View Full Version : Joe's quick grape mead advice, for the new guy.

09-14-2016, 10:08 PM
I am trying my first batch ever. I have a few questions, please be patient with me. I notice the recipe lists 1/8t pectin enzymes in the recipe. When and where do I add it?
When I back sweeten, do I use both honey and juice in equal amounts? Does back sweeting amount\process affect the ABV % or just the taste?
The Welch"s grape juice list citric acid for tartness as an ingredient, is that a problem?
Thank you in advanced!

09-15-2016, 09:34 AM
Pectic enzyme goes in when you pitch the yeast. Some people wait 12 hrs for it to get a head start on clearing, but I've always pitched the yeast at the same time. Back sweetening is done "to taste" - your call on what to use. You need to wait for ALL the yeast to fall out (no more lees dropping) then stabilize the mead with campden tabs & potassium sorbate, otherwise the added sugar will be consumed by the yeasties.

09-15-2016, 11:03 AM
The citric acid, used in the grape juice, should not be a problem.

I haven't looked at the recipe, so don't know when it calls for first adding the grape juice, but assume that it's at the initial making of the must.

How much honey are you using? The original JAOM was built to be sweet, to offset some of the bitterness of the orange pith. If you are using the same amount of honey (3.5 lbs) I would doubt that you would need to backsweeten.

Also, the original JAOM uses bread yeast, which has an alcohol tolerance of around 10 to 11%, and has enough honey to exceed this and "crap out" the yeast. So, once it has set for a while, you can be fairly sure that it's not going to take off and start fermenting again. Unless you are planning for long term storage or exposing it to vigorous shaking and temperature extremes (shipping?) you can skip the sorbate and Campden additions.

If you find that your end product is not sweet enough or doesn't have as much grape flavor as you would like, then you can add honey or even some grape concentrate.

09-15-2016, 12:51 PM
Maylar, I am not certain but I think that pectic enzyme does not work as efficiently in the presence of alcohol as it might when there is no alcohol present so I think - your experience not withstanding - it may be better to add the enzyme about 12 hours before you pitch the yeast. (see for example, http://www.haurakihomebrew.co.nz/wine-yeast/777-pectolase-enzyme.html)... but I am unfamiliar with any published peer reviewed material on this subject..

09-15-2016, 03:05 PM
Maylar, I am not certain but I think that pectic enzyme does not work as efficiently in the presence of alcohol as it might when there is no alcohol present so I think - your experience not withstanding - it may be better to add the enzyme about 12 hours before you pitch the yeast. (see for example, http://www.haurakihomebrew.co.nz/wine-yeast/777-pectolase-enzyme.html)... but I am unfamiliar with any published peer reviewed material on this subject..

I've seen references like that too, which is why I mentioned the 12 hr wait. I can definitely attest to it being far less effective (or taking a lot longer) if it's added after primary is finished. But I figure that there's no alcohol when you pitch the yeast, so what's to lose? If I'm using fresh juice that needs 24 hrs of K-Meta anyway, the pectic enzyme goes in 12 hrs after that.

09-21-2016, 07:02 AM
Thanks everyone for the help. Below is the recipe I used. I pitched the yeast and started on 9-17. I am using 2 gallon fermenting bucket. Today on 9-21 I have bubbles in the airlock about every 20 seconds. My recipe calls for 14-21 days before racking. Do I just wait until there are no bubbles through the airlock before racking, which should be between 14-21 days. Or will it hurt to wait a full 21 days? Whats the difference from day 14 to day 21? The ABV?

2 lbs Clover honey, save 4 oz
1 oz buckwheat honey
1/8t Pectin Enzymes
1/2 crushed Campden tablet
1/2t of Potassium Sorbate
64-oz Welch's Grape Juice with Vitamin C, save 4 oz
Ozonated spring water
Lalvin EC-1118

Sanitize equipment
Place container of honey in some hot water to soften the honey and make it easier to pour, pour the juice and honey into the fermenting container and use the Dump n Shack method aka lid on and shake the crap out of the container until the honey is dissolved
Sprinkle in yeast making sure the temp range is right, you could always heat some of the grape juice but it should be fine
Add 1/8t Pectin Enzymes
Balance with water to make volume only if needed
Put on the airlock and leave in dry/dark area at a consistent temp range of around 70F until its time for the next step

14-21 days later, no bubbles in airlock
It should be to SG =1.000 or less in 14- 21 days max.
Rack to clean carboy over mixture of 6 oz honey, 6oz Welch's grape juice. If you want it semi sweet use 4-oz honey instead of 6-oz.
Add 1/2t of Sorbate and 1/2 crushed campden tablet. Leave in secondary for 2 weeks or more for clearing

09-21-2016, 10:06 AM
I don't know where you got this recipe but it's not going to work like it says. Your yeast can eat way more honey than that. If you run it dry and then add more honey/juice as it says it's going to re-ferment. Adding that along with the stabilizing materials won't stop it.

If this is what you want to make ,,, then cold crash the mead first. Rack off the lees and onto the stabilizing chems for a few days or so . Then add your honey/juice.

09-21-2016, 09:41 PM
So if I don't add the additional honey\juice after 3 weeks, and follow-out the remaining recipe, then I should be OK? How do you think it will taste then? HOT with alcohol?.....18%? I got recipe on here in a forum at http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/6491-Quick-Grape-Mead-(drinkable-in-5-weeks)?p=54875#post54875

My goal is to make a mead that tastes similar to red wine in 30 days. Do you have another recipe that I might be interested in? I thought I was using Joe's Quick Grape Mead recipe.
Thanks for your time and help.

