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Wloch248
03-19-2006, 07:02 PM
I have been reading up on the process in Ken's book but am still a little shaky about where to go from here.

I went to Rafal's spices in eastern market in Detroit to get some fresh cinnamon, 2 5" vanilla beans, and fiber tea bags.

Right now my batch is 3 days in and still bubbling approx 15/min. I am waiting for the bubbles to almost stop before racking it right? Somone mentioned areating the must a few times a day but how? Swish it around or take the top off and stir it?

I plan on adding the cinnamon and at least one of the vanilla beans at the first rack but what is the best way of doing that? I know I should boil the bag but what about the cinnamon and vanilla beans? Or should they go in as is? Should I crush the cinnamon? Should I cut open or almost mince the bean? Do I tie a piece of string/dental floss to the bag so Ican get it out easier when it is done?

Also, I plan on racking it to my 6gal carboy but there is only approx 5 gallons of must. So do I add a little more water/honey/and spices(plus the water I boiled them in) to make it up to the top of the 6 gal carboy to reduce the exposure to oxygen and reduce chance of oxidation?

I was also wondering about how much leas will be on the bottom of my primary fermenter at the first racking? I have the black cap on the bottom of my racking cane that is supposed to keep it off he bottom but is that enough or will I need to keep it even more off the bottom to prevent getting the unwanted stuff into the secondary?

Sorry for all the questions but at least I should only have to ask them once.

Oskaar
03-19-2006, 08:56 PM
We'll need to see your recipe, your process and where you are at this point in order to help you out. Please post your exact recipe and process, and we'll give you a hand!


Right now my batch is 3 days in and still bubbling approx 15/min. I am waiting for the bubbles to almost stop before racking it right? Somone mentioned areating the must a few times a day but how? Swish it around or take the top off and stir it?

I use a Lees Stirrer for the first 4-5 days or so to aerate, and I swirl the carboy/fermentation vessel once I've airlocked it every day. I rack when the fermentation has slowed to a couple of beats per minute. I also check the gravity to be sure I'm where I want to be when I rack.

I plan on adding the cinnamon and at least one of the vanilla beans at the first rack but what is the best way of doing that? I know I should boil the bag but what about the cinnamon and vanilla beans? Or should they go in as is? Should I crush the cinnamon? Should I cut open or almost mince the bean? Do I tie a piece of string/dental floss to the bag so I can get it out easier when it is done?

Boil or sanitize your grain bag, whichever you choose. I smack the cinnamon sticks with a kitchen mallet, and split the vanilla lengthwise. Sink them in the bag with a piece of sanitized string and you're good to go.

I'd advise to get a 5 gallon carboy rather than racking to a 6 gallon carboy and topping up. I just don't like topping up with that much more volume added because in my experience it changes the character of what I'm making, albeit early in the life of the mead.

As far as the volume of lees, can't really know until we see your recipe.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Wloch248
03-19-2006, 10:08 PM
Well you answered my most burning question about the cinnamon and vanilla
Much thanks to you my good sir.

My recipe was
15lbs bulk honey from honeyflow farm
4gal distilled H2O
2packs Wyeast D-47 yeast
2.5 tsp yeast nutrient/energizer (dap, yeast hulls, b vit complex, and maybe 1 or 2 other things)

Boiled 1 gal for 5min, added to the honey, heated to 160F for 2 min, added yeast energizer, mixed with 3 gal chilled h2o in fermenter, pitched yeast(rehydrated for 30 min), stirred well for 8 min, took hydrometer reading(1.110) put airlock and lid on. It has been right around 3 days since the start.

So I guess the questions left are how much can I expose the must while it is fermenting? You mentioned a lees stirrer but I don't happen to have one so I can safely take the lid off and stir? I know you aren't supposed to stress the yeast from the start and I have been rocking the container(with lid on) twice daily. I guess if it isn't for too long a period I can take the lid off and stir it? Is it almost pointless to take hydrometer readings at this point because not much sugar has been converted?

I suppose that because I started with 2 packs of yeast I might have a decent amount of lees on the bottome at the first racking so will the cap that the racking cane with be fine or is it still one of those wait and see things?

I regards to the 5 or 6 gal carboy I do have a 5 gallon one but was under the assumption that I needed to rack a second time to a third fermenter. After a little more reading I found that this is probably not necessary. I was just worried about exposing it to more oxygen.

kace069
03-19-2006, 11:40 PM
Wloch248,
I was reading your recipie and see that you used honey from Honeyflow Farm. Did you buy it right from the farm? You don't happen to be near Dryden, Michigan do you?

Wloch248
03-20-2006, 12:00 AM
Yes!

I am actually a little south of Dryden but shot up there a little over a week ago to get a 2 gal pail. Bill was gracious enough to let me buy the honey even though they aren't open.

Are you close or have you gotten honey from them before? I was happy with the honey that I got. It didn't have nearly as much extra stuff in it (bee bits, wax, pollen) as I thought it would. I just didn't want to use the generic sue bee honey from the store and I came across Honeyflow farms on the net. Worked out well. If this first batch turns out good I am sure I will be heading there in the future.

As a second note, I just popped my lid stirred it with my sanitized spoon and it foamed up a bit. Normal right?? And just for the heck of it I took a SG and it was 1.100 down from 1.110 3 days ago. Smelled a bit like ETOH too ;D

kace069
03-20-2006, 12:10 AM
Yes I have bought honey there many times and have contemplated going their for grapes in the fall. Bill is great and has dealt with me any time of the year. Usually they will just leave what you want on the front porch and you just drop the money in a box.
I have made some good meads with his honey. But I have developed a good relationship with a beekeeper in Capac and he has the best prices around and I like his honey better.

