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theAut0
03-15-2016, 11:05 PM
So, I live quite far from any homebrew stores, so I made the all-day trip to the closest one. I want to make a Semi-Dry mead. I would also love to carbonate some of it, at bottling, if I can pull it off. If impossible due to yeast/alc%, I'm okay without carbonating.

I have all the equipment for 5 gallons, and most (I hope) of the ingredients. I have looked up and down for recipes for D47 mead, but I haven't found any that are in the ballpark. The target is 18% alcohol, and NOT a very "sweet" mead. Semi-Dry or so (I'm kinda just guessing, we've only tried mead once).

What I Have:
18lbs of Wildflower Honey (The rest were ridiculously expensive).
4 packets of D47
1 Tube of White Labs WLP099 Super-High gravity (I assume I will not be using this, as I need to age about 9months, and ~18% is the target (It's a birthday present, but I mean, alcohol in November is alcohol in February too. Lol).
Yeast Nutrient
Yeast Energizer
Acid Blend
Priming Sugar (All from LD Carlson, if that matters).

Not really wanting to/needing to use fruit unless it's a requirement. I've watched youtubers and read/searched what I consider to be substantial, but all either use a different yeast, are making a different mead, or whatever. SO... can anybody get me straightened out? I understand the basic concepts of sanitation, measuring SG, waiting for the yeast to stop going before racking, etc but that's about it.
Any help is definitely appreciated; like I said, it's a birthday present for my little brother (He played Skyrim for a long time. Game is all about mead, apparently. hahaha).

Thank you!

beecarp
03-16-2016, 01:05 AM
My one experience with D47 and high alcohol mead (16+%)resulted in extreme harshness and quite weird flavors for several months. It did eventually mellow out and is now pretty good. After about 9 months or so. Better still at 16 months. You will be much better off using a formula that will give you a lower alcohol level. It will just taste better faster.
Bottle carbing is very risky. Wine bottles are not made to hold pressure. It is easy to carb something, just difficult to do safely. Many stories about bottle bombs out there.
IMO, with D-47,your best approach is to; 1. keep your temp. between 60-65 degrees 2. ferment to dry and stabilize and 3. use your taste and your hydrometer to adjust the level of sweet you like.
Using TOSNA with Fermaid-O has dramatically improved the quality if my mead, Try looking that up here on Got Mead. MY LHBS does not carry much in the way of proper nutrients. MoreBeer took 3 days to get everything delivered to my house.

theAut0
03-16-2016, 02:22 AM
Thanks! We have an assortment of different kinds of bottles, including beer bottles with caps and a good capper, but you know. Well aware that I need to do the whole "Don't push it" thing with my first mead. :) I may just save the priming sugar stuff for a different batch.
I'll have to research about how to ferment to dry and stabilize. I'm assuming that's the part where you stop fermentation early by putting something to kill the yeast in it. I'll look around. Thanks again!

Mazer828
03-16-2016, 06:49 AM
I have made a very good traditional sack mead, started with D47, and finished with WLP099 super high gravity ale yeast. It ended at about 20% ABV, so your 18% goal is fully attainable.

D47 needs to be handled carefully, in my experience, or it will quit early, but in this case I intentionally brought in the Super high gravity yeast to carry the ferment onward, so that shouldn't be an issue.

I recommend you start your mead with about 10 pounds of your honey, so you don't shock your yeast with too high a gravity at the outset. Hydrate your yeast using the goferm protocol (you can look it up on this forum) or at the very least, with water as per the lalvin instructions (104 degrees for about 20 minutes). Add small amounts of the must to your hydrated yeast over the course of five or ten minutes after hydration, to slowly get your yeast acclimated to temperature and the presence of sugars. Then pitch the whole slurry into your must. Aerate your must with oxygen or by agitation in the presence of outside air to get plenty of oxygen into the must. Because of your intended goal, you're going to want to degas and Oxygenate at least daily until you're at about the one half sugar break TOTAL, including the rest of your honey that you'll be adding in step feedings (so leave enough space at the beginning to accommodate the remaining eight pounds of honey!). Go to www.meadmaderight.com to learn about the TOSNA protocol. Get yourself some Fermaid-O, and follow it to the letter. Add nutrients as if you've added all your honey up front, even though you'll be step feeding.

Keep your ferment temp around 70-75 at the beginning until fermentation kicks in, then try to keep it in the mid 60s.

