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gamespy10
05-09-2017, 12:15 PM
Hi would anyone mind offering a critique/advice on this recipe i think i have calculated right that this should give me a medium-sweet mead 14% abv with roughly 0.018 final gravity but i'm very new to this so i may be wrong. I have made the JOAM and its sitting happily fermenting in my cupboard at home but i wanted to give myself as much time as possible to get advice before i start to buy the equipment and ingredients for this mead.

Vanilla Oaked Mead, (1 Gallon Yield)

Ingredients:
4.5L bottled water
1.36Kg Rowse Honey
25ish raisins
1 vanilla pod
150g American Medium oak chips

Meadmaking process:


Create must by combining honey into 2L slightly warm water
Transfer this to fermentation bucket with one split vanilla pod
Wait for this to cool
Rehydrate yeast in warm water as per packet instruction
Whisk the hell out of the must to add air before pitching the yeast
Pitch yeast and add the rest of the water
Aerate the must every 3-4 hours for the next 2 days
leave for two weeks to allow to ferment
Rack into demijohn with 150g oak chips
Leave for 1 week
Rack into another demijohn and allow to age tasting at 3 month intervals after the first 6 months.


Issues/Questions

So my main issue is that i am only at home Friday evenings Saturdays and Sundays as i work away in the week so i can only aerate for two days and i believe this means i cant do the staggered nutrient additions properly (hence the raisins in the recipe to try and account for this)

Could i still add nutrient and be okay? if so how is it best for me to do this?

Would leaving the fermentation open to the air for the first two days covered in cheesecloth or another fine cloth help with the aeration issue of only having 2 full days of me psychically whisking air into it?

Any advice and guidance would be greatly appreciated i have spent a lot of time reading before posting this up so i hope i haven't suggested anything too stupid, but if i have feel free to point it out and correct me.

Thanks

Dadux
05-09-2017, 01:04 PM
Many things wrong/improvable here. I'll try to be organized.

Recipe:
You use too little honey. I usually go with 2kg/5.5 liters total or so (around 4 liters water, 2kg honey). Instead of going witha fixed ammount, use a hydrometer. You want a SG of about 1.110 (read below)
You dont say what yeast you will use. If you dont have any we can suggest a few
raisins...i dont see that in a vanilla recipe. maybe because i hate raisins in mead. But i would hold back on those.
Vanilla. 1 "pod" (im guessing that is 1 bean) is good. But you need to add it ins econdary (after the mead stops fermenting and you rack it). If you dont, yeast will eat the vainillin and leave you with no/less vanilla flavour
150g american medium chips. Well you are 1 order of magnitude out. Better go with 15 grams. Or 10. You can always add more later on.
You are missing nutrients. Edit: again, if you are going to use nutrients tell us which brand and product. Not all the nutrients are the same. If you dont have, make sure anything you buy has ORGANIC NITROGEN in it and its not only inorganic. (Best nutrient= only organing nitrogen. Medium= mix of organinc and inorganic (also called DAP) Low= inorganic (DAP) Dont even bother = urea)

Process:
Add more water to dilute it. You dont need it to be warm but if it is, dont go over 40C
no vanilla
rehydrate as instructed, yes. 25ml warm water per gram of yeast. You will need 3 to 5 grams of yeast.
Aereating is good. DO it after adding all of the water.
Degass twice or thrice a day for a week. Aereate same but only for 2 or 3 days.
After the ferment is over, keep stirring or shaking daily or every 2 days foir around 4 more weeks (up to 2 or 3 months with no problems, but 4 weeks is good if you dont want to wait that long). This will help the mead clear faster and have less off flavours and odours.
After those 4 weeks, wait 1 week for everything to settle, and rack. This way you lose less mead because yeast is more compact. Rack with the tube up top, and slowly go down as the mead is transfered to get the least ammount of dead yeast possible.
Add vanilla and oak.
Leave it at least 4-6 weeks.
Rack again.
Wait another 4-6 weeks at least. If you did all well, its pretty clear with only some (if any) dregs and ready to bottle. If not, rack again, wait 4-6 weeks...and so on.

Questions:
Start on a friday. In 3 days you can add all the nutrients the ferment needs. Not ideal but good. If you cant degass have someone do it for you or dont worry about it. aereating is the most important part.
Add 1/3 of the nutrients on friday, 1/3 on saturday, 1/3 on sunday.
Open top fermentations seem to work, but its not needed. If its done, its ususally done at the start. Someone who has more experience chime here maybe?

