View Full Version : Traditional mead

01-31-2015, 10:03 AM
Hi I have a few questions before I start my 1st mead

I am a beekeeper so I decided to use some of the honey to get into mead making. I purchased all the gear needed to get started

1x 30L fermentation bucket kit (airlock etc)
3 x 23L Better bottles
3x dry airlocks
3x closure
auto syphon
no rinse sanitizer

I plan to make a traditional mead to begin with before trying some of the fruit based Melomels, Since my Carboys are a bit over 6Gallon (23L) this is the recipe I was thinking of using

Style: Traditional sweet

Honey: 10KG (22lbs)?
Batch size: 25Litres (6.6Gallons) would this be enough to make to ensure I can fill the better bottles after racking off the lees?
Yeast: I have a choice here of EC-1118, Lalvin D47, Lalvin ICV OKAY, Lalvin 71B, Lalvin KI-V1116 (thinking D47)?
ABV: 12-15% ?
SG: 1.120 ?
FG: 1.00 ?
ABV est: 15%
Temp: ~20C (68F) I purchased a controller to keep a fridge at temp I wish so advise please if there is a better temp

I also purchased the following additives after reading what people used on this site. Fermaid A,Campden Tablets,Potassium sorbate,Go ferm yeast nutrient,bentonite,wine nutrients (contains DAP,Mag sulphate and Mag Carbonate, trace vit,trace minerals)


Sanitize everything well
Rehydrate yeast 10grams with some Go-ferm as instructions say
Make must up to 1.120 (mead calculator I used to get quantities)
Pitch the yeast
aerate with a Sanitized paint stirrer on drill for 5mins
Close lid and place airlock with water
aerate twice a day for the 1st 5 days ?
use vodka after day 5 in airlock
Allow fermentation to complete before racking to BB

Will I need to add nutrients to this batch if so which choice is best Fermaid A or the mixed nutrients DAP,Mag sulphate and Mag Carbonate, trace vit,trace minerals. Do I add these before pitching the yeast or after?

One last question as this is my own honey from the hives do you suggest heating it up with water like I have seen some do or would you use it straight from the hive just filtered?

If anyone can see any errors or recommendations I should change I would be appreciative

01-31-2015, 11:26 AM
Most here prefer Fermaid K and DAP mixture because the YAN can be calculated. You should wait until after the lag phase, which is at the first signs of fermentation after pitching the yeast. It can be added at once, but I prefer over 2 or 3 days. Check out the Newbee guide.

At 22 pounds of honey this mead will be quite sweet at 15% ABV and exceptionally sweet at 12% ABV. Are you planning to cold crash at the desired ABV? Have you considered using less honey and then back sweetening? You have potential for rocket fuel when using a more alcohol tolerant yeast such as 1116 or 1118. If using D47, I would definitely recommend a temp in the low 60s.

Heating is not necessary or desirable. The fresher the better, straight from the hive. The bee butts and wax will either float or sink during fermentation and can be skimmed or racked off.

Good luck.

02-01-2015, 04:25 AM
Thank you for the reply

I thought I would require that much honey for the size batch I was making 25Litres (6.6Gallons) I used the mead calculator as my guide

I am happy to try and back sweeten and reduce honey quantity. How much honey would you suggest I use and what gravity readings to target? I am happy with a high alcohol % as long as it does not effect fermentation.

I tried finding Fermaid K but have only been able to find Fermaid A in Australia


02-01-2015, 11:44 AM
6.6 gallons is a good amount if you want to end up with six gallons, as you will have losses with each racking. Just have a smaller carboy (jug) to collect the extra after the first racking. ABV above 13% often gives a hot tasting mead which may take years to mellow. However, added sweetness will cover much of the hotness. If this is your first mead I recommend 13% ABV or lower. You can adjust your next batch accordingly using this one as a basis of comparison. O.G.= 1.100 provides 13.2% ABV @ 1.000 and 13.7% ABV if it ferments to 0.996, and requires 18.4 lbs. of honey for 6.6 gallons. I usually shoot for O.G. = 1.090 which provides 12% ABV @ 1.000 and 12.5% ABV if it ferments to 0.996 and requires 16.5 lbs. of honey for 6.6 gallons.

The most tried and true way to back sweeten after stabilizing is to just keep adding honey to a sample (4 fluid ounces) of your finished mead until the desired sweetness results and proportion it to the 6 gallon carboy. Mead actually tastes sweeter as it ages, but chances are that your first batch will not be around too long. Do you have a wine that you like for residual sugar (RS) or added sugar comparisons? RS = 2% requires about 2.24 fluid ounces of honey in a gallon of mead, including the added honey. RS = 4% requires double that. Etc.

