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Mike72677
10-05-2015, 07:55 PM
I've been making wine for 2 - 3 years and decided to give mead a shot. I want to have a sweeter mead. Here's what I started with:

4 lbs of fall honey (dark)
13 cups of water
1/4 tsp of tannin
3/4 tsp nutrient
2 campden tablets
3 tsp malic acid
1 1/2 tsp tartaric
1 pack D47 Lalvin yeast

My starting SG was 1.126

Do I keep checking it and stop fermentation, will it stop on it's own because the yeast is exhausted, do you back sweeten? Thanks for any advice!

pokerfacepablo
10-06-2015, 04:48 AM
Always keep checking your mead but before you start this batch check out the newbee tab and it will give you all info you need for your first batch. Mead is more fickle than you think. It needs nutrients and aeration the first 1/3 of its fermentation. I feed it once daily (staggered nutrient addition ) and stir it 3 times daily until the end of the first third.

Also D47 loves temps in the low 60's otherwise you'll have rocket fuel at the end of fermentation.

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ostensibly
10-06-2015, 07:45 AM
A couple of thoughts:

With that honey:water ratio you're looking at a starting gravity of 1.19, which isn't impossible but with D-47 it'll take a while to smooth out - probably more than a year. With your projected ABV of 23%(!) and the estimated tolerance of D-47 of 14% you'll end up with something quite sweet. I'd add more water or cut back the honey - you can always add more honey in later if the finished product is too dry.

Current best practice is to add tannins and acids after fermentation is complete, when you can adjust to taste. Many people don't add acid to mead, but tannins are common (oak, etc)

I also recommend rehydrating your yeast in Go-Ferm to ensure a healthy pitch.

Mike72677
10-06-2015, 11:11 AM
A couple of thoughts:

With that honey:water ratio you're looking at a starting gravity of 1.19, which isn't impossible but with D-47 it'll take a while to smooth out - probably more than a year. With your projected ABV of 23%(!) and the estimated tolerance of D-47 of 14% you'll end up with something quite sweet. I'd add more water or cut back the honey - you can always add more honey in later if the finished product is too dry.

Current best practice is to add tannins and acids after fermentation is complete, when you can adjust to taste. Many people don't add acid to mead, but tannins are common (oak, etc)

I also recommend rehydrating your yeast in Go-Ferm to ensure a healthy pitch.

My starting SG was 1.126. That puts me around 16.5%. The temp it's at is about 70 - 72 degrees. Fermentation seems to be going well without any additional nutrient. I stir/shake it daily and I have a good bubble going with my air trap.

Should I stop the fermentation at a certain point or just let it go?

valverij
10-06-2015, 12:31 PM
1.126 might give you a potential ABV of ~16.5%, but D47 peters out around 14%. Assuming a healthy fermentation, your FG should wind up in the 1.018 - 1.020 range, which is right on target for a sweet mead. No need to try to stop it.

I'd recommend you keep an eye on that pH, though. Due to the acidic nature of honey, upfront acid additions are no longer preferable when making mead. As your mead ferments, the pH will plummet. Below 3.0, the yeast will drastically slow down and might stall out. Adding acid at the beginning will increase the chances of this happening.

Mike72677
10-06-2015, 12:43 PM
Excellent information valverij! Thanks! 1.018 - 1.020 is where I'd like and hope to end up.

I just followed the recipe in the book I had and that's where I got the acid additions. First batch, so I just went with the book then went to the forums after. Probably a mistake, but hopefully not a big one.

What's the best way to check the pH? All I have are those test strips. Is that good enough? What should I do if it drops below 3.0?

pokerfacepablo
10-06-2015, 03:26 PM
Excellent information valverij! Thanks! 1.018 - 1.020 is where I'd like and hope to end up.

I just followed the recipe in the book I had and that's where I got the acid additions. First batch, so I just went with the book then went to the forums after. Probably a mistake, but hopefully not a big one.

What's the best way to check the pH? All I have are those test strips. Is that good enough? What should I do if it drops below 3.0?
A lot of people use recipes they found in a book with their first batch. The trouble is not all honey is the same. The sugar content varies from year to year and from varietal to varietal. The key point I'm trying to make is follow your hydrometer rather than a recipe.

It's good that your yeast are eating the honey. What you're going to find out is that the yeast will need more than honey otherwise they will start producing fusel or off flavors. Honey lacks nitrogen and the nutrients we choose for mead are chalk full of it. Yeah they happily eating now but soon they'll be stressed and this will cause the fermentation to lag or stall. This in turn causes the yeast to produce unwanted flavors.

I'm not trying to sound like a know it all but I just want you to know that we've all been there and we all want your batch to be successful. Mead is not wine. You need to be watching it a lot closer than you think. If the yeast stress in anyway, you're going to get bad alcohol. So please read the newbee guide. It will explain the importance of nutrient additions and pH balance and everything else.

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pokerfacepablo
10-06-2015, 03:30 PM
Excellent information valverij! Thanks! 1.018 - 1.020 is where I'd like and hope to end up.

I just followed the recipe in the book I had and that's where I got the acid additions. First batch, so I just went with the book then went to the forums after. Probably a mistake, but hopefully not a big one.

What's the best way to check the pH? All I have are those test strips. Is that good enough? What should I do if it drops below 3.0?
Potassium bicarbonate or calcium bicarbonate will bring it up. Follow the instructions on the bottle for dosing. Yeah, the yeast prefer a range above 3.5.

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Mike72677
10-06-2015, 05:07 PM
I pitched the yeast 4 days ago (10/2/2014) and my initial SG 2 was 1.126. I"m down to about 1.102 right now. Fermentation is very active right now. Only thing I have are those cheap pH strips and if I'm reading them right, I'm below 3. I have a friend with a pH meter and might try and see if they can check it for me.

There's really no foam in my bucket, but when I poured a sample in my test cylinder to check the SG, there was a lot of foam. Just trying to give as much detail as I can.

Thanks everyone who's been replying!

pokerfacepablo
10-06-2015, 05:55 PM
I pitched the yeast 4 days ago (10/2/2014) and my initial SG 2 was 1.126. I"m down to about 1.102 right now. Fermentation is very active right now. Only thing I have are those cheap pH strips and if I'm reading them right, I'm below 3. I have a friend with a pH meter and might try and see if they can check it for me.

There's really no foam in my bucket, but when I poured a sample in my test cylinder to check the SG, there was a lot of foam. Just trying to give as much detail as I can.

Thanks everyone who's been replying!
I've used the strips before and they get a good ball park. I'm sure it is around there with the acid additions. Well time to go to the brew store and get some bicarbonate. Stick your mead in a cooler location and bring that temp down. Still plenty of time to putz with it.

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pokerfacepablo
10-06-2015, 05:56 PM
Good luck Mike and enjoy this awesome hobby

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ScottBehrens
10-06-2015, 05:58 PM
You should degas it before you pull your hydrometer sample.

Mike72677
10-08-2015, 09:12 AM
Just an update....had my friend check it with his pH meter last night. It was reading 2.9 - 3.0. I added 1 tsp of potassium bicarbonate. Started foaming as soon as I added it. It's now sitting in the garage around 66 degrees and still fermenting.

Squatchy
10-08-2015, 02:02 PM
Like Kernel said you need to be degassing it a couple times a day untill it starts to slow down some. Also, if your going to be adding dry powders you will want to dilute then in liquid just a bit. That will keep your explosions down a good bit.