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View Full Version : First Melomel - take a look at progress



Blackegg
02-06-2016, 01:24 AM
First time making this and looking for any input/opinions just to be sure I'm heading the right direction or head off any issues before they become issues.
Hoping for semi sweet with a bit higher AC.

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Started blueberry Melomel 1/30/16
6 Gallons in ferment bucket
15.5 lbs wildflower honey
2.5 tsp Pectin Enzymes
4 tsp DAP yeast energizer
2lbs IQF fresh blueberries (in nylon bag)
Starting S.G.= 1.092
Let stand overnight before pitching yeast.

1/31/16
Added 1.5 packs EC-1118 yeast (hydrated in 100 deg water for 30 min)
Pitched and stirred vigorously
Total ingredients = 6 gallons

Aerating twice daily so far. Lots of foam after aerating for first 4 days. Less now.

2/3/16
S.G = 1.040
Added 1 tsp yeast nutrients dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water to must.
Tastes good at this point. Lots of sparkles on surface but no foaming unless aerated.

2/5/16
(today) removed berry sack (will add more in secondary) and added 1 lb honey and mixed well.
S.G. Now at 1.004
Strong alcohol taste and smell.
Fermenting for 6 days now. Seems to be fermenting fast (input?) is this normal?
I know that EC-1118 is a beast.
The blueberries looked like raisins and appeared pretty well used up. I thought I should remove them before they added a bad flavor.
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I don't think I added enough honey at the beginning hence step feeding today and again later. I'm sure I'll have to back sweeten in the end too.
There is no lees that I can see at this point either. The color is a deep burgundy.
I'm keeping in a dark closet at about 68 degrees.

Thank you for taking a look and helping out a NewBee!

I also have a gallon of the JAOM going and it appears to be doing well.

~Blackegg

Medsen Fey
02-06-2016, 10:51 AM
2 pounds of berries in a 6-gal batch is a very light addition. Are you planning to add some in secondary?

Blackegg
02-06-2016, 11:35 AM
Yes, I am going to add much more in the secondary. I realized my initial amount was very light after reading several other recipes.

Blackegg
02-06-2016, 09:42 PM
Today my S.G. is 0.085. The taste is very strong of alcohol. No sweetness at this time.
Is this normal activity it going through? I'm unsure if I should leave it to ferment for a while longer or rack/move it into a carboy and possibly add anything?

There's no sulfur smells or anything bad that i can detect. It just seems to be moving fast...i think.
Will sweetness come back after sitting for months in a carboy?

Thanks for any input.

djsxxx
02-07-2016, 07:27 AM
I hope its normal for it to taste strongly of alcohol after fermentation.... My first batch is nearly 4 weeks in, 2 weeks fermentation, 1 week just standing (letting the yeast clear its mess up), then 1 week in the fridge for a cold crash.

Had a little taste after cold crash and it tasted very heavily of alcohol. The smell on the other hand... Smells amazing, nice hint of orange and honey.

Can't wait for it to clear and mellow!

Edit: Just noticed your SG?!?! Do you mean 0.985?

Blackegg
02-07-2016, 10:48 AM
I hope its normal for it to taste strongly of alcohol after fermentation.... My first batch is nearly 4 weeks in, 2 weeks fermentation, 1 week just standing (letting the yeast clear its mess up), then 1 week in the fridge for a cold crash.

Had a little taste after cold crash and it tasted very heavily of alcohol. The smell on the other hand... Smells amazing, nice hint of orange and honey.

Can't wait for it to clear and mellow!

Edit: Just noticed your SG?!?! Do you mean 0.985?

Yes, 0.985... I typed that one wrong.

Squatchy
02-07-2016, 12:00 PM
Your only at 7% ABV. That yeast will eat tons more if you want to add more honey. It's bone dry right now. 7% isn't very strong. It should not taste that strong of alcohol. You have under feed your yeast and I'm guessing it's hot because of stressed yeast making higher alcohols. It did ferment pretty fast. I'm guessing you didn't do any temperature control? If your going to feed it more honey it will make a higher ABV and require more ageing before it becomes drinkable.