Day 2, day 3, day 4, you'll be adding nutrients per TOSNA, and oxygenating/degassing. When you get to the 1/3 sugar break, add four pounds of your remaining honey. Get your WLP099 out, pitch it into a clean mason jar with some distilled water, and very gradually add some of your fermenting must to it to get it used to the sugar, temperature, and alcohol. After ten minutes or so of this, pitch the new slurry into the must. Oxygenate again. WLP099 is very strong feeder, and needs the oxygen to reach its full potential. After a couple more days of regular degassing and oxygenation, add your last four pounds of honey. At this point you will want to just degas daily, and discontinue oxygenation. Keep stirring and degassing until it's finished. Then my recommendation is to let it clear, and oak it heavily with a heavy char American or French oak for at least 2-3 months, and bottle still, not carbonated. This will be a real gem after about a year. Mine is going to the Mazer cup this weekend!

Best of luck!

Also, be sure to take gravity readings throughout, and keep detailed notes as to your process and observations. Start a mead log in that section of the forum. That's what it's for! Then if you start to have questions or concerns, the mazers at large lurking in the shadows can offer their sage wisdom. Or at least, chuckle madly as they slink off into the shadowy caverns in search of the precious...

bmwr75
03-16-2016, 08:41 AM
You will learn a lot by reading the last two articles at this link:

https://denardbrewing.com/blog/category/articles/

beecarp
03-16-2016, 10:47 AM
Mazer828, that was probably the most concise and well written explanation of how to make a sack mead I have ever read.

theAut0
03-16-2016, 01:18 PM
Wow, Mazer, that was a LOT of in-depth mead-making. lol. Thanks! I'm checking those links out now, bmw. Thanks again, everyone!

Mazer828
03-16-2016, 02:31 PM
Hey I hope it leads to many excellent batches! I'm a big fan of sack meads. Best of luck!

Chevette Girl
03-16-2016, 03:01 PM
If I were going to plan a sweet mead, I would probably go with 71B and a potential alcohol level about 2-3% higher than the yeast's tolerance to leave some residual sugars, 71B is a beast at high gravities, but I'd recommend an acclimated starter.

If I were going for a high gravity mead with a more controlled final sweetness, I'd start more moderately (SG around 1.115) using a higher tolerance yeast like EC-1118, and then keep an eye on the SG when it gets low and then step-feed it till it eventually poops out, so if I know I want the finishing gravity between 1.010 and 1.020, then every time it drops below 1.010, I add honey to boost it back up to 1.020, that way I'm guaranteed that it won't stop too sweet). I know Oskaar doesn't like this method, he would rather be starting high and hoping it finishes in the right place, but I know I'm not a consistent enough meadmaker for that.

Mazer828, great and informative post, the only thing I might suggest to change is to make a full acclimated starter for the high-test yeast that you're pitching halfway through - mix a small amount of boiled and cooled water with some must so that it's relatively dilute, wait until it's looking active (usually 30 min to an hour in my experiences with dry Lalvin yeasts after the 15 min rehydration in warm water), then double the volume again by adding must and waiting till it starts foaming again, and I would do this until my starter was about 1/5 of the total volume of the batch before adding it in (takes a day or so when I do it for a 5 gal batch). I do that any time I'm adding a yeast to a must that's either a high starting gravity (1.125 or higher) or if the must already has alcohol in it, but as I said, I'm not as familiar with liquid yeasts and how they're to be prepared for use, although the White Labs website generally recommends using a starter for their liquid yeasts if the SG of your must is greater than 1.050 and they recommend that the SG of the starter start out around 1.040. It's also easier to oxygenate the secondary yeast early on when you're doing a starter like this because you're usually working with a container with lots of headspace so you can shake the crap out of it and give it as good a start as you can before pitching it into the full strength must.

theAut0, definitely keep your temperature low with D47 as beecarp suggested, and good luck with your birthday mead, I hope it turns out well, and definitely do as Mazer828 suggests and keep a brewlog in case you run into any trouble, and also so more experienced meadmakers can help you with stabilizing etc, when the time comes.

Sometimes it goes dry, sometimes it stays sweet (depending on whether your yeast ate all the sugar or created too much alcohol), but the point at which there is no significant change in SG over a few weeks is generally when you want to be considering it finished and thinking about stabilizing with chemicals that don't so much stop the yeast from fermenting as stop it from kicking back up again after it's bottled. Typically you would use potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate to keep the yeast from waking up once they've stopped and also protect your mead from any other microscopic critters it may have become exposed to.

Also I would recommend against using acid blend in your must unless the final mead needs a bit of perking up, the other reason a mead could stop (aside from being out of sugars or having exceeded their alcohol tolerance) is because the pH dropped too low for the yeasties to function.

