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Berg
01-01-2005, 07:55 PM
Hello all,

I'm about to take the plunge and throw my first must together, but have a few questions. Being a first-timer, I don't want to get too involved with my first recipe.

My plan is:

10 lbs. of honey
3 gals of water
5 g Lalvin EC-1118

What I am wondering is am I asking for trouble by not adding anything else? I have Wyeast Nutrient, I have raisins, but I would rather have a nice basic mead as my first batch. Will this recipe be ok as it stands or should I add a tsp of nutrient?

My other question is regarding the honey I have. It's very crystallized. When I heat this up to add to the water, is it going to liquify? It looks so solid, I just dont see it mixing with the water very well.

Any input is greatly appreciated!

Berg

David Baldwin
01-01-2005, 10:53 PM
Your honey shourld re-liquify readily when heated. Are you planning to boil the must or pasturize?

EC-1118 will be a super quick high ABV fermenter. You may need a bit of nutrient to get its full potential. KiV-1116 is an excellent low nutrient yeast. If you have 1118 available, you can probably also get the 1116.

Good luck and enjoy.

David

Oskaar
01-02-2005, 12:00 AM
Hey Berg,

Welcome to the boards.

A couple of quick questions.

What kind of honey? What kind of water (tap, spring, well, etc.)?

EC is a good choice of yeasts so you just want to make sure your starting gravity is high enough to allow the yeast to attenuate fully down to your desired finishing gravity.

Best of luck,

Oskaar

Dan McFeeley
01-02-2005, 01:47 AM
My other question is regarding the honey I have. It's very crystallized. When I heat this up to add to the water, is it going to liquify? It looks so solid, I just dont see it mixing with the water very well.


An easy way to re-liquify the honey is to put the jar in a pot of water, heat very gently on the stove, about 110 degrees F, no more, and let it sit. This will take a little time, but it avoids exposing the honey to too much heat.

Berg
01-02-2005, 01:13 PM
My thanks for the responses!

I'm starting to think I'm in over my head, ALREADY!!

I plan on pasturizing and am using Poland spring water. I'm embarressed to say my 2 - 5lb jars of honey just say "pure honey" on them.

I'm confused about starting and finishing gravity. How do I know if my starting gravity is high enough?

I've decided to hold off on putting my must together until I know a little more about what I'm doing. On the other hand, I'm wondering if just jumping right into it will get me the hydrometer knowledge I'm obviously lacking.

Thanks much for any input, again!
....And long live the NewBee section! ;D

Berg

Dan McFeeley
01-02-2005, 05:15 PM
I plan on pasturizing and am using Poland spring water. I'm embarressed to say my 2 - 5lb jars of honey just say "pure honey" on them.

I'm confused about starting and finishing gravity. How do I know if my starting gravity is high enough?

About 1.100 is enough. I'm guessing that at 3.33 lb.s honey per gallon, you might run a little over that. Better keep some extra water on hand in case you have to dilute it down.

A good reason to know something about the honey being used is because you can get a good idea of any nutrient requirements it may need. Generally speaking, the darker the honey, the more nutrients it has to aid the fermentation. The light honeys will definitely need some nutrient help.

Best to use a good strong yeast, a bit of nutrient to help the fermentation along until you feel comfortable with it. More experience will help you decide when to cut back or add a little more nutrient.

Berg
01-03-2005, 05:26 PM
OK I'm a bit worried now.

Threw my must together today and got a 1.106. Will I have to add more water to it to make it 1.100 or lower, or is it ok where it is?

I used the EC-1118 and 2 tsps of wyeast nutrient. 3 gallons of spring water, 10 lbs of a light colored honey.

Am I ruining this?

Much gratitude,

Berg

Dan McFeeley
01-03-2005, 06:17 PM
OK I'm a bit worried now.

Threw my must together today and got a 1.106. Will I have to add more water to it to make it 1.100 or lower, or is it ok where it is?

