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View Full Version : First Batch, hopefully of many.



Jubi
01-07-2016, 06:07 AM
Hello, I'm about as new as it gets but am happy to review advice and try to take to heart lesson.

I'm currently prepping for my very first batch, with a handful of scattered friends expecting a bottle at some point.
The only thing I'm waiting on is my roomy to be awake for a hand moving stuff around.

Primary fermenter sanitized and waiting as it were. Will probably want to spray it back down later just to be sure.

So, for the Hellos. I'm up in Washington State, north of Seattle. Fell in love with all the new ciders running around and was contemplating trying my hand at one until I had my first good Mead, been researching since.

Figured I would share my basic template here and try to keep updates and possibly some of my notes as I go, unless it's been done to death... just let me know.

I'm shooting for a basic Traditional Mead, only honey.
Between 12-14% ABV
5 Gallon batch
Would like to finish sweet, somewhere between a sweet and a dessert, final gravity around 1.020
I'll be using between 17 and 18 lbs of honey from Ann's Honey (http://www.annashoney.com/Honey/Clover-Honey-Bulk-40lb.html). It has a more mild spice flavor with an almost tea/herbal finish, at least that's what I get from it.
Just using a Champagne yeast for now.

I know that I don't have the experience yet to expect anything exact, I'm shooting for pleasant and simple.

Well, I'm going to go get my DAP and other supplies in order.

Mazer828
01-07-2016, 09:07 AM
So couple of questions just to see how well thought out your plan is! Didn't know there'd be a test huh?

1. What's your method? Heat or no heat?
2. Will you add all your honey at once or step feed? If step feeding, what's your plan?
3. What specific yeast will you be using? How much?
4. How will you rehydrate your yeast? Using goferm?
5. What will you ferment in?
6. How do you plan to aerate your must?
7. What temperature to you have in mind for your initial pitch temp? After that? How will you control your temp?
8. Will you be taking pH and gravity readings? At what points will you? What are your goals at certain target time frames?
9. What's your nutrient addition plan? How much DAP up front? Will you add more at another phase of ferment?
10. Will you let the yeast go until they naturally quit? Or will you be stopping the ferment at a certain point? If the latter, how?
11. What's your plan for secondary conditioning and clearing?
12. How will you determine when it's stable and safe to bottle?

You may already have answers to many of these, but if you don't, it's a good idea to at least have a plan before you get going. No plan survives first contact with the enemy, but at least you charted a path toward your destiny, and we can help you steer!

Squatchy
01-07-2016, 11:25 AM
Great reply Mazer!

I concur with Mazer. These are all things you need to understand to be successful. You wont be able to get a champagne yeast to stop at the FG you are looking for so you will need to get something with a lower tolerance. I can point to you a great cyser recipe that is pretty fool proof if you want to try your hand at that.

You may also want to start with a 3 gallon batch. Traditionals are probably not at all a good choice for a first batch. I would hate for you to end up with 5 gallons of crap :) If you want to stick to a traditional I would suggest D47 or 71-B. Keep temps in the lower 1/3rd of the range and have a feeding protocol in advance to use and stick to it.

Jubi
01-07-2016, 01:25 PM
Well, it still had a few hitches... like alteration for a yeast substitute... my Champagne yeast was mistaken for trash and thankfully I did have some ec-1118 set aside for later use... but I had to up the honey content. So will update my recipe to match.

as for the questions, some of which will be unsatisfactory answers.

1. What's your method? Heat or no heat?

No heat, I did warm two gallons but not anywhere near boiling.

2. Will you add all your honey at once or step feed? If step feeding, what's your plan?

As I planned, I did not step feed, though in hind site I should have held back and minded the more aggressive yeast.

3. What specific yeast will you be using? How much?

EC-1118, dry, two packets for a five gallon Must

4. How will you rehydrate your yeast? Using goferm?

In warm water as instructed, I did not get Goferm, however have already set wheels into motion to procure a supply.

5. What will you ferment in?

I have an eight gallon deep plastic Fermenter, once the primary is done I will be racking to a 5 gallon Carboy.

6. How do you plan to aerate your must?

Stirring with Plastic paddle.

7. What temperature to you have in mind for your initial pitch temp? After that? How will you control your temp?

I was shooting for a 90* pitch, but softened my yeast a bit earlier than I should so pitched at about 92* Still with in the tolerance of the yeast but It's going to bother me a touch.

8. Will you be taking pH and gravity readings? At what points will you? What are your goals at certain target time frames?