You have 1 big problem. Its hard to get a ferment to stop at 14% ABV and leave 20 points (SG 1.020) unfermented. Your best bet is starting at 1,110 and fermenting it dry (1.000), then stabilize with sulphites after the first or second racking, and backsweetening (adding more honey. Also adding here the vanilla). Problems--> you need to stabilize, which is not fun for begginers. But its the best way of making sweet mead. Also you can get a cloudy mead after adding more honey. This is not a bad problem, if you dont care (easily solved cold crashing/waiting/using fining agents)

Dadux
05-09-2017, 01:35 PM
I just realized...
Your honey calculation is ok for 1 gallon. But you assume JAOM is imperial gallon. Its not. In gotmead use US measurments or IS please. Gallons always refer to US gallons (3.8liters or so).
Also When using the gotmead calculator the "volume" field is for the TOTAL volume of the must. 1 kilogram of honey is about 0.7 liters. 1.42 kg is 1 liter. So even if you add what you posted in your recipe, you would have around 5.5 liters of total must (nearly 1l from the honey + 1 imperial gallon). Sorry if i made your head a mess!
Also your brand of honey means little to us i think. Best honey for mead is raw, unpasteurized one (unlike the ones in the supermarket). I at least dont know what that brand is, but as long as its raw, its good. When we talk about honey we usually refer to its origin (wildflower, acacia, orange blossom, heather...). I see the brand is from UK. if you are from UK, a common nutrient there is tronozymol.

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 02:10 PM
Hi thanks for the advice and sorry for not useing us gallons I'm from the UK so I'm used to metric hence I tried to convert most of it . Also wow i dident realise id got so much wrong :/ i did spend a lot of time reading first I'm glad I posted before trying this.

The yeast I was planning to use is lalvin D47 as it apparently stops around 12-14%abv. Rowse is a branded blended honey available in supermarkets in the UK I was planning to use that to keep costs down while I get better at the process. It's about 10 for 1.36kg of the stuff and it's what my mead kit came with.

As per your advice I will remove the raisins and use nutrients, not sure which ones I will have to look it up. I will also follow your other corrections.

So with the yeast I'm using will I still need to back sweeten and stabilise because in the newbee guide the calculation suggests that extra honey will leave it medium-sweet.

Here's the calculation I did
3oz honey =1% alcohol in 1 galon (4.5l)
So for 14% it's 3x14 = 42
Sg of 1.015 = 1.9% abv so
3x1.9 = 5.7
So about 48oz honey which converted to metric is 1.36kg

Is there something I'm misunderstanding here?

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 02:15 PM
Also as to the issue of the amount of must surely if I combine the honey into 2l of water first add this to the fermentation bucket, then top up with water from there (before adding the yeast) I won't be able to make too much must?
Obviously I wIll go back and recalculate including the honey in the volume (I can't belive I was stupid enough not to do that the first time). However surely topping up in the fermenting bin is a good strategy to not get too much must anyway isn't it?

Dadux
05-09-2017, 02:27 PM
Also as to the issue of the amount of must surely if I combine the honey into 2l of water first add this to the fermentation bucket, then top up with water from there (before adding the yeast) I won't be able to make too much must?
Obviously I wIll go back and recalculate including the honey in the volume (I can't belive I was stupid enough not to do that the first time). However surely topping up in the fermenting bin is a good strategy to not get too much must anyway isn't it?

3oz= 1% abv? Again, concentration. 3oz in 1 US gal, i guess. Not 1 imperial gal. I guess

Its easier to go with SG that is not related to total volume. An sg of 1.110 will give you 14-15% abv (there are different ways to calculate it so its not really super accurate, 14-15%)

There are not many thigs wrong dont worry, jist imprpvable. Except the 150g of oak. Unless you reaaally like biting on trees ;D. Anyway, you dont learn meadmaking in a day. Or a month. Or a year. Im still learning too
The maximum abv on yeast is a ballpark. If you do things well D47 can get up to 16 or 17% abv. So its better to backsweeten.

I saw later that you can only be home on weekends. Dont be too worried. Aereate only the first 3 days. Stir only on the weekend if you cant have someone else do it. Not ideal, but better than not doing it.

