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stephanie.palmatier
10-16-2015, 11:25 AM
Hello. I just started my 1st batch on Saturday after being inspired to start home brewing by a meadery I visited on the way back home from Niagara Falls. I did about 2 weeks of research and then went to my LHBS to pick up what I needed. I was only able to find a 5 gal food grade bucket, which led to a couple issues. I read somewhere that you can find 2 gal buckets at bakeries, so I may ask around.

12 oz grape concentrate
2 lbs clover? honey
1 crabapple? cubed
1 package 71b yeast
Fill with water up to 5 qt mark in fermenter

I mostly followed the recipe the shop gave me (because it called for grape concentrate and we had some. Who am I to fight fate?), but it had a lot of either or instructions and I didn't know what % this is supposed to be or how sweet ( I don't like dry). We didn't get yeast nutrient or energizer, but I figured it'd be fine with the grape. My husband threw in a small apple from our tree ( not sure what kind - they are small, green, and sweet) for good measure. The recipe says to rack after 6 days, but that sounds too soon to me. Most recipes I've read say to rack at least 2 weeks or a month ( this recipe did not say what yeast to use - I selected the yeast based on research). Also, I forgot to prepare the yeast before hand, but the recipe said to dump it on top of the must ( which we did).


I had trouble getting the OG rating because 1) the honey wasn't mixed well 2) the hydrometer touched the bottom of the fermenter bucket (5qt in 5 gal). My best estimate is 10% potential alcohol. According to an online calculator that seems about right, but I am thinking I should add another pound or half-pound of honey because it would be dry and won't even reach the estimated ABV% of the yeast (14%).

The airlock on the fermenter hasn't bubbled, but I did peek inside because I looked on the internet about it and found that it was okay to do this during the first part of fermentation at least. It seems to be bubbling.

When I was at the LHBS I asked the lady if I needed a wine theif and she said no, so I didn't get one even though I was planning to. I am thinking I really do need one now for tasting or checking gravity, especially if I continue using the 5 gal as fermenter. However, I recently bought some apple cider ( for my next batch, a cyser) in a 1 gal glass container, so in the future I could brew 2 gal and split it in secondary.



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curgoth
10-16-2015, 11:40 AM
Your LHBS should have a tall narrow beaker you can use to hols a sample for checking the specific gravity with your hydrometer. I use a sanitized turkey baster to pull a sample into my testing beaker, then I return the sample afterwards. As long as everything that touches the sample is sanitized beforehand, you should be good.

I'm curious if the meadery you visited was on the Canadian or US side of the border - I just picked up a case of mead from Rosewood Estates (in Canada, near Niagara) a few weeks ago.

For getting the sweetness you want, I would suggest getting some potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulphite (or just some campden tablets). You can use the combination of the two to stabilize your mead when fermentation is done, then add honey until it's as sweet as you like. Even if you add more honey and ferment until the yeast gives up, you'll want to stabilize to avoid the possibility of the yeast waking up and eating more of your sugar after you bottle. At best that gives surprise carbonation, at worst your bottles explode.

Your airlock isn't going to bubble because you've got a 1 gallon batch in a 5 gallon bucket - that means you'll need quite a lot of CO2 produced before any of it needs to escape. This is fine for primary fermentation - it's a good idea to have some extra head space in case it gets foamy and vigorous. Once fermentation is done, though, and you have a bucket of cloudy booze with yeast suspended in it, you're better off to move to something closer to the volume you have. Otherwise you risk oxidation, which will make your mead taste sort of like sherry with a bitter aftertaste. During primary fermentation the CO2 produced by the yeast protects it, as CO2 is heavier than the air around it.

stephanie.palmatier
10-16-2015, 01:57 PM
I looked on their site and found a fermtech thief test jar combo and a wine thief, but I didn't see a tall narrow beaker. I'm not sure if the site is out-dated, but it isn't very mobile friendly. I'm not sure if I even have a turkey baster.

The meadery is on the U.S. side and is called Meadworks. They mentioned they were fairly new. We didn't have time to visit any wineries on the Canada side because we were traveling with the folks and they wanted to get going, but I'll have to check that one out when we go back there.

