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jarek.mueller
12-21-2016, 02:09 AM
Hello! This is my first post on this forum, and I'm excited to explore what you folks have to offer.

I'm currently brewing my first real batch of mead. I messed up my actual first by not sanitizing properly, which resulted in my mead tasting like soap. Gross.

I originally had 4 one-gallon carboys. I mixed 5 pounds of honey and finished off with enough water to make a gallon, twice. I'm trying to make sweet mead. My first mistake that I made this time is I didn't keep track of the type of yeast my Local Home Brewing Store gave me. I threw away the wrapper and I don't remember; however, according to all the websites I was reading, after all the steps I took, everything was going par for the course. Essentially I:

1: Mixed the water and honey
2: Added Yeast, Nutrient, Energizer as per the instructions on the bottles (I can tell you what kind if you need)
3: Put the mixtures into 2 one-gallon glass carboys
4: Airlocked them, and let them sit.

Now, I waited about 2 weeks. Sediment built up, The top was frothy, so I figured it was fermenting. I reracked to get rid of the sediment, and after another two weeks, I bottled a half gallon. The reason I did this is because about a week later, I deployed (I'm a soldier, btw). So I wanted to pass out some home made mead to friends and family. The reviews I got back were positive. Some said it was very sweet, which is what I was going for. All of them said they got pretty drunk after the whole bottle. When I checked the alcohol content as I was bottling, it was at ~17%, which is fine by me. I should also note that the mead wasn't clear, it was still pretty cloudy.

I wanted to save the other gallon and a half to ferment and age until I got back home, so about a year. I figure, other than reracking, mead is one of, if not THE oldest alcohols in the world, so it should be pretty low maintenance if they didn't have all this fancy technology to make it thousands of years ago. Just add yeast and let it sit, right? I have 4-5 months before I get home, and I ask my girlfriend about it frequently. She has reracked it once a few months ago, but not since then, because sediment hasn't really built up. It also doesn't appear that the mead has cleared up at all. She's going to measure the gravity when she gets a chance, but the fermentation appears to have stopped.

Do you think I messed something up along the way? Can you guys give me a few explanations why my mead hasn't cleared, why it stopped fermenting (if it really has), should I attempt to start the fermentation process again if I still have a few months before bottling, and maybe any other tips that may be helpful, especially about aging the mead, please? I would really like to keep this batch and I haven't really seen too many troubleshooting tips for my situation.

Thank you!

darigoni
12-21-2016, 08:12 AM
Newbee guide: http://gotmead.com/blog/making-mead/mead-newbee-guide/the-newbee-guide-to-making-mead/

zpeckler
12-21-2016, 09:40 AM
5lbs/gal will make an INCREDIBLY sweet mead. Even 3.5lbs/gal will make a mead that's very sweet. Even with perfect technique your yeast would struggle greatly in a super high sugar environment like that.

Step 1 is get a hydrometer.

This is pretty much a mandatory piece of equipment for homebrewing. It allows you to follow the course of your fermentation in an objective manner. It allows you to tell when your ferment has stopped prematurely or appropriately at the expected final sugar concentration.

Further topics to research to improve your technique in the future:
1. Getting and using a hydrometer.
2. Getting and using a hydrometer.
3. Keeping detailed logs of each batch. Write down everything you do and when you did it.
4. Proper dry yeast rehydration technique using GoFerm.
5. Staggered Nutrient Addition. Currently the protocol myself and a lot of other experienced meadmakers use can be found at www.meadmaderight.com
6. Hydrometer. Get a hydrometer. Learn to use it.

caduseus
12-21-2016, 10:46 AM
Hello! This is my first post on this forum, and I'm excited to explore what you folks have to offer.

I'm currently brewing my first real batch of mead. I messed up my actual first by not sanitizing properly, which resulted in my mead tasting like soap. Gross.

I originally had 4 one-gallon carboys. I mixed 5 pounds of honey and finished off with enough water to make a gallon, twice. I'm trying to make sweet mead. My first mistake that I made this time is I didn't keep track of the type of yeast my Local Home Brewing Store gave me. I threw away the wrapper and I don't remember; however, according to all the websites I was reading, after all the steps I took, everything was going par for the course. Essentially I:

1: Mixed the water and honey
2: Added Yeast, Nutrient, Energizer as per the instructions on the bottles (I can tell you what kind if you need)
3: Put the mixtures into 2 one-gallon glass carboys
4: Airlocked them, and let them sit.

