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daisyd681
01-24-2016, 03:47 PM
I posted in the JAOM thread last night, when I probably should have posted here (I blame the reisling). Anyway, because all of my fiber arts and jewelry hobbies apparently aren't enough I've decided to take on mead (and beer for the hubby to help keep me occupied while I wait on the mead. Lol)

I've been in love with mead since I was given some homebrew at a party many years ago, but the only time I can get it is at the Celtic festival in Flagstaff or when we go to Oregon. I'm not new to yeast. I've had my very own fridge pet (his name is Fred) sourdough starter for about a year now. I am new to any kind of intentional fermentation for drinking purposes though.

I'm not brewing JAOM specifically. I followed a very similar recipe from another site. I found this place after I got my first gallon bubbling along.

My brew is as follows:

2 lbs raw local wildflower honey
1 lb processed wildflower honey (it was the only way to get to the 3 lbs from the recipe)
1 peeled blood orange (I despise pith. I spend whatever time it takes to remove it when eating an orange.)
~25 raisins (whatever is in the Sunkist mini box)
1 packet Red Star Cote des Blancs yeast (recipe called for champagne yeast, but I like sweet and this said that it finishes sweeter)
1 gallon distilled water (no chlorine was what the recipe said. I didn't think about trace minerals at all)
I made it on the 19th and it's been at a steady 1 blip/5-7 seconds since.

I don't like the idea of a bunch of additives. It's not really a hippie natural thing (though there's a bit of that) it's more that I get a kick out of making things truer to their original methods.

I have some questions about yeast. I'm told that the 3 lbs was not enough to keep the yeast from drying this thing out. I read in the JAOM thread that Joe was talking about adding honey (he said 12 oz, then he said 8 oz) at the end to kill the yeast off. I'm assuming that this gives them enough food to kick it up to their ABV tolerance and thus yeast armageddon. Is this a feasible way to both backsweeten and prevent bottle bombs? How much do I add? Once the hydrometer gets here I think 1.02 will probably be me goal. I don't have a lot of space for carboys everywhere so the sooner I can bottle it, the better.

How does cold crashing work? I know yeast survive just fine in the fridge (Fred comes out perfectly willing to gobble up all the flour I give him), so what's the idea behind this technique?

I have space for 3 1 gallon carboys. 1 for beer and the other 2 for staggered batches of mead (gotta keep it flowing). My thoughts on the honey to kill yeast method are to put honey in a pot (no heat, just a convenient, sanitary container), rack onto the honey and let it dissolve while I clean out the carboy. Then I suppose I'd need to stir a little to get the honey thoroughly incorporated and pour it back in the carboy. Are there any problems with this plan? Does it expose it to too much oxegyn?

Sorry about the wall of text. I started with one question, but it escalated quickly.

jdranchman
01-24-2016, 04:43 PM
As as side note, you can get some random meads and AZ local mead from Superstition Meadery (in Prescott, worth a visit) at the Whole Foods in Flagstaff. Got some there a couple weeks ago while driving through. It is good to have some commercial mead now and then to help train your senses to some other good stuff and give you ideas for your own batches.

daisyd681
01-24-2016, 06:59 PM
Ooh! Thanks for the tip. I hadn't gone through the wine selection at Whole Foods since it switched from New Frontiers. The closest homebrew place to me is in Prescott Valley. I might just have to make a day of it.

daisyd681
01-25-2016, 11:06 AM
So, I needed another carboy and instead of paying shipping on glass I decided to go to Sprouts and just buy a gallon of apple juice. Since it has nothing in it but juice, and I'm a waste not, want not type of girl, I'm going to try a cyser. :p

I've been playing with the calculator. The 3 lbs of honey should be enough sugar to take the CDB yeast to its outside ABV of 14%. That actually makes me feel better about the adding honey later plan as all but the most tolerant cells should be dead by then. How accurate are those tolerance ratings?

I'm not sure if I should just start a mead log at this point to record where this goes or just do it here so I'm not littering this possibly cockamamy plan all over the forum.

Mazer828
01-25-2016, 11:44 AM
Keep a mead log regardless, but I'm not really the type to post a mead log either. Personal choice I guess.

Alcohol tolerance is approximate. The point at which the yeast actually quits depends on a variety of factors, including ABV, temp, pH, nutrients and feeding, how old the yeast was, how it was hydrated, what the yeast colony population is, the presence of other additives/adjuncts, and probably others I haven't thought of.

daisyd681
01-25-2016, 12:12 PM
Nothing like trying to apply hard and fast rules to a living organism eh? I wrote everything I did down in a notebook when I did it. I guess I'll wait until there's something noteworthy one way or the other.

