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MurCurY
05-08-2006, 07:30 AM
I wanted to start brewing my own beer...decided Mead is more my style. Went to the local brew shop and picked up some supplies. A small book with "101 wine recipies" 2 5 gallon glass carboys, some chemicals (acid, campden, nutrients), couple of air locks with corks, and a 12lb tub of blackberry blossom honey. Also picked up an additional 4lbs of wildflower honey from a local apiary.
Also picked up 2 packs of yeast. One is Lalvin ICV-D47 the other is Wyeast 3184 (Sweet Mead). Which would be better to use?

Here's my questions....
How much honey do I need to make a 5 gallon batch of sweet mead...how much for a dry mead? Also...I was going to use Campden tablets to pasturize the must so I don't boil off the subtle flavors of the honey. Would anyone recommend against this?

Oskaar
05-08-2006, 08:39 AM
Welcome to Gotmead.Com!

Well you have some great stuff to start with there. Here's what I think would be a nice mead for your first time.

4.25 gal H2O
12 lb Blackberry Honey (add 4-6 lbs wildflower for sweeter mead)
2 teaspoon yeast nutrient
5 grams Lalvin D47 yeast

I will give you the way I would mix this up. I don't generally heat, pasteurize or boil my must, and I don't generally add sulfite to my mead up front. I haven't found it necessary to do so for the most part. There are always exceptions. Also I don't add acid up front, but have on occaision added it before bottling to add some balance to a finished mead.

Preparation and must management:

I'd recommend that you make another trip to the LHBS and get a 6 gallon bucket to use as your primarty fermenter from your Local Home Brew Shop/Store (LHBS) The reason I say a 6 gallon bucket is that during fermentation your mead will foam and bubble and generally be turbulent. You'll need the extra headspace. If you use one of your 5 gallon carboys the mead will bubble out because it will be filled to the brim; and when you rack to the other 5 gallon carboy, you'll lose a fair amount of mead. You will end up with less than five gallons. I know it's another expense and time investment to go to the LHBS, but you'll be happy you did. I'd recommend that you also pick up some Fermaid K and Go Ferm while you're at the LHBS. Fermaid K is a nutrient manufacutred specifically for the kind of yeast you are using. Go Ferm is another nutrient that is used to rehydrate that yeast, made by the same manufacturer. These are optional but recommended.

2. Now add 3 gallons water to the bucket, and stir in your honey. Stir until you can't stir anymore in order to make sure that the honey is fully dissolved. No cheating. Add another gallon and a quarter of water and bring the level to 5.5 gallons. This will give you a starting gravity of about 1.08, and a potential alcohol level of about 10.5+ percent.

3. Once you have dissolved the honey, add your two teaspoons of nutrient (or 10 grams of Fermaid K) to the must (honey water mixture) and stir it in well.

4. Next rehydrate your yeast as per the instructions here (http://consumer.lallemand.com/danstar-lalvin/lalvinrehyd.html).

5. Once your yeast is rehydrated properly pitch it into the must and stir like crazy. Once it's all stirred in, cover your must with a sanitized cloth, and come back to stir it twice a day for the first three or four days. Check your fermenter (bucket) about 8 hours after you pitch, and when the must is starting to foam, add one more teaspoon of nutrient (or 5 grams of FermaidK) to it and stir well again.

6. On day three and four, stir. You have the option of adding another 1/2 teaspoon of nutrient (or 5 grams of Fermaid K)on day three or four.

7. On day four or five remove the sanitized cloth you have used for covering, and replace it with the drilled lid for the bucket and affix the airlock. Throughout the fermentation I recommend swirling your bucket to keep the yeasties in suspension as much as possible.

8. When airlock activity dies down to about 2 blips per minute you can rack to your carboy.

9. Let it clear and rack again. It may take several months for it to clear completely, so just be patient and you'll have a nice mead.

Ask more questions,

Oskaar

MurCurY
05-12-2006, 09:19 AM
I actually got some free time today to start this up. YAY!

I'm going to go to the brewshop and pick up a 6gallon primary so I don't make too much of a mess. Too bad they don't open for another 2 hours....

What would be the difference between using the D47 and the Sweet Mead yeast? I understand the flavor will be different...but how much different? Wouldn't the D47 have a yeastier flavor since it'stechnically an ale yeast?

I decided to use approx 14lbs of honey...12lbs blackberry blossom honey and 2 lbs or so of wildflower purchased from a local apiary. I'm going to heat a gallon of water to add the honey to to melt it a bit so it mixes better. Also..let me see if I have this right...You only add the acid if you feel it needs it at the end? Does the acid balance out the sweetness?

On the primary...could i use the lid with the hole drilled in it with a clothe over the hole to cover the bucket while it's starting up? Then add the airlock on day 6 or so?

One last questioin before I go out...do they make spoons that will reach that far down in the carboy to stir in the honey and chems?

MurCurY
05-12-2006, 09:47 AM
also...list of chems i picked up when i got the other stuff.

