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View Full Version : Russian mead (medovukha/медовуха) help?



Nzie
03-28-2014, 11:43 AM
Hi all, newbie here. I searched for medovukha, and I saw that there is some opinion that it might not count as mead, but I'm hoping someone may be able to help anyway. Any help is appreciated. I am extremely detailed here so pardon the length, but hopefully it will be useful.

I translated this recipe from a Russian cookbook because I lived in Russia for a couple years and loved медовуха. I tried some bought mead back in the states, but it wasn't as good as the medovukha. It seems to me like this recipe pre-supposes some knowledge of how to do it (or at least being able to ask someone). None of my Russian friends have made it, however, and the internet also didn't seem to have a lot of help (I tried checking Russian sites but either I'm missing something because my Russian isn't good enough, or they are also assuming a lot of background knowledge).

Recipe:
500g/1.475c honey
500g/2.5c sugar
4 liters/ (16.9c/4.22qt./1.05gal) water
100g/3.5oz. yeast

Dissolve the sugar and half the honey in the water, bring to a boil, stirring and removing the foam, 10-15 minutes.
Cool to 25-30C/77-86F.
Next, add pre-diluted yeast to the same liquid, stir and store in a warm place to ferment.

After 2-3 days, strain, move to a cold place, and leave it there for 2-3 weeks.

After that, strain again, add the remaining honey, and dissolve completely.
---
After doing some research, I concluded from the scant sources that I would need campden tablets to stop the fermentation, so I bought some. Otherwise I followed the recipe as written.

Equipment: pot, 1 gal carboy, airlock.

My result was recognizably in the medovukha family, but too yeasty in taste and not as strong as I expected. Here are the problems, and also my guesses at solutions. I greatly appreciate any suggestions you all have.

1. I pre-diluted the yeast, then did the boiling and cooling. The cooling took a really long time, so by the time it was ready to add, the yeast had foamed up quite a lot. I combined it according to the directions, but had to set the thing in the sink for about a day because mixture bubbled for a really long time -- I lost a lot of volume through bubbles through the airlock.
My ideas/considerations:
A. I used baking yeast from the grocery store. This time I'm going to buy brewing yeast from the homebrew store. I'm thinking mead yeast, although I was also considering champagne yeast, since medovukha does seem a little different from most meads here anyway, and is often a little bubbly.
B. Is there a better way to prepare the yeast? I treated "pre-diluted yeast" as the way I'd prepare yeast for baking - some sugar and warm water. But since there's so much sugar in the recipe, maybe it really just meant to dissolve the yeast in water? I also thought that it sitting there so long while the mixture cooled was probably a problem.

2. I had trouble straining it. I used everything I could think of that I had around once I realized a mesh strainer wasn't cutting it. At the end, there was a yeasty silt at the bottom of the bottle that got unsettled every time I poured it. I used coffee filters, paper towels, etc., because it hadn't occurred to me that straining wouldn't work right. Can I get rid of that silt at all at the end? Maybe cheesecloth?

3. That yeasty taste. Would changing the yeast help this?

Again, any help much appreciated and sorry for the length!
~Nzie

WVMJack
03-28-2014, 01:37 PM
You have so much to learn about basic mead making. First, the yeast is to small for you to strain out at home. Sulfites dont kill the fermenting yeast. You did a good job rehydrating your yeast, you can do the same with some wine yeast. I would suggest dropping the sugar in the recipe and just using honey, that makes your learning easier because now you can make a simple traditional mead and there are all kinds of instructions for that. Maybe a Joes Ancient Orange mead might be a good learning experience for your first batch? Or even a BOMM to try out the first steps in mead making? Good luck, WVMJ

GntlKnigt1
03-28-2014, 01:54 PM
Also, a hydrometer would be a good purchase when you get your yeast, and a racking tube, to avoid getting the sediment in your batch when you pour from one container to another (often called decanting...you can google that). For preparing your yeast, he is an excerpt from my "usual practices" tome....