I used the EC-1118 and 2 tsps of wyeast nutrient. 3 gallons of spring water, 10 lbs of a light colored honey.

Am I ruining this?

Sounds like it will be just fine.

Keep us posted! Let us know how the fermentation starts off, etc.

scottlind
01-03-2005, 10:21 PM
and let me know if you need help drinking it ;)

Berg
01-05-2005, 02:53 AM
and let me know if you need help drinking it ;)


I might need help NOT drinking it before its ready!! ;D
I'll let ya know after that!


Its been 30 hours since pitching; about 5 bubbles every 10 seconds (starting at about hour 24). Curious....Is this slow or normal?

I have more yeast I could throw in there, but I'd prefer not to open it until I rack. Is this a good idea to not be opening the fermenter, or should I be checking pH or gravity during the process? I had really hoped to coast thru without checking the pH, but must admit I do have the strips to do it....just paranoid about contaminating the must with some foriegn fuzz or something...

Thoughts?

Berg

JoeM
01-05-2005, 06:27 AM
In my opinion, your instinct to leave it be is the correct one. As long as you see signs of fermentation there is no reason to add more yeast, nor do i see a reason for you to be concerned about the pH of your recipe. Just let the yeasties do their thing!

Dan McFeeley
01-05-2005, 11:50 AM
I'll second that. I don't make a habit of checking the pH of the honey must prior to adding the yeast, but, even with different honeys, I get around pH 4.0 consistently. That's just about right, and the yeasties will drop it down just enough so you won't have to worry about possible bacterial contamination.

Fermenting carboys make great lava lamps! Try it, next time you're feeling a little anxious about the fermentation. Watch the bubbling honey must, inhale the sweet odor from the bubbling air lock, dream about how good the mead is going to taste . . .

See? I'll bet you're feeling better already. ;D

Norskersword
01-05-2005, 06:08 PM
Hey Berg, I'm fairly new to meadmaking as well and my advice to you is to not worry about the technicalities. Start simple and learn about ph and gravity and such later on when you are ready. That is advanced meadmaking.

1118 is a dry yeast (18% ABV) and you are using 2lbs of honey per gallon (assuming you are making a 5 gallon batch). A simple rule of thumb for me is, use 2.5 to 3.5 lbs of honey per gallon depending on how sweet or dry you want it. You are using 2lbs and that combined with a dry yeast will produce a mead that is dry as a bone. Is that what you wanted? Just checking. If not, you can always sweeten it after fermentation is complete.

About your question about using yeast nutrient, yes it is necessary in mead. It's good that you used it because honey doesn't have much nutrient and needs it more than wine and beer do. If you didn't add it, you would have had to worry about a slow or stuck fermentation.

Keep us posted and let us know if you have any questions!

Berg
01-06-2005, 04:19 AM
Hey all, thanks much for the advice! Everything's untouched and cookin' away. I know this 'cause every hour I walk up and look at it.....take a whiff err two. ::) Thanks fer the tip mcfeeley!

Norskersword, you bring up a few things that've been roaming thru my mind...

I'm using 3.33 lbs. of honey per gallon; the batch is only 3 gallons... :-\ You can imagine my disappointment...
*thinks 5 gallon minimum from now on*

I started this batch expecting to have a dry mead with a high alcohol content, but in all honesty, I prefer a sweet mead. I'm perfectly content to guzzle this dry mead down, don't get me wrong! But say I wanted to produce a sweet mead out of this..?
How do you suppose I go about such a thing? Is the 3.33 lbs. per gal. enough to make it sweet? Would I add honey later?

I was thinking maybe for my next batch I try the same recipe with a different yeast, just as an experiment.

Thoughts?

Berg

Oskaar
01-06-2005, 04:29 AM
Use a hydrometer to measure your specific gravity. When it falls to 1.020 hit it with some sorbate to stop the fermentation. After that you can add some metabisulfite to prevent any further fermentation from starting. Watch it for a few days to ensure that the fermentation has not restarted just in case, and either bottle or bulk age in your three gallon vessel.