Blackegg
02-07-2016, 12:52 PM
Thanks Squatchy, it started out around 78 - 80 and was placed in a dark closet that's been maintained at around 68 deg for the duration. Should the honey be added during this initial ferment of can I add more honey after racking into the secondary with the airlock or is that not good?

I appreciate the input!

Squatchy
02-07-2016, 01:35 PM
If you add the honey after you rack it might not do so well. Especially if you rack after much of the yeast have dropped out. You won't have as big of an army to get the job done and you have a big risk that it will stall, or cause off flavors if the yeast struggle to finish it dry.

So many people like to add small increments at the end of a ferment. I don't and here's why. I think if you add the second bump of honey in a batch it's best to do that at the height of the ferment when the yeast are roaring, rather than at the end when they are tired and close to dying. You could toss your hydrometer into your pail and add enough honey to get back to 1080 or so. Make sure your honey is either watered down some with hot water so it flows good and will dissolve well. Or, if you just pour in raw honey make sure you stir the hell out of it before checking it with your hydrometer so that there is not undissolved honey on the bottom.

If your going to water down your honey a little bit with hot water to make it running, just make sure you add it only after it has cooled of to the same temp as your must.

With those numbers I suggested, if you keep your yeast happy with food/degassing and temp control, it should get back to dry again. You could then continue to add sugar up to what ever range you want to finish at, the yeast may eat more back down the scale. If they do add more honey back to your finish target again and keep doing that until they croak. Don't add to above your target finish number. That way you won't end up with something sweeter than what you were looking for. Once they croak, cold crash for a week or so and then rack. That way you will leave most of the heavier particulates behind. You could then stabilize it. Once it has been stabilized if it's too dry you can add more honey to get it back to where you want it. I don't know what your shooting for, but, the berries will give you some tartness. You will have to balance your sweet against the tart to get what ever balance you want in your finished product.

Here is a much simpler way I do things. I have made a two very neutral traditionals. One is sweet like 1030 or so. And the other is totally dry. Now, with these two options, you can add the sweet mead to something that finished too dry. Or, you can add the dry into a batch that is too sweet.

Hope that helps. You better figure out how much food you need to feed your batch. Don't use any DAP now as the yeast can't eat it past 9% or so and you are just a couple points away from that. If you add DAP after that point it will leave a salty fault behind.

I don't really know how to tell you how much to figure with your "energizer" because we don't know how much YAN (nitrogen) you have in it. Most of us around here use either Fermaid-K or Fermaid-O. The manufacturer states the nitrogen values for those. Knowing that we can then figure how much too feed the little ones.

Your 68 degrees is perfect!

A very long reply. Hope it helps

Medsen Fey
02-07-2016, 02:32 PM
Blackegg, I'm not sure you need to add any honey at this point. You started with a gravity of 1.092 and even with the addition of a few berries you should have something close to 12% ABV (which is great for a mead).

It won't taste sweet because all of the sugars have fermented. You may want to go ahead and add the other berries you want, and then let it finish. After that you can rack it and let it clear, and then decide if you want it sweeter. If so, you can stabilize the mead so it won't ferment more, then add more honey to get the taste to the level where you like it. Then age and enjoy.

Blackegg
02-07-2016, 02:36 PM
I don't know much about my 'energizer' either. it's just labeled Diammonium Phosphate and is what the LHBS recommended. From all I've been reading here, they're good for buying stuff from but now much for proper Mead information.
I'm don't know if I'll add more honey at the moment and was wondering if the 'boiled yeast' method would work as a good yeast food at this time? I have some standard bread yeast I could use.
On another note.. how can I cold crash my giant 12 gallon ferment bucket...it will never fit the refrigerator! Being in the CO mountains, I could put it outside, but would this be too much? Especially at the temps we've been having!
Thanks for the valuable input!