I will be taking regular Gravity readings, every few days until the fermentation starts to slow. Then daily followed by possibly twice daily when I near my target gravity.

9. What's your nutrient addition plan? How much DAP up front? Will you add more at another phase of ferment?

I only have the DAP at the moment, again more supplies to come. I used 1/2tsp now, will use another 1/2tsp tomorrow during aeration, and I was considering waiting a day and adding the last 1/2tsp on the fourth day.

10. Will you let the yeast go until they naturally quit? Or will you be stopping the ferment at a certain point? If the latter, how?

I will most likely have to stop the fermentation to keep the sweetness I want. When the time comes I have Sulfite ready and space in a fridge to cold crash it.

11. What's your plan for secondary conditioning and clearing?

I have a packet of Isinglass ready once I have it in our nice cold Jam-closet, that should give me a nice start on clearing.

12. How will you determine when it's stable and safe to bottle?

If all goes well I don't expect it to have much other than residual yeast left, but this is my first time.

Copied from Gotmead.com - Read More at:http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/25355-First-Batch-hopefully-of-many

Thank you both for the advice and questions, I'm ready for the hurdles I know are to come with the batch, but it's already in... mostly just hoping I didn't mess up the yeast by letting it sit longer than the 15 minutes.

Jubi
01-07-2016, 01:39 PM
At this point I fully understand that I have wandered into something like trial by fire... it's always fire, why not stone once in a while.

I am going to roll with it and hope for the best.

So here's the revised basic info. (Basic info block provided by Gotmead.com!)

Brew Date – 1/7/16
Batch Size – 5 gal.
Honey Varietal – Clover
S.G. goal – 1.45
%ABV goal – 15%

Ingredients:
20 Lbs. Honey
about 3.5 gal. Liquid (water filled to make a final level of 5 gallons)
0.780 oz. DAP/Energizer
0.352 oz. Yeast - EC-118

Squatchy
01-07-2016, 05:47 PM
You wont be able top stop that at your desired FG. You'll have to stabilize and then sweeten.

Stasis
01-07-2016, 06:21 PM
To clarify what Squatchy said: Ec-1118 is possibly the most aggressive and hardy yeast out there. It is used to restart fermentations, and there is a good reason for that. It will be very difficult to halt fermentation and keep it from restarting.
Since only Dap is used, maybe the yeast won't be too healthy and they just might stop fermentation after cold crashing and stabilizing. You will also need to sulfite and sorbate, but be careful because if fermentation hasn't truly stopped the yeast might continue to metabolize that and create a fault known as geranium taint.
It is difficult to halt Ec-1118 and even a bit risky. This is why most people would suggest stabilizing when fermentation is over and backsweetening.

However, I have no experience trying to halt Ec-1118. All I have said is theoretical not from 1st hand experience. I would probably try to halt Ec-1118 because I am stubborn and want to try it out for myself ;)

Mazer828
01-07-2016, 08:33 PM
Wow. What magnification do you need on the microscope to see a geranium taint?!

Stasis
01-07-2016, 09:18 PM
It's not the geranium's taint you have to look for under the microscope, it's the yeast's taint... which after metabolizing sorbates look and taste of geraniums :o

Farmboyc
01-07-2016, 10:05 PM
I do believe Mazer was shooting for some low-brow humor.
And if you got that initially then ewww for tasting it.

Jubi
01-08-2016, 11:54 AM
Well, if crash and burn I must crash and burn I shall, but I'm not going without a fight!

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Update!
Lightly foamy on top of Must, temp at 80 degrees, eight degrees higher than the room.
Added second dose of DAP, got fizzy during Aeration stir, Gravity has barely move as of yet. In line with advise from forum starting to wonder why the guy at the local home brewing shop thought EC-1118 would make a good choice for newbee to work with unless he intended a lesson to be learned.
Joke's on him though I'll throw science at the wall to see what sticks if I have to! Special thanks to C.J. I'm not banging rocks together either.
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If I can I'd like to avoid back sweetening. I have a small ray of hope that letting the yeast sit while trying to let my warm Must cool a bit will have possibly weakened it a bit too, but will have to wait to see. The only think I can come up with to axe the yeast would be a filter capable of blocking it... Might be out of my price range though.