I like your sig. I have a Tolkien quote written in Gallifreyan tattoo.

brentG
01-25-2016, 05:22 PM
JAOM works because it uses bread yeast. Cote des Blanc is a wine yeast (which will require nutrients).

daisyd681
01-25-2016, 05:41 PM
That's what I understood was the purpose of the raisins. The recipe I am going off of called for champagne yeast which has normal nutrient requirements, and the CDB has high. I hadn't looked at that aspect when I picked the CDB. What happens if the yeast is a little starved? Should I add more raisins?

daisyd681
01-26-2016, 10:51 AM
Can anyone tell me about adding honey at the end to, I guess, force finish the yeast? I'd really rather not add chemicals to an otherwise natural mead, but I don't want bottle bombs either. I have tried searching, but either I don't have the proper terms, or there's just not that much info on this. Can anyone at least point me in the direction of this info?

ETA: I'm also wondering if I need the preservatives since I'm planning on aging a bunch of bottles for Christmas. How do those that don't do sulfides stabilize and preserve?

Farmboyc
01-26-2016, 11:27 AM
Adding sugars to take yeast to their alcohol tolerance is called step-feeding.
This will likely re-start fermentation and you will probably end up with a pretty high ABV. Will take some ageing to mellow.
Bottle bombs occur when you bottle before fermentation is complete or one of the limiting factors change after bottling and fermentation starts up again. These factors could be temperature increase, a increase in pH due to reduction of CO2 gas, or additional aeration. Most people recommended several racking over a period of time and a few weeks of stable gravity readings before bottling. I also like to bring the carboy up to room temp 20-22 C if it isn't already for a week or so to see if that will do anything.

daisyd681
01-26-2016, 11:57 AM
How often should one rack for this purpose?

Mazer828
01-26-2016, 12:25 PM
Rack as often as you need to get the mead off of any meaningful sediment. Otherwise, racking does nothing but expose your mead to potential oxygenation. Only rack when it's necessary.

ogr8bearded1
01-26-2016, 12:35 PM
That's what I understood was the purpose of the raisins. The recipe I am going off of called for champagne yeast which has normal nutrient requirements, and the CDB has high. I hadn't looked at that aspect when I picked the CDB. What happens if the yeast is a little starved? Should I add more raisins?

Welcome from one 'newbee' to another. I'm on my first make also and doing a cyser for it. I don't think it hurt mine so far, but after adding my raisins I read the ingredients and found they had sulfite preservatives so maybe something we should both look out for in future brews. I noticed a slow down in my airlock and added some nutrients (experience warning: adding Fermax yeast nutrients to an active brew can cause foaming so you could get a bit of spillover :D )

Biggest thing I've read is when yeast gets hungry they start making fusels that you have to age out to mellow the flavour. You are welcome to follow my first cyser brew log to see how it turns out...mistakes and all lol.

daisyd681
01-26-2016, 12:57 PM
Oh no! I bought a bag of the mini boxes and threw out the bag. I'll have to look at it next time I go to the store.

All this stuff about sulfites and headaches that I'm reading makes me wonder if the hubby is sensitive to them. He gets headaches anytime he drinks wine.

ETA: I'm still getting used to the way the threads organize here. I thought this would go under the comment about raisins.

At any rate, since I'm planning on storing 4 bottles from each of my fist two batches for Christmas, I guess it's safest to stabalize with chemicals since I want to bottle and get on with it as soon as possible. I thought I'd be well suited for the waiting part having tumbled rocks for many years. I suppose the difference is that while the results of the tumbler are fun to look at when they come out the most they'll really get me is a really cool looking fish tank someday. Mead gets me... well, mead. :D

brentG
01-26-2016, 06:36 PM
Between the alcohol and the citrus acid from the orange, I wouldn't worry about preservation.
I'm pretty sure raisins aren't going to provide enough nutrients.
If you take the mead bone dry (like, below 1.000) you shouldn't have to worry about stabilizing if you wait long enough, but if you want it semi-sweet or sweet you will. Just make sure it's totally done before bottling (like the comments said below -- gravity readings are crucial, then temp, etc.).

daisyd681
01-26-2016, 06:47 PM
How long with a stable gravity before I can declare it done?

Mazer828
01-26-2016, 06:59 PM
I like to go at least two weeks. If it's clear and my reading hasn't changed (and don't forget to correct your reading for temperature!) I call it good and bottle, unless there is another reason to bulk age.

brentG
01-26-2016, 07:31 PM
I bottled some rose petal wine yesterday. It was in the carboy for about a year. On Christmas it was at 0.094. Last week it was the same. Yesterday it was the same, so I called it good and bottled it without stabilizing. One reason I left it so long is because in the past I've bottled once I knew it was done, but then sediment formed in the bottom of the bottle (can't store those bottles on their sides -- I'm not about to start rotating bottles). Just something to think about. Mazer is absolutely right, but I think sediment does matter, at least as far as presentation goes.

daisyd681
01-26-2016, 09:49 PM
Thank you. I kept coming across people saying leave it for months and I was going "I want to make more than a batch a year". 2 weeks is doable. I'll risk it on the sediment if I can get going on the next batch. I should get 5 bottles out of each batch and the fifth will be mine, so the sediment should mostly end up in there if anything.

