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Falesh
01-21-2016, 07:18 PM
I'm using two 5 gallon carboys. Both batches will have:
25g Ammonium Phosphate
10g Potassium Phosphate
5g Magnesium Sulphate
50g Tartaric Acid
75g Malic Acid
7g Tannic Acid
12.5mg Vitamin B1

One batch will use:
Lalvin EC-1118
8kg Honey

The other:
Lalvin 71B-1122
6.5kg Honey

My plan for brewing is:
1) Clean everything with warm soapy water and then sterilize with Star San
2) Fill my carboys with the honey and water and add 5 crushed potassium metabisulfite tablets to each and leave them for 24 hours
3) Put in all the stuff from the recipe and the yeast and leave for 2 weeks or until it stops bubbling, whichever is longer
4) Take hydrometer readings every 5 days from then on until the gravity stabilizes
5) Syphon off the mead, leaving the sediment, and add another 5 crushed potassium metabisulfite tablets
6) Gently mix vinegar and bicarbonate of soda in a big bucket then slowly pour the CO2 into the headroom of the racked mead
7) Rack every 3 months putting 5 crushed potassium metabisulfite tablets every other time for about a year
8) Drink a lot of mead

One query I have is how full can I fill my carboys during the fermentation stage, do I have to leave plenty of room for a foam to form or can I just fill it up for 5cm or so of the bung? Another is do I really need to use the hydrometer or can I just wait until it stops bubbling and rack it then?

With regards to the amount of honey added, do I have about the right amount to get fairly dry/mildly sweet mead or should I be adding a bit more or less?

Cheers!

Squatchy
01-22-2016, 01:13 AM
I think you will really struggle with this recipe in may ways. You should read up on here a while before you follow through with your plan.
I would forget about all of your acids for sure in primary.

Where did you come up with this?

Mazer828
01-22-2016, 02:39 AM
What is the basis for all of the chemical additions up front? Looks as though you may have come across a recipe in which someone documented all of the things they added to their mead over time, probably for a variety of reasons throughout weeks or months, and now you are just thinking they should all go in the pot at once?

Mead is a living entity. A being. You mix clean water with honey, and rouse it to life with a breath of yeast. From that point on your fates are entwined, and you begin your wooing. You sing and croon to it of all the wonderful things you pray it will one day be. And on some days it rewards you with sparkling like stars in a summer sky, and aromas reminiscent of the ambrosia of the gods. On other days it grumbles to you and threatens to turn all you love to ruin. So you listen and whisper and love it and feed it. You give it what it demands so that it will be appeased and remain loyal. If you are a good keeper, it will eventually fall into a deep slumber, and dream long drunken dreams of hallowed ancestors in the great smoke-filled mead halls of old. But if you are idle, friend; if your ears do not hear, long will be your sorrows. Your once precious elixir will be cast into outer darkness, and there will be great wailing and gnashing of teeth.

(Translation: pay attention to your mead, and aside from proper nutrient additions, only add stuff when it tells you there's something wrong, not just because some other guy did it.)

Falesh
01-22-2016, 08:28 AM
The recipe is from Making Mead by Bryan Acton & Peter Duncan. The book had good reviews and the authors seem very knowledgeable.

bernardsmith
01-22-2016, 09:42 AM
The authors may be knowledgeable and their book may have received good reviews (my ignorance - I am I admit unfamiliar with their names or their work) but the recipe does suggest more a manufacturing rather than an organic approach to mead making. There is a science to fermentation - but there is an art to wine and mead making. The list of ingredients suggests a far more engineered approach to something that might benefit from an organic hand. I would argue that the honey and the yeast and the water should be center stage. The spear carriers should not be upstaging anyone... and while occasionally a performer with a walk on role may be asked to deliver a line, most often they are silent , part of the set, the scenery...
So , in the recipe I know precisely which phosphates are to be used and how much of each... but the honey... Is this orange blossom? Clover? Tupelo? Heather? Wild flower? Spring harvested or fall harvested? The focus seems to be on the bit parts and not on the character that tells the story...

zpeckler
01-22-2016, 09:55 AM
What is the basis for all of the chemical additions up front? Looks as though you may have come across a recipe in which someone documented all of the things they added to their mead over time, probably for a variety of reasons throughout weeks or months, and now you are just thinking they should all go in the pot at once?

Mead is a living entity. A being. You mix clean water with honey, and rouse it to life with a breath of yeast. From that point on your fates are entwined, and you begin your wooing. You sing and croon to it of all the wonderful things you pray it will one day be. And on some days it rewards you with sparkling like stars in a summer sky, and aromas reminiscent of the ambrosia of the gods. On other days it grumbles to you and threatens to turn all you love to ruin. So you listen and whisper and love it and feed it. You give it what it demands so that it will be appeased and remain loyal. If you are a good keeper, it will eventually fall into a deep slumber, and dream long drunken dreams of hallowed ancestors in the great smoke-filled mead halls of old. But if you are idle, friend; if your ears do not hear, long will be your sorrows. Your once precious elixir will be cast into outer darkness, and there will be great wailing and gnashing of teeth.

