View Full Version : Beginners Mead and Bee Pollen

12-28-2014, 05:03 PM
Please be greeted by all the salutary remarks. I am new to making what appears to be an ancient, yet palate-pleasing fermented beverage of the oldest known consumable byproduct of an insect. I have never consumed, nor have I seen mead, however, I am anxious to give it a go. I have acquired all the necessary tools and equipment, and intend on making a large batch, 5 gallons to be precise, of Joe's famous orange mead. I have read, re-read, and I have studied the 46 page Newbie Guide to Making Mead (either my condolences to the author for such a painstaking document, or my sincere appreciation to a very informative read). I do have a question or two for the more experienced, perhaps Joe himself.

1. Would it be preferable to use bee pollen as a nutrient in place of the raisins? It seems appropriate given the bees worked so hard to produce the honey.
2. Am I correct in assuming that scaling up the proportions that I would use 5 teaspoons of yeast? It seems like a lot, but I do plan on making a starter.

I am retired, and I look forward to sitting in my over-stuffed but very comfortable reading chair and watching the bubbler, well, bubble for the next 8 or 9 months. Oh, and thank you to, I believe it is Vicky, for such a fine resource on mead making. I have spent several hours a night with my tablet in my easy chair.

12-30-2014, 11:52 AM
For your first time, I'd suggest you make your JAOM according to the recipe exactly. Then when you know what it's supposed to do, you can experiment and see how it's different when you tweak it, but it's good to have a baseline.

12-30-2014, 01:45 PM
I tend to be on the cautious side, even while loading my guns, so I think I will take your advice and stick with the chems until I have advanced my knowledge a bit. Having never even sipped this fine delectable drink, I am concerned about the chems altering the taste. Does it come clean on the tongue, what I mean, is there no after-taste? I want my result to be that of fine dining, you know, a favorable drink that many will want a second glass of.

12-30-2014, 03:23 PM
Hi JDWebb, and welcome.
I strongly support curgoth's post. The first time you make anything I think you want to first clamber onto the shoulders of those who have some experience in the field and then when you are confident you understand what they are doing and you are confident that you can read the message through the noise (distinguish what is essential from the hub-bub) then it makes sense to cut your own path. The recipe you refer to in fact (IMO) really shows Joe's remarkable understanding of the underlying chemistry of fermentation, but it does so in ways that if you were to make mead more "conventionally" you cannot mix and match any of his ingredients or procedures. The use of oranges, the use of raisins, the use of bread yeast, the amount of honey, the volume of water, the instructions not to touch the fermenter, each of these details is not there by happenstance. For example - and others on this forum may not agree with me - the oranges - cut into 8ths are not simply in the must to add orange flavor (so that you might think - OK, I can add another fruit) nor are they simply there to add an acidic kick to what might be a flat less than interesting mead (so that you might think -OK perhaps I can squeeze some lemon juice ). They are there to replace an hydrometer: when the oranges drop the yeast has finished fermenting and enough CO2 has dissipated to allow you to safely bottle the mead. And each ingredient and each instruction is included for similarly significant reasons (the raisins provide the yeast nutrients missing from the honey, similar to very old wine recipes that advise you to add a slice of bread to the must)
If you want to make meads I suggest you read Ken Schramm's classic The Compleat Meadmaker or a more recent work with a more modern spelling - Steven Piatz' The Complete Meadmaker
Mead is a lovely drink and it is fun to make and share. It's magic.

12-30-2014, 03:59 PM
bernardsmith, Worker Bee, thank you for your response. As eager as I am, I have read extensively (almost too extensively to the point of confusion based on the amount of information) about making mead. So it is, that I shall acquire a 1 gallon jug, fleischmanns yeast, an orange, some honey, and a small box of raisins then, and proceed with the tested recipe. I was eager to "proportion it up" to a 5 gallon amount since I have all the equipment to do so.

