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View Full Version : The quests and trials of newly started mead maker



Crimson
07-06-2005, 06:06 AM
Hi all, I just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed the forums, I've been reading a lot and also been trying a lot. I thought I'd tell a bit about the few batches I've made so far and look what kind of responses might be forth coming, tips and such. The forums and such have been helpful, so here is what I made of it, consider it feedback.

At the start of my short mead making career I was getting tired of having to pay high prices for commercial mead, so one day I just got myself some bare basics, a bucket, some yeast and the cheapest honey I could find. I figured I'd screw it up at one point, so why bother with good honey. I found a recipe on the net, and started my first batch, 10 litres. Of course, it didn't ferment at all at first, or so I thought. I got impatient and re pitched the yeast, then I got even more impatient and re pitched with a yeast starter made up of oranges, nutrients and sugar. I was just about to give up when that didn't start it either, I didn't trust the bucket any more, so I transferred the whole lot to a glass 10 litre bottle. Er, wow! I woke up the next morning and the fermentation had blown the airlock straight off. That's when I learned patience. A bit at least. The mead that came out of that batch was 'drinkable' but not nearly as nice as I wanted it to be. We mixed it with honey and drank it anyway.

In the mean time I had been reading up on different kinds of mead, and I bought a very nice book, The Complete Meadmakers Guide, it's awesome, required reading I'd say. I got a whole bunch of new tips and some do and don't s. I was ready to try again, this time I forgot about the bucket, forget about the cheap honey and got myself 2800 grams of quality honey (at an outrages price I might add) and started again. I squeezed an orange, added yeast nutrients and such to a small glass bottle and made a starter. I then mixed the honey with the water until I had ten litres, boiled that and skimmed of the foam, I put it in the bottle and let it cool, in the morning I added the yeast and this one started nicely. All was well, or so it seemed. At a certain point of course, it stopped fermenting. When that happened I transferred it to another bottle, carboy if you will and let it rest for a few days. I thought it wasnít sweet enough, so the sweeten it I added close to another kilogram of honey. Mixed it and then let it rest a night again, came morning I started bottling again. Three days later I opened the first bottle to share with friends, and it was bublish. Not what I expected, but okay. The next bottle opened a few days after that was positively changed into champagne. I hadnít accounted for the residual yeast to start working anew on the added honey. The complete mead makers guide came to rescue. It told me of potassium sorbate, a yeast neutraliser. I had to open all the bottles and poured them in my large stainless steel cooking pot, it made a lot of noisy with all the carbon dioxide coming out. I used the sorbate to silence the mead and bottled it anew a day later. I learned about yeast and residual honey that time. This second batch, trough trial and error became the first one I considered of drinking quality.

During batch two I read on in the guide about fruity meads, I am the kinda guy that likes cherries. The dark, red to black kinda of cherries. I went to the market and bought them, I ran them through a blender and then added them, pulp, pits and all to a must made up of 10 litres of water containing 2.5 kilograms of honey. I didnít use any guide or technique. I just added it all together, added a little yeast and in the following days saw it work itís way out of the airlock a few times. When it slowed a little, I removed the pits and let it stand slowly settling or fermenting for over 5 months. Then I got it out of the carboy into an other and added sulphite first, then clearing agent, then some sorbate again and finally one kilogram of honey. Up till now we have had no idea how much alcohol is in that mead, but it bottled nicely and was shared at a few camp fires. I learned that messing around with mead can create interesting results. And the term liquid panty remover is a term quite well earned by this particular batch. I named it ĎCrimson Meadí, my best up till now.

At this point Iíd gotten hooked, and I ran into some good luck, I found a local bee keeper. These persons are to be held in the highest regards. Not only do they provide us with honey, the sources of all things meady, but also, they know about honey. This particular one was part of group of bee keepers, imkers as we call them and he gets me honey from his colleagues as well. At a great price I might add. And itís tons better then any honey I ever had at the market. Iíve started two additional batches with his honey, one spring honey batch, one batch made of honey gathered at one of the most beautiful cementeries in the area. It seems that the cementery wants to keeps itís beautiful trees in a nice blossom. So they have a deal with this bee keeper that he places his hives near it. It makes for a very nice honey. I recently stopped the spring honey batch by using sorbate. Somehow it still tasted a bit bitter, and I think that I will be adding honey to soften it once more. I hope at one point to refine my skills so that I donít need to add honey afterwards, but at this point I am quite happy practising my hobby.

Any tips & tricks are most welcome, if you managed to read this far, thank you for listening, if you ever posted something helpful on these forums, double thank you.

Kind regards,

Mark
proud creator of my own ĎCrimson Meadí

Brewbear
07-06-2005, 09:25 PM
Hey Mark,
Welcome to the forums....and your new lifelong obsession :-[
I am new to this myself, but here are two links I use A LOT!
http://www.gotmead.com/making-mead/mead-calculator.shtml Knowing your yeastie's alcohol tolerance will allow you to roughly calculate what you need (how much of honey, cherries....)in your must so you'll end up with dry, semi-sweet, or sweet mead. If the must has a high enough SG/BRIX and PABV, your yeast will get tired and drop off before they finish eating up all the sugars.
http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/strains.asp will give you a good idea of what yeast to use, its temp requirements and its alcohol toxicity.
Let's say your yeast quits at 14% ABV. If your must has an SG corresponding to 14.8% PABV, the mead will finish just a little on the sweet side. If your must's SG coresponds to a 13.5% PABV, your mead will probably finish dry.

Have fun, hope this helps,
Ted

Cmcclure4134
02-09-2013, 01:11 PM
I am getting ready to do my first meade. I have been brewing beer for a while and thought I would try a meade. I have the ingredients on hand for a very basic 2 gal recipe I found here and want try it. I want to use my 5 gal glass carboy but I'm not sure if all of that extra air space is a bad thing. I guess I could wait until two weeks from now and buy one at the homebrew store about three hours from here, but of course I don't want to wait. :-)

Will it adversely affect the meade?

Thanks,
Chris

Chevette Girl
02-09-2013, 01:45 PM
Hi Chris, welcome to the forum. In the future, please don't dredge up old threads unless you're asking something directly related to it, like "How did this turn out?". Starting a new thread for your question will get your specific questions noticed and answered more quickly than posting under someone else's topic.

Short answer, no, the extra headspace during primary fermentation will not hurt your mead, it's actually beneficial. By the time it stops producing CO2 though, you'll want to put it in a carboy the correct size, so this gives you the time to get your fermentation started and while it's doing its thing, you can get the correct sized carboy for when you rack it to secondary.

Cmcclure4134
02-09-2013, 02:08 PM
Great! Thank you! New to this forum thing. My apologies. I'll do what you suggest.

I'll post on the appropriate thread when it's done and let you know how it turned out.

Regards,
Chris