Starter – I usually make a yeast starter. Put 2 cups of room temp water in a bottle that can be fitted with a fermentation lock. Add cup honey, 1/8 tsp DAP/starter, 1/8 tsp nutrient/energizer, and 1 tsp of the selected yeast. Shake it vigorously to mix, put on fermentation lock, and allow it to ferment from 3 to 40 hours, depending on variables like temp, amount of must (1 gallon? 6? More?), yeast reproduction rate (how dense is the putty color of starter?) etc. About 6 hours before pitching the starter, begin adding (reserved and UNsulfited must) to the starter, about 1 cup every 2 hours to allow the yeast to adapt to the must environment. WHY? I usually use dry yeast and this is a way to conserve on yeast, and to get the must off to a much quicker start, thereby minimizing the opportunity for stray yeast to contaminate it. Must will either be pasteurized, sulfited, or left untreated.



You need sorbates AND campden tablets to 'stabilize" it after fermentation.

Noe Palacios
03-28-2014, 04:27 PM
Hi all, newbie here. I searched for medovukha, and I saw that there is some opinion that it might not count as mead, but I'm hoping someone may be able to help anyway. Any help is appreciated. I am extremely detailed here so pardon the length, but hopefully it will be useful.

I translated this recipe from a Russian cookbook because I lived in Russia for a couple years and loved медовуха. I tried some bought mead back in the states, but it wasn't as good as the medovukha. It seems to me like this recipe pre-supposes some knowledge of how to do it (or at least being able to ask someone). None of my Russian friends have made it, however, and the internet also didn't seem to have a lot of help (I tried checking Russian sites but either I'm missing something because my Russian isn't good enough, or they are also assuming a lot of background knowledge).

Recipe:
500g/1.475c honey
500g/2.5c sugar
4 liters/ (16.9c/4.22qt./1.05gal) water
100g/3.5oz. yeast

Dissolve the sugar and half the honey in the water, bring to a boil, stirring and removing the foam, 10-15 minutes.
Cool to 25-30C/77-86F.
Next, add pre-diluted yeast to the same liquid, stir and store in a warm place to ferment.

After 2-3 days, strain, move to a cold place, and leave it there for 2-3 weeks.

After that, strain again, add the remaining honey, and dissolve completely.
---
After doing some research, I concluded from the scant sources that I would need campden tablets to stop the fermentation, so I bought some. Otherwise I followed the recipe as written.

Equipment: pot, 1 gal carboy, airlock.

My result was recognizably in the medovukha family, but too yeasty in taste and not as strong as I expected. Here are the problems, and also my guesses at solutions. I greatly appreciate any suggestions you all have.

1. I pre-diluted the yeast, then did the boiling and cooling. The cooling took a really long time, so by the time it was ready to add, the yeast had foamed up quite a lot. I combined it according to the directions, but had to set the thing in the sink for about a day because mixture bubbled for a really long time -- I lost a lot of volume through bubbles through the airlock.
My ideas/considerations:
A. I used baking yeast from the grocery store. This time I'm going to buy brewing yeast from the homebrew store. I'm thinking mead yeast, although I was also considering champagne yeast, since medovukha does seem a little different from most meads here anyway, and is often a little bubbly.
B. Is there a better way to prepare the yeast? I treated "pre-diluted yeast" as the way I'd prepare yeast for baking - some sugar and warm water. But since there's so much sugar in the recipe, maybe it really just meant to dissolve the yeast in water? I also thought that it sitting there so long while the mixture cooled was probably a problem.

2. I had trouble straining it. I used everything I could think of that I had around once I realized a mesh strainer wasn't cutting it. At the end, there was a yeasty silt at the bottom of the bottle that got unsettled every time I poured it. I used coffee filters, paper towels, etc., because it hadn't occurred to me that straining wouldn't work right. Can I get rid of that silt at all at the end? Maybe cheesecloth?

3. That yeasty taste. Would changing the yeast help this?

Again, any help much appreciated and sorry for the length!
~Nzie

Я вас завидую, я жил в Петербурге 6 лет и не разу не пробовал медовуху ... эх, чёрт!

