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View Full Version : I wish I had found this site sooner!



RyanTucker
08-29-2016, 07:18 PM
Title says it all. I really wish I had discovered this site before I got started with anything.

A while back, I found out about a Brewing supply shop here locally that sold all sorts of equipment. My wife and I visited, and we found out that they sell quite a few different kits, including a wine-making kit that we could use to make Mead. Which just so happens to be my favorite drink. I've never really been a beer drinker, occasionally I'll get an apple ale or hard cider or something (I know those aren't exactly beers) and wine rarely was appetizing to me. I'll drink some of the sweeter drinks, but the dry stuff doesn't float my boat. I've never once been drunk in my life, and I don't really intend to get there. I don't drink for the alcohol, I drink for the flavor.

Now, I've tried a few commercially available meads, some I really like, some not so much. I know there are probably millions of different recipes out there, and I LOVE that. So I was super excited to get my own kit and get started. Well, the wife said I should wait for my birthday. Well shucks, I probably should have looked online and done some research while I waited. I probably would have come across this site if I had! I normally do, but for some reason I just kinda forgot. Well, she didn't, and my birthday was this last Friday. So we head up to the Brewing shop and start asking questions. We got a LOT of answers. So we went ahead and picked up a kit, came with a 5 gallon carboy, 7.5 gallon bucket, siphon, some books, and a bunch of other little things like an airstop, and a stopper for the carboy. We also picked up a smaller 1 gallon carboy so we could start out making smaller batches to see if we even liked the recipes we were trying. Then other than some chemicals, acids, and yeast, we didn't pick up any kind of ingredients. They didn't have much honey there anyways, but we wanted to get some GOOD stuff from the farmers market or something.

We ended up going to a Natural Grocer, and found some Tuckerbees honey made here in Kansas, and well, our last name is Tucker so we decided it was meant to be. We picked up a 4 gallon jar, which from a few of the recipes we looked at, that should be plenty for any 1 gallon recipes. Then we found a book called "Make Mead Like a Viking" and man does it have some majorly different information from what we were told at the Brewing store! However, it also mentions many times that there are tons of ways to make Mead, and they like doing things more natural, and less like a chemist. This actually appeals to me quite a bit, but I feel like I'm going to go kind of in between in my own approach.

At the Brewing Supply Store, they had told us that no matter what Mead we were making, there would be a minimum of 3-6 months Primary fermentation, then at least 1 racking to Secondary, or to bottling for aging of at LEAST 1 year, but preferably 3-5 years. Now, I don't know about you guys, but it almost seemed like they were trying to scare us away from Mead a little bit. Luckily, I HAD done a little reading online, and found some recipes that required shorter amounts of time. Plus, in our new book "Make Mead Like a Viking", there are even recipes that say they are ready to drink in a month.

SO we started buying ingredients, and mixed up our first batch. We are using a recipe called "Skald's Verse-Bringer Spiced Orange Mead" that said it could be ready to drink in 1 month, but could also be aged for more flavor. We figured it might be a fun one to try out. This recipe specifically says that it only needs Primary Fermentation, then straight to bottling or drinking, which sounded simple to us. However it also said to mix it all straight in the 1 gallon carboy and to shake it all up before putting on the airstop. This is where things got a little messy, and I wish I had found you guys sooner lol.

So the recipe itself is:


2-3 pounds of light, floral honey
1 gallon water
1 organic orange
1 packet bread yeast
2 cinnamon sticks
2-3 cloves
1 crushed nutmeg seed
3 crushed allspice seeds
2-3 ounces of fresh grated Ginger (OPTIONAL)



All of which is pretty attainable for us, and doesn't sound too complicated. One of the main reasons we picked it. It also didn't require the extra acids or chemicals that the Brewing Store had said were required for basically everything. I should note, the Viking book does mention that they know that all of the modern practices work and everything, but they also know the old practices work pretty good too, or else we wouldn't have had mead for thousands of years. I personally just like avoiding extra chemicals if I can. I did however make sure to clean all of my equipment using some powder that I mixed in a jar of water, smells pretty bad, but I'm supposed to be able to rinse equipment in it and let it air dry and it's supposed to be good.

I then started the process of mixing everything into the 1 gallon carboy, since this recipe called for it, I did not actually use 1 gallon of water though, because then there wouldn't have been room for the other ingredients. I mixed everything up as per the ingredients, then filled with water up to about 3 inches from the top of the bottle. I then attached my rubber stopper, plugged the hole, and shook it all up. Then I put my airstop in the hole and waited. Didn't take too long, within an hour I could really see that the yeast had taken off and was really growing. Which was when I realized I probably didn't have enough headroom (though I didn't know to call it that until after finding this site). Within a few hours, some yeast had started flowing up into the airstop, and then shortly after that, it had built up enough pressure to pop the stopper right off and sent it and the airstop across the kitchen. Luckily nothing was damaged, but it was pretty funny to watch, and it scared the crap out of my dogs!

So, realizing there wasn't enough room in the carboy, I cleaned out my 7.5 gallon plastic food grade bucket and quickly poured ALL of the contents into the bucket, closed the lid, and put a new airstop on the bucket (I had purchased 2 since I have 2 carboys). I shook it up fairly well to make sure things hadn't settled too much, and added a little honey because I wasn't positive that I added enough in the beginning. I know the 7.5 gallon bucket is probably overkill for such a small batch, but it was all I had at the time. At first I didn't think it was doing anything, the airstop wasn't bubbling at all, I thought maybe I had killed the yeast or something. But I checked on it the next day, and the yeast is growing and doing its thing! I'm really excited, even if this batch turns out terrible, I feel its been a great learning experience! I can't wait to start making and trying more recipes!

Also, I apologize if this is in the wrong area, I'm super duper brand new to these forums.

