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nkurz
09-23-2015, 09:07 PM
I'm a first time meadmaker planning to jump in with both feet. I like Bray's modern approach (https://denardbrewing.com/blog/category/articles/) , and am planning to apply it to four 3-gallon batches made with four different yeasts (WY1388, DV10, D21, K1-V1116).

This is my first time making mead, but I feel like I have a good handle on general food chemistry, reasonably understand fermentation, and can follow basic scientific sanitary practices. The friend I'm making this with has lots of beer brewing experience, some lab experience, but no mead experience.

The target is an aromatic heavy bodied 15-20% alcohol semi-dry to semi-sweet mead that emphasizes the honey. I'm planning to add Opti-White and Booster Blanc to increase the body (and because I already bought them). I can skip them if advised to.

I'm using unfiltered honey from my backyard hives in suburban Bay Area California. Unknown flowers, but honey is very dark, slightly sour, and delicious. If I step feed to refusal at 2 oz per gallon to these yeasts, about how much honey should I expect to use per gallon by the time I'm done?

I'd appreciate critique of my proposed plan:

4 x 3 gallon batches.
4 different yeasts: DV10, D21, K1-1116V, WY1388

T-2hrs: Smack 1388 wet yeast packet.

T-1.25 hrs:
Add 12g packet of Booster Blanc and 6g packet of Opti-White to 1 cup of sterile room temperature water. Stir to dissolve.

T-1hr: Pour 2.5 gallons room temperature bottled spring water into each of 4 sterilized buckets, each labelled with one yeast variety.

Add 4 tsp potassium carbonate to each bucket (1.3 tsp per gallon)
Add 1 tsp DAP to each bucket. (.3 tsp per gallon)
Add 2 tsp Fermaid K to each bucket. (.6 tsp per gallon)

Add 2 quarts honey to each bucket (about 6 lbs honey, 3 lbs per gallon). Stir to dissolve with a (sterilized) stirring attachment on a cordless drill. When mostly mixed, stop to rehydrate dry yeasts.

T-.5hr Rehydrate dry yeasts:
Dissolve 3.3 g GoFerm Protect (1/3 of 10g packet) into 100 g (~1/2 cup) of 110F sterilized water. Wait until temperature is down to 105F. Sprinkle on 1 packet dry yeast. Wait 10 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup honey water mixture. Stir. Wait 10 minutes.

Add another 1/2 cup honey water mixture. Stir. After 10 more minutes (30 minutes from opening yeast packet), starter is ready to added to main honey water container.

T-0 pitch:
Final stir of honey and water. Goal is fully mixed and well oxygenated. Stir in yeast to bucket with matching label. Avoid cross contamination of yeast from bucket to bucket. Add 1/4 cup of Booster-Blanc plus Opti-White slurry to each bucket (distribute evenly).

Cap on bucket, no water in airlock, leave to ferment at 72-75F. Swirl daily to degas. Add water to airlock once fermentation slows (about one week).

T+~2 days
At SG 1.08, add to each bucket:
1 tsp DAP (.3 tsp per gallon)
2 tsp Fermaid K (.6 tsp per gallon)


T+~4 days
At SG 1.04 add
1 tsp DAP (.33 tsp per gallon)
2 tsp Fermaid K (.3 tsp per gallon)
6 oz of honey per bucket (2 oz per gallon).
Do not stir, just let it dissolve.

T+~6 days
At SG 1.02 add
1/2 tsp Fermaid O (.15 tsp per gallon, 1/4 of 12 g packet)
Another 6 oz of honey per bucket (2 oz per gallon).
Do not stir, just let it dissolve.

T+~8 days
At SG 1.02
No more nutrients.
Another 6 oz of honey per bucket

T+~10,12,14,...:
Repeat adding 6 oz of honey until SG stops dropping, targeting a finish of 1.005-1.001.

The switch from Fermaid K to Fermaid O is mostly because I already bought both (80 g K, 12 g O). From what I now know, I probably would have gone with all O. Instinct is that switching from K to O might work with late nitrogen utilizaton with a step feeding approach?

I'm pretending here that I'll step feed all the buckets of them to refusal, but I'll probably split off some of each batch after the first feeding to add fruit. Straight mead will likely be made into several spiced/plain versions. I'll ask more questions about flavoring and finishing after I've started fermenting.


--nate

Squatchy
09-23-2015, 09:48 PM
It looks like a good plan. I might suggest that you just place the lids loosely on top. I would also add your nuts a little closer together so your last feed isnt so late. And, aerate/degas 2 times a day until around 2//3 break.

loveofrose
09-23-2015, 10:40 PM
Personally, I would skip booster blanc and opti-white. You've got nutrients, so opti-white is redundant. If it needs it, you can add booster blanc after primary fermentation for aromatics; however, oak cubes would be way better. I let medium toast American oaks cubes sit in Everclear a few days to extract harsh tannins, then throw in 4-6 per gallon.