Mazer828
03-17-2016, 12:06 AM
@chevette girl, yeah I agree on your method for acclimating the second yeast to the presence of alcohol. However this was my method, and it worked splendidly. In the future I may try something much closer to what you suggest.

theAut0
03-20-2016, 10:38 PM
Hey, Mazer, I think I fully understood the majority of your post, after researching just about every sentence. Lol. So a couple follow-up questions:
1. When you "oak" a mead, are you talking Rack it into another 6.5 gallon container, containing oak chips (soaked in no-rinse cleaner/water solution)? I think I'm close, but I want to make sure.

2. When you FIRST begin... Do you cook the honey/water first, to get rid of contaminants/possible infections? Reason I ask is the first thing that happened when I brought the honey home was someone stuck their finger in one of the containers. lol. Thanks again, you all are a huge help. :)

Squatchy
03-20-2016, 11:26 PM
Hey, Mazer, I think I fully understood the majority of your post, after researching just about every sentence. Lol. So a couple follow-up questions:
1. When you "oak" a mead, are you talking Rack it into another 6.5 gallon container, containing oak chips (soaked in no-rinse cleaner/water solution)? I think I'm close, but I want to make sure.

2. When you FIRST begin... Do you cook the honey/water first, to get rid of contaminants/possible infections? Reason I ask is the first thing that happened when I brought the honey home was someone stuck their finger in one of the containers. lol. Thanks again, you all are a huge help. :)

You can add the oak component any time you want although I would suggest adding it once your mead is old enough to be clear or close to clear. That way you can monitor it better because it's not competing with all the yeast and the green characteristics of a freshly born mead. I would also suggest to buy either cubes, or spirals. The latter of the two the better IMHO. Read up to find out what wood and toast levels will add what tannin profiles to your batch. Tannins help to add complexity to your flavor profile as well as helps to soften the presence of alcohol if it's out of balance or presenting too strongly of alcohol. It will also provide a bit of "grip".
I don't worry about sanitizing the spirals if I'm tossing them into a finished mead with a higher ABV. If it's a concern you could toss them into a boiling pan for a couple minutes first.

I would strongly suggest not to boil your honey. You don't need to because the moisture content is so low that bad guys can't live in it anyway. They have found honey in tombs of the pharaohs that were just fine. I wouldn't worry about "the fingers" touching the honey either.

Lastly,,, welcome to the forums. Relax, read a bunch and above all have fun

If you really want to get into this consider becoming a patron. For $25 you gain access to the real meat and potatoes on this forum. You will save that much or more right away because you won't be making stuff you have to toss and buying things you end up not needing.

theAut0
03-21-2016, 12:14 AM
Squatchy: Understood. I am kinda thinking this will become much more than a Birthday project. Both my little brother and I are kinda excited about it. Bound to be more than one batch, and I kinda want access to the recipe section. :-P

theAut0
03-25-2016, 05:06 PM
Hey, Mazer, I'm doing the math on the TOSNA Fermaid-O, and comparing it to Scott Labs, and I get a huge disagreement (Like a 500% difference). If I go by TOSNA, my Brix being something like 29, I'm coming up with something just under 8g/Gal, roughly 40 grams of Fermaid-O. Scott Labs' math, I came up with about 8g for the whole batch. How much Fermaid-O (Total) should I be looking at? Thanks!

Mazer828
03-25-2016, 10:17 PM
Hey, Mazer, I'm doing the math on the TOSNA Fermaid-O, and comparing it to Scott Labs, and I get a huge disagreement (Like a 500% difference). If I go by TOSNA, my Brix being something like 29, I'm coming up with something just under 8g/Gal, roughly 40 grams of Fermaid-O. Scott Labs' math, I came up with about 8g for the whole batch. How much Fermaid-O (Total) should I be looking at? Thanks!
There have been some very enlightened discussions in this forum, perhaps moreso on the patrons side (another reason to follow squatchy's advice and scratch up the $25 if you can), about nitrogen levels and effective nitrogen contributions of Fermaid-O and other nutrients. I won't claim to have the answer, or that my eyes don't glaze over a little when squatchy and stasis get going. Lol. All I can say is that using the TOSNA protocol has yet to fail me. The procedure I outlined above will produce you a VERY nice sack mead. Didn't medal this year at the Mazer cup, but everyone I've shared it with is thoroughly amazed, and that's good enough for me for now.