So where are you at? I used to live in Imlay city but now reside in Marlette.

Popping the top and giving it a stir is ok but I wouldn't reccomend doing it. I ptich my yeast and don't open the bucket up again until its time to rack.

Fwee
03-20-2006, 12:26 AM
Smelled a bit like ETOH too ;D Alright, I give up. What is ETOH? ::)

Wloch248
03-20-2006, 12:59 AM
FWEE:Sorry, I write it out of habit. It is ethyl alcohol (Ethanol) Otherwise known as the alcohol formed during the process of fermentation. ET=ethyl the OH stands for the alcohol group (-OH) on the molecule of ethanol. It is a common abbreviation used in biological sciences and chemistry. It is also used in the medical field and brewing. I have my hand in all of these fields so it is almost second nature.

KACE069: I am located in Madison Heights right at the 11 mile exit of I-75. You're north of both places and I am south. It is good to hear that his honey makes some good mead and that there are other places to get honey too. I was just really curious what my SG was so I took the lid off. It seems like the yeast are fermenting pretty well so I will swirl my fermenter for the next day or 2 but prob won't take the lid off again until racking time.

kace069
03-20-2006, 01:21 AM
Ok, I kinda know where your at i think I have been through Madison Hegihts before. There are two breweries in Warren, one already makes mead and the other just got their liscense, so mead should be coming soon.
The 1st with mead is called Khunenn (not sure on spelling) and its on Chicago and Mound road. thats about 13 mile. I was there month ago. They had 3 or 4 meads and 2 braggots there. But pricey a glass of mead was 5.50 for 3oz

The 2nd who will have mead soon is ironicly called Dragonmead. They are by far the best brewery in the state, IMHO and I have been to about 25 Mi breweries. They usually have 28+ beers on tap, more than any toher place in the state. They have been brewing since 1995 have jsut recently gotten there small winery licesnse. Let me tell you when they release their first mead I will be there for opening day! I can't wait. They are on 11mile and Grosbeck right off the ramp from 696. It is defenitaly worth the trip I would recommend the Final Absolution or if you go in May and June the Armageddon.

Other than that I believe there is a meadry on the west coast of Michigan, but not sure where. Just thought I would point them out to ya if you didn't already know about places to get commercial meads and meadries.
I'm just so excited to hear about another mazer so close and frequenting the same establishment. I can put you in contact with a guy who will sell 5 gallon pail of honey for $70, I think bill wants 95 for his.

Fwee
03-20-2006, 02:00 AM
FWEE:Sorry, I write it out of habit. It is ethyl alcohol (Ethanol) Otherwise known as the alcohol formed during the process of fermentation. ET=ethyl the OH stands for the alcohol group (-OH) on the molecule of ethanol. It is a common abbreviation used in biological sciences and chemistry. It is also used in the medical field and brewing. I have my hand in all of these fields so it is almost second nature. Okay. At least now I know that ETOH is a good thing. :D

I'll probably use that in my own speech in the future. ;) But I'll just speak it like a word. ;D (eetoe)

Wloch248
03-20-2006, 03:35 PM
I go to Kuhnhenn sometimes. Both brothers that run it are cool guys. There was a mead tasting at Thunder Bay Brewery (my brother runs the place) in Great Lakes Crossing Mall almost a month ago that I went to. Best idea ever! It was $12 for appetizers and we got to taste 5 commercial meads and all of Kuhnhenn's stuff (they didn't bring enough for everybody beacuse t was such a big turnout). I liked some of Kuhnhenn's stuff but not some others. I really didn't like their braggot(personal preference).

I am about 6-7 miles away from Kuhnhenn brewery. I would love the contact info of the other honey guy. And I know what you mean about another person brewing mead. NOONE I talk to has really even heard of mead let alone make it!

kace069
03-21-2006, 03:36 AM
Wow you have had a completely different experience at Kuhnhenn then I have ever had. I have probably went there my first time almost 3 years ago. Maybe I have been there a dozen times since then and everytime I go there I get the snobiest attitudes from the brothers. i think one is worse than the other. Even some of the brew staff have been snobby. The only people who have ever been good to deal with were the girls serving beer and the guy running the homebrew shop. I was reluctant to mention them but I see that you are kinda new to mead so I figured I would pass it along. I'm not a big fan of their beers either, i like there pale ale, and they had a one time batch called Devils horn it was a rapberry belgian supposedly but it was great.
If you are that close I would highly recommend Dragonmead I'm not sure about when they will be realeasing there mead. But I love that place I have an almost 60 mile drive to get there and it is worth it everytime!

The name of the beekeeping outfit I buy my honey from is called Sticky Bizzness 810-395-2037. I just started using him last summer so I don't know what kind of sales he does this time of year. I think he wanted $30 for a 2 gallon pail, but I am sure he only wants $70 for a five gallon bucket. I would estimate that it will add another maybe 15 miles to your trip. But it is easy to get to just take Van Dyke to M-21 and head east.

Hope this helps

Wloch248
03-21-2006, 05:55 PM
Actually the one brother who is there all the time is the one I don't like all that much. The other brother is nice but I have only met him once. The guy that runs the brew supply shop is the best guy there. I spent 1/2 hr talking to him asking total newb questions and he didn't blink an eye. Their beer is ok and I only really liked one of their meads. I guess I was just trying to be nice in my description before because they are just about the only place that you can buy mead anywhere near me.

15 extra miles isn't that much farther so I will look into it next time I buy honey.