View Full Version : 'nother newbee with a carboy perkin

05-03-2006, 08:20 PM
Hi all,

Been surfing the forum for a couple of weeks. Tried to register but I think my spam filter munched the registration email. Vicky got me squared away (thanks muchly), so here I am.

Another SCAdian in the hive. First experienced mead back in the 80's in Midrealm, by a guy who's SCA name was pronounced like the mundane name "John Doe" but run together. Never found out spelling, tho. He made some pretty good stuff, according to some better qualified than I to judge.

So I end up married to a mundane and out of the SCA for a decade. Divorced a few years back and eventually met a SCAdian chick through friends. She dragged me (kicking and screaming---yeah right) back in. Seems she knows this brewing laurel here in Trimaris (aka Florida)...

Yeah, so the bug has bitten (stung?) me to make some of my own. We got a gallon or so from various sources as handfasting gifts, and I'm hoping that'll last until myfirst batch matures.

Regardless, I looked up a recipie here, tweaked it a bit in terms of flavorings, etc. And off I went. Well, it was more like "read the forums and articles on gotmead obsessively for two days and then sterilized my kitchen until I could perform surgery on the floor" and then off I went.

so the inaugural batch of Maelduin's Maed (yep, it's that way on purpose!) goes like this...

14 lb Orange Blossom
3 gallons of distilled water
1/2 gallon of boiled tap water (hey, I ran outta the clean stuff)
1.5 lb raisins, choppped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp whole cloves
1/2 oz citric acid
Red Star Montrachet (said Laurel's recommendation)

Heated to and pasteurized at 160 for five minutes. Got the yeasties fired up in a Mason jar with some of the must at around 100 degrees and let it percolate until the must cooled. Funneled into a five galllon carboy and cooled all day. When it got dowm to around a hundred or so, I pictched my yeasties, capped her off with a bubble lock and said a little prayer to the Mead Gods.

Next morning the lock was perking about once every three seconds. Over the next couple of weeks my understairs storage closet has taken on a nifty aroma. Pitched on 4/19, and am thinking that this weekend may be racking time, as today I counted around five or six seconds between bubbles. Have the carboy already set up high so I dont have to move it before I siphon, to keep the lees down. Planning to bulk age it for about six months, maybe racking again somewhere in there if there's still significant precipitation.

Any other tips? So many things (obsessive sterilizing, lifting the carboy a couple days before you actually rack, etc) were ideas I picked up here, but I may have missed a couple things. Help a guy out, will ya? I want it to come out sweet to semi-sweet, but I'm thinking that the yeast and ingredients I used may turn it a bit dry. I think I read that it's possible to doctor it with more honey when you pitch, if it samples a bit dry. Is this so? If so, how much honey does it take to go from dry to semi-sweet or sweet?

Not going to do the Art/Sci thing with my mead when it grows up. My lady will be doing that when she starts brewing, and I don't want to step on her toes. She was looking into it before I was, but I'm the gung-ho type and got all the gear together. I'm more of a a stick-jock anyway (squired to Duke Gunnar Oxmnamegin--a Viking, go figure) and i'll probably just pass it out half-size bottles among my fighter buddies. What I don't drink first, anyway. ;-) Have an empty three liter champagne bottle (*that* was a hell of a night) that I'm saving for my knight when he wins Crown again.

Thats about it. Probably was WTMI, but I'm a little bit excited about the whole thing. Five gallons of mead! Yesssss, my precious. And two more gallonses of honey in the cupbard, too.


Michael Davis
s/k/a Maelduin dubh macDiarmata

05-03-2006, 08:37 PM
First off... Welcome to the Forum!!!

There are some here who use Red Star Yeasts who can give you a better Idea of where your batch will end up. I've seen ranges listed between 8 and 15% alcohol tolerance... which is a heck of a spread, so I have no Idea if your batch will end up cloyingly sweet or dry. Sounds tasty though and it sounds like you did your homework well. Enjoy your new obsession... and welcome back into the SCA.


05-03-2006, 11:07 PM
I have a few small comments/suggestions. First you should try to use bottled spring water rather than distilled as distilled water does not contain any minerals. This means two things, it is flatter tasting than spring water, and provides less nutrients for the yeasties. Second the citric acid is not really necessary up front. And third, thats an awful lot of cloves (in my opinion). Cloves are very very strong and should be used sparingly as they have a tendency to quickly overpower the other flavors in the brew.

Personally i have had very good results with Red Star Montrachet yeast, although it sometimes requires a bit more aging than some others.

05-03-2006, 11:26 PM
Welcome to the forums Maelduin!!

I'll echo what JoeM has to say, especially about the acid. Know what your pH is before adding acid for the sake of a recipe. It's been my experience that in the batches I have made, an overwhelming number of them have not needed acid additions. By adding acid to a must with an already low pH you risk driving the level so low (below 3.2 or even lower) that your yeast won't have a healthy ferment, and may even result in a stuck batch. So it's something to consider.

I'll also add that Montrachet yeast is one of my least favorite yeasts to use for fermentations. It leaves a very recognizable vinyl/phenolic taste that takes a considerable time to age out. This has been the case in several meads I've made in the past, and I've noticed it in Redstone's Traditional Mountain Honey Wine, and in meads at tastings and competitions. It's a signature flavor that can be easily discerned in my opinion.

I might be wrong, but I think Vicky mentioned that she has stopped using it because of that character as well. Only the Wench can tell.

I know you are doing period brewing, but I'd suggest that you also try doing a batch (without the Montrachet LOL) using the no-heat method for yourself and do a taste comparison. You may be very suprised by the results.

Have fun on the forums, and best of luck in your mead making endeavours.



05-05-2006, 11:10 PM
Pitched my first batch today, w00tw00tw00t!

A preliminary tasting gave balanced clove and cinammon flovors, with clove maybe a hair stronger, and just a hint of raisin. The honey taste was in there too, and I'm guessing it was because I only pasteurized instead of boiling. Obviously, it was *very* immature, the alcohol being too noticeable. This will age out, I'm sure.

All in all, it's coming along nicely for a first batch. Was a bit worried after Joe's comment re: the quantity of cloves. Turned out all right, the clove is there but not dominating. Got a lot of particulates from the raisins, so I think I'll rack again in about three months.

Look out Chocolate, here I come! But I'll probably do a JAO first, as I want something that will be drinkable by the fall event season. (Florida's too frelling hot to play in the summer, so our season is Labor Day around to Memorial Day, mostly). Is it possible to expand the JAO recipe out to 5 gallons by just multiplying all quantities in proportion? Comments, Joe? I know you say don't tweak the recipe, but I'm not tweaking--just trying to make more of it.

Oskaar, I'm not doing this all period correct. Like I said, I'll leave the Art/Sci thing for my lady. I just wanna have something to drink and to pass out among the stick-jocks. Documentation, *shudder*. :-) But I will try the no heat method you suggest on my first batch of show mead. I want to find a really exotic varietal, and no-heat sounds like the perfect way to ensure that it has maximum flavor.



05-09-2006, 08:13 PM
I'm also new to this forum too, so hi to everyone.

I don't know what part of Floida you are in, but there is a great homebrew club in Dunedin (over by Tampa) you can find them at www.DunedinBrewersGuild.com

There are several members that are very heavily into meads of different kinds and are always ready to help. Besides which it gives you an excuse to hang out with a great group and drink beer.