I also prefer staves or spirals when oaking. I add them after primary, during the clearing stage. For this mead I highly recommend the heavy or medium heavy toast. And I never boil. Started that way when I was still mostly brewing beer, but found out how reliable honey is at being antimicrobial, and haven't looked back since then.

theAut0
03-26-2016, 12:42 AM
Ahh, I'd say with the amount of effort you put into it, that one is definitely some top-notch stuff, medals or not. I was just double-checking, since 40g is about half of the entire container of Fermaid-O I bought. LOL. I guess we'll roll with it! :)

theAut0
03-26-2016, 01:24 PM
Well, we have lift-off. Started it last night at 72F. Substantial commotion in the airlock within 12 hours. Rehydrated by lalvin specs, since I don't have any GoFerm. SG 1.095 with the first 10lbs of honey.

Chevette Girl
03-28-2016, 10:18 PM
I haven't yet tried the TOSNA protocol because it's not easy for me to get ahold of Fermaid O. I use my own Lazy-Arse Staggered Nutrient Addition program, where I use DAP and a yeast energizer which I expect is similar to Fermaid-K. I figure out how much I need for the batch, add half the energizer at pitch, half the DAP after it starts showing some activity, and the remaining DAP and energizer, I mix together and add a little at every aeration and SG check and I time it so that all of the additions are in before 1/3 of the sugar has been eaten.

How to figure out total amounts? That gets fun, and you're going to get about a hundred different answers depending on where you look and who you ask. One of the reasons the brochures from the wine supply companies will tell you a lot less is required than any of the commonly used mead protocols is because the all the lab's experimentation has been primarily on grape musts, which already have a certain amount of nitrogen content just from the fruit, whereas your honey must will have almost no nitrogen in it. What I typically do for my own batches is use double the recommended amount of DAP and an equal amount of energizer.


As a newbee, just remember, any nutrients you add beyond the nothing that your yeast are starting out with, will help. Don't tear your hair out doing math on your first few batches, I admit it, even my eyes glaze over when Squatchy and Stasis and Medsen get into it, and I survived an engineering degree.

Just do your best. Anything is better than nothing. And we're always here to help when you run into problems!

theAut0
03-29-2016, 12:38 AM
Thanks, Chevette Girl. My SG readings are showing some faster progress than I expected. I think I'm gonna hold it back by a 12-24hrs on my "1/3rd break" plans, simply because I'm adding honey, nutrients, AND more yeast; Let the D47 do the work for a full 6 days before I pull out the big guns (WLP099). Besides, temps have been right on the money for D47, since I keep it out in the shed. If it's happy, I'm happy, unless someone here says otherwise. Oak is in transit, and I'm generally paranoid about contamination, since I'm breaking the seal every day to degass/oxygenate. I must say, I did not expect this incredibly APPLE smell to be coming out. Is wildflower honey something very apple-ish?

theAut0
03-29-2016, 01:46 PM
Uhhh, slight correction, we are at 1.050 from 1.095, so I think it's getting 4lbs of Honey and the WLP099, like, tonight. I mean, I think that's well beyond 1/3rd sugar break, even if it's only Day 4, right?

Mazer828
03-29-2016, 04:58 PM
For sure! Sounds like it's time.

theAut0
03-30-2016, 07:54 PM
I know it's my first batch, but this yeast seems to be chewing through this honey quick, fast, and in a hurry. 12hrs after the step-feed it's at 1.060. It'll be getting the last 4lbs in the next day or two. It's had all the Fermaid-O it can stand, and is slowly losing its apple flavor (No apples were involved. Lol). Also, my oak spirals are here, as are stabilizing ingredients, just in case we need 'em.

theAut0
04-04-2016, 10:28 PM
36hrs or so after the last of the honey, the airlock is a lot slower. roughly 1/4 of the action. I'd say it's finishing, but it's at 1.030. Also: The smell is VERY MUCH rubbing alcohol. The apple scent is still there, but it just gets overwhelmed by the smell of rubbing alcohol. I kinda think that might just be my nose explaining CO2 to me? I dunno.

theAut0
04-05-2016, 02:13 AM
Why can I not find the Edit button? You guys are going to kill me for replying in this thread so much. lol. Anyhow, degassed/aerated today, and 6 hours later, the airlock is ready to blow a hole in my roof. Guess the WLP099 needed a few days and some serious O2 to grow legs (as Mazer828 mentioned). Bumps @ 3 sec intervals. I think meadmaking is not for the paranoid crowd, such as myself. Hahaha. I was planning on racking, tm, because I noticed sediment in the bottom of the bucket. Not now that the airlock is churning. Safe to say we won't be at 1.030 tomorrow. Sorry for my lack of an edit button. Lol.