Squatchy
02-07-2016, 02:48 PM
Medsen is right on the ABV. I misread your post when I was figuring what your ABV was. I stopped at 1040. And then Latter I write about you being bone dry. Jeshh!

So your food is what you don't want to use. You should be able to buy Fermaid-K at your LHBS. You can boil your bread yeast but again. We don't know what values to attach to that. Medsen might, or maybe someone else will stop by and know.

You have a perfect situation for cold crashing. You can put your bucket in the garage or outside if you don't think critters would get to it. I put stuff outside all the time. Just do something so sunlight won't get to it. It seems that the colder it is the faster things drop out.

I didn't realize your were in CO. What part? I'm in Lakewood. I lived in the high country for several years before I moved to Hawaii. I have been back now for some time. If you're not too far I can keep you in touch with some get togethers we have. Hopefully soon we will do a monthly meeting.

Blackegg
02-07-2016, 02:58 PM
Well, I ended up putting 2.5 lbs more honey into it and it brought it up to 1.010. I think I'll just leave it alone for the next week and see where it goes. If someone chimes in on the boiled yeast I'll pay attention. i did forget to add in my original post that I did add one of the little boxes of raisins to the must as well for nutrients.
I'm on the Western Slope, near Glenwood Springs. I head to Denver every once in a while and would love to meet some meadsters.

Squatchy
02-07-2016, 03:08 PM
I get out to your side every fall as well. I'm a cyclist and ride The Tour of the Moon every year and then head over to Moab to do some road riding in Canyonlands and Arches national monument. Sometimes we come home that way in June when we are finished riding The Death Tour down in the Silverton/Durango area. We will have to stay in touch!

Blackegg
02-12-2016, 07:07 PM
Since I added the extra 2.5 lbs honey on 2/7/16, the S.G. Dropped back down to 0.992 and stayed.
I put it outside to cold crash on 2/10 and just racked it into a five gal carboy and two 1/2 gal bottles.
To the 5 gal I added 3 lbs of semi frozen blueberries. The S.G. Is still at 0.992 after racking. Nothing added to the two 1/2 gals.
unfortunately I didn't have enough air-locks so one of the 1/2 gallons ended up with a cap. I'll be sure to check it and combine them both into a gal bottle within a day or two.

Oh yeah, it was exposed to LedZeppelin III during the entire racking process. ;)

Squatchy
02-12-2016, 11:52 PM
I bet I wore the vinyl clear through listening to that album when I was a young lad. I still listen to Zepplin.

I don't know what your looking for in your finished batch but with only 3 lbs of berries in a 5 gallon batch that will barely even make a presence. Especially when you add it up front. I'm sure your yeast will eat it back to bone dry again.

What fruit profile are you looking for?

Blackegg
02-13-2016, 01:38 AM
I don't want a real fruity flavor, just light flavor. How much yeast should be left over after crashing and racking? There were a lot of lees on the bottom. It is acting like the yeast are finished or like it's been stabilized...which I didn't do.
There's no action going on in the airlock at all at the time, but that may change as the temperature rises.
I figured I'd be racking a few times throughout the summer and as I test and taste I may add new berries to future rackings.
On another question, all but about six berries are all sitting on the bottom. Is that normal? Maybe they'll come up as the temp rises as well.

Thank you.

Blackegg
02-13-2016, 10:14 AM
Update: all the blueberries are now floating. I had it too full and when they all thawed out it was beginning to flow into the airlock. I caught that before any issues and used the wine their to take about 1/2 a cup out. Their are microscopic bubbles coming from the fruit but that's it.
The two 1/2 gallons are not bubbling at all. I'm pretty sure the yeast all ended their activities and the cold crashing finished them off.
Sooooo....now just age, rack and repeat when needed?