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grsz11
12-25-2015, 12:01 AM
I have a recipe that I have learned is generally referred to as a show Mead with the directions indicating it should be ready in one to two weeks. Small gallon batch is currently fermenting in a plastic water jug (maybe a no-no but it's just my first go) coming up on two weeks. And I'm just not sure how to tell if it is done. Also, need some advice on bottling. I've got a couple of Mason jars and some old wine bottles with those stoppers you can use for open bottles or half gallon growlers with screw tops. Any help appreciated.

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fatbloke
12-25-2015, 04:12 AM
You'd need to provide a bit more detail.

Show meads are just honey, water and yeast. Generally slow ferments because of the lack of nutrients.

You can help them along a bit with good aeration.

The use of inorganic nitrogen and other nutrition would make it a traditional mead rather than a show mead, but I have heard of people using yeast hulls as they do provide some organic nutrients, so I'd guess it depends on how far you might want to go down that route, if at all...........

grsz11
12-25-2015, 08:49 AM
You'd need to provide a bit more detail.

Show meads are just honey, water and yeast. Generally slow ferments because of the lack of nutrients.

You can help them along a bit with good aeration.

The use of inorganic nitrogen and other nutrition would make it a traditional mead rather than a show mead, but I have heard of people using yeast hulls as they do provide some organic nutrients, so I'd guess it depends on how far you might want to go down that route, if at all...........
It also had a packet of flavoring, though I'm not sure what all is in there.

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Squatchy
12-25-2015, 10:44 AM
It's not a show mead Óny more if you added the flavor poutch.

grsz11
12-25-2015, 11:06 AM
OK disregard that part then, was just trying to find a way to describe.

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EJM3
12-25-2015, 02:33 PM
It would be most helpful if you could post your recipe, both the ingredients & the methods used to make it.

As for bottling, you need something that can stand up to a few years of aging. Mason jars will not work for that very well, unless you boil them for 5 minutes. But then your mead would taste like you boiled it for a while, not very appetizing after all the work you just went through to make it! Those stopper that you use on half empty bottle it only there for a short while before you are meant to finish off the bottle. They allow oxygen to get in thereby spoiling your mead by either oxidizing it or just plain turning it to vinegar, the growlers are just as bad as they allow air to pass the seal enough to ruin your mead.

Remember that you will be storing & aging this for at least a year usually, sometimes more, so you have to plan appropriately. At least get yourself some clean & sterilized beer bottles, crown caps & a capping tool. Then you can just package your mead into 12oz bottles & let them age for up to 3 or more years without problems. I'm not the best person to ask about those options as I generally use beer bottles ranging from 11.5oz Euro bottles to 22oz bottles. You just have to make sure that you cap them properly & tightly (easy enough with simple & CHEAP tools), then make sure that they do not get wet & the caps rust.

Bottling in wine bottles is harder & you need a bit more kit (as the Brits like to say), basically it's for the looks & for extended aging possibilities (over a decade sometimes). Then there is the problem of finding enough clean wine bottles, the corks & the machine to do the corking. These can range from a simple hand plunger (NOT recommended), all the way to an Italian floor corking machine (Very expensive!). Then there is the matter of corks, there are at least 6 or 8 kinds of corks in popular use, with at least that many more of the less popular options, then you have artificial corks to deal with. Different, designs, lengths, widths, grades, etc, etc...

grsz11
12-25-2015, 02:46 PM
I don't know if I will be able to provide sufficient info.


Gallon of water
2 lbs of honey
Elderberry flavoring (not sure the exact make up)
Not sure what kind of yeast, included with the pack

Simmered about four cups of water then added the flavor for a tea mixture.

Added honey to the remaining water.

Mixed all together when cool and then poured yeast on top.

Been sitting for about 12 days with muslin over the opening.


The instructions say ready to drink in one or two weeks, so if I planned on drinking within a few weeks would it be alright in jars without becoming bombs?


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Mazer828
12-25-2015, 04:13 PM
My thought is that "ready to drink" indeed means ready to drink. Not ready to bottle. Drinkabikity comes far sooner usually than suitability to bottle.

If you intend to drink right away, mason jars might be a good temporary short term storage solution (e.g. 3-5 days). Any longer however and you risk residual secondary fermentation creating pressure those jars aren't going to put up with.

If you intend to bottle, you need to make sure your mead is stable first. That means fermentation has stopped completely, and you've cleared out any lees (precipitated yeast and other particulates) and you have a perfectly clear mead to bottle.

Ensuring stability is a simple matter of measuring your gravity with a hydrometer. Measure every week. Don't forget to correct your reading each time for temperature. There are charts and calculators all over the Internet you can Google. When the reading doesn't change at all for two or three weeks, you're good.