About topping off. You are right BUT. If you fill the carboy to the top, it will foam and blow up the airlock. So we usually leave some headspace when fermenting. Plus, the better you express yourself the better for us. We cant see your demijhon hehe.

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 02:31 PM
One last thing in your suggestions you say

"Add vanilla and oak.
Leave it at least 4-6 weeks."

I was reading in a thread that with chips even 2 weeks can over oak the mead. Is that wrong or am I misunderstanding.

Also yes a vanilla pod is a vanilla bean we call them pods in the UK

caduseus
05-09-2017, 02:44 PM
One last thing in your suggestions you say

"Add vanilla and oak.
Leave it at least 4-6 weeks."

I was reading in a thread that with chips even 2 weeks can over oak the mead. Is that wrong or am I misunderstanding.

Also yes a vanilla pod is a vanilla bean we call them pods in the UK

This is for cubes.
Don't use chips

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 02:45 PM
I feel like I'm asking you way too many questions but I really want to learn and understand.

You say to ferment to a dry mead then back sweeten but what diffrence If any will this make to the taste compared to if the fermentation just stopped at the SG I wanted?

Because isn't adding sulphites a way to stop the ferment where you want it. (Something else I read on here). Is that another way to do it or is back sweetening superior?

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 02:49 PM
This is for cubes.
Don't use chips

I tried looking for cubes as i read they were better but they don't seem to sell them in the UK brewing shops not that I could find online :/. It would cost way to much to import them as well.

Dadux
05-09-2017, 02:51 PM
I feel like I'm asking you way too many questions but I really want to learn and understand.

You say to ferment to a dry mead then back sweeten but what diffrence If any will this make to the taste compared to if the fermentation just stopped at the SG I wanted?

Because isn't adding sulphites a way to stop the ferment where you want it. (Something else I read on here). Is that another way to do it or is back sweetening superior?

Ask anything, dont worry.
Sulphites kill yeast. Its hard to kill yeast when and exactly hoe you want it. Even harder to do it if you are not home to add the sulphites. Easiest way to do sweet mead is stabilize and backsweeten. Yeast dont care about what sg you want. Stabilizing a mead with sulphites while the yeast is fermenting is risky business and also hard to do. You risk getting lots of off flavours too. I would not recommend it

Dadux
05-09-2017, 02:54 PM
I tried looking for cubes as i read they were better but they don't seem to sell them in the UK brewing shops not that I could find online :/. It would cost way to much to import them as well.

You can probably find them. Cubes are great, but chips are ok. I dont have cubes or staves avaliable either so i use chips

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 03:00 PM
You can probably find them. Cubes are great, but chips are ok. I dont have cubes or staves avaliable either so i use chips

In that case would you rack it off the chips sooner or still leave it for the whole 4 weeks?

And thankyou you have been a great help I will stabalise and back sweeten as you suggest.

I will need to look up how to stabalise of course but that's okay. At least I have a better idea of how to do this now :)

Dadux
05-09-2017, 03:53 PM
In that case would you rack it off the chips sooner or still leave it for the whole 4 weeks?

And thankyou you have been a great help I will stabalise and back sweeten as you suggest.

I will need to look up how to stabalise of course but that's okay. At least I have a better idea of how to do this now :)

Invest some time in searching for the cubes. There are other people from.uk and im pretty sure you can find some. If you cant, chips usually release all the flavour in about a week. Leaving them longer does no good, but no harm either. Dont rack off them, you can fish them to remove them simce they float. For a subtle oaking go with 5 grams, medium 10 max recommended (at least for mine) is 15 grams per 5 liters. Remember you can taste it after 4 days or so and see how it goes. If you think its enough remove them. And if after a week is not enough, you can add some more.

Also when using vanilla try to find good fresh vanilla beans and buy them when you are going to use them if posible. The freshest the better

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 04:04 PM
I will have a look for cubes but if I can't find them I think to start I will just use 5g of chips and taste after a week and if I think it needs more il add another 5g. I will definitly buy the vanilla fresh.

Dadux
05-09-2017, 04:24 PM
Hi thanks for the advice and sorry for not useing us gallons I'm from the UK so I'm used to metric hence I tried to convert most of it . Also wow i dident realise id got so much wrong :/ i did spend a lot of time reading first I'm glad I posted before trying this.

