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xanderphillips
01-22-2014, 11:01 PM
Just picked up gear/supplies this week from my LHBS. Never made any alcohol before so this will be my cherry batch. I'm a little familiar with the processes as I observed my stepdad making wine years ago. I'm planning on doing something like JAO for my first attempt in a 3 gallon glass carboy. I'm not a fan of dry beverages, so will be shooting for a more sweet to sweet dessert level, and as high of an ABV as my Lalvin 71B will allow. My 'brewery' will be in my office in the basement, so the temps are very steady and mild. (~70 all the time).

Looking forward to getting started hoping my mistakes more often than not are at least somewhat tasty ones!

Thanks in advance to everyone here!
Xanderphillips

Bob1016
01-22-2014, 11:58 PM
Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize and be patient.
That's the best advice I can give.
I will say that using 71B voids the warranty on JAOM: it goes dry which requires more age and throws the intended balance off. If you want it sweet you'll have to add more honey to compensate for 71B's alcohol tolerance. If you want JAOM, use the bread yeast, it will only go to ~10%abv and will leave plenty of residual sugar.

Welcome to GotMead! Prepare to get addicted! ;)

kudapucat
01-23-2014, 12:23 AM
Also, if you mess up, you can get a lot of 'hot' flavours. These aren't all that bad, but mixed with cherries it'll taste like cough medicine.
If you haven't bought the cherries yet, I wouldn't use them for your first batch. If you have... well waste not want not. Jump right in.

mmclean
01-23-2014, 05:19 AM
Hey kudapucat,

I don't think that's what he meant by "cherry batch". ;D

Welcome to GOTMEAD xanderphillips.

I agree with Bob1016. Stick to a proven recipe the first few times. Quick meads are by nature lower in alcohol, but at 12-14% still not wimps.

Maybe try a JOAM and then a BOMM. Gets you off to a good start and gives you something good to drink while you work on some next level stuff.

Just my two cents worth of free advice. ;)

kudapucat
01-23-2014, 05:30 AM
Oh. Forgive me. We don't really use that vernacular down under.

Make sure you use an airlock, and don't bottle too soon. I would want you to pop your own!

xanderphillips
01-24-2014, 12:36 AM
First off, I sanitized the crap out of everything within a 1/4 mile before I started, so hopefully I got that taken care of! Ok, so I just bucketed my first batch. It's 1 gallon of clover honey, 1 pack of 71B yeast, 1oz of raisins, 2 medium navel oranges zested and peeled smashed to pieces (left out the peel, just added the zest), one split open vanilla bean, and a big squirt of natural lemon juice and lime juice. (I tried to lower the pH with the lemon/lime juice I had on hand... it helped a tiny tiny bit... I thought it was weird that my honey/distilled water mix was at a pH of like 7.3 when I started!?!? I topped it off to 4 gallons with the distilled water. After mixing in all the citrius, raisins, lemon and lime juices I was able to get it down to 6.3, but I ran out of options to get it lower than that. (that's still fairly high right?). The must was at about 78 degrees when I pitched my yeast. (I re-hydrated it first for 15 min in 108 degree water). My brix was 34, so if my math is right that's a starting point of about 22.7% potential? I believe the yeast is supposed to have a tolerance of 14%(+/-) so that theoretically leaves ~8.7% left over as sugars at the end right? (or a bit less if the yeast goes higher than 14%? I aerated the shizzatz out of it with my stir paddle attached to my drill and then mixed in about 6 teaspoons of Fermax. Snapped on the lid and the airlock and stuck it by my desk in the basement. Fingers crossed I didn't screw up too badly!

-Xanderphillips

Bob1016
01-24-2014, 07:27 AM
7.3?! 6.3?!!! What are you using to measure pH? Honey usually caps at a pH of 4.0, some can go higher, but that's rare. Distilled water is not the best choice due to lack of minerals, generally spring water has what trace elements are needed.

Medsen Fey
01-24-2014, 12:10 PM
Don't worry about the pH being high. The yeast will bring it down. When you check pH either use a meter that is calibrated, or fresh test strips that are designed with a range appropriate for wine (3.0 - 5.0 or thereabouts)

Sent from my THINGAMAJIG with WHATCHAMACALLIT

Bob1016
01-24-2014, 12:43 PM
My concern with the high pH was hygienic. Honey is usually pretty safe due to high SG and low pH, but to get a must pH so high, the honey must have been rather high and may have been susceptible to spoilage. The few osmophilic yeast in honey are normally kept at bay by the low pH, you don't think it could cause a potential issue?
Don't get me wrong, I'd ferment it still, but it was just a shocking number.

bernardsmith
01-24-2014, 03:13 PM
My first thought was how are you measuring the pH. I would be very surprised if the honey was so alkaline. Are you using a pH meter? Was it calibrated recently?

xanderphillips
01-25-2014, 12:15 AM
My first thought was how are you measuring the pH. I would be very surprised if the honey was so alkaline. Are you using a pH meter? Was it calibrated recently?