Now, I waited about 2 weeks. Sediment built up, The top was frothy, so I figured it was fermenting. I reracked to get rid of the sediment, and after another two weeks, I bottled a half gallon. The reason I did this is because about a week later, I deployed (I'm a soldier, btw). So I wanted to pass out some home made mead to friends and family. The reviews I got back were positive. Some said it was very sweet, which is what I was going for. All of them said they got pretty drunk after the whole bottle. When I checked the alcohol content as I was bottling, it was at ~17%, which is fine by me. I should also note that the mead wasn't clear, it was still pretty cloudy.

I wanted to save the other gallon and a half to ferment and age until I got back home, so about a year. I figure, other than reracking, mead is one of, if not THE oldest alcohols in the world, so it should be pretty low maintenance if they didn't have all this fancy technology to make it thousands of years ago. Just add yeast and let it sit, right? I have 4-5 months before I get home, and I ask my girlfriend about it frequently. She has reracked it once a few months ago, but not since then, because sediment hasn't really built up. It also doesn't appear that the mead has cleared up at all. She's going to measure the gravity when she gets a chance, but the fermentation appears to have stopped.

Do you think I messed something up along the way? Can you guys give me a few explanations why my mead hasn't cleared, why it stopped fermenting (if it really has), should I attempt to start the fermentation process again if I still have a few months before bottling, and maybe any other tips that may be helpful, especially about aging the mead, please? I would really like to keep this batch and I haven't really seen too many troubleshooting tips for my situation.

Thank you!

1) You need to have staggered nutrition addition (SNA) for mead. You also are not supposed to add nutrients until after nutrients start. You have to stir it daily for 1 week. If you cant attend to a mead closely for at least the first week, then you may want to consider doing a JAOM: http://gotmead.com/blog/recipe/joes-ancient-orange-clove-and-cinnamon-mead/.
2) When you are ready to attend CLOSELY to mead making, watch the Meadology 8 week series on youtube first.

You cant just throw in the ingredients, pitch yeast, and let it ferment. There is so much more to it than that, except with JAOM.

antonioh
12-21-2016, 12:28 PM
And after step I : get an hydrometer,

Step II : get a pH meter . It doesnīt need to be expensive . See the cheapo yellow pH meter

jarek.mueller
12-22-2016, 07:31 AM
5lbs/gal will make an INCREDIBLY sweet mead. Even 3.5lbs/gal will make a mead that's very sweet. Even with perfect technique your yeast would struggle greatly in a super high sugar environment like that.

Step 1 is get a hydrometer.

This is pretty much a mandatory piece of equipment for homebrewing. It allows you to follow the course of your fermentation in an objective manner. It allows you to tell when your ferment has stopped prematurely or appropriately at the expected final sugar concentration.

Further topics to research to improve your technique in the future:
1. Getting and using a hydrometer.
2. Getting and using a hydrometer.
3. Keeping detailed logs of each batch. Write down everything you do and when you did it.
4. Proper dry yeast rehydration technique using GoFerm.
5. Staggered Nutrient Addition. Currently the protocol myself and a lot of other experienced meadmakers use can be found at www.meadmaderight.com
6. Hydrometer. Get a hydrometer. Learn to use it.

I have a hydrometer. Perhaps I don't fully know how to use it or utilized it to the fullest extent, but it's hard to continue to use it to monitor when I'm not physically there to do it. Like I said, I figured mead would be pretty simple, that's why I wanted to start with it (other than it being tasty). Hoo boy. No just letting it sit and do its thing, eh?


1) You need to have staggered nutrition addition (SNA) for mead. You also are not supposed to add nutrients until after nutrients start. You have to stir it daily for 1 week. If you cant attend to a mead closely for at least the first week, then you may want to consider doing a JAOM: http://gotmead.com/blog/recipe/joes-ancient-orange-clove-and-cinnamon-mead/.
2) When you are ready to attend CLOSELY to mead making, watch the Meadology 8 week series on youtube first.

You cant just throw in the ingredients, pitch yeast, and let it ferment. There is so much more to it than that, except with JAOM.

