation and maintain the residual sweetness in the mead.
The use of acid can be to balance the sweetness but sometimes it is needed to increase the acidity of the mead. The levels of SO2 I referred to above is dependent on the level of acidity (the more acidity, the less SO2 you need) but too much acidity in the mead stresses the yeast, and your use of cherry juice is likely to have increased the acidity a fair bit. I would want to measure the acidity with a pH meter but that is another story.

No matter what the recipe you have suggests I can see no benefit in racking your mead "weekly". I would rack the mead when it gets close to 1.000 or if you intend to stop the fermentation with residual honey still unfermented. I would then rack every two or three months or if you have about an inch of lees on the bottom of the carboy or container.

Last point. Will it be drinkable in 6 weeks? Well, you can drink it.. but that is not the same as it being drinkable. I honestly know of no wine that is not better after 6 months and better yet after 1 year... Certainly I wouldn't dream about bottling your mead until all CO2 has been expelled and the wine is clear enough for you to read a newspaper through it... that won't happen in 6 weeks - at least that's not been my experience... Good luck , Firstymer.

firstymer
10-22-2013, 11:31 PM
I do have a hydrometer, got distracted the night i made the mead with some real life stuff and forgot to take an original gravity. I plan to take a reading tomorrow when i rack, I'm also planning to purchase a smaller container to rack the mead into on my way home from work.

will the week it has sat now (1 week since i racked the first time after the initial 3 weeks as my recipe instructs) have been enough time to give it off flavors?

should i have used any additives? or will i have to?

thanks!!

MikeTheElder
10-23-2013, 05:26 PM
First rule of Mead making: Never throw out Mead.

That said, it sounds like everything went fairly well.

If it doesn't taste like a zombie's shoe then it went real well.

The only change I would make is to use a SNA(stepped nutrient addition) regimen from the start and take SG readings, the readings will tell you your progress, approx %ABV and residual sugar so you will know if you have a stuck ferment, if your yeast used all the sugar or reached its alcohol tolerance level.

As for Campden, I use it 24 hrs before pitching my yeast to kill off any stray wild yeasts, molds or bacteria, then again after fermentation is complete along with some potassium sorbate to stabilize the mead before bottling, especially if back-sweetened.

As for letting it sit on the lees, you don't have to worry about that unless you forget it for a couple months.