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View Full Version : Started first mead batch! (Cherry) + Some questions



Tom Sluiters
01-08-2014, 11:31 AM
Hello GotMead,

My name is Tom Sluiters, I'm 21 years old and i come from the Netherlands. My English isn't perfect, so please don't mind :)

One and a half weeks ago I started my first batch of mead. I've bought some basic supplies like a 5l (1,3 US gallon) carboy with an airlock. Since I've tasted a nice cherry mead before i decided to try this for my first recipe.


2 kg (about 4.4 pounds) of supermarked bought wildflower honey
1,5 kg (about 3.4 pounds) of frozen cherry's
Sweet mead yeast (home brand from the webshop i used)
Bottled spring water

I decided to try the "no heat method". First i thawed the cherries. I put the yeast in a bowl of water with some honey in there to hydrate it. Since this was my first try i didn't use any yeast starter/energizer. Then I mixed the honey the spring water and filled up the carby till about 2/3. After this I added the thawed cherries and left some headroom. Lastly I pitched the yeast and closed the carboy with the airlock.

Fermentation started out quickly and vigorously. When I came home at night the airlock was full of foam/sludge. Clearly I didn't leave enough headroom :P. After a few days the fermentation slowed down a bit and there is a lot less foam forming now. All and all I thinks it's a really good start.

http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/703/v5re.jpg

http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/196/rljd.jpg


I do have some questions though. Since there is a lot of fruit in there, I will loose a lot of volume after racking. I'm thinking about adding some water to fill the carboy back up to 5l.

- When do I need to rack of the fruit?
- Will fermentation continue after adding water after racking?

I can imagine that I will need to rack of the fruit before the airlock stops bubbling so the yeast is still active. Also, when I add water, the alcohol level will drop so I think the fermentation will continue. Since I used quite some honey, I think there will be enough sugars left as well.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


Thanks!!

Tom Sluiters

Marshmallow Blue
01-08-2014, 12:20 PM
If you rack while it is still fermenting, headspace won't be too big of an issue since the fermentation in the new container will push out the oxygen and leave a bed of CO2 (which is heavier than air so it will sit on top of the mead).

A good tool to have is a hydrometer. It allows you to calculate ABV and measure the remaining sugars in a solution. your home-brew store should have one. They are fragile, so treat it well.

Oh and Welcome to Got MEAD!

Tom Sluiters
01-08-2014, 01:38 PM
Thanks for the reply!

For upcoming batches I will probably get an hydrometer. I used the mead calculator now (it came out at 1.12 for 5l of fluid)

Is it a good idea to add water after racking off the fruit to compensate for volume loss?

Marshmallow Blue
01-08-2014, 01:48 PM
Thanks for the reply!

For upcoming batches I will probably get an hydrometer. I used the mead calculator now (it came out at 1.12 for 5l of fluid)

Is it a good idea to add water after racking off the fruit to compensate for volume loss?

You can do that, or top off with a honey water mixture that has the same current gravity as your mead. Some people top off with marbles, but it takes a lot of marbles form what I hear.

You should get a hydrometer so you can get the ABV by plugging the Starting Grav and final grav into a calculator. (It's people ever want to know when they drink mine (for the most part))

antonioh
01-08-2014, 01:49 PM
Welcome Tom!

I am also very new here, and learning about mead.

About compensating with water... I am not sure in mead but, in wine, you donīt need too much water to loose aroma and get a "flat" tast.

I would compensate with other thing, even wine...

antonioh
01-08-2014, 01:52 PM
Oh ! And get a pH metter.

Tom Sluiters
01-08-2014, 02:24 PM
Thank you all,

I'm thinking about adding water and honey to compensate, like Marshmallow Blue said.

Why is a pH meter necessary?

Marshmallow Blue
01-08-2014, 03:37 PM
I dont have a PH meter, but they are good to have as some stuck ferments are due to PH problems and not yeast / gravity issues.

I'd spring for a hydrometer first if you can only get one.

Oh and a cheap neutral white wine will work well to top off as previous poster said.

Vance G
01-09-2014, 12:35 AM
I think this is going to work til it is dry as a bone. For racking loss, I often use a store brand of apple juice with no preservatives. If this ends up very dry, I would consider adding more honey to taste and letting it ferment a little longer. That is what a hydrometer is good for. You will be able to tell when things have stopped because the readings will stop changing.

Tom Sluiters
01-09-2014, 02:36 PM
I'll look into buying an hydrometer :)

Apple juice is also a good idea. I hope I can find some without additives.

When it's time for racking I will decide what to do :P.

The cherry's begin to look a bit nasty. Any particular moment I should rack off the fruit?