I suppose JAOM was moreso what I wanted to do and go with, before I knew what JAOM was. I admit I didn't do a WHOLE bunch of research before I dove right into it. My plan is to do a lot more learning and experimenting when I get home.


I suppose really, the things I took away from my reading originally (before I found this forum, mind you), was:
1)Yeast Eats sugar and makes alcohol
2)More honey is more sugar
therefor:
3)More sugar = more alcohol

The recipe that I used was this one: http://www.stormthecastle.com/mead/mead-recipes.htm but 1/5thed out, twice, if that makes sense, since I was using 2 one-gallon carboys.
I knew that the yeast wouldn't be able to eat ALL the sugar, which is obviously why if you want sweeter mead, you add sugar/honey to it. My goal was to create sweet mead with a high alcohol content. I believe in the first half gallon I did that, if not 100% correctly. Now I just want to know if what I have left is something worth working on, or should I just throw it away and start anew when I get home? Like I said, the thought behind it was JAOM, before I knew what JAOM was.

zpeckler
12-22-2016, 08:32 AM
I have a hydrometer. Perhaps I don't fully know how to use it or utilized it to the fullest extent, but it's hard to continue to use it to monitor when I'm not physically there to do it. Like I said, I figured mead would be pretty simple, that's why I wanted to start with it (other than it being tasty). Hoo boy. No just letting it sit and do its thing, eh?

Nope, making good mead requires paying attention at a whole mess of details. Making great mead, well, that's a whole other story...

Good that you already have a hydrometer. When you mixed up you must, what was your OG? If you or your girlfriend is able to take a reading now, what's the current gravity?

Also, is there any way you could find out what yeast strain you used?

jarek.mueller
12-22-2016, 05:17 PM
Nope, making good mead requires paying attention at a whole mess of details. Making great mead, well, that's a whole other story...

Good that you already have a hydrometer. When you mixed up you must, what was your OG? If you or your girlfriend is able to take a reading now, what's the current gravity?

Also, is there any way you could find out what yeast strain you used?

I believe the OG was at 15-17%. Mind you, this was about 6 months ago. And as I said, I could very well have been reading or using it wrong. I'll ask her when she'll get a chance to. I'm still deployed and have about 6 months left. I'll also try to see if I have the wrapper for the yeast packet hanging around where I kept my supplies. I just kind of went to the Home Brewing store, said I'm making mead and they went, "Here use this yeast". Didn't think too much into it, like there could be different strains for different things. Rookie mistake.

Besides checking the gravity, is there anything else you would recommend, if I CAN'T find the yeast strain out? Thank you so much.

caduseus
12-22-2016, 05:33 PM
I believe the OG was at 15-17%. Mind you, this was about 6 months ago. And as I said, I could very well have been reading or using it wrong. I'll ask her when she'll get a chance to. I'm still deployed and have about 6 months left. I'll also try to see if I have the wrapper for the yeast packet hanging around where I kept my supplies. I just kind of went to the Home Brewing store, said I'm making mead and they went, "Here use this yeast". Didn't think too much into it, like there could be different strains for different things. Rookie mistake.

Besides checking the gravity, is there anything else you would recommend, if I CAN'T find the yeast strain out? Thank you so much.

A hydrometer has 2 readings:
1) the potential Alcohol which you stated
2) the specific gravity: this starts just below 1.000 (usually down to .995) up to 1.170 This is what needs to be read.

Also, even JAOM cannot be ignored and left alone for 6 months, let alone a year. The fruit will have to be removed eventually before it goes bad. Also the lees (dead or dormant yeast on the bottom) needs to be removed. After awhile it can leave a really bad off-taste and flavors if the mead is not removed from them. (How long before you have to depends on who you talk to but I am sure everyone would agree 6 months is way too long to go from pitch to first racking. )

I would be prepared to throw it all away.
However I would not start over until you are prepared to devote some time. A JAOM can be ignored for awhile but not that long.
ANY other mead other than JAOM requires careful attention the first weeks at a minimum.
After the first racking into the secondary, you could possibly go a long time without any attention but how long I cannot say.

jarek.mueller
12-23-2016, 05:17 AM
A hydrometer has 2 readings:
1) the potential Alcohol which you stated
2) the specific gravity: this starts just below 1.000 (usually down to .995) up to 1.170 This is what needs to be read.