Alternately you can put your carboy in the refridgerator when the gravity falls to 1.020 to hibernate your yeasties, add your sulfite and either bottle or bulk age.

The reason I'm saying watch your gravity to 1.020 is because that seems to be a good range that many people consider nice and sweet. To me sweet is 1.030 or better, but I think many folks like it in the 1.020 range.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Norskersword
01-06-2005, 01:16 PM
I started this batch expecting to have a dry mead with a high alcohol content, but in all honesty, I prefer a sweet mead. I'm perfectly content to guzzle this dry mead down, don't get me wrong! But say I wanted to produce a sweet mead out of this..?
How do you suppose I go about such a thing? Is the 3.33 lbs. per gal. enough to make it sweet? Would I add honey later?

I was thinking maybe for my next batch I try the same recipe with a different yeast, just as an experiment.

3.33 lbs per gallon would normally have made a sweet mead, however that is a dry yeast and won't stop until it hits 18%. You will have to stop it early using the stabilizing technique that Oskaar describes.

If you don't want to bother with using a hydrometer right now, you can sweeten to taste once it's done. You can wait until it is done fermenting and stops at 18%, then stabilize (sorbate and sulfite) then add some honey to it until you get the right flavor you are looking for. Luckily, dryness is one of those things that is easily corrected.

Berg
01-07-2005, 01:40 PM
Well, Ive decided to let this batch go ahead and be a dry batch. But, that brings up more newbee ?'s from me! ::)

I read somewhere that Lalvin EC-1118 could cause a mead to have a alcohol content of over 20% with continuous feeding. What I'm confused about is that magic 18%...wouldnt that kill off the yeast at that point? Am I missing something here?

Also, after mentioning I was going to the store to buy sulfite, come to find out 3 of the 4 people in my house are allergic. So, what's confusing me is....do I just let the fermentation continue until it stops by itself?

Norskersword mentions stabilizing the must before adding more honey. I understand that that is meant to stop it from fermenting the added honey, but is it common practice to stabilize the must even if you don't plan on adding anything after?

Thanks in advance...again!

Berg

Norskersword
01-07-2005, 02:09 PM
Let's say hypothetically you thought it was done fermenting, but it was only in the later stages of fermentation. Let's say it was up to 16% and it seemed like the fermentation was done and you decided to sweeten it up by adding honey, without adding sorbate and sulfite first. After you added it in, fermentation would probably start up again and produce a dryer mead. This is called feeding the yeast. That is, you gave the yeast more sugar to work with.

If you stabilized it first, then added sugar, you would sweeten it up like you intended.

I don't know the details on feeding. Maybe someone else can explain why you are able to get it to 20% when the alcohol kills the yeast at 18%. My guess is that the yeast is going so strong that it takes longer for the alcohol to kill it.

As far as common practice, that depends on the meadmaker. There are alot of meadmakers that never use sulfites for exactly that reason, and some just like it to be more natural without the inclusion of sulfites. There are also alot of meadmakers that use it all the time. Sulfites have preservative properties and supposedly help age the mead.

If you just let the yeast run it's course, you don't need to stabilize anything. If you use a hydrometer and check the specific gravity, and then check it a week later and it hasn't changed (indicating no yeast activity), you should be able to sweeten without the aid of sulfites.

As far as stabilizing the mead early without sulfites, I don't know if this is possible. Maybe someone with more experience can tell you.

JoeM
01-07-2005, 06:25 PM
The way feeding works is thusÖ18% isnít really a magic number, itís more of an average. The yeast in that culture fit under a bell curve, MOST of them will die at 18%, but a minority will die at as low as say 16% while others will live on to about 20%. When you have a rapid fermentation going on and it hits 18% a majority of the yeast die all at once and the fermentation is broken. The few yeast that remain arenít enough to restart the cycle.