The Fermaid A looks similar to Fermaid K, but I have not done any calculations. There are a lot of discussions in this forum on YAN. Use the search engine to find out about how much to add. Generally you want twice the YAN from the Fermaid as from the DAP.

Again, good luck.

Medsen Fey
02-01-2015, 02:44 PM
Fermaid A will work fine. At 1g/L it will provide about 123 ppm YAN according to the data sheet (http://www.scottlab.com/uploads/documents/technical-documents/866/tech%20sheet%20-%20Fermaid%20A%20-%20100202.pdf).
I'm not sure of the exact YAN content of your other nutrient mix, but I'd probably use a combination of both. If you are going to use D47, I'd probably add:

Fermaid A - 1 g/L
DAP mix - 0.5 g/L

I'd add 2/3 of the total at the beginning and the rest at the 1/3 fermentation point.

D47 is a great yeast if you can maintain the temperature. It will typically go to 14% which equates to a starting gravity of about 1.105. If you start any higher than that, you'll likely have some residual sugar. If you want it sweet that may be OK. Heating honey is not something I'd suggest unless you have some aromatic elements that aren't pleasant that you'd like to try to get rid of - it isn't necessary to pasteurize the must before starting.

I hope you get a great batch.

02-02-2015, 05:07 AM
Thanks for the advice it has helped a lot

02-08-2015, 10:06 AM
Hi again, I started this batch 24hrs ago. I aerated it 13hrs after pitching the yeast and it looked like it had gone past the lag phase so I added my nutrients 2/3 at the begging as suggested

I have just aerated it again and it has a fair amount of foam on top of the must. I did have an airlock on which was not bubbling but i think I may not have had a good seal on the airlock (does the foaming indicate the yeast are active and doing well?).

The temp I am fermenting at is between 16C-16.5C (60.8F-61.7F)

Any advice on when to start checking for the 1/3 sugar break?

02-08-2015, 12:14 PM
The foam is an indication that the yeast are fine. You should check no later than day 2, especially when temps are greater than 70 degrees F. But at your fermentation temperature, it could easily take a few days more. The daily gravity reading will give some idea on how the fermentation is progressing. Checking the pH is also a good idea as traditional meads often require some pH adjustments to keep the yeast happy.

Medsen Fey
02-08-2015, 01:05 PM
At that temp, probably at about 72 hours, but it won't hurt to start earlier, and give it some aeration. The foam means the yeast are working.

What was the starting gravity?


02-08-2015, 01:40 PM
Thanks I will start to check it when I aerate it next.

OG 1.112 a little higher than I targeted, So by what I can work out after searching sugar breaks, 1/3 sugar break will be at around 1.074?

I thought I had corrected the air leak but I am still not seeing any bubbles from the airlock. Is this something to worry about?

02-09-2015, 03:17 AM

I took a gravity reading which was a little hard to do as there was lots of bubbles rising in the test tube but I think it is around 1.100 so still to early to add more nutrients

pH test was around 4

02-09-2015, 04:32 AM
I went down to my local HBS and purchased a new airlock and grommet and now I have it bubbling away

02-09-2015, 08:46 PM
Those airlocks have a ridge on them from the manufacturing process that can cause leaks. What I have done is to file mine down then gently flame them to soften the plastic and make it smooth so it gets a better seal. Takes some practise to get it right, but it works for me, I did melt a few airlocks in the learning process, but it's worth it in the end knowing my airlocks will not leak gasses in or out the bung area and oxidizing my mead!

02-15-2015, 01:35 PM
Hi just an update and a quick question

My must is still fermenting at about 1 airlock bloop (S type) every 7 seconds is this a bit to slow and should I take a gravity reading and test pH or just let it continue doing its thing?


Medsen Fey
02-15-2015, 07:05 PM
It never hurts to take a gravity and pH reading to see where you are.

02-15-2015, 09:07 PM
Hi just an update and a quick question

My must is still fermenting at about 1 airlock bloop (S type) every 7 seconds is this a bit to slow and should I take a gravity reading and test pH or just let it continue doing its thing?


Take that gravity reading. As Medsen said, pH wouldn't hurt either.

In general, you'll want to wait until the 'bloops' slow down to 1 per every 30 seconds. By then, a lot of the sediment and dead yeast will have settled to the bottom.
You don't want to rack too often, because you leave some behind every time you rack off the lees. I try (and I emphasize TRY) to go longer than that because I'm... frugal. Yeah, let's call it frugal. ;)

You wont hurt anything if you go longer than that before racking. I've waited until there was no bubbling activity at all and then racked, and it did not affect the outcome at all. It just saved me a glass or so of darned good mead.