I'm measuring it with a Milwaukee pH600 digital meter calibrated with 7.01 buffer solution.

It shocked me as well. I am going to re-calibrate again and re-test pH. I'm worried now that maybe I dropped the pH way low with a bad pH calibration, but I tested the must multiple times as I added ingredients.

xanderphillips
01-25-2014, 01:13 AM
I read the entire newbee guide but am still puzzled about the abv vs yeast tolerance vs final sweetness.

For example, If I start with enough honey to give me a potential of 22% and use a yeast that has a tolerance of say 14%, does that 22-14=8 value equate to a certain level of sweetness on a chart somehow?

My thinking is that the honey that wasn't converted to alcohol (the left over 8% potential) is where my sweetness comes from on the back end, but I don't know how to convert this leftover potential value into a relative sweetness. Is there a chart I've missed?

Sorry if I didn't find it and it was staring me in the face!
-X

kudapucat
01-25-2014, 06:20 AM
Yeah you're right.
There are many charts but I don't use them.
Being mathematically minded, I use the following figures.

Honey has SG of 1.4 on average.
So weighs 1.4 kg per litre.
Water has SG of 1.0.

There's a magic number 135 that I use to change gravity to % abv. Please note this only works for high alcohol, the number changes as you get toward beer ABV.

Take the following example:
OG : 1.100
Min FG: 1.000
So delta SG: 0.100
Multiply by 135 = 13.5%

This is your potential alcohol.

Yeast tolerance 14%
14/135= 0.104 the yeast will create this much delta SG.

So if you ferment with 14% year it will go dry.

Add some sugar to 1.150
And it will ferment down to 1.045
Leaving sweetness at the full 14% (or so)

As a rough guide:

0.900-1.000 = dry
1.000-1.010 = semi dry
1.010-1.020 = medium
1.020-1.030 = sweet
1.030-1.050 = desert.
>1.050 = rarely drinkable - add soda water upon serving.

This is just my taste and my opinion. It's very subjective but it gives you somewhere to aim.


Nothing's for certain in this game. Yeast are live beasties, and they live their lives how they want, in the environment you give them.

xanderphillips
01-25-2014, 03:25 PM
Thanks! So for example if my starting gravity was 1.15, and 14% tolerant yeast I would do 1.15 - .103704 (14/135) and that would leave 1.044696, so a Dessert sweetness... (if that's the FG I actually end up at)

Nice, thanks!

I figured that the SG minus the yeast potential left a useful value, but wasn't sure what to do with it! :)

-X

kudapucat
01-25-2014, 06:10 PM
Ok. Keep your gravity figures to 4 digits. No more, no less.
It's much too confusing for non-scientific types, and requires more concentration than my first half-drunk coffee of the morning allows.

kudapucat
01-25-2014, 06:12 PM
That said: your maths is sound.
Add a +/- 10% error due to yeast doing as it pleases and you're away.

xanderphillips
01-28-2014, 11:51 PM
I'm sitting at 5.6pH.

Still no yeast activity after 4 days.

Still too soon to panic?

kudapucat
01-29-2014, 06:26 AM
Ok. Can you recap.
Where did you start (OG)
Where did it stop (FG)
What yeast did you use?
Scanning the thread all I can see is talk of pH.

Bob1016
01-29-2014, 09:55 AM
The pH decrease would seem to indicate some activity, but gravity is really needed to tell what's going on.

mannye
01-29-2014, 10:41 AM
Are you in a bucket? I know this is kind of "duh" but have you made sure the lid is snapped on all the way around? Any leak will cause the gas to take the path of least resistance and you won't see any airlock activity. Also, get a gravity reading because that's really the only way to know for sure, as Bob says.