The yeast I was planning to use is lalvin D47 as it apparently stops around 12-14%abv. Rowse is a branded blended honey available in supermarkets in the UK I was planning to use that to keep costs down while I get better at the process. It's about 10 for 1.36kg of the stuff and it's what my mead kit came with.

As per your advice I will remove the raisins and use nutrients, not sure which ones I will have to look it up. I will also follow your other corrections.

So with the yeast I'm using will I still need to back sweeten and stabilise because in the newbee guide the calculation suggests that extra honey will leave it medium-sweet.

Here's the calculation I did
3oz honey =1% alcohol in 1 galon (4.5l)
So for 14% it's 3x14 = 42
Sg of 1.015 = 1.9% abv so
3x1.9 = 5.7
So about 48oz honey which converted to metric is 1.36kg

Is there something I'm misunderstanding here?

Also if you are gonna use D47 you want the mead to be at 15-20C, over that D47 can be not-so-good.
If you add the 5 grams you probably wont taste the oak per se, but try the mead before adding the oak and 1 week later and you'll see a difference. You might not say "this is oak flavour" but there will be a change. Thats why i said subtle
Also, many of us use potassium carbonate to buffer the pH (1/4 tsp or 2 grams per US gal, or 0.5 grams per liter). Wheather or not this is useful if you do the rest of the things well is being debated, specially if you use certain nutrients. I can tell you, if you do, nothing bad will happen (but dont over do it). Its also fairly cheap. You can find it in chemical product stores, same as potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate (those two are for stabilizing, you'll know more when you do some reading, altough its a complicated matter).
I just read what you said about chips giving bad flavour over two weeks. I dont know, never left them that long. The 7 days thing is something i read in a winemaking website. I just take them out when the flavour is right. As i said, you can fish them whenever you feel like it.

I'll stop the flood of information here. This is a lot to take in. Read it and if you have questions dont hesitate to ask. You can also use the "advanced search", its pretty useful.

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 04:49 PM
Right here is my updated method and recipie from your suggestions.

Vanilla oaken mead

Ingredients

Lalvin D47 yeast
5-10g american medium oak chips
1.20kg Rowse blended honey with water to make 4.5 litre must (SG 1.110)
3 teaspoons of youngs yeast nutrient
1g Potassium sorbate
1 campden tablet
1 vanilla pod/bean

Method

Friday
Mix water and honey in the fermenter until honey is dissolved
Take SG measurement
Prep yeast 5g in 125ml warm water
Areate must by whisking
Pitch yeast
Add 1 teaspoon nutrient
Seal with lid and airlock and leave overnight

Saturday
Open degass aerate 3 times through the day
At the end of the day add another teaspoon of nutrient

Sunday repeated the same process as saturday.

For the next 2 months shake once a day on weekends (everyday if I can get someone to do it)
After this leave for 1 week for all the yeast to settle.
Rack onto 5g oak chips and vanilla pod
Taste after a week if not strong enough add more oak
When to taste take 3 SG readings spaced a few days apart and make sure they are all the same.

Rack into new demiJohn and Add 1g potasium sorbate and 1 campden tablet
Wait a week then back sweeten up to 1.020 SG.
Leave until clear
Bottle

Is this now correct? Or at the very least better?

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 04:54 PM
Also if you are gonna use D47 you want the mead to be at 15-20C, over that D47 can be not-so-good.
If you add the 5 grams you probably wont taste the oak per se, but try the mead before adding the oak and 1 week later and you'll see a difference. You might not say "this is oak flavour" but there will be a change. Thats why i said subtle
Also, many of us use potassium carbonate to buffer the pH (1/4 tsp or 2 grams per US gal, or 0.5 grams per liter). Wheather or not this is useful if you do the rest of the things well is being debated, specially if you use certain nutrients. I can tell you, if you do, nothing bad will happen (but dont over do it). Its also fairly cheap. You can find it in chemical product stores, same as potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate (those two are for stabilizing, you'll know more when you do some reading, altough its a complicated matter).
I just read what you said about chips giving bad flavour over two weeks. I dont know, never left them that long. The 7 days thing is something i read in a winemaking website. I just take them out when the flavour is right. As i said, you can fish them whenever you feel like it.

I'll stop the flood of information here. This is a lot to take in. Read it and if you have questions dont hesitate to ask. You can also use the "advanced search", its pretty useful.

