PDA

View Full Version : No problems; just documenting my first mead



Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-05-2015, 11:47 PM
Greetings, all. I started my first mead yesterday, and I figured I might as well document the process on the off-chance I lose the mead journal I'm keeping, or in case anyone's interested. So here's what I got.

I started two 1-gallon batches of mead on the fourth of May. They are identical except for the yeast used. My goal for these meads are to make high-alcoholic, yet sweet meads; something dessert-wine like (I know I don't have the acid in honey to prevent cloy-ness, and therefore can't make it as sweet; I may add lemon or orange to the secondary ferment, in which case I might raise the sugar levels more. I'm still mulling it over).

I do not know the yeasts or the honey, so I am staggering the honey to prevent oversweetening while maximizing alcohol output. I intend to let the alcohol kill the yeast as opposed to letting the sugar run out as one would for a dry mead. I am starting with 2 pounds of honey, and will add a half-pound each time the must nears 1.010 (and will therefore, by my guesstimation, yo-yo between 1.010 and 1.030)(I got the number 1.010 out of my @$$, just sounded like a good number; not too dry). I plan on hydrometer testing twice a week so the wine doesn't sneakily dry up on me(if I don't need to test this frequently, please let me know).

For nutrients, instead of using traditional yeast nutrient, I am using 1 oz of "organic" (unsweetened and unsulfured) apricots per pound of honey(I am not using pectic enzyme because I don't care as much about coloring)(I gotthe number 1oz / pound out of nowhere, too). Why not use yeast nutrient? Honestly, no real feasible reason; just figured it'd be more fun to use "natural" nutrient even though I understand this complicates the process and makes making a consistent mead more difficult and may at worst produce off-flavors. That all being said, here are the recipes:

2 pounds of Mountain Ridge Raw Honey
2 oz of Made in Nature dried Apricots (whole)
1 gal of Deer Park distilled water (the tap water here is hard as tacks and tastes awful)
5g of Lalvin EC-1118 in batch #1 and D-47 in batch #2.

The must tested @ 1.061 (corrected for temp), though I'm not too confident with this reading due to my unfamiliarity with the hydrometer. I feel like that may be low for two pounds of honey.

***nitty-gritty specifics that may not matter unless there's a problem***

Before starting, I sanitized all equipment with 1 Step cleanser. I'll be honest, I did not pasteurize the honey, so if I get off flavors I can blame it on that. While I'm at it, I'll own up to not pasteurizing the apricots. I mixed the must by pouring the gallon of water into a 2-gallon plastic bucket, then pouring in the honey while stirring. I pitched the yeast by half-filling the empty honey jar with water, microwaving the water for 20 seconds to warm it, then letting the yeast soak in that until I got a foam going (about 10 minutes).

I am worried the ferment will happen too warm. I do not have an air conditioner where I currently live, and the room sometimes gets to ~80*. I am considering buying some ice packs and setting those on top the buckets to help keep the ferment cool.

***end nitty-gritty specifics***

Checking the ferment on 05 May; I do not see bubbles in the airlock yet, but I can definitely see foam inside both buckets. I believe the airlock will start bubbling tomorrow.

danr
05-06-2015, 01:38 AM
Congratulations on your first mead. 1.061 seems right based on the amount of honey and water. No need to pasteurize. You really want to keep the temperature for D-47 below 70 deg F or it can create some really "hot" fusel alcohol that will take a long time (if ever) to age out.

In the future, you can use the Mead Log forum for keeping your log.

bernardsmith
05-06-2015, 10:51 AM
Welcome, Pilgrim.
Looks good to me... but here's a couple of quick and dirty comments:

Virtually all the flavor is going to come from the honey (and the same goes for the sugar content) and I suspect that 2 lbs of honey may make for a thinly flavored mead. If it is possible you might want to consider upping the ante by adding another 1/2 - 1 lb more honey.

The apricots may be coated with sulfites and other preservatives. Sulfites may be less a problem than sorbates. Did you check to make certain that they have none? (Sorbates will inhibit fermentation and may block it altogether).