I also just noticed you used distilled water. Next time, don't. You need some minerals and junk (I'm sure the more science minded can offer details as to the "junk") to help get the process started. Distilled water, like RO water is a "nutrient desert." Spring water or tap water (filtered) is what you want. If I still lived in NYC, I would use tap water straight (letting it gas out for 24 hours to remove chlorine)

kudapucat
01-29-2014, 05:14 PM
The nutrient desert thing is still debatable.
We have darn good water here in Melbourne. Many say the best in the world. Not much chlorine. I don't bother letting it gasout, the CO2 strips it pretty well, and it doesn't effect the yeast.

Honeyhog
01-30-2014, 10:36 PM
All I have ever used is RO or distilled water and it's never been an issue for me.

Bob1016
01-31-2014, 07:25 AM
I think for your first couple of batches you should use spring water (hedging your bets). Once you get the hang of things (using good practices and nutrient regimes) you can use RO or distilled with no ill effect. I've done it for quite a few batches and they're fine. I will say that you should never rehydrate yeast in anything but spring water though (why take the risk of unhealthy yeast in the begining?).

mannye
01-31-2014, 08:35 AM
All I have ever used is RO or distilled water and it's never been an issue for me.


I used RO water for beer but always added a large dose of nutrients at the beginning to the wort even though the ingredients for beer are more nutrient rich than mead must. Honey has a lot of sugar but little else in the way of nutrients. I'm just sayin'. Try spring water next time and compare the results.


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now. G

xanderphillips
02-03-2014, 10:55 PM
Just storing some notes here for myself:
I started at 1.1170 and am currently at 1.0920, my yeast should top out at around 14% ABV, so I think I'm close to my first 1/3 sugar break. (If I did my math right.)

I've estimated the 1/3's at (1.0813-1.0870), (1.0457-1.0570), and 1.0100-1.0270).

So I think with an estimated FG of between 1.0100-1.0270 that's about the middle of a 'medium' sweetness?

kudapucat
02-04-2014, 05:33 AM
Yes I wouldn't call that dry. It is up to personal taste though, as I said. YMMV
With that variance 1.010-1.027 it's medium or sweet. Which is a really good place to start.
When deciding what I like, 2-3 points can make the world of difference. eg 1.012-1.015

(Btw, that's 5 digits ;-) 1.027, not 1.0270)

xanderphillips
02-04-2014, 10:04 PM
I'd probably take it to like 10 decimals if my hydrometer was digital! LOL I'll keep trying to do better on my rounding! :)

Dropped to 1.090 today (see, I can learn!).

I added like 1/4 tsp more fermax, and gave it a very very gentle swish with my ladle to see if that helps it along...

Great news! I may be buying 5 beehives from a coworker that is moving out of state.

MY VERY OWN PERPETUAL SUPPLY OF HONEY!!!

Muhahahaha!!!

(If you close your eyes you should be able to see me wringing my hands together wearing an evil grin, lab coat, oversized rubber safety gloves and huge 18th century safety goggles!)

-Xanderphillips

kudapucat
02-04-2014, 11:22 PM
[...]

MY VERY OWN PERPETUAL SUPPLY OF HONEY!!!

Muhahahaha!!!

(If you close your eyes you should be able to see me wringing my hands together wearing an evil grin, lab coat, oversized rubber safety gloves and huge 18th century safety goggles!)

-Xanderphillips

I think you need to change your avatar ;-)

xanderphillips
02-25-2014, 11:37 PM
Looking very nice... actually it looks like a huge container of orange juice! LOL!

SG is now at exactly 1.000 Fairly harsh still, but backsweetened my sample with some off the shelf honey and warmed it up in the microwave (heresy, I know) for a REALLY nice throat soothing 'hot toddy'... (Did I mention I've been sick?)

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5473/12784799714_9f2cac3759.jpg

GntlKnigt1
02-26-2014, 10:20 AM
Okay.... IF you really HAVE been sick, you can be excused. Otherwise, you have to send us all a 750 ml bottle of your finest.... and I DON'T live very close to you !!! <Grin>

xanderphillips
02-26-2014, 04:50 PM
Wish I hadn't been. I'm on some horse-pill sized antibiotics currently for this upper respiratory infection. :(


Okay.... IF you really HAVE been sick, you can be excused. Otherwise, you have to send us all a 750 ml bottle of your finest.... and I DON'T live very close to you !!! <Grin>

GntlKnigt1
02-26-2014, 06:31 PM
Alas....hate that when it happens. Hope you're better soon.

Sent from the Nexus of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which has been infected with Vogon poetry, some of which leaked out here.

mannye
02-26-2014, 08:03 PM
Sending wishes for a quick return to imbibing large quantities of mead!


Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now. G