However, say you put enough honey in your brew to allow your initial fermentation to proceed to 15%. When fermentation stops all your yeast are still alive. Now you feed your yeast a pound or two of honey at a time and the alcohol SLOWLY creeps up. As the slow fermentation precedes the yeast with lower alcohol tolerance die first but the others have time to continue to grow.

You are now actively selecting for the cells with the highest alcohol tolerance. The few cells that can survive up to 20% have time to multiply and repopulate the culture before the 18%ers all die off. In other words you are shifting the curve to the right by raising the alcohol in a slow controlled manner rather then in a fast whirlwind of fermentation.

There are problems with this method however. It tends to produce harsher tasting meads with nasty qualities that donít age out well. Some believe that this is the result of ďstressingĒ the yeast.

Personally I donít like EC1118 at allÖI think it produces a harsh mead with an alcoholic burn no matter what the fermentation conditions. But I know that there are others who would certainly disagree.

I do not stabilize musts that I donít plan on back sweetening. As Norskersword mentioned I prefer not to add any chemicals to my mead if I donít have to. However I have to warn that if you do plan on sweetening without the aid of sorbate that you should plan on bulk aging for a number of months as you run the danger of bottle bombs if you donít!

Norskersword
01-07-2005, 07:54 PM
Thanks for the info, JoeM! I was wondering how that worked.

Berg
01-08-2005, 06:50 AM
Yes, thanks much, indeed!

Hey, sorry for the slow response, I must've read that 15 times! Thick-skulled, can't help it! It's in mah blood!

So, I pitched....5 days ago. Already I'm losin' a bit of speed on the airlock. I know I prob-ly have a week to go or so, but is there somethin that makes you say to yerself..."now it's time to rack"?

I have to thank you all for bearing with me here. I know I'm asking alot of really basic questions and appreciate you all spending the time to help me out.

Always grateful!!

Berg

Norskersword
01-09-2005, 02:21 PM
Every time you rack you loose a little mead, so don't be in a hurry to rack. I rack every six weeks and usually end up racking twice before bottling.

JoeM
01-09-2005, 05:03 PM
Basically when the mead has dropped crystal clear is when I say to myself "its time to rack". This takes varying amounts of time depending on the exact recipe used, however, as a general guideline I would say I usually rack at 6-8 wks. I think a lot of people are in way too much of a rush to rack...there are really no benefits to this and all you are really accomplishing is losing mead, oxidizing, and potentially exposing your mead to harmful bacteria.

Something else to consider...as I cannot ferment my mead on the table where i like to rack, I wait until the mead is clear and then move the carboy (CARFULLY) to my racking area. I then let it sit there for 1-2 weeks to allow it to settle again as some of the sediment is invariably kicked up during the move. If you try to rack a mead right after moving the carboy you are ultimately going to transfer some sediment which can be frustrating.

Oskaar
01-09-2005, 06:55 PM
Joe,

Those are good points. I'm able to ferment and rack in the same area so it cuts down on movement and waiting for re-settling. I made myself some nice four wheel dollys that will accomodate two 6.5 gallon carboys. I just used some MDF and attached four wheels that lock and it really makes things easier to move without agitating the yeast cake.

Also, another consideration is that there are certain yeasts like Lalvin 71B-1122 that are designed for quick racking and quick maturation, this is straight from Lalvin. So it pays to know the nuances of the yeast you use, and whether it is made for quick racking, or prolonged exposure to the lees.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Berg
01-10-2005, 03:11 PM
Thanks for the responses.

Does it matter if I'm using a plastic fermenter? I've been searching for something I thought I read about oxygen seeping thru the plastic after a time, can't find it.

Should I be aiming to use a glass carboy as a primary fermenter in the future?

Also,wishin' I could see whats going on in this bucket in my house. ;D

Berg

Norskersword
01-10-2005, 03:43 PM
Thanks for the responses.

Does it matter if I'm using a plastic fermenter? I've been searching for something I thought I read about oxygen seeping thru the plastic after a time, can't find it.