(Translation: pay attention to your mead, and aside from proper nutrient additions, only add stuff when it tells you there's something wrong, not just because some other guy did it.)
Omg I love this forum. [emoji1]

Falesh
01-22-2016, 10:20 AM
The honey is from my hives (https://www.youtube.com/user/FaleshSB) in the back garden. I live in York so the honey is from a huge variety of nectar sources. I'm not a big fan of my tap water so I am planning on taste testing a range of bottled water and using the nicest of those.

With regards to the nutrients, I would rather make sure that the yeast has everything it needs at the start if that is possible. Are the quantities wrong or do people use different types? I'll forget about the acids for now and research them more.

Mazer828
01-22-2016, 10:50 AM
What you listed aren't exactly nutrients. That's what I'm saying. They look to me like water treatment and/or pH adjustments. Hard to tell without the original recipe creator's notes. But if water treatment, that has everything to do with what kind of water you're starting with, which varies tremendously from place to place. If pH adjustments, then those should be made as needed only, never presumptively. The nutrients would be (at worst) DAP - diammonium phosphate - or something like Fermax, Fermaid-K, Fermaid-O, or some less specific "yeast nutrient blend." These are what feed your yeast and keep them happy during the fermentation process. If they get unhappy they start to do things you don't want like create off flavors, or just quit altogether.

And yes I recommend you wait until your mead is done fermenting before you make any acid additions, which are to balance the flavor, not to be added up front. You can always add these but can never take it back out!

brentG
01-22-2016, 11:58 AM
The recipe is from Making Mead by Bryan Acton & Peter Duncan. The book had good reviews and the authors seem very knowledgeable.

Most of the reviews I read were poor, saying the book was published in the 60s and revised in the 80s. A lot has evolved in the mead world since then (hell, a lot has evolved in the last year!). You should probably start by reading the newbee guide on this site, then maybe move on to Ken Schramm's book (The Complete Meadmaker), which I suspect is also beginning to become outdated, but it's not a bad place to start.

If you're eager to get a batch going, why not just start with a JAOM? You probably have most of what you need around the house, and it's really hard to mess up.

brentG
01-22-2016, 12:06 PM
Just as an example: last year, at least from what I read, the protocol seemed to be using DAP and Fermaid K at the 1/3 and 2/3 sugar breaks. This year, TOSNA seems to be the way to go, and Sergio himself said (in a different thread) to expect that to change one day as well (paraphrased, of course). There are multiple scientists on this site, and they somehow figured out that yeast don't use DAP past 10%abv. All of that is way above my level of understanding (I just like to drink), but the advice I have received here has produced some very tasty batches.
My advice: listen to the good people here. They know what they're talking about.

bmwr75
01-22-2016, 03:38 PM
DAP and Fermaid K still work fine for me, but I don't make a science project out of most things. ;D

Mazer828
01-22-2016, 04:36 PM
You're probably right. If it ain't broke...

I've been using Fermax for the longest time, with very good results. It's probably closest to Fermaid-K. But I'm just recently switching to Fermaid-O for a few reasons. Organic, better uptake, broader spectrum of uptake, etc.

curgoth
01-22-2016, 04:40 PM
Looking at the list of stuff (I assume Ammonium Phosphate is DAP), it looks like the original authors were trying to put in the stuff that would later be available in commercial productions as DAP and Fermaid K, though Fermaid K probably has a few other things in it.

My comments: Leave the acid until secondary (fermenting will cause pH drop anyway, and too much acid too soon can cause fermentation to stall). You shouldn't need to bother with making your own CO2 blanket, as long as you have the carboys mostly filled (mead is more resilient to oxidization than some other booze), and you don't need that much potassium metabisulphite (aka kmeta). You shouldn't need to put the honey and water with kmeta before you start brewing - most folks here only bother with that when we're using fruit and there's a worry about wild yeasts etc. on it. Honey is usually safe enough on its own.

You are better off using a hydrometer instead of racking off when the bubbling stops. I say this because when you know the SG, you can tell if it's stuck, if it's gone dry and generally have a better chance of figuring out what it's doing, and a better chance of being able to make the same thing again.

Since you're already adding kmeta, you might as well finish off with potassium sorbate as well to guarantee arresting fermentation when you're ageing it. Most folks here just hit the mead with a single dose of both at the end, and that stops everything. If it's not sweet enough, you can backsweeten at that stage without the yeast trying to eat it.

If it's just honey and water (no fruit) you won't need a huge amount of head space. My personal preference is for primary fermentation in a bucket just in case, but plenty do just fine in a carboy. If you're worried, you could set up a blowoff tube.

You EC-1118 batch might eat all your honey and take it dry. Your 71B batch probably will as well. If you want some sweetness, you have two choices - step-feeding (adding in more honey after the initial start, in small amounts) until the yeast gives up, or back-sweeten (ferment to the ABV you want, stop with kmeta and sorbate, then add in more honey to desired sweetness). You can do both, really. Some folks have Opinions on which they prefer, but I suggest experimenting to see what you like. Either way, both are places where using a hydrometer helps - when you add more honey, you can record the SG bump and use that to calculate your ABV, and I personally like to know what SG it ended at after sweetening so I can figure out where I like it after ageing.

Falesh
01-22-2016, 06:45 PM
My advice: listen to the good people here. They know what they're talking about.
I love forums, I thought I had things right but I am glad I posted here. I'm going to go through the replies and research more. Thanks a lot for everyone's input!