Also, even JAOM cannot be ignored and left alone for 6 months, let alone a year. The fruit will have to be removed eventually before it goes bad. Also the lees (dead or dormant yeast on the bottom) needs to be removed. After awhile it can leave a really bad off-taste and flavors if the mead is not removed from them. (How long before you have to depends on who you talk to but I am sure everyone would agree 6 months is way too long to go from pitch to first racking. )

I would be prepared to throw it all away.
However I would not start over until you are prepared to devote some time. A JAOM can be ignored for awhile but not that long.
ANY other mead other than JAOM requires careful attention the first weeks at a minimum.
After the first racking into the secondary, you could possibly go a long time without any attention but how long I cannot say.

Ah, yeah, I definitely read it wrong. I was only doing the first reading, not the gravity itself. Would that make any actually gravity readings useless, since I have nothing to base it on?

I'm definitely going to keep my gallon carboys so I can experiment with modern mead making. Actually paying attention to it.

I did rerack what I had to get rid of the lees right before I left. There was quite a bit. I'll try to find some pictures if I can. I hope that the lees wasn't ALL my yeast, but it sounds like that may be the case.
It bums me out that I should get ready to throw this out. Is there nothing I can do to salvage? Put more yeast in? Obviously I don't WANT to throw it out. I'm willing to make this an experiment. Hahaha.

Shelley
12-23-2016, 08:02 AM
I come from the mix-it-and-ignore-it side of meadmaking, so your initial thought on letting it sit for a year is how I do my meads. They've been just fine, with a couple of local awards to their name. If I want to avoid aging for 12+ months, I would go the SNA route, but I've got so much mead in my cellar that I'm in no hurry.

If I read your post right, the only real problem at the moment is that it's cloudy, and that you don't see any more froth, correct?

Sometimes meads don't clear nicely, and if you want a crystal clear mead you need to give it some help. Sparkalloid, bentonite, filtering, cold crashing are a few ways to accomplish this (and if you search on "clarifying mead" on this site you'll have a lot of reading material). You racked off of the first sediment, so I wouldn't expect a large sediment buildup after that.

After the initial ferment, which is where you see the most foam, mead tends to settle down -- but it's still fermenting to the yeast's tolerance. You may not see any visible evidence of it, because it's plodding along.

If the first few bottles from this mead were tasty, you may be fine. My first step would be to take a gravity reading, but also to taste it. Taste good? No need to panic.

If anyone from that first bottled half-gallon still has a sealed bottle, advise them to open it sooner rather than later. Bottling after just two weeks of fermenting is dicey; the yeast are probably still working, so CO2 is building up in those bottles, as is the pressure. You'll go from sparkling mead to bottle bomb!

antonioh
12-23-2016, 10:58 AM
Probably you got a high initial density and the yeasts had to work in a hostile environment . If after all this time itīs not cristal clear I would think in a stucked fermentation.

Donīt throw it away.

Let it be ( I think I heard that somewhere long ago :)) ) as it is and, when you get back (oh ! another insight...), get a new yeast, hydrate it well, by the book whith Go ferm, acclimatize it gradually, check the pH or your carboys and correct it if below 3.2 and gradually pour the content of the carboys in that new acclimatized yeast. Most probably ( if itīs not already with high alcohol ) it will restart , add nutrientes (not DAP ) , and if your presente density is too high, get her down a little, and you will have a nice mead to enjoy in Easter or, may it be , a little later.

Cheers !

caduseus
12-23-2016, 12:54 PM
Probably you got a high initial density and the yeasts had to work in a hostile environment . If after all this time itīs not cristal clear I would think in a stucked fermentation.

Donīt throw it away.

Let it be ( I think I heard that somewhere long ago :)) ) as it is and, when you get back (oh ! another insight...), get a new yeast, hydrate it well, by the book whith Go ferm, acclimatize it gradually, check the pH or your carboys and correct it if below 3.2 and gradually pour the content of the carboys in that new acclimatized yeast. Most probably ( if itīs not already with high alcohol ) it will restart , add nutrientes (not DAP ) , and if your presente density is too high, get her down a little, and you will have a nice mead to enjoy in Easter or, may it be , a little later.

Cheers !