Nzie
03-29-2014, 01:39 AM
Thank you very much for your help. I realize I have a lot to learn, and that this recipe is not standard or a "basic" mead. I think you all have provided me with great information though to work out the kinks... I admit I'm rather sentimental about this idea, because I have so many memories associated with it, and also I like the taste better than other meads I've had. I'm also starting to catch onto the vocabulary.

WVMJack, I should have realized.. clearly too small. I will rack this batch.

GntlKnigt1, thanks for that detailed instruction. One more question for you - do you increase or decrease this recipe (by amounts) for how much you're trying to make or do you only alter it as a function of time (the 3 to 40 hours)? And do you have a guideline for how long - like, "3 hours per 1 gallon"?

Noe, некогда? Блин. Медовуха - очень вкусна. Я пробовала в ярмарках мёда в Москве, и купила в Суздале. Москвичи говорят что, суздальская медовуха - самая отличная.

mannye
03-29-2014, 02:16 AM
Questions: Was the Russian mead you remember clear or cloudy? Was it wine strength or stronger in alcohol? Do they mean regular white sugar or brown sugar?

The sugar is what makes the flavor different from "regular" mead. It's probably important to keep it in there if you want the flavor you remember.

To add my 2 cents, I think you should "cold crash" after you ferment. Also, don't ferment in a carboy. Assuming you don't have a fermenting bucket. Use a stainless steel pot and cover it with plastic wrap that you poke about 20 pinholes into. That will keep you from losing good mead through the airlock. Then when the first violent fermentation is finished, transfer to the carboy to finish then do the cold crash. Cold crashing makes a lot of the yeast fall out then you rack.

Wine yeast will give you more alcohol for sure than bread yeast.

I will wait for your answera


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

Nzie
03-29-2014, 03:06 PM
Thanks, mannye.

Answers:
slightly cloudy, but only really cloudy when the slit got unsettled.
I think it was more like wine strength; I was expecting it to be stronger based on what I tried in Russia.
White sugar - brown sugar is uncommon and quite expensive there.

Okay, I will add cold crashing to the process (and maybe borrow fridge space from someone). I might just pick up a bucket at the hardware store, because I don't have any stainless steel pots or kettles.

~Nzie
(a fellow Whovian)

mannye
03-29-2014, 07:59 PM
Lol. Well if the SILT was getting unsettled.

So SILT getting unsettled means the yeast was right there on the bottom and most likely it was also very young. That doesn't mean you can't try to improve it a bit. Like for example, racking off the lees so there's no silt on the bottom.

I think all you need is a proper fermenting bucket which if you have a homebrew store near, should be easy to get. That way you eliminate the worries of anything blowing through an airlock.

It seems this is one of those "folk booze" things like the Cuban "Train Sparks" concoction which will blow your head off. ( funny enough, it is also made from honey, but then distilled to like 70% booze and drunk heads feints tails and all...yikes!) You may want to keep it simple to keep it authentic.

Try it again in the bucket with champagne yeast which will most likely get you to 16% or more then rack into a carboy off the lees, backsweeten with the second honey addition and THEN cold crash to stop any additional fermentation (probably) and clear it at the same time. Good luck! Remember to keep it cold after adding the additional honey because it will probably start fermenting again!


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

Nzie
03-31-2014, 09:35 AM
Thank you! I stopped at the homebrew store Saturday and got a fermenting bucket & a carboy & a siphon. :-) This is definitely a folk booze, and it can go from medium to quite strong.

GntlKnigt1
03-31-2014, 09:39 AM
This could get really interesting.... And potent!

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.

Noe Palacios
03-31-2014, 12:33 PM
Noe, некогда? Блин. Медовуха - очень вкусна. Я пробовала в ярмарках мёда в Москве, и купила в Суздале. Москвичи говорят что, суздальская медовуха - самая отличная.

Привет Нзье!

