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Bobsbeer
09-16-2016, 03:58 PM
Hi All,

Glad I found this site and it looks like a wonderful resource for all things mead. I'm Bob, I'm in Cumbria, United Kingdom and have been making beer and wine for a good few years, but never made mead for some strange reason. So I decided to put that right and set to this afternoon and made a batch.

This is what I have concocted:

5 Lt Batch
1.7kg Asda Clear Honey
6 whole cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Vanilla pod (split)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 sachet White Bordeaux yeast (Just what I had on hand)
SG: 1.102
PH: 5.9 (This seems low but I'm more used to making wine, so not sure what to expect with mead)

So a couple of questions.

Have I added too much clove? After making this I read Joes recipe and he says just put in 1 clove, so is 6 a tad too much?
Is my PH about right? Should I add more acid? I'm more used to winemaking, and I tend to aim for around 3.5-4, so 5.9 seems low.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

bmwr75
09-16-2016, 04:16 PM
Yes you probably have added too many cloves. Can you fish all but one or two back out? Whole cloves are very intense.

Did you mean to type 2.9 pH instead of 5.9? 5.9 is on the high side.

I never worry about pH in mead unless it is too low, say below 3.0 - 3.2, which can lead to stalls in the ferment. In fact I add potassium bicarbonate to every mead batch to buffer the pH higher. The lemon juice probably lowered the pH.

Bobsbeer
09-16-2016, 04:47 PM
Thanks for the reply. The ph quoted was correct at 5.9, which I would say was low, but as I haven't made mead before I am unsure what is the right value. I may be able to fish some of the cloves out as they are floating on top of the DJ. I'll see what I can do on that front. ;D

darigoni
09-16-2016, 04:54 PM
Ideally, I think you want a ph reading some where between 3.6 - 4.0.

Bobsbeer
09-16-2016, 04:55 PM
Managed to fish out 5 of the cloves, so only one left in the 5lt batch.

Bobsbeer
09-16-2016, 04:59 PM
Ideally, I think you want a ph reading some where between 3.6 - 4.0.

That would be my normal wine ph, I'll add a teaspoon of tartaric and see how that changes it.

HeidrunsGift
09-16-2016, 07:33 PM
I agree with Darigoni: 3.6-4.0 is what I usually go for. Having said that, I've started meads at 4.50 that have fermented wonderfully.

Bobsbeer
09-17-2016, 06:11 AM
Thanks for the help. I have now added 1/2 tsp tartaric which has brought the ph to a better level of 3.9. I also added a Vitamin B1 tablet as I had only added some DAP at the start.

So now to leave it alone for a few weeks to ferment and take it from there. For my wines I often don't bother with secondary fermentation, leaving them to ferment out to dry often for over 4 weeks, then rack and stabise, then add finings to clear. The reason I tend to do this is because I find that if I rack when the SG is below 1.010 it tends to stall and then takes even longer to get to target. Above 1.010 and it seems to be okay, but finding the time and the constant checking the SG is a bit of a pain when I might have 4 25lt wines on the go at once, so just leave to ferment out. I have yet to notice much difference or off flavours by adopting this method.

So what do you experienced meaders do? Does secondary fermenting make a difference?

darigoni
09-17-2016, 08:57 AM
I've heard of racking off of the primary lees and going directly into bottles. I think the thinking is that going to a secondary gives the mead some time to age, finish any fermentation and is a good time to add any fruits or spices. And, as you've probably stirred things up, is an opportunity for things to further drop out of suspension and a better chance of ending up with a clear product.

Bobsbeer
09-17-2016, 10:05 AM
As this is my first attempt at mead I'll rack it and see how it goes. Thanks for the help.

bernardsmith
09-17-2016, 08:57 PM
If the pH was not causing you any problems then this post is more theoretical than of any concern about the batch you are working on but honey is notorious for not having any chemical buffers that prevent the pH dropping to very acidic levels one minute and rocketing sky high the next. In short, taking one measure of the pH is not very useful when you are dealing with mead. If you were to take a second measure five minutes later the pH may be at 3.0
What many (most? ) mead makers do is avoid reducing the pH (increasing the acidity)by adding acids during active fermentation and instead they are prepared to reduce the acidity (ie increase the pH) with K- chloride (a chemical base or alkali). Too low a pH (the wine or mead being very acidic) can stall the fermentation by destroying the yeast culture. Too alkaline the mead may result in oxidation and spoilage as other bacteria can get a foothold - so you need to either increase the acidity during aging or you need to use larger does of K-meta to prevent spoilage. (I am ignoring taste here, merely talking about the effects of acidity or alkalinity on fermentation and aging).

Bobsbeer
09-18-2016, 04:05 AM
Interesting. The acid level wasn't causing any issues as such, I was more comparing the level to my wines, and they generally come out between 3-4. Obviously wine has more acid inducing ingredients to mead where honey is the main if not the only ingredient. My concern with the low acid level was more about spoilage longer term during aging, although the alcohol level to an extent takes care of that aspect. Not having made mead before I had nothing to compare it too, hence the question. Anyway I added 1/2 tsp tartaric acid and that seems to have brought the level to 3.9, which I would say was fine, and certainly would be for wine. I suppose I will get my answer in a few months. Good or bad. ;)

zpeckler
09-18-2016, 09:33 AM
Interesting. The acid level wasn't causing any issues as such, I was more comparing the level to my wines, and they generally come out between 3-4. Obviously wine has more acid inducing ingredients to mead where honey is the main if not the only ingredient. My concern with the low acid level was more about spoilage longer term during aging, although the alcohol level to an extent takes care of that aspect. Not having made mead before I had nothing to compare it too, hence the question. Anyway I added 1/2 tsp tartaric acid and that seems to have brought the level to 3.9, which I would say was fine, and certainly would be for wine. I suppose I will get my answer in a few months. Good or bad. ;)

I second what BernardSmith said. Meadmaking is different from winemaking or beer brewing when it comes to pH. A honey must has much less "buffering capacity" compared to a grape must of beer wort, meaning that once fermentation starts you can see drastic changes in pH. Also, honey itself is acidic. I too was surprised when your starting pH was 5.9; in my experience I've never seen a mead get above 4.3, and once fermentation starts it can drop pretty quickly to 3.4-3.6. Below 3.2 your potential for a stalled ferment increases dramatically.

Because of the potential for the pH to change so drastically, modern meadmaking best-practices recommend against any acid additions until after fermentation is complete. I personally only add acid during aging, and only if the taste of the mead needs it for balance.

Bobsbeer
09-18-2016, 10:09 AM
Thanks for some great information and advice, which I will have to take heed of for my next batch. At the moment my first must is fermenting nicely, so I will see what happens to it given that I added 1/2 tsp of tartaric before your good advice. Fingers crossed it comes out okay. I'm sure it will be drinkable, whatever happens. ;)