And an easy and simple solution for bottling on the cheap would be saving coke or Pepsi bottles with their caps. Wash and rinse them thoroughly, then run then through your dishwasher on hot with no soap. Take them out, fill them up, cap them and you're good for several months. Long term storage should be done in glass IMHO. But you're probably going to consume this one in short order.

Keep good notes, write everything down, and keep checking in here. You'll learn more than you ever thought possible.

Squatchy
12-25-2015, 06:54 PM
I just can't believe anything is drinkable that soon. Especially when you just toss your yeast onto your must. I guess drinkable and enjoyable means 2 different things. Wine kits say they are drinkable in 6 weeks, give or take, but just because the instructions says so doesn't really mean you would want to drink it. But then again, some people like Budweiser too!

Mazer828
12-25-2015, 11:44 PM
Could be. But I suspect it's possible that a mead could ferment almost completely in less than 2 weeks, and therefore be "drinkable." If you're after the alcohol effects more than the enjoyable taste effects...

EJM3
12-26-2015, 04:06 AM
With 2 pounds of honey in 1 Gallon of water it's a moderate gravity at ~ 1.072 or ~9.75% ABV roughly (according to the GotMead calculator anyway (http://gotmead.com/blog/the-mead-calculator.html)), that could be aged for at least a few months (3, 6 or even a year given good sanitation when bottling) to get it to mellow out & be "enjoyable" instead of "drinkable".

Do you have a hydrometer & test jar?? If not then I highly recommend that you get them, you cannot reliably make sure that your fermentation is done without them.

You will also need an airlock of some sort for the latter part of fermentation, without them you expose it to all kinds of contaminants. If infected with something bacterial/fungal it could taste, well, like something you wish you never tasted. Oxygen after a certain point in the fermentation cal lead to all kinds of strange flavors, wet cardboard comes to mind. So it's best to at least slip a balloon over the top, just remember to prick a few holes in it or you'll get a loud BANG!

Have you read the mead new bee guide (http://gotmead.com/blog/the-newbee-guide-to-making-mead.html)?? There are huge amounts of information in there, If you need help with any of it just try using the search box. If that does not work then you can always post, the people here are happy to help you out & point yo in the right direction.

I'm still floundering around myself at times & need help with things like the math, although I've pretty much given up learning it after 3 years of getting it wrong all the time. Mostly I'm just sick of being told that I, or my math, don't make sense, other times I've been jeered at, even that I'm just flat wrong with no explanation, so I'm just going back to just dumping in some nutrients & if it doesn't stink calling it good....

Maylar
12-26-2015, 12:18 PM
Was this from a mead kit? If yes, can you tell us which one it is?

grsz11
12-26-2015, 01:26 PM
Was this from a mead kit? If yes, can you tell us which one it is?
It is an Elderberry Mead kit from Ambrosia Farms. http://www.ambrosiafarm.com/mead.php

pwizard
12-26-2015, 03:13 PM
Some of those recipes look intriguing. I wish they gave an ingredients list so we could scale it up.

EJM3
12-27-2015, 12:51 AM
Yup, that's a no age one all righty, says "Short meads must be chilled until consumed.", also the statement of "Use kits within six months." intrigues me. Not sure if that is referring to their herbs & spices going off or the mead, either way I'd be sure that you have that all nice & drunk within a short time after it's ready.

Unless you have been absolutely scrupulous in your cleaning & sanitizing, like a brewery or surgical room, you cannot be sure that your mead will be able to age properly. The absolute cheap & easy method for bottling would go something like this: Get used soda pop bottles & clean them with HOT, but not boiling, water, lids too. Just be sure they are not scuzzy with crud, only use clean bottles or you'll run into problems. This step could be dangerous, just be sure to stay away from flames, or using flames for an hour or so after you are done. Here's why, I usually use vodka as a sterilizing fluid, regular old 80 proof, 40%, cheapo vodka. I fill the bottles a bit, shake 8-10 times, drain into a bowl, then fill then next with the bowls contents, shake, drain, fill, drain, repeat... make sue you do the bottle tops as well... letting them all drain for a couple of minutes... sterilize a funnel, inside & out... carefully pour your mead into the bottles... filling to within 1 to 1 1/2 inches from the top... screw the top on. Be sure not to get the gunky stuff at the bottom, those are called the gross lees. That should get you six months without fear of bacterial contamination, that would turn a glass bottle into what is known as a "Bottle Bomb", these the plastic will get hard & you can carefully dispose of it before a problem occurs, also keeping it in the refrigerator will go a long way to preserving it better. Just like the name says it goes BANG, with lots of glass shards flying all over, possibly setting off more bottles next to it...

Next I'd read up on the procedures in the NewBee Guide, almost everyone here has read that or has equivalent knowledge; that way there is a common point of reference for you & the rest of us to discuss all things mead. Second keep asking questions, I tell people that the only stupid questions are the ones that you don't ask.


