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NeilV
11-22-2015, 09:30 PM
I started my first batch of mead (5 gallons) one week ago. My recipe was 4 and 2/3 quarts of honey, 2 teaspoons energizer, 2 teaspoons nutrient, 2 teaspoon calcium powder (I did that because this batch of honey is sharp tasting stuff and I figured it was pretty acidic), 4 gallons of water, and 2 packs of Lalvin D47 yeast that I hydrated per the packet instructions. I aerated the water by blending it in a blender that I had sterilized.

I am still trying to figure out how to read this hydrometer thingy. However, unless I completely don't understand how to read it, I think the starting gravity was between 1.080 and 1.090.

I put it in a bucket primary fermenter and used the airlock from the start. It had started to bubble by the next morning. It is still forming bubbles in the airlock about every 2 seconds.

I opened it today. I measured the gravity at between 1.02 and 1.03. I tasted it, and it tastes sort of like Kombucha with a lot of yeasty flavor and the floral character of the honey is still there. The must is totally murky, and it is still bubbling pretty well.

My questions are:

1. Generally, is this going okay? (Seems to be but I don't know what I'm doing.)

2. How do I know when to rack this off the yeast into a secondary fermenter?

3. Will the yeast settle out before I rack, or will it still be murky when I rack?

4. I'm planning to use a 6 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation, and it will have some headspace. Is it okay to have head space in the secondary container, or do I need to find a 5 gallon carboy?

5. Is this a good candidate for adding some oak blocks or an oak spiral? If so, what kind of oak (American/French and toasted/not)? Would that go in during the secondary fermentation?

Squatchy
11-22-2015, 10:17 PM
Welcome to the dark side.


1) I will be bone dry if that's what you want.
2)Wait until it seems like the airlock activity has slowed to a crawl, or until it reads 1000
3) The heavy stuff will drop but it will still be murky for sure
4) It's best to not have excessive head space, but with that said traditionals are not much prone to oxidation. It's up to you if you want to spring for another carboy. See craigslist
5) If you like it you would add it in the secondary and taste every so often and take it out when it gets to what you are looking for. I personally add oak to almost everything. Do a study to find how the different oaks taste and how different levels of toast change the flavor profile.

See youtube to learn how to read your hydrometer thingy :)

Lastly,,, you haven't made to many mistakes. None that would age out over time. The biggest may have been you didn't control your temps (at least you didn't mention it). But you could have done a few more things to have made a better batch. Read around here and you will learn soon enough. I would strongly suggest to find some proven recipes around here and follow them to the t until you have a good handle on how and why. Maybe then start doing your own thing after you have found your way.

For $25 you can join as a "Patron" and have access to all of the web site. The proven recipes alone are worth way more than the membership fee, plus you have access to all the more advanced info

loveofrose
11-22-2015, 10:51 PM
Ok. For starters, you added 14 lbs of honey in 5 gallons total. That should give you a SG of 1.112. Since your reading was lower, this suggests that not all of the honey was mixed into solution. Or your total volume is higher than 5 gallons. No worries. Should be fine either way. Now to questions:

1. Since you didn't mention it tasting like kerosene, yes it's going well. Normally, we would use SNAs to avoid issues, but you got lucky. I'll give you some reading for your next batch:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/current-mead-making-techniques.html
2. When it hits 1.000, you are safe to rack.
3. It will likely be murky.
4. It depends on how long it will be there. A few months would be fine, but after that you may run into some oxidation issues.
5. Yep. Most meads are. Look here to determine which oak you think would go with your mead best.
https://denardbrewing.com/blog/post/oak-mead/


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

NeilV
11-23-2015, 08:15 PM
After looking at this hydrometer, I'm pretty sure I was reading the starting gravity wrong. I'm pretty sure the starting gravity was between 1.10 and 1.20.

For temps I heated the must to 150 for 20 minutes. It was at 85 when I added yeast. It's been fermenting between 60 and 65.

I had a recipe that said to boil the water and add honey but I could not stand doing that. I know from experience that heat cooks off the floral elements of honey. 150 degrees was painful. I don’t even use a hot knife to uncap frames when I extract.

I plan to pay the fee.

mannye
11-23-2015, 09:56 PM
Next time, no heat at all. You just don't need it. I just made a few batched using honey from a local beek with wax, bees, you name it and it's probably the best ever I've made to date. Absolutely no heat at all. I've got 10 gallons of JAOM (I suggest you look that up ...JAOM stands for Joe's Ancient Orange Mead.

Also read the newbie guide and enjoy the mead!

NeilV
11-28-2015, 11:20 PM
This first batch is continuing to behave like I think it is supposed to. Yesterday, the gravity was 1.03. It still had some sweetness but was pretty sharp at the same time. I am going to oak this when it goes to secondary. It is still bubbling but slowing down quite a bit.

