View Full Version : My first batch...

10-03-2004, 02:39 AM
Friday night it rained, so instead of going out to the local SCA event and getting cold and wet, I started my very first batch of mead...

General recipe... 1st Metheglin October 1, 2004

15 pount Orange Blossom honey
Small amounts of several crushed spices in seeping(sp?) bag
Little bit of citrus juice

NO chemicals, nutrients, additives

Heated everything but honey for 40 minutes at 170F. Removed spices.

Added honey slowly while stirring vigorously. Maintained heat at 170F (although it sunk to as low as 140 during honey addition) for one hour while continuing to stir vigorously. Skimmed small amount of surface scum during the hour. Siphoned into 6 gallon carboy and added chilled water to 5.5 gallons.

Hydrated yeast before beginning to add honey to pot. Pitched yeast into carboy when temperature fell below 90F.

SG = 1.110

10-03-2004, 02:47 AM
After I pitched the yeast, I took a wine thief and stirred the batch, the took the SG measurement.

I ripped a gap in the bottom of a black plastic trash bag and set it over the carboy with the neck sticking through.

I put a plastic cup upside-down over the top of the carboy. Two hours later, there was still no sign of activity, so I went to bed fearing I had added the yeast while it was still too warm. (Next time I will wait longer or add more chilled water.)

Saturday morning there was a tiny bit of froth on the surface of the batch, nothing massive like the books warned about requiring leaving plenty of headspace. I had to run to the local SCA event so I decided to trap the mixture so nothing would happen. The trap was bubbling happily and still is doing so a day and a half later... *massive relief*

10-03-2004, 04:25 AM
What kind of yeast?

Added honey slowly while stirring vigorously. Maintained heat at 170F (although it sunk to as low as 140 during honey addition) for one hour while continuing to stir vigorously. Skimmed small amount of surface scum during the hour.
Since it is your very first batch of mead, I have a few comments. The quoted procedure is OK but really not necessary.The heat for that long just gives up a lot of honey aroma and kills any useful enzymes left in the honey. If it is wild yeast or bacteria that concerned you, less than 5 minutes at that temperature would have sufficed.The scum usually contains some proteins that are good for the yeast. I would recommend that if you aren't going to add nutrients then don't heat the honey to 170F. In fact, only enough heat to help dissolve the honey is all that many of us use. If you do heat for an hour then you might as well add nutrients to insure a good fermentation because you just destroyed any natural living nutrients. Heating for a hot and cold break is simply not required for clearing with mead as it is in beer. The choice is always yours and this input is only meant to get you to think about why you do what you do and to challenge your thinking. In no way should it be taken to to infer that there is only one way to do things.

And by the way ... I enjoyed your mead tale...

Hope this is helpful,

10-03-2004, 07:00 PM
I too enjoyed your mead tale.

One other enhancement I'd like to suggest is that your must may not have been as oxygenated as it could have been. You might like to try what's called the shaker method. What this entails is that you add your warmed must, some cooled water and penty of headspace, probabaly about a gallon left of water to add... Shake the tar out of it once it's cooled and stoppered the carboy. Then once you feel it's oxygenated enough, add the last of your cooled water and then pitch your yeast.

In my personal experience, I've found that when I pasturized it was necessary to re-add oxygen to the mixture as the warming process had removed most of it.

Your mead sounds wonderful and I look forward to hearing how it tastes.


10-03-2004, 07:46 PM
I have one of those "hook onto your drill, stirring thingies" coming with my glass from Leeners. The next few batches will likely get aerated a bit with it once they are in the carboy.

As far as the length of heating, right now I am sort of apprenticed to the two Barons in my household and am sticking with their methods, at least for the first few batches. IMHO they have "something" (not sure whether it is method, ingredients, or what) that makes their stuff just a little better than everyone else's. Until I feel comfortable that must preparation, specifically the heating, is not the cause of that, I will likely continue. But I do appreciate the advice and will tuck the shorter heating interval away in the back of my mind for future references.

Status update - the trap is still bubbling, somewhat slower but this could be due to the fact that it got a little cold last night and the temperature in the house probably dropped from mid-70's to around 68. But the batch bubbled happily and heartily all weekend...

10-03-2004, 08:13 PM
I was thinking it was a leeners kit you got... ;)

I'm doing another "kit" with 6 lbs of leeners clover honey I had left over. I did a cold mix and shaker method with it and it's turning out beautifully! It's done it's primary ferment in 2.5 weeks! So, I can attest that when following their recipe it works. I figured experiment with a recipe I'd had experience with and next experiement will be the same, but without the sulfites.

Good luck with your kit.

10-03-2004, 09:45 PM
Actually, all I got with the kit was the plastic primary (not using except to sterilize things in), the glass carboy (which is why I bought it), the hygrometer (sp?), a thermometer (that leaves nasty red discoloration on things (so I've already usurped my wife's kitchen one), a racking cane, and a few other odds and ends. No yeast or concentrate...

My Leener's stuff has yet to arrive or I'd be starting another batch by now! *grin* Actually, Leeners did express mail ahead my yeast and the seeping bag, but the rest is coming on a freight pallet...

10-04-2004, 08:06 PM
Status update... (probably old hat to most of you but exciting to me...)

Day #4 - trap still bubbling fairly well, slightly slowed from previous day. There are a few signs of "thickening" towards the bottom of the carboy, though I wouldn't classify it as sediment.

A question to the experts... Does the lees? end up looking like a sediment crust or more like thick loosely bunched gunk in the bottom?

Should I be taking daily SG readings or is that just creating an unneccessary risk to the batch?

10-04-2004, 11:07 PM
If you want to get daily SG readings, its best to leave a hydrometer in the carboy. They make small ones just for such a purpose. It keeps one from constantly exposing the must to oxygen. Otherwise, As long as it is bubbling away a reading once a week is more than enough and not really necessary unless you want to keep periodic SG records.
Different yeasts have different sediment looks. Some are lighter and some are grainier and some are crustier. The way a yeast packs lees is called:

Flocculation: Name given to the process of coalescence and settling of yeast cells into a firm deposit.

And it is different with each yeast. More than you might want to know is available at this White labs site:


10-08-2004, 01:04 PM
Welcome to the club,

While i do not use your methods, i'd certainly advise you to follow them since you have living people on hand whose product you have tasted (and like) for your first efforts.

About pasturization... it is a closer method to surviving periode recipes than some ot the others. though boiling would have been more typical. At least according to digby :-). anyway nice to see some improvements... like no egg hydrometers or bread pitched to reintroduce yeast :-).

I encourage you to experiments with some small batches and varying methods before you become set in your ways though. Have fun.