Should I be aiming to use a glass carboy as a primary fermenter in the future?

Also,wishin' I could see whats going on in this bucket in my house. ;D

Berg


Yes a glass fermenter or food grade plastic is definetely recommended. If you use plastic, be sure that it is food grade and only for primary. Traditional plastic is bad because supposedly bacteria likes to stick to it.

They have plastic fermenters at brew shops that are basically food grade buckets with spiggots. You can only do primary in these, however, since only during primary is headspace not an issue (oxidization).

Deege
01-10-2005, 06:40 PM
What about these plastic carboys?

http://www.homebrewit.com/aisle/1041

They *claim* to be impervious to everything. I was thinking about them because they are super light and have racking outlets at the bottom. Anyone have any experience with these? Are they on the level?

Thanks,
Daniel Spiess

---
Mead v1.0 went into the fermenter last night 01-09-2005!!! ;D

Norskersword
01-10-2005, 06:50 PM
What about these plastic carboys?

http://www.homebrewit.com/aisle/1041

They *claim* to be impervious to everything. I was thinking about them because they are super light and have racking outlets at the bottom. Anyone have any experience with these? Are they on the level?

Thanks,
Daniel Spiess

---
Mead v1.0 went into the fermenter last night 01-09-2005!!! ;D


It says it is food grade PET plastic so it is probably fine. I've heard of these but I've never used them.

JamesP
01-10-2005, 06:59 PM
I've been searching for something I thought I read about oxygen seeping thru the plastic after a time, can't find it.

For fermentation, plastic is fine if food-grade provided your sanitation is good. The real issue is when you age in plastic.

I use PETE plastic for aging small batches (PETE is the clear plastic not the milky white or black stuff), and top up to the very top so that there is a minimum of head-space, and haven't had oxidation (that I can detect) after two years.

Note that the smaller the container, the more the head-space will impact on the mead, due to the ratio of head-space to volume of mead being greater.

One lady on the Mead Lover's Digest uses medical grade plastic liners as a replaceable liner for her fermenter - that way the fermenting vessel is just a pure container, and cleaning up afterwards is as easy as throwing the liner away :o

-=-=-=-=-=-

What about these plastic carboys?

http://www.homebrewit.com/aisle/1041


It doesn't look much different to a water dispenser container, which I use for my 5 gal batches.

Certainly safer to use than glass if you drop it, but glass is still better in terms of permeability.

It is really a price/convenience choice. I would use plastic, but most go with glass, especially for aging.


They *claim* to be impervious to everything.
Probably a good test would be a chilli mead. The oil-soluble capsaicin seems to penetrate most things :-\

If I used the carboy for something like that, I would soak the carboy in cleaner for a week before washing and using again. Or better still, keep one carboy specifically for "smelly" batches.

Berg
01-26-2005, 12:37 PM
Hi all!

I'm not sure if things are going well or not. So here goes...

The recipe:

10 lbs. mystery honey
3 gallons of Poland spring water
2 teaspoons of Wyeast nutrient
5 g lalvin EC-1118

I pitched on 3 Jan. with a gravity of 1.106 and yesterday I racked with a gravity of 1.050 (need my primary free!!). Is this about the proper range for 3 weeks fermenting?

Since I racked the airlock hasn't been bubbling at all. I have about a cm of space between the must and airlock. It seems to me it wouldn't take very long to get that space filled with co2 and that airlock a-workin' again. Should I give it more time or is something wrong? If I should let it go for a bit, how long 'til I should start flippin' out?

The must is looking kinda greenish and tastes like super-acidic apple cider.....kinda nasty.

Any input is welcomed and greatly appreciated!

Berg

Talon
01-26-2005, 02:02 PM
You're on the right track... now is a point in time where the yeast are beginning to slow down their production of alcohol so your bubbling won't necessarilly be as fast as your primary fermentation.

Sit back and relax as you watch your mead begin to get better as time goes by.