My batch is going about 1 blip every 6 seconds. It was at 5. I'm guessing that adding boiled sourdough starter would be bad. I could go grab some bread yeast. Can I just nuke it in a few tbs of water and add it? I don't have much head space in my jug.

brentG
01-27-2016, 12:37 AM
Two weeks isn't enough time. Bubbles in the airlock don't tell you if it's done -- you need a hydrometer for that.
My recommendation is to buy another carboy or two and start a new batch while you wait (you might as well just embrace the addiction), and read the Newbee guide (search for it on this website).
I'm confused by the sourdough/boiling/nuking bread yeast. None of that is a good idea.

brentG
01-27-2016, 12:41 AM
I'm not sure how to make the link say "Newbee guide" instead of the actual address, but this should be it:
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=1299&d=1395107076

Mazer828
01-27-2016, 12:42 AM
Ok, what you asked is how long does it take to know when it's done. For me, if I take three weekly readings, and nothing changes, I'm good. That's two weeks, start to finish. If there's ANY change, or ANY doubt, wait a couple more weeks. Things can go slow. As said, don't rely on the airlock. That is not what it's for. Use your hydrometer. And always correct for temperature.

Now...


Having said that about determining when fermentation is done, that has NOTHING to do with clearing. I, too, have had meads I thought were clear develop sediment in the bottle. Very disappointing. All I can say there is it takes as much time as it takes. When it looks like a freaking crystal lighthouse lens, it's ready to bottle!

daisyd681
01-27-2016, 11:19 AM
I know the bubbles don't tell me when it's done. I was referring to telling whether it's slowing down due to nutritional deficiency. The boiled yeast was suggested somewhere as an alternative to commercial nutrients.

I knew what you meant Mazer about stable SG readings. If you're checking SG weekly, once you get the same reading twice (so the same for a whole week), you wait another week to be sure. However long it takes to get to that point is largely out of my hands and requires a gift I haven't really been granted (I've been told that patience is a gift. I'm skeptical. ;))

I'm currently waiting for my tax return, and have a huge cart waiting at Adventures in Homebrewing. The 1 gallon beer kit I'm ordering comes with a hydrometer and I have the fermtech wine thief on there as well. I've also got another bung and airlock to go in the apple juice jug I got. This will probably be like 2 weeks before I have items in hand.

Is there a way to tell, in the meantime, if I need to try to supplement the nutrients?

Thank you for your patience with me. I am reading and absorbing as much info as I can. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information and is largely dependant on specific factors, so I ask.

Farmboyc
01-27-2016, 11:44 AM
So am I right in assuming g you have no DAP or Fermaid products?

If you want to stay true to a historical method you don't need to use any nutrients. However, I can tell you from experience that the end product is gonna need some time to be drinkable and a lot of time to be pleasant.

If you have nothing else then I would definitely boil up some bread yeast and add that. The fruit will also add some nutrition.
The most obvious signs of stressed yeast are sulfurous smells and a paint thinner or solvent type of taste. It is best practice to get your nutrient soirce in before this happens.

daisyd681
01-27-2016, 12:34 PM
Correct. I will pick up some bread yeast when I go to the store. Will pouring boiling water over it kill it sufficiently?

I don't smell anything in the airlock at all, except the rum I have in it. I just took that out and replaced it with water so I can keep a nose on it, so to speak.

All but one bottle of this batch will bottle age at least until Christmas, so hopefully any mistakes I made will be gone by then. I'll drink the other bottle. I don't have a very sophisticated palate. I thought I smelled pear once opening a bottle of reisling. That's about the extent for me, so it'll probably be fine for me.

Mazer828
01-27-2016, 12:36 PM
Correct. I will pick up some bread yeast when I go to the store. Will pouring boiling water over it kill it sufficiently?

I don't smell anything in the airlock at all, except the rum I have in it. I just took that out and replaced it with water so I can keep a nose on it, so to speak.

All but one bottle of this batch will bottle age at least until Christmas, so hopefully any mistakes I made will be gone by then. I'll drink the other bottle. I don't have a very sophisticated palate. I thought I smelled pear once opening a bottle of reisling. That's about the extent for me, so it'll probably be fine for me.
It'll probably do it, but to be safe I always boil it for a full 5 minutes. No harm no foul.

daisyd681
01-27-2016, 05:06 PM
I don't have a lot of head space in my carboy. I was thinking a few tbs of boiling water. I could then cover that and nuke it so it doesn't evaporate off.

I may or may not have been feeling really fiddly about this project and diverted that energy into making carboy coozies. ;p I figure they'll help keep the light out and I can wet them in the summer to keep the temp down.