A word of caution: If you have good honey, you don't need additives. Additives are for hiding/compensating for a flaw.

Too many additions of nutrients. Add Fermaid K + DAP initially and at 2/3 break, then add Fermaid O at 1/3.

I think this is the plan, but base your additions on gravity. Not time. I just wanted to clarify that just in case.


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

nkurz
09-23-2015, 11:10 PM
Thanks for the feedback!

Yes, I'll switch to aiming to aerate/degas twice a day in the beginning.

Yes, nutrient additions will be based on gravity rather than time. I added the times just to get a sense of whether they were approximately realistic.

For the Booster Blanc and Opti-White, I'm OK with redundant as long as they'll do no harm. Had I read more before I went shopping, I probably wouldn't have got them, but now that I have them, my preference is to use them.

I was indeed planning to add some oak in the next stage. I recall seeing some oddities as to which style of oak was compatible with which yeasts? American for everything?

I noticed that in Bray's "Perfect BOMM" that he's using Tannin FT Soft Blanc. Would this be a recommended addition, especially if I'm planning to age?

I should have mentioned in the initial post that I'm not too concerned about speed here. It would be cool to sample something by this Christmas, but I'm guessing that much of it will get a year of aging.

--nate

loveofrose
09-24-2015, 08:15 AM
First, to answer questions:
1. Redundant additives may very well may do harm. Honey flavors are delicate and can be easy to overpower. Barrel ahead if you must, but I warned you!

2. Different oaks have different characteristics. Look up my "Oak Experiment" thread or on my site for flavor profiles. Taste your honey and determine which flavors would compliment best.

3. When I added Tannin FT Soft Blanc, it was for testing purposes to fix a deficiency in body. I worked well for adding body, but drastically increased MEAs. Lately, I've found my ethanol treated oak to be a better option in both practicality and taste.

4. I didn't think you were concerned about speed from your yeast choices. You will be glad 1388 is in the group when your willpower breaks down! It will definitely be ready by Christmas.

Tips on Yeast Experiments:
The appropriate way to approach a yeast experiment is one variable at a time. You should fix your nutrient schedule, use the exact the same honey and water, and do no additives upfront. This is how you determine how the yeast are performing under your unique conditions (honey type, temp flux, water source, etc).

After fermentation and tasting, additives are used to enhance aspects provided by yeast/honey or to compensate for deficiencies.

You got the first part right, but adding additive because you have them is not a good reason. Think about why or if you should add them!

Hope that helps,

Bray



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

nkurz
10-05-2015, 06:02 PM
I got scared of the potential "I told you so's" if something else went wrong with the batch, so I skipped the Opti-White and Booster-Blanc, even though I'm guessing they would have been fine. It didn't hurt that the local MoreBeer store was willing to take them as returns. Effectively, I traded them in for 120g of Fermaid O. I also switched to tap water treated with 40 mg potassium metabisulfite per gallon, since other than the ~3 ppm chloramine we have great tasting tap water. I also needed to reduce the potassium carbonate slightly as realized I didn't have quite enough. The "as built" looks like this:

4 x 3 gallons (WY1388, D21, DV10, K1-V1116)
2.5 gallons treated tap water
2 quarts honey
3 tsp potassium carbonate
2 tsp Fermaid K
1 tsp DAP

Dry yeasts rehydrated with 3.3 g GoFerm Protect, slap pack used as directed. All are downstairs and bubbling nicely at about 70F (should stay between 70-75F where they are). I'm glad I used 6 gallon buckets for the gallon batches, as it makes swirling them to degas quite easy. Initial SG was 1.08. I used 2 quarts (6 lbs, 2 lbs per gallon) of honey per bucket to start, because my honey was in 2 quart containers.

My plan is to add 1 quart (3 lbs, 1 lb per gallon) more honey to each bucket at 1.04, which should bring it back up to 1.08. With this will be another 2 tsp Fermaid K, 1 tsp DAP.

When I'm back at 1.04 a second time, I'll add 30 g (3 TBSP) of Fermaid O per bucket along with .5 qt of honey (1.5 lbs, 8 oz per gallon). That should put me back to about 1.06.

Then at 1.01-1.02, I'll add another 1 cup of honey (.75 lbs, 4 oz per gallon) but no more nutrients. Repeat adding this amount of honey while the yeast in each bucket is still active.