Sounds like you're well on your way go being able to brag!

02-16-2015, 02:52 AM

I took a a gravity reading it was 1.026 which would make it around 11.5% ABV ATM, pH was still 4 on the strips I purchased. I will be investing in a digital pH meter so I can get more accurate results.

I tasted it and was expecting for it to taste not that great at this point and was surprised to find I enjoyed it even now, It tastes a bit like champagne

Can not wait to rack it into my Better bottle so I can get on to making another batch :)

Medsen Fey
02-16-2015, 06:55 AM
I'd let come to a stop before racking.


02-16-2015, 09:44 AM
Ok I am in not in a hurry to rush it so I will let it stop before racking.

02-20-2015, 09:15 AM
I have just taken another gravity reading and it is 1.004 which would make it around 14% ABV.

I am still getting 1 burp every 2 mins so will not rack it yet.

My plan is to test the gravity every 2nd day and if I see no movement in 2 consecutive tests it has finished fermenting. Does this sound like the correct thing to do?

I still enjoyed the taste (may say more about my palate than anything) so I am not sure if I should back sweeten at all

Do I need to stabilize still if I do not back sweeten?

This site has been such a great help it is time to become a patron :cool:

02-20-2015, 12:53 PM
At 1.004 there's still fermentable sugar in there, and even if you used something like D47 with a low tolerance, there's a risk that it could wake up when it gets warmer and start blowing up your bottles. You can usually get away with bottling something dry (SG <=1) with stabilizers, but as is you probably want to stabilize or pasteurize just in case.

Medsen Fey
02-20-2015, 09:50 PM
That's good advice unless you let it age under airlock for a long long time.

02-21-2015, 04:34 AM
OK I will stabilize.

After researching more on stabilizing here I found out that Campden tablets come in both Potassium Meta and Sodium Meta I contacted the place I ordered them from to find out which I had, I got a reply that mine are Sodium Meta.

I will contact my LHBS on Monday to see if they have Potassium Meta which seems to be the preferred type to use with mead, If they do not I may have to wait a few extra days for it to be shipped to me.

Medsen Fey
02-21-2015, 12:16 PM
KMeta is preferred, but the sodium form can be used in a PINCH.


02-24-2015, 02:51 AM
I just wished to check with you all before I go ahead and stabilize this batch

My gravity is unchanged from my last test so I think I am safe to rack
pH is reading 4 on my test strips
I do not have an SO2 test kit so I can not use the VinoCalc

My thoughts are I should use the following amounts

Potassium Sorbate 2tsp
KMeta 1/2tsp

I have read to add the KMeta then wait 24hrs before adding Sorbate but also read some add both at the same time is there a right/wrong way to do this or personal preference

Does this seem correct for my 6.6 gallon batch?

Medsen Fey
02-24-2015, 09:35 AM
Those amounts should work. It is best to go by weight. You might want to increase the KMeta by tsp.


02-24-2015, 01:14 PM
Thanks for the continued help

I racked into my 23L Better Bottle and added 5 grams of Potassium Sorbate and 4 grams of KMeta

I hope that was the correct conversions

03-10-2015, 02:53 PM

Since updating it seems to be doing fine, It does not seem to be clearing fast so I was curious how long people would wait before considering fining. I was thinking of doing a 2nd racking about 1.5 Months from initial rack, would this be the best time to add bentonite? or please advise a better schedule.

I am in no rush to drink this mead as I would prefer it to taste as good as it can :)

I currently have a Yo's Strawberry Melomel fermenting as my 2nd attempt and everything seems to be going well, the advice and knowledge of this forum is great and the Patrons membership is invaluable.

Medsen Fey
03-10-2015, 08:46 PM
I'll usually start to think about fining if things haven't cleared in 6 months.


03-11-2015, 06:47 PM
I'd wait a month or so longer. If there is no progress, try some Super-Kleer. After about 48hrs it will be nice and clear to rack again. Age after that or bottle whenever. IMHO bentonite takes way to long to work and finally settle out (it seems to work better for wines tossed in during primary). You could try a fining test using small clear bottles of your mead and see finings works best with your batch.

Did you use some pectinase in your Melomel before pitching at primary?

03-12-2015, 03:01 PM
Thanks for the replies

I will wait for the 6mths as suggested then decide on fining.

No I did not add Pectin jbranchman I followed the recipe as it is tried and proven, right now it is starting to slow down and gravity readings are looking good.