Chevette Girl
01-09-2014, 08:18 PM
The cherries will lose colour and flavour as it's absorbed into the must, don't worry too much about how it looks as long as nothing's going fuzzy... You probably want to leave the fruit in for about a week, not longer than two. That's the general guideline most of us use most of the time, anyway.

When I add honey and water to make up volume for headspace in something that's still fermenting, I mix it to my original gravity, that way I know what the final alcohol content will be and I don't have to do any extra math to figure it out, otherwise you need to know the volumes and concentrations of everything... If I don't care, I have been known to use blank wine, finished traditional mead, water, and apple juice.

Tom Sluiters
01-11-2014, 06:09 AM
I ordered an hydometer :)

It's about 1,5 weeks ago that I started the batch, so it will be about time so rack off the fruit. After I take a hydrometer reading I will decide what to do.

fatbloke
01-11-2014, 08:16 AM
Well Tom, you're actually in luck, as there's at least one reasonably regular contributor here who's in the Netherlands (2 off the top of my head, but can't remember the second username but GntlKnigt1 a.k.a. Doug, is in Emmeloord so has some local knowledge and supplies info etc).

Plus either http://www.brouwmarkt.nl/
(http://www.brouwmarkt.nl/) or just across in Belgium there's alway http://www.brouwland.com/ for supplies. Yes, some of the product names won't be so familiar here, but there's enough info to work out for equivalent materials.

The pH meter is a good idea because some meads have quite dramatic pH swings, especially during the first half of the ferment - this is most obvious with the traditional type meads (honey, water, nutrient/energiser and yeast) as there is little to buffer/add stability in the ingredients. It's not hard to correct this if you did experience it, but your cherry recipe has already been a good start, because the fruit helps to buffer the pH swings and reduce the issue (that's not to say that it doesn't happen with fruit batches, it can do).

You would find, with a lot of traditional type mixes (presuming a mix of 1.3kg to 1.6kg of honey mixed up to 5 litres total with water), a pH of something like 3.5 pH to 4.0 pH (and yes, people can often be quite surprised how acidic it is - but they don't follow that the high sweetness masks a lot of acidity like that). Once the ferment kicks in, it can drop down to the lower 3.X area, and sometimes lower. As long as it doesn't drop below 3.0 pH, then the yeast usually managed OK. If it drop lower, then it can cause a stalled/stuck ferment - which is why some of us routinely keep some potassium carbonate handy, as that's about the best material to add to increase pH/reduce acidity.

In respect of your cherry batch, it's worth remembering what it is that you think you'll want from it once it's finished. If you compare the difference of the taste of fresh grapes to the taste of a wine, that's the sort of difference when the ferment is completed i.e. you may find that while you enjoy the unfermented ingredients, they can sometimes taste pretty foul once there's little or no sugars present.

I'm making this point, because it's worth remembering the difference and whether you want all of the fruit (or even other ingredients) taste changed completely, which is what you usually get with fruit in the primary part of the process. If you add it to the secondary part (presuming that you have added stabilising chemicals or just used enough fermentable sugars to have surpassed the alcohol tolerance for the yeast) that you end up with a more "fruity" flavour from the original fruit taste, and it will be less of a wine-like experience and more of a fruit cordial-like flavour.

Don't worry about your English - it just so happens that the majority here are native speakers (Brits, American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, etc), but in most cases your english will be considerably better than our Dutch (or other languages that some speak for that matter).

The NewBee guide linked in the left side yellow box is worth a read. It's quite a lot, but it's got some very valuable knowledge there, so worth the effort.......

Tom Sluiters
01-12-2014, 07:17 AM
Thank you fatbloke

In fact I did order all of my supplies at brouwmarkt.nl, but it is good to know that there are more Dutch people on the forums.

I did read the complete NewBee guide. It is indeed a good source of information for people like me who just start out with making mead.

About adding the fruit at primary or secondary fermentation, I added it at the primary this tome so I did not have to use any other nutrients or stuff like that since the fruit contains a lot of the nutrients needed for the yeast (as I understand). For future batches I am thinking about adding it to secondary because the finished mead would taste a lot more like fresh fruit. I am curious to see how this batch will work out.

How can you exactly know that primary fermentation has ended, and secondary has started?

Chevette Girl
01-12-2014, 08:18 AM
How can you exactly know that primary fermentation has ended, and secondary has started?

This is one of those wibbly-wobbly things that isn't a defined line... usually we'd consider a must to be in primary before you rack and secondary after you've racked, but only if you let it pretty much finish before you rack it.

It's all the same process, just that it goes a lot faster at the beginning (you'll go through at least 90% of your sugars within the first week or two) and the last little bits of sugar can sometimes take weeks or months to finally finish.

Tom Sluiters
01-14-2014, 02:38 PM
I racked the mead off the fruit today and made a mead log: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22552

Thanks everyone for the great help!