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cuber3
10-11-2016, 11:26 AM
Hey everyone,

I've been reading up on the process of brewing mead the past couple of weeks, and have gathered all the necessary supplies to get started on a few small batches.
One thing I was mistaken about was EC-1118's alcohol tolerance. I initially read it was resistant up to 14%, which seemed to make for a good, strong mead. But now I realize it can go up to and beyond 18%, and most people consider this simply too much, making "rocket fuel".
I have potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate to stabilize though, so I figured I'd simply make 3 separate gallon batches, each with a different starting gravity, to (hopefully) end up with batches that end fermentation in the 11-14% range, so that I can get a taste which strength I prefer.
Of course, if the yeast is able to fully ferment the honey, all of these batches will finish dry. I will take a few gravity readings to make sure fermentation has stopped, then rack onto the stabilizers and give it one or a few days to stabilize, before adding little increments of extra honey to backsweeten.

My biggest question here is, if I want to add orange parts, cinnamon sticks and cloves as per the JAOM recipe, but will finish the fermentation dry and then backsweetening it, should I add all of the fruits/spices a few days after stabilization, or should I simply add it to the primary?

A second question is about how adding fruit influences gravity readings. I know a hydrometer measures liquid density and compares it to water, and since sugar is more dense than water it will add resistance which can be measured. But doesn't adding large pieces of fruit throw off the gravity readings? Do you measure the gravity before adding the fruit, and is there a way to accurately predict alcohol potential with added fruit?

Sorry if any of these questions have been answered, I've searched around but didn't find much conclusive information for these specific questions..

bernardsmith
10-11-2016, 12:33 PM
Hi cuber3 and welcome. Not made any JAOM so I do not consider myself having any real knowledge about this mead except that there is really no possible "variants". The recipe is in fact very much like a chemical formula in that every detail - including the choice of yeast and the choice of fruit is there for a reason. You change ANYTHING and the formula changes - and so the final result changes RADICALLY... So the use of bread yeast means that the mead will be sweet. The use of chunks of orange will tell you that enough CO2 is being produced to keep the pieces afloat so that when they sink to the bottom enough CO2 has been expelled for you to bottle... Change the yeast, change the fruit and those conditions no longer hold.

Regarding specific gravity - you mention "resistance". I don't think that that is a useful metaphor. SG measures...the density of liquids compared to water. The more dense a liquid the higher it will float any mass and so if we have a specific and known mass (the bulb of the hydrometer) we can use how high (or low) it floats in a liquid to measure the density of the liquid. Simply adding chunks of fruit will make the liquid no more dense than the presence of ships will make the ocean more dense. What will change the density of the liquid is if you add anything that will dissolve in the water and which will then either increase the density (such as sugar) or will will decrease the density (such as alcohol). Adding something that does not dissolve in the water does not change the density of the liquid.

bernardsmith
10-11-2016, 12:39 PM
Hi cuber3 and welcome. Not made any JAOM so I do not consider myself having any real knowledge about this mead except that there is really no possible "variants". The recipe is in fact very much like a chemical formula in that every detail - including the choice of yeast and the choice of fruit is there for a reason. You change ANYTHING and the formula changes - and so the final result changes RADICALLY... So the use of bread yeast means that the mead will be sweet. The use of chunks of orange will tell you that enough CO2 is being produced to keep the pieces afloat so that when they sink to the bottom enough CO2 has been expelled for you to bottle... Change the yeast, change the fruit and those conditions no longer hold.

Regarding specific gravity - you mention "resistance". I don't think that that is a useful metaphor. SG measures...the density of liquids compared to water. The more dense a liquid the higher it will float any mass and so if we have a specific and known mass (the bulb of the hydrometer) we can use how high (or low) it floats in a liquid to measure the density of the liquid. Simply adding chunks of fruit will make the liquid no more dense than the presence of ships will make the ocean more dense. What will change the density of the liquid is if you add anything that will dissolve in the water and which will then either increase the density (such as sugar) or will will decrease the density (such as alcohol). Adding something that does not dissolve in the water does not change the density of the liquid.

cuber3
10-11-2016, 02:00 PM
Hi Bernard,

Thanks for clarifying the specifics behind gravity readings, that makes a lot of sense.

By "variant" (maybe a poor choice of words) I meant that I am not really looking to achieve the exact same end result, but that I'd like to use the same ingredients. I really like the idea of orange, cinnamon and cloves, but realize that the EC-1118 will force me to stabilize and make the process very different.

I am wondering what is the best practice when making a stabilized fruit/spice mead, should the additional flavors be added in primary or after racking and stabilizing? I've read adding the fruit after racking can provider better flavor, but I'm not sure if that's also the case after stabilizing when the yeast is no longer active.

djsxxx
10-11-2016, 04:05 PM
Why the need to use EC-1118?

If you want to use the same ingredients but use a different yeast that'll take it dry, not sure I see the point if you're just going to back sweeten anyway?

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk

cuber3
10-11-2016, 04:57 PM
Why the need to use EC-1118?

If you want to use the same ingredients but use a different yeast that'll take it dry, not sure I see the point if you're just going to back sweeten anyway?

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk

Well, EC-1118 is the one I picked up from the brewery store a while ago, I had previously read that it was only tolerant up to 14%, which I now know is not true.
I'm a bit hesitant on using plain bread yeast as I don't know the specific temperature range for it, also I assume there is some variety in alcohol tolerance between each of them. I live in a European country and we don't have any of the commonly used brands like Fleischmann's or Red Star that I read about, so I don't have much to go on what is in the stuff I buy at my local grocery store.

With the brewing yeasts I know for sure what the optimal temperature range, nutrients, alcohol tolerance etc. is.
I will also be fermenting in a rather cold basement, so the 10C minimum temperature of the EC-1118 comes in handy there.

I would have gone for the D-47 as it seems to be a common choice, but alas my store doesn't carry it. The other Lalvin yeasts my shop carries either specify a minimum temperature of 15C which I cannot guarantee, or they also go up to 16% ABV. I could order some online, but really I would just prefer to start with what I currently have.

Will stabilizing and backsweetening be detrimental to the resulting taste, or is it just additional work compared to using a less tolerant yeast and having residual sweetness after the fermentation is complete?

djsxxx
10-11-2016, 05:05 PM
Yeah fair enough, bread yeast likes a bit of warmth anyway ~20C

As for the taste of back sweetening, some people will say they can taste the difference, but your average joy mead drinker won't notice.

Don't forget you can control the ABV by the amount of honey you add upfront to be fermented. Work out what abv you want then use the mead calculator to tell you how much honey to use.

Once it's fermented and gone dry, stabilise and add more honey to taste

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caduseus
10-11-2016, 05:28 PM
If you use a yeast other than bakers yeast (if no Fleishmann's there then ANY bread yeast will do), then it is no longer a JAOM.
It is called Joe's Ancient Orange Mead because it is what ancestors would make before all the modern yeasts came out: once again any bakers yeast will do (brand is irrelevant).
If you are intent on not using a bakers yeast and use a MODERN YEAST then you are making a MODERN MEAD.
Modern Meads require certain additional nutrients using either:
1) Fermaid-K using TiOSNA protocol (http://www.meadmaderight.com/tiosna--inorganic-.html)
2) Fermaid-O using TOSNA protocol (http://www.meadmaderight.com/info.html)- this is the preferred method

I have heard of some people using a variant of TiOSNA protocol using yeast energizer (which is similar but not identical to Fermaid-K) but I am not familiar with that process.