Honey does not need pasteurization. Although honey can harbor some bacteria for all intents and purposes when it comes to wine making (or mead making) honey has insufficient water to permit any spoilage bacteria or wild yeast taking up residence. When you dilute the honey and add your yeast the millions and millions of yeast cells you just added will prevent the growth of any volunteer organisms. Additionally, adding heat to the honey merely evaporates off the aromatics and flavor molecules... things you want to preserve.

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-06-2015, 01:53 PM
Virtually all the flavor is going to come from the honey (and the same goes for the sugar content) and I suspect that 2 lbs of honey may make for a thinly flavored mead. If it is possible you might want to consider upping the ante by adding another 1/2 - 1 lb more honey.

The apricots may be coated with sulfites and other preservatives. Sulfites may be less a problem than sorbates. Did you check to make certain that they have none? (Sorbates will inhibit fermentation and may block it altogether).

I am going to add a half pound of honey each time the SG nears 1.010, and I made absolutely sure the apricots are unsulfured.

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-06-2015, 09:15 PM
UPDATE:

Well, it looks like things may have gone south. After not seeing bubbles after 48 hours of pitching the yeast, I decided to crack the barrels open and see what was up. The froth I saw yesterday in through the bucket has disappeared, and all I have now are my swollen apricots floating around warm must with what looks like dots of orange fungus on the fruit and floating in the must. I checked the SG, and it's still 1.061, so whatever it is, it's not eating the sugar. I also tested the temperature, and it turns out the must was cooking at a solid 81! Thankfully, the air conditioner got fixed today, so I'm cooling the room down and I bought ice packs to place on the buckets, but I'm worried it's too little too late. Unfortunately, I only bought one packet of each yeast (I have no idea why in hindsight; have more coming in the mail because the nearest brewery store is a heckuva drive) so I cannot repitch immediately. Worst case scenario, I only lost 4 pounds of honey and a couple days of effort, so I got no problem throwing these out and starting a new batch; however I'm going to try to cool them down and give the yeast maybe another two days to pick back up before calling it quits.

Also, fun fact! If you buy organic dried fruit, ensure you check it thoroughly before throwing it into your mead. Now that the apricots have swollen, I discovered a maggot floating in the must. At least I know they didn't use pesticides!

edblanford
05-06-2015, 10:32 PM
If it starts fermenting, or if you repitch yeast, one maggot won't be a problem.

Crowing
05-07-2015, 01:25 PM
Possible "Larvomel" in the making? Breaking new ground here, hope it ends up ok

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-07-2015, 04:44 PM
Possible "Larvomel" in the making? Breaking new ground here, hope it ends up ok

Literally laughed out loud at that!

I'm not too worried about the maggot. If it's good enough for tequila, it's good enough for mead...right? That is a joke

I turned on the AC to full blast last night. Today, the air temp in the room has reached 65*. The D47 has started bubbling about once every 10 seconds. The EC-1118 remains stagnant. I may just make a batch of JAO out of that. Can must be safely salvaged after three days? If I so, should I boil the must to sanitize it in case anything has started growing during the past few days, or am I good just pitching the bread yeast and orange in there?

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-08-2015, 07:12 PM
Update:

Today I tested the SG of the musts. The D47 batch is definitely fermenting, with a low foam and a bubble about every 23 seconds. It has fermented to 1.058 @ .7% alcohol. The must tastes good, very cloying sitting alongside a fruity yeast flavor with an aftertaste very reminiscent of fruits with savory juice flesh, like grape and apricot (my palette isn't fine-tuned enough to pick out a particular flavor, but the best way I can describe it).

I thought the EC-1118 batch was dead. Opening it up and looking at it, it had an extremely thin foam which reduced to what I would describe as a film of tiny bubbles. It was not bubbling, but I tested it for giggles. The SG read as 1.051 (ten points below when it started), which means something's eating the honey. I tasted it for giggles. It tastes very much like the must of a blueberry wine my parents made with EC-1118! So, my guess is I have a leaky bucket. I still don't have bubbles, but there is a difference in the levels of water, indicating to me the bucket is at least somewhat pressurized. I honestly can't say for certain that's what it is, or for certain that it's the EC-1118 fermenting it, but the sugar's going down, so I'll keep it.