Mazer828
01-27-2016, 06:18 PM
Just enough water to keep from scorching or boiling it dry.

daisyd681
02-08-2016, 11:41 AM
So... I got my hydrometer and had a chance to weigh my local honey. Hopefully you all can help me make sense of all this data.

First, my mead is currently coming in at a SG of 1.051 after nearly 3 weeks of fermentation. It tastes awesome and has good kick, so if it's done here I'll be happy. It's totally drinkable.

Now for my honey. I made a cyser must, so I weighed out 2 lbs of honey. 2 lbs of my local honey is 1.5 pints. The jar that said 2 lbs was a quart. I added that to my mead plus a jar that said 1 lb. I have no idea of the volume of that jar, I'm estimating around a pint. So I added 3 pints of honey to my mead must. The calculator says that's an OG of 1.162. That makes my current ABV 14.49%. That seems about right for the warmth in my veins from just a swallow of it. The CDB yeast rates to 14%, so that also tracks.

On my cyser, my juice comes in at 1.059 and I added 1.5 pints of honey to that. The calculator says that comes out to like 1.130, but I got 1.140, so maybe the estimate on the mead OG is still low.

Are all of my guesses here on track? Did I fudge it somewhere? I'm getting excited for the batch to be done. I don't think I'll have to screw around with back sweetening, which is awesome. Now it just needs to clear.

daisyd681
02-08-2016, 11:50 AM
Replying to myself because I forgot to say that, based on the gravity of my cyser must and the calculator estimates, I'm going to use volume instead of weight. It's closer to what I actually got than the weight estimates.

Mazer828
02-08-2016, 05:12 PM
Need volumes of must and pounds of honey in order to help. Honey adds about 38-39 gravity points per pound per gallon. So take 38,multiply by the pounds of honey added, then divide by total volume of your must in gallons (after the addition). That'll tell you how many points it should have increased due to the honey addition.

Also don't forget to mix thoroughly or your reading will be off. Spin the hydrometer to get rid of any clinging air bubbles, this can also result in a heavier reading than it should. And always correct your reading for temperature. Lots of calculators online do this for you.

daisyd681
02-08-2016, 07:09 PM
That's the problem. I added a jar to my must that said 2 lbs, but it was a chock full 2 quart jar. I didn't weigh it, I took the jar at its word. I also didn't have a hydrometer at the time, so no initial gravity reading. My local wildflower honey appears to be sweeter than the calculator average. My 2 lbs of honey added about 10 more points to the cyser must than the calculator guessed it would (that's using volume of honey instead of weight. When I go by weight, it adds about 20 more points than the calculator at that amount).

I guess I won't really know unless I do another exactly the same way, since I didn't weigh it out the first time. I'm just wondering if anyone has run into such a difference in actual gravity versus the calculator estimate. Does elevation make a difference? I'm at 7,000 feet, and it effects things in ways I don't expect...

Mazer828
02-08-2016, 07:35 PM
A quart mason jar holds right around 3 pounds of honey. So you can estimate 117 points added, divided by your volume in gallons for each quart of honey. Hopefully that helps? Otherwise you're right, we're down to uneducated guesses!

Farmboyc
02-08-2016, 07:53 PM
In a 23l batch with 10kg of honey i am consistently 7-10 pints higher than the calculator.
But it does provide a good ballpark figure.

daisyd681
02-08-2016, 11:18 PM
My math says that, with this honey, it should be about 2.66 lbs per quart. I have no idea of the volume of the 1 lb jar, but it seems reasonable to assume that it was at least 1lb. That gives me an OG of 1.131, meaning that I would only be at 10.74% after 3 weeks. If I do it by volume I get an OG of 1.148 and a current ABV of 12.82%. If I add the 10 points that the calculator was off on my other must I get 14.02%. Since the mead seems to be slowing down dramatically at this point with still such a high gravity, I'm leaning towards the last number. I guess what this really means is that I have to drink this batch myself and save the next one for stocking stuffers, since I can't say what the alcohol content is... :p

daisyd681
02-08-2016, 11:23 PM
At least I'm not the only one! I know it wasn't my measuring. I may be new to hydrometers, but I use scientific measuring equipment in several of my other hobbies, so I know what I'm doing for the most part.

Farmboyc
02-09-2016, 12:42 AM
I guess what this really means is that I have to drink this batch myself and save the next one for stocking stuffers, since I can't say what the alcohol content is... :p

I really don't understand the facination with an exact ABV%. It's kinda interesting if your pushing limits in one way or another. But for the most part if it tastes good and your in the ballpark then the only difference is the volume required to get your buzz.[emoji4]

daisyd681
02-09-2016, 11:19 AM
For myself I don't really care. I think it's important for bottles I give away. People should be able to know how much alcohol is in their drink.