09-23-2016, 01:29 PM
any tips for my recipe?

09-23-2016, 01:56 PM
You should get familiar with the batch builder tool: http://gotmead.com/blog/the-mead-calculator/

The recipe is for a 1/2 gallon batch. It appears that there is enough initial honey to bring the yeast to its alcohol tolerance limit of 18%, with a little sweetness left over. I would think that racking it off of the lees and stabilizing should leave you in a good place, where adding some additional honey and/or grape juice will be alright. You may want to do a lot of tasting (after racking and stabilizing, and during honey additions) so that you do not end up with an overly sweet product. Also, after honey and grape juice addition, I would leave it alone for a while, just in case it decides to start fermentation back up. EC-1118 may be one of the most aggressive yeasts and as such, may not stop fermenting at the exact rated threshold.

09-23-2016, 02:51 PM
The Joe's Quick Grape Mead recipe has been fairly thoroughly tested by folks here (though not by me), so it should work just fine. When the SG is stable for a week or so, rack onto the stabilizing chems plus honey and juice, let sit another week or so, and you should be fine. It might fluctuate a little after you add the last dose of stuff in, but the basic rule of "make sure your SG has stopped changing before bottling" still applies.

09-25-2016, 10:25 PM
Thanks everyone for your help. I have a few questions and statements below. I started on 9-17. On 9-21, bubbles in airlock every ~20 seconds. On 9-23, bubbles in airlock every ~55 seconds. On 9-25, no activity in airlock for 5 minutes. Do you think the yeast have fermented out? I used 2lb 1 oz honey, 64 oz Welchs juice, and lalvin ec 1118.

I still have 6 more days before I rack it over. Do I need to wait another 5 days to rack it? I will taste and decide if I need to add additional honey\juice. As everyone has stated there's a possibility the fermentation can start back up when added. If so all I have to do is wait until no activity in the airlock for several minutes right? I understand this could take several days. If I do not need to add additional honey\juice then I just wait for it to clear with the 2 chemicals, right?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

09-26-2016, 04:52 PM
You really need a hydrometer. They're cheap and easy to use and tell you exactly what's happening in your ferment.

09-26-2016, 06:36 PM
You really need a hydrometer. They're cheap and easy to use and tell you exactly what's happening in your ferment.
I have one. I just need to know what to do with it. I did not t ale the initial reading as i should have. Then i was worried about opening the sealed bucket in fear of containmination. So i did nothing. Can i open it now? If it has fermented out, will it read sg of 1.0?

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09-26-2016, 06:43 PM
sanitize the hydrometer and take aq reading.
While knowing the initial gravity would have been helpful, it si still a good idea to check on it periodically.

09-26-2016, 08:15 PM
Yes, it's finished at that point

10-02-2016, 08:31 PM
I racked the must over to the carboy on 9-29. I had to sample it and it was hot with alcohol. All looks well though. I added 6 oz of honey and juice to sweeten. I added an airlock to monitor since I back sweetened. There has been no activity in the airlock. Since that is the case, in 2 weeks when I bottle it, if it still isn't sweet enough can I add more honey\juice to balance to taste?

10-02-2016, 11:54 PM

Sorry I never re-replied here . I didn't see you had asked me a question until just now. A couple things. Number one my friend. Use your hydrometer. You can't really know a thing without it as bubbles mean zilch!!! If you sanitize it you won't need to worry about infections. Good sanitation is a very basic building block here but in all honesty, the beer guys have brought over undue fear about spoilage mechanisms. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't use great sanitation practices, you should, but,,, you also don't need to be overly concerned about it when you do practice good skills. There's probably not a day that goes by that I don't open 4 or 5 different things to check one thing or another.

Secondarily,,, I would suggest not forcing your mead making process into a fixed schedule. Be patient and let it tell you when and what to do. So in regards to that why do you feel the need to bottle this in 2 weeks? What is to gain. It's far from being drinkable now so why bottle it? You won't have any way to make adjustments and won't know how it's turning out. In my opinion you have a lot of work left here before it's time to bottle.

Yes,,, it's your mead so you can add what ever else you would like to it. Are you certain it won't restart the fermentation? If you do add things to it ,, and if it's clear now (is it?) it will become cloudy again. Not only do cloudy meads not look great they also taste muddled. Stuff will settle in the bottle,, and when you open it latter it will stir up the cloudy lees and muck up the flavor again.

You can smooth off the alcohol edge some if you want to by adding oak to this batch. It will take a while. More than 2 weeks. So, if you want to bottle this in 2 weeks your stuck with it is right now and at the mercy of luck as to how it will finish up.

Do you still want help with a new direction? If so what type of wine style did you want to try to make??? How large of a batch do you want to make? How much can you spend? You can pm me if you want.Lots of people do :) Happy to help if I can.

10-03-2016, 09:11 PM
I really appreciate you taking the time for the reply. This Joe's Quick Grape mead attempt was my first. I am ready to give it another try. Here are the answers to your questions. I really want to make a semi sweet (me) and sweet (wife) "white merlot" with about 12-14% ABV. I know the Sutter's Home white merlot is our favorite, I want to make something that resembles it in a mead. That's why I chose Joe's Quick Grape Mead and I used Welches red grape juice. I am fine with a one gallon batch. I am willing to pay appropriately for good results, quality product, and timely advice. I want to build me up a quick supply (1 month batches) that tastes like white merlot and then work on the more advanced\longer meads. I would love to have a 1 month cherry or red grape melomel or pyment recipe . I recently purchased much of the needed equipment to get started with.
Thank you!