Your ideas are great....IF he can give necessary attention to the must, AND stir 2x/daily, and generally do everything you are supposed to do the first 7 days.
There are two problems with that:
1) From reading his posts, I am not sure he is ABLE to give that much attention to the must;
2) I am not sure he KNOWS how to do that. This is why I recommended going with JAOM until he gets to know mead making better. I don't think he should do anything other than JAOM until he KNOWS what is involved in mead making. Meadology 8 weeks series will help with this and give him a good foundation for that.

antonioh
12-23-2016, 01:22 PM
Well... Itīs not as hard as it seems.

He has racked already, so the major organic parts are off. And sometimes with good aeration , some nutrientes and pitching the yeast, is enough to bring density from 1.060 to 1.040 and in one or two months its cristal clear. Iīve saved some traditionals like this. Keeps sweet ? Yes . But with alcohol @ 13š ~14š. Needs to age for more five or six months or will have a little nutrient taste.

But as ChevetteGirl says, itīs a matter of patience... and he has nothing to loose and someting to learn...

jarek.mueller
12-24-2016, 09:15 AM
I come from the mix-it-and-ignore-it side of meadmaking, so your initial thought on letting it sit for a year is how I do my meads. They've been just fine, with a couple of local awards to their name. If I want to avoid aging for 12+ months, I would go the SNA route, but I've got so much mead in my cellar that I'm in no hurry.

If I read your post right, the only real problem at the moment is that it's cloudy, and that you don't see any more froth, correct?

Sometimes meads don't clear nicely, and if you want a crystal clear mead you need to give it some help. Sparkalloid, bentonite, filtering, cold crashing are a few ways to accomplish this (and if you search on "clarifying mead" on this site you'll have a lot of reading material). You racked off of the first sediment, so I wouldn't expect a large sediment buildup after that.

After the initial ferment, which is where you see the most foam, mead tends to settle down -- but it's still fermenting to the yeast's tolerance. You may not see any visible evidence of it, because it's plodding along.

If the first few bottles from this mead were tasty, you may be fine. My first step would be to take a gravity reading, but also to taste it. Taste good? No need to panic.

If anyone from that first bottled half-gallon still has a sealed bottle, advise them to open it sooner rather than later. Bottling after just two weeks of fermenting is dicey; the yeast are probably still working, so CO2 is building up in those bottles, as is the pressure. You'll go from sparkling mead to bottle bomb!

Fantastic! I think, if you don't mind, that I would like to get some more direction from you in the future. Thank you. That's pretty much the idea that that I had. I'm a bit glad to see that I wasn't messing stuff up completely from the get-go.


Probably you got a high initial density and the yeasts had to work in a hostile environment . If after all this time itīs not cristal clear I would think in a stucked fermentation.

Donīt throw it away.

Let it be ( I think I heard that somewhere long ago :)) ) as it is and, when you get back (oh ! another insight...), get a new yeast, hydrate it well, by the book whith Go ferm, acclimatize it gradually, check the pH or your carboys and correct it if below 3.2 and gradually pour the content of the carboys in that new acclimatized yeast. Most probably ( if itīs not already with high alcohol ) it will restart , add nutrientes (not DAP ) , and if your presente density is too high, get her down a little, and you will have a nice mead to enjoy in Easter or, may it be , a little later.

Cheers !

This is great. I was beginning to lose a bit of confidence. I would have started over, but a years worth of patience would have been wasted. Like I said, I'm glad I have at least something to work with.


Your ideas are great....IF he can give necessary attention to the must, AND stir 2x/daily, and generally do everything you are supposed to do the first 7 days.
There are two problems with that:
1) From reading his posts, I am not sure he is ABLE to give that much attention to the must;
2) I am not sure he KNOWS how to do that. This is why I recommended going with JAOM until he gets to know mead making better. I don't think he should do anything other than JAOM until he KNOWS what is involved in mead making. Meadology 8 weeks series will help with this and give him a good foundation for that.

I'm definitely going to try the JAOM, AND watch that Meadology series when I get home. I WILL be able to give it that much attention when I get back. The issue was getting ready for leaving, and not having the know-how. I'm feeling confident.

darigoni
12-24-2016, 09:41 AM
Meadology Series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oODPBYXqfjk&t=991s

The week 7 class on SNA, may be the best job anyone's done of explaining Staggered Nutrient Additions. There are other protocols (TOSNA), but this is a great place to get an understanding of what it's all about and get you headed down the right road.

Hydrometer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTvmYaQq6Mc