---QUESTIONS---

Is it normal for EC-1118 have very little foam?

loveofrose
05-09-2015, 08:48 AM
Totally normal. It's a silent fury until you add nutrients.


Better brewing through science!

See my brewing site at www.denardbrewing.com

See my Current Mead Making Techniques article here:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/current-mead-making-techniques.html

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-09-2015, 06:02 PM
I had some bread yeast lying around, so I boiled it in some water to kill it and threw it into the batch. Bubbling has picked up to about 1-3 bubbles a minute! I guess apricots aren't that rich in nutrients, after all.

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-11-2015, 03:37 PM
No questions today; just documenting progress.

***
Meads are ticking along nicely now. The EC-1118 batch is at 1.032 and the D47 batch @ 1.058. I'm probably going to add a 1/2 pound more of honey to the EC-1118 batch this Wednesday.

The apricots are giving the wines kind of a Dayquil-esque note in the nose. I kind of hope this will tone down and melt into the wine profiles as it develops; as I understand fruit flavors seldom make it out of the primary. It's not harsh and it doesn't affect the taste, just an odd smell to have in mead.

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
05-28-2015, 07:47 PM
No questions today; just documenting progress.

***
It's been a while since I posted, so I figured I'd come in with an update. Meads are at 9.3% and 7.7% for the EC-1118 and D47, respectively. I've been adding honey when the meads hit or dip below 1.000; they are currently at 1.021 and 1.013. I think the D47 tastes better drier, while the EC-1118 needs to be backsweetened with a wildflower honey, as it is so bland! I also racked the EC off the apricots, as I felt they were overpowering the minimal flavor profile of the mead, while I kept the D47's on there, as the apricot flavor seems to be blending nicely with D47's profile.

Ragnar_of_Jotunheim
06-19-2015, 09:09 PM
Due to the mead tastings, the level in the mead is going down in the carboys, exposing more of it to air. I know adding marbles would be ideal for displacing the lost mead, but they're also incredibly hard to find. I do happen to have copper BBs lying around, would those be safe for the mead?

***

Wow! It's been almost a month! I've just let the meads sit in the secondary for a while without adding anything. They are at .998 and 1.005 for the EC-1118 and D47. Both meads are beginning to develop a yeasty backtaste, so I'm going to rack them this weekend. The Strawberry EC-1118 is only a bitter strawberry flavor, so I'm going to add probably another pound of strawberries when I rack it, while the D47 is a bit too dry for my tastes, so I'll probably add another 1/4 - 1/2 pound of honey to that.

Squatchy
06-19-2015, 09:48 PM
Don't add the copper without some of the more scientific guys chiming in. I have used copper once to eliminate a sulfurous hint in a apricot mel. It worked. I'm not sure if you want to do that. If no ones speaks up I wopuld say to monitor it every day to take them out if it starts going somewhere you don't want it to.

Squatchy
06-19-2015, 09:50 PM
I didn't pour over everything you posted so I may have missed it. You need to be feeding your your yeast. If not it will take for ever, or stall out completely. At the very least it will give you too many fusels and will take for ever (maybe never) before it becomes drinkable

EJM3
06-20-2015, 10:21 AM
IIRC he was using dried apricots at first, then added some boiled bread yeast later on...

fuelish
06-20-2015, 11:29 AM
OP, you started thid 05/04/2015??? Well, then, it just begs to be said ...MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU !!!!!! :)

Squatchy
06-20-2015, 12:04 PM
I have an apricott batch that I will be amazed if it ever turns out very good. I know for sure I won't ever use dried ones again. I did start with puree and then I added dried ones in secondary. Can't get past the "dried" apricott nose. It's somewhat sulpurish ??, I opened a bag and it also smell the same.