Mazer828
01-08-2016, 12:08 PM
With an original gravity of (I'm guessing) about 1.152 based on your recipe, you likely shocked your yeast with huge sugar content. It's called osmotic shock. That probably accounts for your slow start. But don't worry, the EC is truly a champ, it'll recover and get to work. The EC has an alcohol tolerance of 18%. Based on your OG, if the EC yeast goes right to that line it'll run out of poop when you're right around a gravity of 1.015. And that's assuming very good fermentation management. So this being your first batch it will probably stop short of that. Maybe 1.020-1.030. That's plenty of residual sugars and sweetness.

My point: I don't think you'll have to back sweeten.

But that yeast is going to be working hard and you want it to be well nourished. So keep an eye on your gravity. When you get to the 1/3 sugar break (about 1.100) feed it some Fermaid-K or DAP, but none after that. When it gets to the 1/2 or 2/3 sugar break (about 1.076 to 1.050), feed it some Fermaid-O or yeast hulls. And keep stirring and aerating (with outside air with oxygen in it!) daily until you get to about the 2/3 sugar break. After that, just let it finish quietly and rack it to secondary when the yeast drops out and it starts to get a clear-ish layer at the top. Hard to tell with plastic though...[emoji15]

Jubi
01-10-2016, 10:08 AM
When last checked the Gravity was at 1.120, going to check it in a couple hours before I go to bed (Working nights so I sleep during the day) The local Brewing shop isn't open weekends so I'll be headed down there maybe Monday morning to check on what they have for me.

Mazer828
01-10-2016, 12:37 PM
Has that temp come down at all? 80s is high and you will end up with off flavors that will take much time to mellow. Try to keep your primary ferment (now that it's going strong) in the mid 60s if you can.

Jubi
01-11-2016, 12:38 PM
It did come down, but it still need to loose a little more.

The Gravity for todays check was roughly 1.105, given the speed it's falling I added Dap now since I will likely be asleep when it hits the 1.100 mark. also dropping the temp a bit before I lay down.

On a personal note, it smells wonderful. Deep, rich honey scent with the blooming alcohols...

Mazer828
01-11-2016, 01:38 PM
That's awesome. One of my favorite parts of making mead. If anything starts to smell less than magical, it might mean your yeast is getting tired, stressed, etc. That would be an indication to check everything carefully to see what the cause is, and perhaps give a dose of organic nutrient, aerate, degas, adjust pH, etc. Just keep an eye on it (or a nose as it were)!

Jubi
01-13-2016, 12:31 PM
Aerated again, as daily recommended, Gravity is falling slower but seems steady at this point.

I moved it into a consistently cooler room but it still seems to be hanging at about 69 degrees.

Jubi
01-14-2016, 01:39 PM
Temp is down to 67, gravity is down to 1.090. Still feels slow going, though I suppose it's probably not bad for the official start of week two of fermentation.

The smell while aerating is driving me nuts... makes me want a glass now.

Jubi
01-16-2016, 02:40 PM
Gravity down to 1.080, still falling steadily. If it keeps this rate it will be another two days before I hit my second sugar break.

With any luck primary fermentation will wrap up when I have a couple days off, but I'm not counting on it.

Jubi
02-01-2016, 01:03 PM
Sorry I've been quiet, after dealing with a slow crawl for a while the gravity stopped moving... I attempted an acclimated restart, and it seemed to be working just fine but it seems to be grinding back down to a halt again at 1.042 currently.

which leaves me in the 14% ABV range currently.

It has managed to stave off any negative smells so far, at least to my yet poorly trained nose.
Wondering how much longer I should wait before calling it for treatments before racking... If it helps, I have tasted it, and other than a bit murky (I am attributing that to yeast and possibly nutrients left over.) I find it pleasant and not distastefully sweet, not something to drink lightly I think though.

Edit- Definitely going to do a BOMM next though :P

Mazer828
02-02-2016, 08:42 AM
Hmm. Shouldn't have stopped just yet. What are the conditions? Temp? Feedings? Have you been stirring and degassing regularly?

Jubi
02-02-2016, 01:33 PM
I have been stirring twice a day, fully degassing at least once a day. It has been two and a half days since last feeding at this point.
Temp has been a pretty stable 65ish.

Foam on top has been light, mostly white, similar to a finer sea foam.

Jubi
02-03-2016, 12:34 PM
I'm going to give it one more try and a day before calling it and prepping to make a one or two gallon batch of something to blend it with, probably two gallon.

Has anyone had experience blending meads made from wine yeasts with Ale yeast Meads?
It would be much faster to have something to blend it with that way but I can imagine there may be flavor conflicts... or the right blend might soften some of the wine characteristics.

Mazer828
02-04-2016, 01:15 AM
What's your SG now?