What kind of equipment do you have?? If you want to make some more advanced types of meads you will need some basic equipment to do it with: Hydrometer & test jar, airlock & rubber stopper that has a hole in it, racking cane & tubing, bottling wand, crown caps & bottle capper, some Campden tablets (K-Meta or Potassium Metabisulfite), a small amount of One Step...... Er, I think that's about the minimum.... All of that can be had for ~$30 or so on Amazon, or they even have starter sets that you can buy with all of it cheaper than buying it separately. I don't really know about those so will have to ask other members what that have experienced. Not just Amazon has equipment, but it's usually the easiest to access & sometimes cheapest if you include shipping costs...

Maylar
12-27-2015, 11:57 AM
The kit is simply some flavoring and yeast. The instructions say to ferment until it "tastes good", then refrigerate to stop the yeast. At one week it's somewhat sweet, at 2 weeks it's dry. The longer you let it ferment, the less sweet it will be and the higher the alcohol content. You need to keep it cold to prevent more fermentation. Strain it through cheesecloth and call it mead.

Bottle in whatever you like, as long as it's kept cold and consumed in a short time frame.

I suspect the "use in 6 months" note is for the yeast.

bernardsmith
12-27-2015, 02:28 PM
Elderflower wine is a very traditional British (English) sweet and effervescent wine and that is made to be drunk in a few weeks. I suspect that this mead is a variation on the wine -using honey to add some different notes to the wine that sugar would normally supply. Bottle bombs is one typical hazard and the advent of plastic soda bottles solved much of that problem. But it's what is sometimes called a short mead. A short mead is simply a low ABV (alcohol by volume) mead and so one that is viewed as ready to drink in a few weeks... best way to tell if it is done is to either follow the instructions given (Ambrosia Farms may have meant this to be bottled when the specific gravity falls to a certain level such that the mead will continue to ferment in the sealed bottle resulting in a sparkling mead (after a few weeks in the bottle) OR if the instructions are not clear then you may want to wait until the gravity is rock solid stable for several days and then bottle. In either event the gravity should be at 1.000 or thereabouts. In other words, you need an hydrometer to check the specific gravity.
I also see that their web site has a Q&A section (to the top left) and they use days and your taste to determine when to stop the fermentation.. Trouble is that simply chilling the mead will not stop the fermentation... It will simply slow it down and when a bottle is removed from the fridge it will speed right up again... So bottom line:
A drier mead will have a gravity of around 1.005 or lower. A sweeter mead will be around 1.010 and a sweet mead will be above about 1.015 - could be as high as 1.025 or higher... You decide when you are happy with the taste and sweetness and you can either bottle and refrigerate or refrigerate (not bottle) for a couple of weeks until all the yeast drops out of solution and then siphon the mead into another jug and add a campden tablet crushed and dissolved in water and about 1/2 t of K-sorbate. Then you bottle. These two chemicals will inhibit further fermentation but by inhibiting further fermentation they will prevent your mead from becoming sparkling...

This is a fun mead to make and it may be very delicious, but it is not something that you want to store and age for any length of time... treat it more like the way you might treat a batch of dill pickles or sauerkraut or kim chi that you have made...

grsz11
12-27-2015, 03:51 PM
Thanks for the advice all. I think from all the tips here my game plan will to be refrigerate as is now for a short time to stop fermentation, then strain into jars. What would be the step if I want to get some to turn sparkling?

bernardsmith
12-27-2015, 05:12 PM
If you have an hydrometer and you can check the specific gravity that will indicate whether there is still fermentable sugar left that could ferment. If you bottle (and seal ) the mead when it still has fermentable sugar since yeast converts sugar into an equal amount of alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) the bottles will contain the CO2 and CO2 under pressure will produce the sparkle (bubbles). However, if there is a lot of sugar (honey) still unfermented and you bottle that CO2 will be under a great deal of pressure - and depending on the bottle (and the kind of cap ) you may find that the cap blows off or the bottle simply "explodes" .. If, however, all the honey has already been converted to alcohol (and CO2) then when you bottle there may not be enough CO2 in the bottle to create a sparkling effect... so what you might do is add about 1 teaspoon of sugar dissolved in a little water for every pint of mead (if you have a gallon of mead you might dissolve about 8 - 10 teaspoons of sugar ) BUT check to make sure that the gravity of the mead is about 1.000 and then bottle in plastic soda bottles or beer bottles - both are designed to withstand the kind of pressure that the CO2 will produce. But you really need an hydrometer (costs about $8 or so from any local home brew store or from Amazon) to check to see how much unfermented sugar you still have. Bottle bombs - and the flying glass they produce are not a joke. They are very dangerous. Very.