I have this in a bucket fermenter, and it's too cloudy to see if anything has settled out at the bottom. It's not ready to go to secondary yet, but I can't tell that there is any sediment at this point. D47 is supposed to flocculate well, but I can't tell if that's happened. Does the yeast start to settle more after the fermentation drops off more?

Finally, thanks for the JAOM suggestion. I figure this show style mead will take a long to get ready to drink, so I started a batch of that today. I had some old honey that had granulated in a bucket that is a pretty mellow honey with a lot of warm spice flavors. I think I put that good use with the JAOM batch. It's amazing how different honey can taste from year to year and from locations that are 10 miles apart.

WVMJack
11-29-2015, 06:14 AM
Welcome from another beek. Now you can put those cappings and scrappings to good use making mead, and if you use a wax melter/separator that honey works well also even though it been heated, just a different kind of mead. WVMJ

WVMJack
11-29-2015, 06:21 AM
You are worrying to much, when the hydrometer hits 1.020 or all the way down to 1.00 you can transfer your mead into your carboy, add your oak and top it up, it doesnt matter if its settled out or not, doesnt matter if its cloudy or not, doesnt matter if you can see the bottom or not, just no need to stick the cane all the way to the bottom at the start so you dont suck up all the lees on the bottom. What is doing to happen is that your mead will continue to ferment, the yeasts will continue to drop out and pile up on the bottom and you will then rack it into another carboy, it may or may not be totally clear when you do that step either, but keep it topped up all the time its under an airlock.

Where are you at and what kind of setup are you running your bees with?


This first batch is continuing to behave like I think it is supposed to. Yesterday, the gravity was 1.03. It still had some sweetness but was pretty sharp at the same time. I am going to oak this when it goes to secondary. It is still bubbling but slowing down quite a bit.

I have this in a bucket fermenter, and it's too cloudy to see if anything has settled out at the bottom. It's not ready to go to secondary yet, but I can't tell that there is any sediment at this point. D47 is supposed to flocculate well, but I can't tell if that's happened. Does the yeast start to settle more after the fermentation drops off more?

Finally, thanks for the JAOM suggestion. I figure this show style mead will take a long to get ready to drink, so I started a batch of that today. I had some old honey that had granulated in a bucket that is a pretty mellow honey with a lot of warm spice flavors. I think I put that good use with the JAOM batch. It's amazing how different honey can taste from year to year and from locations that are 10 miles apart.

NeilV
11-29-2015, 08:49 PM
Thanks for the info. I'm not worrying (keeping bees broke me of that) but I'm pretty clueless about what to do next and when.

I keep about 10 Lang hives, give or take a couple depending on the time of year. I've got a topbar hive built, but I seem to never manage to put bees in it.

I think I recognize your name from Beesource. Are you on there too? I would have thought there would be more beeks on this site, but I guess most mead makers buy their honey.

WVMJack
11-30-2015, 04:07 AM
Put some bees in that top bar, if nothing else so easy to make a whole hive mead from them, just cut the comb off into your fermentation bucket and add water and squish:) WVMJ

NeilV
11-30-2015, 10:02 PM
The airlock was not bubbling, and the gravity was 1.000. I racked to secondary. There was, in fact, a bunch of settled yeast on the bottom. I topped off with a mix of honey and water. I sampled and it was a little dry, and did not want to use just water. I assume this will get the fermentation going again for a few days. Hope that was not a mistake.

I'm having fun. Reminds me of being a beginning beekeeper. Got me out of a rut.

I'll put the first swarm next year in that top bar and check out whole hive mead.

WVMJack
12-01-2015, 03:57 AM
If your yeasts are up to it they will eat the new honey also but that is ok, its your next racking you are trying to minimize carrying over the lees and where topping off is going to be even more critical for aging. Some people like to make 6 gal, rack to a 5 and a 1/2 or even a 1 if they got enough, then when its time for the second racking us that smaller topper bottle to fill it up, and then drink whats left in the topper bottle:) Sometimes we way over oak the topper if we are not going to need a lot and even bottle it to us as a topper for other batches if needed.

Last year I saw a swarm, caught it and put it in my second top bar, turns out it was the first top bar what swarmed! Wife likes to take pics of those events in case I do something stupid and get stung which hasnt happened, not that I dont do a lot of stupid things. She has also took pics of me releasing skunks from a live trap set for groundhogs, just talk nice to them and they will let you open the door and just walk away. I talk nice to the swarms also and it works! WVMJ

NeilV
01-24-2016, 01:17 PM
Update: This has gone very well. I racked to secondary, and put 1.5 oz of European dark oak cubes in it for almost a monthy. It clarified completely, and I racked it to a 5 gallon carboy and topped off with a honey/water mixture. Didn't take much. The fermentation started up again, but only slightly. Has an edginess to it that seems to mostly come from the carbonation. However, underneath that, it has a very good floral taste and will be semi-sweet with some tartness. I am going to bulk age it for a year before bottling.

Many thanks for the help on my first mead.