I have a 1 gal glass carboy that I will be racking into. I had planned just to let the yeasties keep eating the sugars until the tuckered out from the alcohol level because I don't like using all the chemicals. Then just leaving it in the carboy w/ airlock for a while til I was sure it was stable. Is there still a chance of bottle bombes even if it has been stable and sitting in the carboy for a long time?

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Crowing
10-16-2015, 08:13 PM
You don't really wanna leave 71b sitting on the lees, you'll want to rack it when fermentation is done. If there is zero sugar and it has sat for ages then it won't explode, otherwise you never know

curgoth
10-17-2015, 09:35 PM
The problem with waiting until the SG is stable for a while is that the environment could change - so, say you check at the end of November, and by the end of January, the SG is the same. Sounds good, but then in July it gets warmer, and the yeast decide that they like the nice weather and start going again. Or, some of the yeast dies and falls out of suspension and the other yeast use it as a food source to start up again. If you keep giving it honey until it gives up, the risk is certainly lower, but non-zero. Some of the folks on here definitely do it that way (especially those who are sensitive to sulphites), but it's best to be careful and watch your bottles.

stephanie.palmatier
10-18-2015, 09:00 AM
Thanks for the advice, guys.

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pokerfacepablo
10-20-2015, 07:36 AM
I have a 1 gal glass carboy that I will be racking into. I had planned just to let the yeasties keep eating the sugars until the tuckered out from the alcohol level because I don't like using all the chemicals. Then just leaving it in the carboy w/ airlock for a while til I was sure it was stable. Is there still a chance of bottle bombes even if it has been stable and sitting in the carboy for a long time?

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I have this wine thief and it works well.

As far as leaving it on the Lee's, Moonlight meadery leaves their 71b on the Lee's for months with no problem. If you properly aerate and feed your yeast, they shouldn't breakdown right away.

As far as bottle bombs, check your SG weekly. If you don't see any changes for awhile, time to rack.

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stephanie.palmatier
10-20-2015, 09:40 AM
I have this wine thief and it works well.

As far as leaving it on the Lee's, Moonlight meadery leaves their 71b on the Lee's for months with no problem. If you properly aerate and feed your yeast, they shouldn't breakdown right away.

As far as bottle bombs, check your SG weekly. If you don't see any changes for awhile, time to rack.

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Okay, I am a bit worried that winethief won't fit in my 1 gal carboy because I read some comments about it, but I guess I could just check next time I go to the shop because I got my carboy there.

I read a post that even though 71b is not supposed to be good if left on leaves, someone forgot to rack theirs while traveling and it sat for a couple months and was fine. I am planning on racking to secondary soon - this weekend if not sooner. I was thinking of adding something to secondary - maybe vanilla or rosemary? I hope it doesn't turn out too grapey.

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pokerfacepablo
10-20-2015, 10:29 AM
Not to worry about either problem. If the wine thief is too big, buy a 99 cent turkey baster and fill the wine thief. Hold on to the thief because you'll need it when you invest in bigger carboys... it's going to happen.

Again treat your yeast great and they will be good to you. I'm making a cyser which I used 71B. It'll be 2 weeks this Friday but I'm going to let it sit. My fermentation went smooth and I'm not worried.

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pokerfacepablo
10-20-2015, 10:30 AM
Half a vanilla bean will go a long way. I love vanilla in my meads

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stephanie.palmatier
10-26-2015, 12:47 AM
We racked it into secondary tonight. It went completely dry, so I added about a cup of honey per gallon. The leftover went into a howler that happened to fit the stopper. It wasn't too bad for being dry. Light and crisp, not much grape flavor. The color was a sort of red-violet (photo's not great). Very nice.

http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/10/25/41301a5677238f538ca71918c128011f.jpg

Started a pear cyser also.

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kudapucat
10-26-2015, 10:17 PM
Not to worry about either problem. If the wine thief is too big, buy a 99 cent turkey baster and fill the wine thief. Hold on to the thief because you'll need it when you invest in bigger carboys... it's going to happen.

Again treat your yeast great and they will be good to you. I'm making a cyser which I used 71B. It'll be 2 weeks this Friday but I'm going to let it sit. My fermentation went smooth and I'm not worried.

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Personally I like to use a graduated pippette. It doubles as a fine measurment for dosing. Your LHBS ought to have these in plastic and glass.