However, my first question has been answered several times in different places, my second question still stands. When I am prepared to take this to a 5 gallon capacity, I have read where proportioning up the quantities is done with no problem. But...I am concerned about the amount of yeast, 5 teaspoons is a lot of yeast. Would the proportion be correct then?

Medsen Fey
12-30-2014, 05:02 PM
5 tsp isn't all that much, but you can limit it to 1 or 2 and still have the recipe work - and you don't need a starter.

And as for taste, the taste and aftertaste will be heavily dependent on the honey you choose. "Some honey" may not produce the same result as some good-quality, minimally-processed, honey. In California, some excellent orange blossom honey should be readily available, among others. Better honey = Better Mead.

12-30-2014, 05:21 PM
Thank you Medsen Fey, when I said "some honey"..I intend on getting my honey directly from a local apiary that produces their own brand. They have several varieties including wildflower, cactus, buckwheat, orange blossom and clover. I will most likely use wildflower or orange blossom. I was concerned about chemicals when I get to that point, but for now, it has been suggested that I stay with the original recipe for a first batch.
Thank you.

Medsen Fey
12-31-2014, 04:59 PM
The lighter orange blossom or clover honey varieties tend to work well and for a first batch, I would suggest those. They are least likely to have something unpleasant hiding in the background.

12-31-2014, 07:24 PM
I know I have another response to this, but here's goes another. I am going to use clover for the first batch, and will do a 1 gallon version as laid out in Joe's recipe.

01-15-2015, 04:18 PM
Alright, I need some advice here now. I have a 5 gallon mead going, started 1/5.

15 lbs Orange Blossom Honey
Juice from 5 oranges
The zested skin from all 5 oranges (with very little pith)
Spring water to bring it to about 5.3 gallons
5 Allspice berries
1/8 crushed nutmeg
D47 yeast (had to re-pitch after no activity for better than 24 hours)
2 tsp Superfood nutrient
8 oz bee pollen
SG - 1.111
Another 2 tsp of nutrient 3 days later.

It chugged along pretty good

Today 1/15 - It is now at 1.016 at approx. 12.58 ABV (which sounds like a reasonable amount to me) Bubbles were every 4 seconds last night, today they are way less than that. When I opened the lid to get the gravity reading, it looked good, fresh looking, no unusual smell.

My question is, is it time to rack it into the 5 gallon glass carboy and let it sit? I think I would like to backsweeten it by adding additional honey (not sure how much to add?), but don't want it to take off and start fermenting again (do I add potassium sorbate?). I didn't taste it, forgot to do that when I opened it, and don't want to open it again until its time to rack.

01-15-2015, 04:57 PM
I'd say you should take gravity readings every other day and when it's done (the same gravity for 5+ days), then rack it into the secondary. I'd back-sweeten when racking and use both sorbate and k-metabisulphate, otherwise the yeast will wake up and eat the additional honey.

01-15-2015, 05:01 PM
Thanks Brent, if I'm happy with the ABV now, is it not advisable to start that process now, or am I better off to wait the 5 days?

01-15-2015, 06:14 PM
UPDATE: After I checked the gravity and sealed it back up, it started bubbling again at the rate of 1 about every 3-4 seconds. Its been that way for several hours now. So maybe I'll wait as Brent says, and keep checking.

Medsen Fey
01-15-2015, 11:37 PM
Let it finish. Then rack it. You can decide to stabilize and sweeten after that.


01-16-2015, 01:04 AM
Alrighty then, let 'er finish! And when do you know it's finished? Please don't tell me when it stops bubbling....

Medsen Fey
01-16-2015, 09:47 AM
When the gravity stops dropping it is done. I usually wait until things stop bubbling and then I check gravity to confirm completion.


01-16-2015, 12:53 PM
Thank you Medsen Fey, I will implement a vigorous scheduled gravity check every 2 days and track the progress. It looks good, smells good, not sure what it tastes like at this point, but will take a sample tomorrow when I check the gravity.