Интересно, единственное домашнеe что я там пробовал был Самoгон. Спасибо за указание названия медовухи, вoт её рецепт.

http://ylik.ru/nastojki/suzdalskaya-medovuha/

Saludos,

Nzie
04-04-2014, 09:40 PM
Thanks to everyone for assistance. I followed GntlKnigt's yeast dilution method & adding must to it to prep, and done as mannye suggested in putting it in a fermentation bucket & covering with hole-poked cling film. I also checked Noe's link and so used a kettle with enamel (which is apparently "essential" but never mentioned in my cookbook!). I also was careful to sanitize everything. It's all combined now and has been much less violent (probably in great part to GntlKnigt's method & using less yeast than the recipe called for). I've got it wrapped in a blanket (top clear of course). I'm going to follow the shorter time lengths in hopes of having something drinkable for Easter.

Thanks very much to everyone & I'll keep you updated.

Best,
~Nzie

Nzie
04-26-2014, 12:11 PM
Just an update - thanks to everyone for your help - I opened my batch up last week for Easter (after back sweetening and cold crashing) and it came out pretty good. I think I'll let it ferment another week next time (directions said 2-3), but I wanted it for Easter so I tasted it and decided to finish it. It didn't have that strong yeasty taste even before I racked it (which took care of the silt). It's not quite as clear as last time, but it tastes right. I got about 2 liters out of it. I'm going to work on it some more. Thanks very much to everyone for helping out - I really appreciate it. I'm lurking around now and then reading to try to learn more.

the results were two bottles like this:
http://i59.tinypic.com/27ypxkk.jpg

thanks again!
~Nzie

GntlKnigt1
04-26-2014, 12:45 PM
Very cool! Congratulations on your first batch! Did you get a hydrometer? They are about 6 or 7 euros here, and are a big help, especially when you are trying to determine if a batch is done fermenting.

Are you planning another batch?

Sent from Arthur Dent's towel smothering a volume of Vogon poetry, some of which just leaked out.

joemirando
04-26-2014, 01:06 PM
Not for nuthin' but this starter is "Da Bomb!"... literally. I don't think its strictly necessary for a 1 gallon batch. In my (admittedly limited) experience, its kind of a wash with smaller batches, because the yeast don't need to multiply to the same volume for a 1 gallon batch as for a 6 gallon batch, but it still gets the actual ferment off to a rip-roarin' start.

In a six gallon batch, the difference is amazing. The yeast hit the must like a bomb. They're on carbohydrate steroids and ready to party. The ~6 hours I usually put into the starter more than pay off right from the start.

Thanks to GntlKnigt for the starter recipe. I use it every time I make a batch, be it 1 gallon or 6.



Also, a hydrometer would be a good purchase when you get your yeast, and a racking tube, to avoid getting the sediment in your batch when you pour from one container to another (often called decanting...you can google that). For preparing your yeast, he is an excerpt from my "usual practices" tome....

Starter – I usually make a yeast starter. Put 2 cups of room temp water in a bottle that can be fitted with a fermentation lock. Add cup honey, 1/8 tsp DAP/starter, 1/8 tsp nutrient/energizer, and 1 tsp of the selected yeast. Shake it vigorously to mix, put on fermentation lock, and allow it to ferment from 3 to 40 hours, depending on variables like temp, amount of must (1 gallon? 6? More?), yeast reproduction rate (how dense is the putty color of starter?) etc. About 6 hours before pitching the starter, begin adding (reserved and UNsulfited must) to the starter, about 1 cup every 2 hours to allow the yeast to adapt to the must environment. WHY? I usually use dry yeast and this is a way to conserve on yeast, and to get the must off to a much quicker start, thereby minimizing the opportunity for stray yeast to contaminate it. Must will either be pasteurized, sulfited, or left untreated.



You need sorbates AND campden tablets to 'stabilize" it after fermentation.

GntlKnigt1
04-26-2014, 04:53 PM
Cool! Glad it works for you Joe. Its also good when you need to repitch with K1 after stalled fermentation.

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.