The temp should be fine, the thermometer I put in the cupboard I'm useing to ferment in sits around 17-18 degrees celcius

Unfortunately I dident see this until I wrote up the new recipe post, il have A look into all this tommorow as it's getting late here now.

Thankyou very much for your help hopefully this mead will turn out well now :)

Dadux
05-09-2017, 05:05 PM
Right here is my updated method and recipie from your suggestions.

Vanilla oaken mead

Ingredients

Lalvin D47 yeast
5-10g american medium oak chips
1.20kg Rowse blended honey with water to make 4.5 litre must (SG 1.110)
3 teaspoons of youngs yeast nutrient
1g Potassium sorbate
1 campden tablet
1 vanilla pod/bean

Method

Friday
Mix water and honey in the fermenter until honey is dissolved
Take SG measurement
Prep yeast 5g in 125ml warm water
Areate must by whisking
Pitch yeast
Add 1 teaspoon nutrient
Seal with lid and airlock and leave overnight

Saturday
Open degass aerate 3 times through the day
At the end of the day add another teaspoon of nutrient

Sunday repeated the same process as saturday.

For the next 2 months shake once a day on weekends (everyday if I can get someone to do it)
After this leave for 1 week for all the yeast to settle.
Rack onto 5g oak chips and vanilla pod
Taste after a week if not strong enough add more oak
When to taste take 3 SG readings spaced a few days apart and make sure they are all the same.

Rack into new demiJohn and Add 1g potasium sorbate and 1 campden tablet
Wait a week then back sweeten up to 1.020 SG.
Leave until clear
Bottle

Is this now correct? Or at the very least better?

Way better. Still, you will need 1.65 kg of honey acording to gotmead calculator. Stop doing the calculations by hand, thats why someone programmed this http://gotmead.com/blog/the-mead-calculator/
So, i see only a couple big flaws. Youngs nutrient is sort of bad (its just DAP). see if you can get tronozymol or fermaid or wyeast beer/wine nutrient. It does make a big difference. Also you plan on adding too much, You would need about 5 or 6 grams of any of those i said (thats about 1 and 1/4 tsp TOTAL, aiming high)
The other is 1 campden tablet might not be enough. Dont know because im not sure of the weight but im pretty sure its not enough, This is not a big problem because you have time until you do this.
Also you mention taking SG readings. This should not be necessary at that stage. Just one after you add the honey for backsweetening and another reading 1 week after to make sure its not refermenting and that sulhpites did their work.
Also its better if you backsweeten first/at the same time when you add the vanilla and the oak. Not necessary, just better. You can add the sulphites and sorbates after the first rack, then wait 1 week and backsweeten and add oak and vanilla all at the same time.

gamespy10
05-09-2017, 05:33 PM
I was struggling to make the calculator work but now youv given a correct figure iv had a tinker and worked it out :).

Iv had a look and I can get fermaid so il use that and it's two camden tablets for full stabilisation acording to the instructions I just found so il do that too.

I won't take the SG readings if they are not nesacerily it's just what was put on amother post when I looked up back sweetening.

I will do the order you say for the sulphates followed by the addition of vanilla and oak.

I'm really excited about this now, thanks to your advice this will hopefully turn out very well.

Dadux
05-09-2017, 06:22 PM
I was struggling to make the calculator work but now youv given a correct figure iv had a tinker and worked it out :).

Iv had a look and I can get fermaid so il use that and it's two camden tablets for full stabilisation acording to the instructions I just found so il do that too.

I won't take the SG readings if they are not nesacerily it's just what was put on amother post when I looked up back sweetening.

I will do the order you say for the sulphates followed by the addition of vanilla and oak.

I'm really excited about this now, thanks to your advice this will hopefully turn out very well.

Im sure it will go well. What fermaid will you be using? there are different brands, and the ammounts vary slightly. If you have Fermaid O avaliable, that is the best one. All of the are pretty good anyway, way better than young's.
Sg readings are needed at the start and end. while it ferments you can get good info by taking readings, but its not necessary either. Its recommended to know all goes well.

gamespy10
05-10-2017, 02:11 AM
I thought I could get fermaid k but haveing checked again it's out of stock in the place I found it.

I can get tronozymol or wyeast though. It's sold through uk homebrew.co.uk