View Full Version : Quick questions about my first batch

01-19-2006, 01:26 PM
I am very new to mead making and I currently have two batches going.....1st one is about 3/4 of a gallon....The 2nd batch is about 2 gallons.

I started the first batch around 1/11/06....It is basicly a spice mead style with ginger, cloves, fennel, and anise as the main spices added, there is also some brown sugar and clover honey as the sweets......I cook a lot and so I felt ok about experimenting instead of following a strict mead recipe......The must was about as sweet as a Coca cola soda.

So only after about five days the bubbler has completely stopped......At about that time I steralized a stir stick and stirred up the mix a bit......The bubbles started again (barely) and now eight days into it, the bubbles completely stopped again......I am guessing that I didnt put enough honey into the must correct?

Last night I tasted a nip of the stuff, and it tasted a lot like beer with a clove and ginger snap to it....(I was suprised how good it tasted already)......However the smell of the stuff in a the glass was more like wine.......There was absolutely no sweetness flavor anymore. Which is really why I tasted it in the first place, figureing that if there was no more sweetness then the fermentation must be done.

Anyway, For my questions....I really thought the fermentation process would have gone on for at least two plus weeks.....Was it was cut short because I didnt have enough honey in the must........Or does the fermentation process take less time with smaller quantities of must? As I said, 1st batch was only about 3/4 of one gallon, mabe a little less even.

My 2nd batch is still bubbling away nicely.....It was started on 1/13/06.....I believe this one has much more honey added.....This batch is more of a traditional mead and is basicly honey, water, and tea.

I forgot to mention that I am using Lalvin yeast EC 1118 and I also added a bit of lemon juice to both batches to up the acidic levels a bit.

01-19-2006, 03:13 PM
Welcome Raleigh,

Post the actual recipe with quantities so that everyone can see what the problem may be.

As for your question, "enough honey" is somewhat subjective. It depends on how sweet/dry you want it, how much alcohol you are aiming for, and what yeast you are using. If you used very little honey, then the yeast you used may have eaten through it in just a couple of days. If you add more honey now, you may find that fermentation starts right back up again. Or, if you had it in a warmer area, the fermentation may have been very active and quick. Having the recipe will help someone answer this.

Also, I don't think the size of the batch is really an indication of the speed of fermentation. Type of yeast, amount of sugar, amount of nutrients, acidity etc. all contribute and a 1 gallon batch could take as long or longer than a 5 gallon batch.


David Baldwin
01-19-2006, 04:38 PM
Welcome Raleigh!

EC 1118 is a super fast fermenter. If your yeast is healthy it will ferment until either all the sugars are gone or until it reaches its alcohol tolerance and dies off.

It sounds like your first batch fermented dry. Probably one of the first things you will want to buy is a hydrometer, and test jar. They are cheap and you will find them a very valuable tool for monitoring/troubleshooting your mead.


01-19-2006, 05:57 PM
Thanks for the replies....

Well, unfortunately....I didnt really follow a recipe, and totally winged it for the first batch, plus I didnt measure anything out.....But here is a best guess as to what I did....

1. gallon of distilled water
2. 1/2 lemon (juice of)
3. 4 tablespoons of annise seed
4. 3 tablespoons of fennel seed
5. 30 cloves
6. 5 tablespoons of chopped ginger
7. 4 tablespoons brown sugar
8. 1 1/2 pounds of clover honey
9. 4 chopped dried apricots

I boiled everything and after straining everything off was left with 3/4 gallon of brew......I let the brew cool a bit then put it into a gallon water jug container and added about 1/8 of a teaspoon of EC 1118 yeast. I shook it up and let it sit. It started to ferment vigorously within 18 hours.

When this whole mix was simmering it tasted really good, like a delicious spicy tea.....I kinda figured that if it tasted good n sweet before fermenting....Then it would be as good if not better after it fermented. Also as I mentioned it was about as sweet as a coke.

Another question.......Why in the heck does it taste like beer right now? I really expected it to taste like wine more than anything.....It does smell like wine but tastes like beer. Granted, the ginger / clove flavor adds a bitter bite to it which slightly over powers the alcohol taste, but this seems more of an after taste than anything else. My best guess here is the anise and fennel seeds I added....I am not really sure if they are grains, but the seeds kinda look like rye seeds, but taste and smell sorta like black licorice.

David Baldwin
01-19-2006, 06:36 PM
Wow, now that is what I would call a SPICED mead!

With 1.5 pounds of honey in a total volume of about .75 gallons, I'm comming up with about a 9.8% potential alcohol. The EC-1118 would easily ferment through that in a surprisingly short time.

I would venture to guess that the beer character is from your spices overwhelming the honey in this batch.

Without any residual sweetness I would expect this to be much like a ginger beer.

Is the mouthfeel like beer as well or is it just in the flavor character?


01-19-2006, 06:45 PM
Another question.......Why in the heck does it taste like beer right now? I really expected it to taste like wine more than anything.....It does smell like wine but tastes like beer.

If the CO2 hasn't had time to come out of solution, then you get a slight fizz on the tongue from the gas. This may also make it taste like beer.

Just a thought.

01-19-2006, 07:14 PM
I just racked this batch of ginger (beer) and tasted a little bit again while siphining it into another container.....

Well I must say that there are no bubbles at all anymore.....There is no sweetness at all either.....The spicy
ginger/clove taste is particularly strong with a definite warm and bitter after taste. It definitly tastes more like a beer or lager than wine but no co2 at all. Its really kinda bitter in flavor....I wonder if it will mellow out...and become better as it clears up in the next few weeks. One thing I noticed is that it is really hard to estimate the alcohol content by taste alone....The spicey flavors sort of take over to some degree.

I wonder if it would be better to stick the whole batch in a champaine bottle and add a little yeast n honey at the end to generate smore fizz....I bet it would really taste like beer at that point.

01-19-2006, 09:33 PM
Metheglins with all their spices can be good candidates for aging - once those spices mellow out a bit, they increase in complexity.

The flavour will change when it clarifies - so be patient.

If you have enough, definitely experiment, and try a "sparkling" and a "still" so you can compare them, and see what you like.

01-23-2006, 04:18 PM
30 cloves is about 28 or 29 too many for the size of batch you have. My standard is 1 clove per gallon. I think Ancient Orange is the same if I recall correctly. You might use two per gallon if you really like cloves. This taste should age out somewhat but I am guessing your batch will still be overwhelmingly clove for a long time...

Additional honey may help lessen this or the sweetness may bring the flavor out and make it even worse...

Good luck,

01-23-2006, 05:54 PM
Yea, come to think of it....The second time I tasted a little nip, when I was racking this first batch....I decided that it really tasted terrible....Kinda like gasoline mixed with a dab a bleach with beer like over tones.....I very possibly tainted this batch with a little bleach......Not sure if I rinsed out everything enough after sanitizing....Oh well....I figured Id let it sit for a while, let it clear up a bit and decide for sure a little later. Mabe it just needs to age a bit.....

Either way, Im not too worried about....I sort of expected my very first batch to go horribly wrong anyway.....Im quite certain that the next few batches will be better!