I think my only real question/concern right now, is that if my plastic bucket is TOO big for my current batch. Is that possible? The airstop barely bubbles at all but I figured I might need to give it longer for the yeast to eat the oxygen. Also, at the Brewing shop, they said that no matter what I did, my batch would turn out dry and that you have to sweeten it after fermentation. I haven't really found much online that suggests anything of the sort. Could the yeast they recommended just cause that to happen? Hardly any of the recipes I have found for mead say anything about adding anything to make it sweeter, so I assume its just a per-recipe thing and not for EVERY mead out there. Sorry for the long post and possibly odd questions, there just seems to be some conflicting information from what they told me and what I found online. I feel like a lot of what they told me seems to apply more to conventional wines and not mead, or maybe their yeasts that they recommended are more dry. Oh, I forgot to mention they said I should use Lalvin K1-V1116 for ALL meads, though most recipes I found OTHER than what they recommended did not suggest that at all, for instance the one I mixed up asking for standard bread yeast.

Thanks for being an awesome place to learn, and I look forward to many years of making mead and learning from you guys!

mannye
08-30-2016, 03:37 AM
It's OK to have "too much" room in your bucket. That just means that you're not going to get foam all over the place. It also means that after the first week to ten days, you will want to be careful about letting too much air in there. The first few days of fermentation, mead should be aerated and degassed daily. Nevertheless, once the batch settles, try and move it back into the carboy just for convenience and to avoid the huge airspace that will surely oxidize your batch in the future. But relax... it's not the end of the world.

Also, don't worry if you jumped the gun and made your first mead batch before finding gotmead. Most of us did the same thing. The good news is you have a lot of reading to do and everyone here remembers we were all noobs once. Almost everything your LHBS (Local Home Brew Shop) told you is inaccurate as you will find out for yourself as you learn and make more mead.

First thing you should do is read the newbie guide. It will have a wealth of knowledge. Second thing you should do is wash and sterilize the second one gallon carboy and make a batch of JAOM. That will be ready way before that dry as a bone batch you've made will be even drinkable. Next try your hand at a BOMM and for Pete's sake, get a hydrometer... bubbles don't mean anything.

Welcome to the insanity!

Foothiller
08-31-2016, 01:03 AM
As Mannye says, don't worry about starting a mead before finding Gotmead. That just means that you'll have a point of reference for understanding all the great discussion you'll find here. But I wouldn't disregard everything they told you at the homebrew store. Instead, think about it piece by piece as you see discussions here, and keep reading. Additional references include Ken Schramm's The Compleat Meadmaker and Steve Piatz's The Complete Guide to Making Mead. Google is a great way to learn too. Then, experiment with different methods, and learn from comparing results.

For experiments, you don't need to buy gallon carboys. If you can find apple juice in gallon glass jugs, those work fine after drinking the juice or making cider.

For yeast, try alternatives as experiments, and you will probably find better ones than bread yeast. Personally I like K1-V1116 for many types of mead, and others have their own preferences.

Don't be afraid of a dry finish. Traditional mead is a category where competition results can tell you the sweetness, and in the California State Fair last year, all three placings were dry. This year I think it was 2 dry and 1 semisweet. As you gain experience, you can learn how to stabilize and backsweeten if that's your preference.

Glad you found this site!

zpeckler
09-02-2016, 07:24 PM
Oh man, sounds like an adventure!

Welcome to GotMead. Good luck with this batch and many more in the future!

RyanTucker
09-06-2016, 06:21 PM
Thanks for the replies guys! I had trouble logging back in for some reason, and was just now able to get the password reset.

As for this: "Second thing you should do is wash and sterilize the second one gallon carboy and make a batch of JAOM. That will be ready way before that dry as a bone batch you've made will be even drinkable."

I probably forgot to mention it, but it is basically the JOAM, at least according to the "Make Mead Like a Viking" book, with a few minor changes. It is also supposed to be sweet, and ready to drink in a month, its entirely possible I did something wrong and it will be neither, but that was my understanding of it.

My goal is semi-sweet and sweet meads, I'm not a fan of anything dry and neither is the wife.

Also, I do have a hydrometer, I just have no clue how to use it lol.

JoopRysanek
09-06-2016, 10:35 PM
late but good. all the best :)

mannye
09-08-2016, 12:13 AM
Thanks for the replies guys! I had trouble logging back in for some reason, and was just now able to get the password reset.

As for this: "Second thing you should do is wash and sterilize the second one gallon carboy and make a batch of JAOM. That will be ready way before that dry as a bone batch you've made will be even drinkable."

I probably forgot to mention it, but it is basically the JOAM, at least according to the "Make Mead Like a Viking" book, with a few minor changes. It is also supposed to be sweet, and ready to drink in a month, its entirely possible I did something wrong and it will be neither, but that was my understanding of it.

My goal is semi-sweet and sweet meads, I'm not a fan of anything dry and neither is the wife.

Also, I do have a hydrometer, I just have no clue how to use it lol.

EAsy peasy to use a hydrometer. https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/how-to-take-an-accurate-hydrometer-reading/ Taking a closer look at the recipe you are indeed close to the JAOM, but you will eventually (like probably around now) want to move it into a glass jug that can hold it. Seems like you have a little more than a gallon there, so it's going to be an awkward fit... maybe transfer a gallon and them put the rest in a smaller bottle... The reason for this is that the bucket is fine right now, but once the active ferment slows down (again...around now) you're going to want to get your must under an airlock and minimize the headspace (that's the amount of air between the must and the airlock). Otherwise the must will risk becoming oxidized or a myriad of other nasty things that can cause off flavors.

The JAOM recipe will need to be followed exactly, but it's practically foolproof. Only letting it get too hot can really ruin it. Good luck! And don't worry... relax.