I'll aim to finish at around 1.005-1.01 after a total of about 4 lbs of honey per gallon.

Squatchy
10-05-2015, 07:08 PM
Why not start at a higher SG? 1020-1030 would work fine. DAP isn't assimilated past 9% ABV so get it in before then or it most likely will leave a fault in the finished product.

nkurz
10-05-2015, 11:02 PM
I went with 2 quarts of honey in 3 gallons because my honey is in 2 qt containers, and it made the measurements easy: add one container of honey to each bucket. My guess was that if I'm adding honey, there shouldn't be any real difference in whether I bounce between 1.04 / 1.08 with the additions, versus going from 1.12 down to 1.04 then back to 1.08. Perhaps I'm wrong? I was wondering if addition to be slightly "easier" on the desired yeast the lower SG might allow other organisms to gain a foothold.

After 24 hours, I'm down from 1.08 to 1.055 for the DV10, 1.060 for the K1 and D21, and 1.065 for the WY1388. All are going strong and clean, so presumably I'll be adding the first feeding of honey and additional nutrients tomorrow. This will be the last DAP/Fermaid K addition, then I'll switch to Fermaid O for the last.

But wondering: if DAP isn't assimilated past 9% ABV, how does the "standard" approach with equal feedings at 3 even breaks (1.12/1.08/1.04) work? Or is the key that it doesn't quite work for a higher alcohol brew, and this is why the Fermaid O (or anything non-DAP) might be preferred?

Squatchy
10-07-2015, 12:38 AM
I went with 2 quarts of honey in 3 gallons because my honey is in 2 qt containers, and it made the measurements easy: add one container of honey to each bucket. My guess was that if I'm adding honey, there shouldn't be any real difference in whether I bounce between 1.04 / 1.08 with the additions, versus going from 1.12 down to 1.04 then back to 1.08. Perhaps I'm wrong? I was wondering if addition to be slightly "easier" on the desired yeast the lower SG might allow other organisms to gain a foothold.

After 24 hours, I'm down from 1.08 to 1.055 for the DV10, 1.060 for the K1 and D21, and 1.065 for the WY1388. All are going strong and clean, so presumably I'll be adding the first feeding of honey and additional nutrients tomorrow. This will be the last DAP/Fermaid K addition, then I'll switch to Fermaid O for the last.

But wondering: if DAP isn't assimilated past 9% ABV, how does the "standard" approach with equal feedings at 3 even breaks (1.12/1.08/1.04) work? Or is the key that it doesn't quite work for a higher alcohol brew, and this is why the Fermaid O (or anything non-DAP) might be preferred?

Good question. I guess some people don't want to change from what they are familiar with. Or they don't bother to read what info is out there. Yes, that is why some use only "O" after a certain point. Yeast hulls works well at the end as well.

9% is 70 points or so. So I suppose you could figure that the first 2 feedings would be ok to use DAP. But what I don't like about that is, most of the alcohol is made earlier in the fermentation. SO with that in mind 9% should come faster than the first 70 points. I'm still playin around with my protocol some. And am still open to try other things as well. I use DAP only in the first addition. And have lately only been using "o" and a little hulls after that.

nkurz
10-07-2015, 03:30 PM
I guess I hadn't realized that a 10 point drop in SG would produce different amounts of alcohol depending on where/when that occurs. I'd been guessing that the honey -> alcohol + CO2 conversion was fairly constant.

I added the last dose of 1 tsp DAP + 2 tsp FK to each nominal 3 gallon batch yesterday morning, along with 3 lbs of additional honey. This was at about 1.040 for the wine yeasts, 1.055 for ale yeast. I stirred it in yesterday evening, since it seemed like it was being consumed faster than it was dissolving. This morning, I was at 1.03-1.04 for the wine yeasts, and back to 1.055 for the ale. I added 1 oz (~ 3 TBSP) Fermaid O to each bucket, sprinkled on top. I fed the wine yeasts an additional 2 lbs of honey, but will wait to do so for the WY1388.

I also realized that I was using far more Potassium Carbonate than recommended. Somehow despite corresponding with Bray by email to clarify, I got caught by the "TBSP" typo in his Perfect BOMM recipe (https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/Perfect-BOMM/) and multiplied everything by 3. Hopefully my honey is sufficiently acidic that this won't be a problem. Future readers: consider using less Potassium Carbonate than I listed here.

Squatchy
10-09-2015, 12:49 AM
I can't remember what "Ask Oskaar" segment it was on at the broadcast, but he mentioned that before the yeast go anaerobic is when the far biggest amount of alcohol is made. In other words ,, while it's still foamy and lots of gasses coming of is when the bulk of the alcohol is made.