Acid Blend
Fermax yeast nutrient
Campden Tablets
Wine tannin

Do i really need the tannin? And if so when would i add it?

Oskaar
05-12-2006, 09:56 AM
I actually got some free time today to start this up. YAY!

I'm going to go to the brewshop and pick up a 6gallon primary so I don't make too much of a mess. Too bad they don't open for another 2 hours....

Good deal, you'll be glad you did


What would be the difference between using the D47 and the Sweet Mead yeast? I understand the flavor will be different...but how much different? Wouldn't the D47 have a yeastier flavor since it'stechnically an ale yeast?

Don't know who told you D47 is an ale yeast, but they're smokin' butt crack! D47 is a wine yeast, Cotes du Rhone to be speficic. The sweet mead yeast from Wyeast is notoriously sketchy on fermentations. There are some folks who have great luck with it and others, like me that just opted for a more consistant performer which D47 is in spades.


I decided to use approx 14lbs of honey...12lbs blackberry blossom honey and 2 lbs or so of wildflower purchased from a local apiary. I'm going to heat a gallon of water to add the honey to to melt it a bit so it mixes better. Also..let me see if I have this right...You only add the acid if you feel it needs it at the end? Does the acid balance out the sweetness?

You are correct about acid, not generally needed up front, and used only if need to balance the sweetness at the end before bottling. I urge you to use about 16 pounds of honey if you want it sweet, otherwise you're good to go with the 14 for a dry mead.


On the primary...could i use the lid with the hole drilled in it with a clothe over the hole to cover the bucket while it's starting up? Then add the airlock on day 6 or so?

Well, it's generally a pain in the butt to keep taking the lid on and off to stir which is why the cloth is a better solution for the first three to five days, but you get to make the rules, so do what works for you.


One last questioin before I go out...do they make spoons that will reach that far down in the carboy to stir in the honey and chems?


Yes the long handled plastic spoons can be inserted handle first and will reach down far enough to use as a stirring rod, and the handle end is squarish so it will whip the little beasties into a frenzy.

Cheers,

Oskaar

Oskaar
05-12-2006, 10:00 AM
also...list of chems i picked up when i got the other stuff.

Acid Blend
Fermax yeast nutrient
Campden Tablets
Wine tannin

Do i really need the tannin? And if so when would i add it?


You don't need to add the tannin if you don't want to. I does help to preserve and enhance flavor, and aids in clearing. Tannin can be added at the beginning or at the end as you see fit. I add at the beginning mostly.

Cheers,

Oskaar

MurCurY
05-12-2006, 10:05 AM
how much tannin should be added to a 6 gallon bucket for a 5 gallon carboy batch?

Also..."Go-Ferm"...is that necessary? I can't find it in the inventory of the local brew shop...maybe it's just not in their online catalog.

WRATHWILDE
05-12-2006, 11:23 AM
Murcury,

Although GoFerm isn't absolutely necessary, it is the ideal means of hydration. Dan McFeeley posted a great link on why proper hydration is important here. (http://www.draymans.com/Articles/rehidrate.php). You can find GoFerm and every other supply you'll ever need at MoreWine (http://morewinemaking.com/browse.html?category_id=100044&keyword=&x=1&y=1). Highly recommended. Hope that helps.

Wrathwilde

Oskaar
05-12-2006, 12:07 PM
For the first time you can start with 1/2 or 1/3 teaspoon per gallon. I'd recommend 1/3 teaspoon to begin with, you'll have the character in it, but the taste will be very subtle, you can always add more if you decide you like it.

Cheers,

Oskaar

MurCurY
05-12-2006, 01:09 PM
called the brewshop...they don't carry go-ferm and have never heard of it.

he did however mention a method of hydration i've not read of. Using a 2L soda bottle and a pack of old yeast..which i have. Boil the old yeast for a bit to kill off all old yeast. Add it to about a L of water in the soda bottle with a small amount of must and pitch new yeast to it as a hydration/starter. air lock it and let it start to multiply. using the soda bottle so it can be squeezed..using the water level to remove air..and release taking in O2 rich air.....then cap and shake.

does this sound like it would work?

Going now to pick up a "wine bucket"...its all they have in stock and is 7.3l lidded for $12...think it has a spigot at the bottom too.

Oskaar
05-12-2006, 01:23 PM
You're better off using clean bottled water to re-hydrate your yeast. What you're doing with the boiling is killing off the yeast and you'll have some yeast hulls to use in your must that well aid in the fermentation.

For re-hydration just go ahead and follow the instructions on the packet or at the link I provided below. Adding the yeast to a sugar solution will not optimize your yeast rehydration so just stick to bottled water if you don't have Go-Ferm to use. It will be just fine!

Best of Luck,

Oskaar

MurCurY
05-17-2006, 08:26 PM
Havn't had a chance to start this....been too cought up with work. Have Friday off, I'll start it then. I also chatted with the guy at the brew shop and a beer "kit" is around $15 plus cost of yeast....so I'm thinking of picking up one of these "kits" to start alongside the mead...will give me something to drink in a month or 2.